It had been about 4 weeks since I last raced and HB had shifted me from bike centered training to more run focused. I had never put in the number of miles I did for the last 3 weeks or the intensity they were done at but I was really enjoying it. I think my body was a bit shocked to be running so much but after getting back into the routine of stretching and foam rolling things were looking good for this weekend.
I had been looking forward to this race for a few reasons. For one, I was excited to race a flat race that could simulate Eagleman (minus the heat) and to test out what my run could be. The second was that my parents were coming down from New York for vacation and stopped to watch the race. I also had a new kit to try out with my new Saucony A5’s plus our ‘Team DL’ hats to rock!
Friday brought a lot of rain all day and into the night. When we went to bed that night, Duran and I weren’t sure what Sunday would bring in terms of weather. It was calling for 70% chance of rain and flash flood warnings kept going off on our phones all night.
Luckily when we woke up race morning it wasn’t raining and the wind didn’t seem too bad. The race had two different transitions for the bike and run which made it a bit of a logistical nightmare but it ended up working out fine besides them not having any water at T1 for people to fill water bottles.
Side note: this was my first race ever signing up for the “Open” division since I’ve never felt quite worthy yet of being in the elite group. Especially knowing I will probably get dropped on the swim fairly quickly had made me hesitant to sign up but I knew it would help me with the bike and run part of the race.
I entered the water not expecting it to be so cold but it seemed the rain had drastically chilled the water as my feet immediately started to go numb. I was definitely intimidated lining up with the open competitors. I knew that I needed to swim a strong race and not worry about being dropped right off the bat. Once the gun went, we were off. This race has a two loop swim course and I made it a goal to not be caught by the group going off 3 minutes after us as long as possible. I didn’t feel great but didn’t get passed for quite a while and took that as a good sign and made my way around the loop twice and headed out of the swim. I looked at my watch and was pretty happy with my time since this course is usually a legit distance so I know my swim is improving and I didn’t get eaten by a gator…double win! As soon as I started to run to T1, my feet were frozen which for me isn’t out of the norm but really annoying when trying to run and then put on your bike shoes.
This course is known to be fast but with the weather I figured we would be in for some sort of headwind at the beginning of the race. Luckily, the wind wasn’t blowing like it was the day before and we only had a slight headwind to deal with. I headed out and immediately was hitting the watts I wanted and even a little over which was fine with the headwind and hoping to have a tailwind at some point to bring the watts back to where I wanted them overall. It was nice starting in the first group because I didn’t have to constantly say on your left and even had some people to work with on the bike! At about mile 25 or so a girl came and passed me. Honestly, my first thought was…damn that doesn’t happen often but hey I’ll go with her. I stayed with her for about 5 miles but she ended up hooking on to another group and pulling ahead. I knew in my head I would need to catch her on the run. Looking back, it was probably best I let her go since to keep up, my watts would have been way too high for me to be able to run well off the bike. I had three GU’s throughout the bike in case people are wondering. At the beginning of the race they announced that the bike course had been underwater and we would be re-routed to the old bike course from a few years ago which include a bumpy road. Holy shit, they were not kidding. I had way too many curse words come out of my mouth that even my old hockey coached would not be proud of while riding on that road along with thinking my shoulders were going to break. The only good part of being on that road was how pumped I was to get off it and hammer it a bit to T2. *The bike course was short by about 3 miles by what some of the other competitors had on their Garmin’s.
When coming into T2, you can see the start of the run and who is already out on the course. I saw Duran first and managed to yell a good job to him and then was able to count the 2 girls that were ahead of me.
As I entered T2, I saw my parents waiting for me and they were able to tell me I was 5 minutes down from 1st place. Once I heard that, I decided I was going all in on this run and see where it left me. I headed out and clocked 6:30’s for the first two miles and figured I had to be making ground on the girls already. That was confirmed by Duran as I passed him saying they were probably one or two minutes ahead of me. Since the run was a 2 loop out-and-back course, I broke it down into 2-10K’s and raced them as that too. I managed to pass the girl who was previously in 1st at about mile 3 and saw the other girl at the turnaround…I was close. It’s worth noting this course is done on a side-walk and with all of the rain, the puddles were long and deep on the course. Many racers were going around the puddles on the grass but I took a more direct route and pretended I was competing in the steeple chase and doing high knees right through them. Your feet were going to get wet no matter what so it didn’t matter to me if they got soaked! I finally made the pass on the first place girl before mile 4 and tried to put some space between us but she was hanging tough. At the next turnaround to head out I had only 30 seconds up on her so there was no letting up. I was not only pushed by her but also to break the 1:30 half mark that has been my goal for quite some time. I always go into the run trying to take 3 GU’s and grab water but only usually manage to get down 2 which was the case for this race.The run course got more crowded on the second lap but again most people were going around the puddles which left plenty of room for me to run right through them. I made it to final turn around to only see her still there! I knew if I let up at all she would surge and pass me. I told myself treat it like a 5K and finish it off. With about 2 miles left I ran up to one guy who said, “I hear you”! He had a kit on that said “Put the hammer down” so I proceeded to respond, “you better do what your shirt says” and off we went to hammer those last miles. With one mile left I had a good feeling I would have the win and it turned into a race against the clock! I was so excited to finally break that 1:30 mark for the half and feel so strong doing it.
Overall: 4:35 – 1st Overall Female
I’m happy to see how my body performed and even more how I felt after the race. After the Florida race my body was beat up. My hips felt like knives were going in them and I felt really run down. But, after Charleston, I felt like I could easily train the next day and wasn’t waddling when I walked. This race was the last time I will race with Finn – my Felt B12 but I can’t wait to get on my new bike!!
6 weeks to put the head down and as Duran says, “finish the mission!”