The past month has been tough physically and even more so mentally. It’s still hard for me to comprehend that a sickness could wear my body down so much. The week leading into Philly I finally had a couple decent rides and swims, my running on the other hand still seemed a little behind. I was excited to race to test my fitness but nervous about performing at the level that I expect of myself.
Friday I arrived in Philly early afternoon, followed shortly by my parents who made the long drive out to watch me race. After a long, exhausting overnight trip I was glad they were able to sleep through my loud trainer workout. That evening we picked up my packet and checked out the bike course, two laps of a highly technical course with four climbs each loop. I wasn’t too worried about the climbs but it had rained all week and rain was still in the forecast so I wasn’t looking forward to the fast technical downhills.
Saturday morning I slept in and did a quick bike and run. Shortly after noon I received a race update email, apparently the water was deemed unsafe to swim in. Due to the many inches of rain that week the water quality was too poor. So I would be racing my first duathlon; we’d do a time trial bike start heading out 20 seconds apart, followed by the run. I had a feeling this might happen. It was more than disappointing but I tried to stay positive.
I got to bed early but slept poorly and I woke up Sunday morning to more rain. Since we didn’t have to bus to the swim start anymore I didn’t need to get to transition until about 5am instead of 4. The rain was still coming down when we arrived. I was happy to see fellow “Minnesotan” Dani Fischer was the first lady in transition with me that morning. We were joined soon after by Robin Pomeroy (The three of us shared the LTF Minneapolis and Worlds overall podium last year and are all racing pro now).
The men took off at 6:30 with the women following shortly. I set out right away with the goal of catching the person immediately in front of me. I did that by the first climb. I was hoping to always have someone in sight to chase but it was quickly apparent I wouldn’t have that. The brakes were my best friend during the race. With the wet roads and technical downhills I was out of aero constantly riding my brakes and holding on for dear life as more and more girls passed me. I’d pass the girls on the climbs but they’d fly by me and disappear on the downhills. I came into transition knowing I’d had a sub-par bike.
Transition was like a mud pit: I just tried not to fall on my face getting my bike to the rack. I got my shoes on and, glancing at my bike as I ran out, I realized I forgot to take my nutrition on the bike, crap. I kept going but hindsight I should have paused the few seconds to grab my Gu and run with it, too late. I ran through transition hoping my shoes wouldn’t stick in the mud. All the athletes were still in transition waiting to start their race so it was awesome to have them cheering us through as we went out to run, probably the coolest part of the race.
Once out on the run I tried to take in as much water as I could, especially missing taking in much needed calories on the bike (that technical course is so distracting!). My first mile beeped in around 6:18 which was great but I wasn’t sure I could hold that. Each mile went up about 10 seconds as the humidity and sun was starting to heat things up and my lack of energy was kicking in. The second lap was a mental struggle for me, I tried to hang on but mentally I fell apart.
I ended up finishing 11th. I was embarrassed by my performance and I just wanted to erase it from my memory. I still have only glanced at the result once because I don’t even want to see how bad it was.
Huge congrats to Dani who came in third behind the two best olympic non -draft racers, Alicia Kaye and Sarah Haskins. Amazing performance! Another congrats to Robin who was 5th overall, great races for both of them!
I am looking forward to racing in NYC this weekend. I’ll finally get to wear my new Blueseventy PZTX4 swim skin, albeit a down-river swim (aka a 12 minute mile) and the bike course is fairly straight forward so I’m excited to see what a couple more weeks of training has done for my fitness.
Thanks to family, friends and Gear West’s continued support, I couldn’t do it without them. Thanks for reading!