The morning began at 330am when T-Swift graced me with a morning wakeup call (aka my alarm went off). I had already been up for over an hour but the alarm was my cue to hop out of bed. My mom and I drove to the race course and transition area was already stirring with contained excitement. I took my bike out of the car and realized my rear wheel was half flat…hmm…not the best start to the morning. Then I noticed that the valve was open – in my pre-race 445am delusional state, I figured this must have been the reason for the flat – I pumped the tire up and headed for transition. (Thankfully I never had a flat during the race, but next time I will be changing this since I was constantly checking the wheel while riding).
I was definitely pleased with my swim - not the time as much as the position I was in with respect to the other competitors in my wave. I started in the front of my group and expected to struggle to keep up with the lead pack. Right from the gun I swam out in front of everyone and was waiting for people to come up and pass me…somehow that never happened! About ¼ mile into the swim we caught up to the wave which started five minutes in front of us and spent the rest of the M-shaped swim weaving in and out of the swimmers. I came out of the water in front of my field and was the first out of transition onto the bike. I guess those hours in the pool are paying off!
The rolling hills of Haines City were a nice change from the pancake flat roads of Miami. My new Argon 18 E-118, with American Classic 58 wheels, felt light climbing the hills and the Shimano Ultegra Di2 made all of the shifting up and down those rollers convenient and easy. Plus, who doesn’t love to hear the little “bzzp” of the electronic shifting?! The last 15 miles of the bike I eased off a little bit. My hamstring randomly started to feel like I had strained it and I was very nervous for how it would feel on the run, especially with hills.
The first loop of the three loop run course was a struggle. About a half mile out from transition we hit two big hills. Combined with a serious side-stitch, I was on the struggle bus for the first 5 miles of the run! At about mile 6 I started to feel great but kept telling myself to stay calm and try to feel good through the beginning of the third loop (up those two hills for a third and final time). It had started to get very hot out on the mostly shade-less course and the lack of hydration from the previous laps was starting to hit hard. Thankfully the side-stitch was gone and I just told myself to “get up the hill and make it to mile 11”…then “get to mile 12”…then “suck it up you’re almost home”!
Thanks to loads of cheering and support by my friends and family at the race, I was able to cross the finish line first in my age group! It was a good start to the season and validation that my swim training has been paying off. I learn new things with each race experience and am thankful for all of my sponsors who have been so supportive of my journey thus far. Thank you to Integrated Security Systems, seemeinthedark.com, Top Dog Cycle, Shimano, Argon 18, and American Classic.
I drove straight home after the awards. Needless to say, climbing out of the car after a 3.5 hour drive was difficult…
Professional cyclist turned professional triathlete living in Boulder, CO.