A first race filled with mixed emotions. I write this purposely after a few weeks- allowing myself to think about the race: how it went and how it could have gone differently. The nerves of the first race of the season were there as always but there was a calmness about me that was unusual. I had put in the yards in the pool and the miles on the road -biking and running. The calmness came from the fact that I didn't put too much pressure on myself and I was just going to use this race as an opportunity to see where I was. I had put some great workouts in -some better than I ever had before, but even though the workouts were in the bag I did suffer a knee issue 6 weeks out from this first race. I was feeling much better the few days leading up to the race and I even got a nice deep tissue massage from Ernie Kid of Champions Table Massage. Even though it was feeling better you still have that thought lingering in the back of your mind, what if? Chelsea and I got into Texas on Thursday night giving us some time to acclimate to the warmer weather and not be so rushed. We were very fortunate to have friends in Houston where we would be staying for a few days -a huge thanks to Alison and her fiancé Jelani! To our surprise, when we got there our 8 month old niece and Chelsea's sister, Wendy, had also arrived to celebrate the engagement and to show their support all the way from Rochester, NY. After relaxing Friday and getting a quick run and swim in we ended up checking out one of the local favorites- Cedar Creek Cafe....a very cool place with some good food. After calling it an early night we woke up Saturday packing up to make the hour trip down to Galveston where the race was being held.
As we left Houston, the sky became cloudy and the wind seemed to pick up....it was not going to be a hot race day --mid 60's ....I will take that especially after racing Wildflower(Lake San Antonio, CA) as my first race last year where it was easily in the mid 80's! I was feeling pretty good and was excited to pick up my bike from TriBike Transport. I was very impressed with the whole operation as it was easy, hassle free and gave me a piece of mind that my bike would get there safely. In all honesty...if you have not tried them yet please give hem a try for races you have to travel to....it is one less thing you need to worry about coming into the race.
Shortly after I was on the course and ended up running into fellow pro , Canadian Jeff Symonds- I last saw him crush the course of Wildflower - we chatted about the course and wished each other best of luck for the next day. After the ride, the pro meeting followed- which mind you was in the beautiful Moody Garden Aquarium- where the typical race day logistics were explained. It was more crowded than most as this is a big early season race- everyone is out to see if their off-season training has paid off!
After the meeting we headed back to our home-stay of Beth and Cary.....you guys were the best ever and this weekend wouldn't have been possible without you! A HUGE THANK YOU!
As race morning rolled around I did my double and triple check of everything from my bike to my shoes to my set up of transition. Many people don't realize the importance of a properly planned transition area- it could mean valuable wasted time if not executed correctly. I suggest practicing transitions weekly before really having it down.
After a warm up run , I got my wetsuit on with body glide and Chelsea wished me the best- I can always count on her to be there for me! Thanks Chelsea!
As we hopped in the water the sun still had not risen- we were barely able to see the buoys. After a five minute delay and treading water in the choppy saltiness of the bay the gun went off. After a 6 month wait since Miami 70.3 I was back at it- racing again! I tried to use my new found swim speed from the thousands of yards this off season to get on some feet as part of a group. I was in a nice group till about half way where I just couldn't hold that effort without hurting the rest of my race. However, To my delight there were two others that couldn't hold that effort either and we formed our own new group. The rest if the swim went pretty uneventful and I came out at 29:00. Not exactly what I was hoping for time wise but came out with some riders to work with on the bike.
After a quick transition I started to hit my power numbers. Because there was a strong tailwind I knew that my effort out was going to be less than my effort coming back. After talking to Coach Doug we settled on 310 watts going out then 330 coming back. I hit 311 watts and over 31 mph on the first 28 miles.....I saw at the turnaround my position and realized that there was a big group just about 45 seconds ahead of me. The front of the group would put me at 14th place. After a few miles I caught the group and kept rolling, I was feeling great and hitting my highest power numbers of my life. After the ride was done I had averaged 335 watts on the way back and put myself in 10th place but I could feel my lower quads start to tingle. I did surprise myself though with a 2:05:26 bike split. A 5 min PR.
After surprising Chelsea with how much I had moved up I immediately got after it...probably a little too much. Doug and I talked about holding 6:10-6:15 the first loop of the 3 as I had not been doing as much running as I previously would have due to the knee issue. After that I was to assess how I feel then pick it up if I could. However, within the first mile I knew that this was going to be a tough run as there were 5 guys right on my heals. I ended up running 5:45 -5:50's the first loop and then my quads started to lock up. I had never had this happen to me this early into the race before but I kept pushing. Sadly however, it was not my day and my legs didn't want to cooperate. At one point I had both quads cramp up and my left hamstring cramp as well. I hate to admit it but I actually had to walk a couple times to loosen up my cramps. I knew I had to stick with it and get to that finish line. After a tough run(1:26:18 for the half) I ended up finishing in 4:03:30 and in 23rd place. One of my best times but not one of my best finishes.
After looking back at the race I am happy with how the swim and bike went but know that more work needs to be done. After the first race of the season I am excited to race again at the US Pro championships in St. George Utah the first weekend of May.
Thanks to everyone for the continued support as I pursue my goal of qualifying for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Mont Tremblant, Canada. Next race is right around the corner!! Check out the Pro Start list here- it's a loaded field.