Today's "long course" race in Santa Barbara was just what I needed as I roll in the creme de la creme of Kona prep weeks. All year I've struggled to find my race mojo. Aside from the SoCal Half Marathon where I PRd on exhausted legs, every race thus far has left me without much satisfaction. To reminisce...Desert Oly- OD's on salt tabs before start thinking they were my Vantage ones from Sportsquestdirect, forgot my inhaler, and rode in the frankenstein position/bike set up (and yes I mean WHOLE SET UP) that I stupidly exposed myself to from Mr. KGS bikes- worst mistake of my life...which led to months of discomfort and a knee injury. But I digress....moving on...Honu 70.3 OMG that race I really wish I could just forget. But, as I've noted before, it was the best serving of humble and toughen-up pie anyone could've asked for. Let's just say there's a reason we bike and run aside from swim training to get ready for a HIM. It just killed me on the inside because this race is so special to me and I had looked forward to smashing it since Nov last yr. From there, once the knee injury was in remission, all the local sprints and Oly's where OK but things just didn't feel like they clicked. You know when you race and there's constant little struggles and you cross the line but it's just sort of OFF? As opposed to when you're out there hurting but from digging deep, not a case of lack of fitness or whatever. It's the racing where you're strong, the pain is ironically satisfying, and with every step you're just more and more confident!
Well, that's what went down today :D Things are clicking better than I would've imagined at this point. I felt reborn.
Onto the weekend and race itself...
I drove up yesterday, Friday, after a quick bike and run in the morning and a stop at Edge Cyclesports where Hank dialed in my CEEPO for the race. I even found out I had a recalled chain link. I was beginning to wonder if I had forgotten how to shift as the last few weeks I dropped my chain no less than 3 times every ride!! Well, glad to hear I do know how to operate my bike ;) Anyways, I made it straight to packet pick up and asked a local where a Whole Foods-type market was and she pointed me to Lazy Acres, an awesome health food store that had a delicious prepared foods section. So I grabbed a late lunch/dinner and then proceeded to the hotel.
I've never stayed in a motel before, and given my last minute reservations and the fact that Santa Barbara is probably the most expensive city to bunk in in the world, I had no choice. I was a little frigthened because I'm just a wuss like that, I've been scared of the dark since I left the hospital 21 yrs ago. To add insult to injury, the cross street of my hotel was called Hitchcock Drive- get it? Psycho...yeah! Not cool.
So I stayed up watching Project Runway Allstars Finale and then fell asleep till 5am wake up. After breakfast and coffee at a really cool retro espresso bar I found on my way to the race site, I made it to a great parking spot and chilled for a bit. I called my bro to wish him well as he was doing a local 1mi and 2mi swim out in Boerne Lake- which he not surprisingly kicked ass in ;)
After getting set up I chatted for a bit with Colleen and Tawnee and then Tawnee and I got in to "warm up" in the frigid water. That didn't feel so good so we exited quickly and opted to jog along the beach for a few min in our wetsuits before we got called to the start.
We happened to be the last wave. Great. I don't think I've ever been in the last wave. The only plus about this was that all the men had gone waaaay before and the sketchy bike course where apparently a woman died last yr, was not going to consist of egos passing me dangerously. The last thing I need right now is an accident.
Into the swim I immediately found myself way in front and basically swam alone until the 3rd boey where I had to traverse some of the slower swimmers from the previous waves. It was a shocking yet fun change to be leading the swim. Actually, it was kind of funny. I absorbed as much of this honor as I could knowing it may well be the last time I lead a swim :/ hehe, I do wish the 25-29s had been with us though to get some draft. But oh well you can't it all!
The bike course was a freakin' blasssstttt!!! I thoroughly enjoyed being relatively alone with all the men and most of the women gone. Only 2-3 other 40somtn women and I saw each other at similar parts of the bike course. I did drop my chain once haha, on the way back. Luckily it was on a downhill so I was able to get back up to speed again quick. I guess I just need to get used to SRAM Red. Or I'm inept, either one.
My plan was not to hammer, but bike hard/strong and not think about the fact that a run was to follow. Well, it didn't matter because when I got out for the run I felt like no swim or bike had taken place at all. That's what I'm talking about! Finally!!!! AHHHH the arrival of fitness!!!! It feels so good.
I made my signature pee stop after T2 (I just cannot pee on the bike, and this wasn't even a HIM so whatever) and then continued on. Running felt so effortless. I knew I was running a solid pace but it felt so comfortable. I helf off a gear or two for the turnaround and managed to pick it up just as planned for the stretch back to the finish. No knee pain whatsoever :D The only BAD thing was I went sans socks and that screwed me over. I knew from the previous races I got blisters without socks but I've been using it as a way to take my mind off any potential knee pain by forcing a focus of agony on blisters/broken skin :D Not recommended. At mile 3 it was a "pain is temporary, pride is forever", "pain let's you know you're alive" type of motivational sayings over and over in my head to keep me from stopping and ripping my shoes off. And it's not Newton's fault, it's my stupid toes, and heel. So I ran to escape the pain knwoing it would end sooner if I held my pace, but at the same time I was also making it hurt more by running faster so yea it was a good little warrior moment. The great part was finishing with my shoes all red from the blood. Hardcore- that's how I roll.
After the race I went for a quick dip in the cold water and then bummed a hotel pool to rinse off. A quick change of clothes and I was back at Lazy Acres...YUMMY! As such, I missed the awards, but Colleen kindly grabbed it for me. I rushed back home so as not to drive later when I'd begin to get tired, it'd be darker out, and the traffic maybe worse.
In the end I came 1st in my AG and 4th F. Lauren Swigart (25-29) took the overall and knowing how that girl can bike and run I was happy to be only 3min down from her in the middle of IM training. Things are just where they should be, if not better, and I am so so excited, confident, and eager for Hawaii.