The week leading into Trinona I was definitely nervous since it was going to be my first Olympic distance race of the year and it was going to be the first time I raced highly competitive races back to back weekends. The week went by quickly and too soon it was Saturday, the day before the race. I got up early to get in my pre-race day workouts and get my bike all set for the trip. My Dad and I made the reasonably short trip down to Winona, I picked up my packet and we checked into the hotel. We still had a few hours till dinner so my Dad and I decided to drive the bike course. My first impression was wow this is going to be somewhat technical with the skinny roads, quick ups and downs and plenty of sharp curves, but after the first 10 miles the climb up Garvin Heights and the ride to follow was pretty straight forward. After racing in Bend last fall I no longer fear any sort of elevation, I enjoy the climbs and more so the down hills that follow.
After the ride we met my sister, Lisa Lendway(who was also racing) and my two nieces for an early dinner. I like to eat early to make sure I’m well digested come morning time. Back at the hotel I couldn’t sleep, Dad was coughing and couldn’t sleep either, I tried headphones, pillows over the head, I considered running to target for ear plugs but decided against it. Twice now I’ve had noise issues sleeping at a hotel, lesson learned, ear plugs are now on my travel packing list.
Alarms went off around 4am immediately I ate my breakfast and starting downing water. We packed up my stuff fairly quickly and we were off to the race site. They weren’t quite ready for us when I arrived so I was chatting with a fellow racer who was sporting a lovely Gear West hat. After some good conversation I thought it was fitting that he should get a sponsorship from Gear West teammate Devon Palmer who had sent some bags of delicious Peace Coffee beans for me to pass out.
Soon transition was open and I was able to quickly get setup in my assigned spot. It wasn’t very clear how transitions were going to run so I quickly located a race worker to get the low down. Once I knew where I needed to transition I got into my warm-up routine, by the time I was done transition was just about closing. I grabbed my new favorite Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit, goggles and cap and strolled down to the beach where there were just a few minutes to go.
Lining up for race there was a competitive field of elite women. I did my usual swim style pre-race jumps and shakes to get my body moving and ready to race. Before I knew the horn was off and we were sprinting into the water. I created some distance between myself and the pack right away so I put my head down and concentrated on getting to the first buoy. After rounding the first buoy I was onto the longest part of the swim, I knew I just had to keep my head down and hold a good pace; slowly I picked off some of the men that had started a couple minutes in front of us. Around the next buoy the next goal was getting to shore. As I swam in and stood up I was right next to Gear West teammate Dan Hedgecock. After running through transition together, I got to my spot I was confused, I thought, this isn’t my bike, then I thought, crap where is my stuff, I looked up and saw Dan near the end of the rack, oops I had stopped a rack too soon. I then got to my spot as quickly as I could, changed gear, grabbed my bike and ran.
I felt good about my swim but now it was time to crank it out on the bike. The first portion was out and back so I could see where my nearest competition was before heading up on the climb. The first male, as expected was Gear West teammate David Thompson, he was about 3 minutes in front of me, after the turn around I estimated my next female competition, Cathy Yndested to be about 3 minutes behind, in my mind David seemed too far ahead already and Cathy seemed too close, so I got to work on the bike. The climb up Garvin Heights was very reminiscent of Bend, but it was maybe a tenth of the climbing I had to do there. My pace slowed to between 8-10 mph, all I could think about was the women inching up on me. At the top of the hill I tried to slow to get a sip of water from a Dixie cup, that’s about all I got. Off in the distance I saw a few bikers so I used them as motivation to keep up the speed until the downhill.
As expected the downhill was fast and a nice break from pushing hard the last 45 minutes. At the bottom of the hill I saw Gear West teammate Thad Ingersoll ahead; we were coming into the no pass zone so I cranked out some speed to get ahead. Pretty sure I scared the crap out of him as I biked by and said nice work (sorry Thad!). Just a few miles to go, looking at the time about to cross highway 61 I was a bit in shock, I was definitely ahead of schedule. Mentally I just had to keep it together and finish the run.
Out of transition Thad came blazing by me immediately. I knew I had to be conservative the first couple miles and just get into my groove. I really wanted to keep him in sight for motivation, but I knew I had to let him go and not push it. I was already hurting pretty badly. Taking in no water on the bike due to some water bottle issues, my first goal of the run was to get to the water stop at mile 1.5. After that my next goal was to get to the 3 mile water stop. Around mile 2 David went speeding by me, he did not look comfortable, I thought to myself, I’m in so much pain, but come on everyone is, this is a race! At mile 3 I walked through the water stop to make sure I actually got some water down. Again being out and back I could time where my competition was at, when I saw Cathy I had about 7 minutes but I knew she’d be gaining on me. At mile marker four I stopped and bent over in hopes of stretching my aching hamstrings. The rest of the race was a mental game, I stopped to walk way more times than I would like to admit. At this point tons of racers were headed out on the run course and they all were cheering me on, even when I stopped to walk. Finally the finish line was in sight and the constant cheers from the crowd kept me going. I crossed the line in 2:09:50, 4 minutes and 45 seconds under the course record time.
Overall I was very pleased with the final result, in every race there is something to learn to get better for the next and I definitely learned some lessons here. While I’m disappointed in my run…. errr walking…. it still was a PR run time for me on an Olympic distance race and I look forward to improving that more.
Post-race, Trinona gave away some really cool prizes, a bike, a canoe(!), a set of HED race wheels and more. They also gave away some cool swag to the fastest swimmer, biker, and runner, I was pleased to have won the fastest swimmer and biker. They also had the “King of the Bluff” competition, there was a timing pad at the start and finish of the climb up the bluff, I managed to climb the hill the fastest out of the women, so I earned some more cool swag. Overall I shared the podium with two amazing Triathletes, Cathy and Diane Hankee. Even cooler Lisa won the women’s sprint race, which just about made the day for Mom & Dad. Check out the results. View more photos.