Despite coming in over my goal time of 3:59:59 (lol) this race was a success and I'll tell you why!
A PR by a few seconds over the Lake Las Vegas triathlon even though I swam off course. The course was diamond shaped and during the last quarter I drifted too far to the left. It happened pretty quickly too. Sometimes I get a bit lazy about sighting. If I'm in a good rhythm I don't sight as often as I should. I was in a good rhythm and suddenly noticed there was no one around me anymore. What? All those folks I was with could NOT have outswum me in such a short time. WHAT is up? Popped my head up and saw them all off to the right, swimming on course. Oh crap! So I corrected and figured it added a few minutes to my time. I was expecting to see a swim time of over forty minutes so this was a nice surprise.
Lesson learned: stick to the sighting plan because it works!
The water was perfect once again and this was a nice swim. I really enjoyed it. There was a handful of us women 40 and over, along with the relay teams and we were the very last to start. It was a bit strange and funny. This race had 1500+ athletes and when all was said and done, the venue went from packed to empty. There we were, a pretty small group, gigging and waiting for the horn to go off. It was a lot of fun.
This is not a numbers PR. But mentally it IS a PR. Pumpkinman is hands down the toughest bike course out here for this distance. The last five miles are all uphill, with three sections that are especially difficult, the rest of it a grinding, speed eating stretch up Highway 93. I did as Liz said on this ride. I rode like I didn't have to run after. Although I have no proof, I know in my gut that I rode the first part of the course faster than I've ridden out there before. My time when I hit the turnaround was a pleasant surprise. My time when I hit the guard gate to begin the long climb was also a pleasant surprise. Had the race ended there I would have had a PR. But I'm glad it didn't end there because I got a chance to work on my mental strategy for Silverman and to see how strong my legs have become.
Pumpkinman is a course that I avoid like the plague in training. Just ask Izaac. Whenever he suggests riding the Pumpkinman course, I say I don't wanna! The last time I rode the course was with Tony. I had to stop and rest a few times and walked my bike up the last hill. That really sucked. So I knew I would have to talk myself through those hills.
But first, there was the first 20 or so miles of the course. NO BRAKES! The big scary downhill that I usually brake on – NO BRAKES. I knew this would happen eventually and yesterday was great timing! I got to it, started to grab the brake, and then said f*ck this bitch, I'm going for it. So I moved out to nearly the center of the lane and let it rip. There was a car behind me but I knew he was watching me, I knew it was okay. I let it rip and as soon as I could pulled to the side, the car gave a courtesy honk as he passed, and I worked my momentum up the next hill. It wasn't scary. Proof positive that by doing this stuff enough times eventually I will break through.
My new bike fitting has made the aero position comfortable. So I was aero and playing leapfrog with a couple of girls. I eventually ditched them. Which was awesome! I am so tired of everyone biking effortlessly away from me. Not this time! I still came in last in my age group and near the bottom of the Olympic list as a whole. That is something I want to address next year. But what the age group data tells me is that these girls I was racing on the bike course were younger, which means they started swimming before me and I caught them on the bike! WOOT!
The first hill climbing out the park after the guard gate was tough. It was pretty awful actually. Half a mile or so prior I began talking to myself about it. Nothing but positive strong thoughts. So when I saw a couple of people walking I just kept pushing and passed them. The grind up 93 was a welcome break (of sorts) and I did my best to not look too far ahead. I got passed by a number of Halfmax athletes and passed one other Olympic athlete. A couple of miles up Highway 93 and we get diverted to a portion of the River Mountain Trail Loop. It was here that I saw myself two years ago. There was one lone sprint athlete huffing and puffing her way up the trail. Two years ago I was that lone sprint athlete getting passed by all the Olympic distance people. I said "good job" as I huffed my way past her and she said "thanks good job too."
Not soon enough, we veered left off the endlessly grinding trail into the tunnel that crosses under the highway. Tiny break as the tunnel is relatively flat. Immediately coming out of the tunnel there is a nasty steep switchback climb that isn't overly long but required me to get out of my saddle. This hurt, but at the same time gave me a chance to stretch my legs. Off of that climb into a long flat parking lot where we ride to the end and back. THANK GOD for a break. Go into aero, spin the legs and get ready for the last hill. This last hill is an 8% grade into Boulder City. I stared at the white line the entire time repeating I can do it I can do it I can do it over and over again. The only time I looked up was to pass a couple of people. Out of the saddle a couple of times but I mostly remained seated. Staring at the white line. Then I MADE IT. Crested the hill and saw Glenn waiting for me where he snapped the photo that you see at the top of this post. I cried with relief that it was over and I had made it without copping out once. Got into aero and started spinning toward transition.
Starting the Run. I'm pretty sure my smile here is fake. I got a couple of nice comments on the bright orange PumpkinJersey. A volunteer on Highway 93 said I was wearing a "cool Halloween outfit" and a Halfmax athlete who passed me on the run said it was "perfect."
This is a PR all the way baby! I beat my Midway time by almost four minutes, and that run followed a much much MUCH easier bike course! Finally, I put together a run that is respectable and in line with my quest for constant improvement! Woo Hoo!
It hurt too. I so badly wanted to walk so many times but I forced myself to run the entire time walking only through the aid stations (which has always been in my plan). The course is relatively easy and my intimate knowledge of the route did help immeasurably. At one point I got a side stitch but just kept going. I dilly dallied a little at one aid station and look forward to working on details like that next season. My legs felt tired but more than capable! At one point I was counting my foot strikes 1-10 repeatedly. Another time I babbled on in my mind I love myself I can do this I love myself I can do this. That went on for quite awhile. Some parts of the run felt decent. Other parts absolutely sucked. But I ran the whole way, kicked it in to finish strong, and I'm proud. The fact that I averaged 11:30 per mile is respectable for me and represents my forward progress in this sport.
Working hard to finish strong
In conclusion I am happy with this race and am very happy to be going into Silverman so well prepared. At a party last night I was talking with a friend who was recently in a car accident. She is on crutches and some muscles in her legs have atrophied. She goes to physical therapy and has some type of shock treatment in hopes of waking the muscles up again. There is hope but she will probably be in therapy for quite awhile. I started to tear up again thinking about how my legs just got me up all of those hills, not only yesterday but all season. I am grateful for what I have and where I am even when I come in last.
P.S. Those beyotches in the 40+ age groups are fast! I do want to catch some of them next year (lol)! And of course I mean beyotches with all due admiration and respect. What I really mean is I want to be one of those fast
Danielle told me to make a face so I did. Brinley didn't care she's such a sweetie!