Ok, so after cycling right out of my cycling shoe at St. Croix 70.3, I was ready for some real racing in Florida this past weekend. With two races under my belt and some great fitness, I was so excited to be back in my winter training playground of Florida where I spend January to March escaping Canada’s winter. Not only would I get to race fast, I would get to visit with my Florida friends and with my Regina friends who had also decided to travel south for an early season event.
St. Croix had been a great event for me. If you forget about the minutes I lost with the cycling shoe incident, my riding was excellent and I had out biked many of the athletes who would be racing in Florida. And I had finally had a great fast run after 2 years of injury. Needless to say, with a bit of fairy dust sprinkled in my direction, I just might have the magical race I had been visualizing.
All of my pre-race preparation went off without a hitch. There was a bit of creaking from my bottom bracket but I wasn’t concerned. Dave had taken care of it and when I checked in my bike the day before the race, it seemed like it was 100%. My bike shoes looked intact, my body was intact and my mind was 100% focused on racing at my best.
At 6:23 a.m., the canon sounded the beginning of our race. The first 5 minutes was so tough. It is almost dark when the race starts, so there is no swim warm up allowed. Instead of actual in water preparation, I spent time practising my stroke and swimming with my bands on the beach and visualizing my Phelps-like freestyle! That said, without doing a few sprints to get your heart rate ready to hit 160 beats, those first few hundred meters are a gasp fest! I settled in on some feet ahead of me, but the feet I really wanted – Jo Lawn in the green cap – were ahead by a few body lengths. I tried everything to catch that cap but I could not. I exited the water with Magali and we were both about 30 – 45 seconds behind Jo Lawn and Amy Marsh. About 3 minutes up the road were the leaders, Leanda Cave and Nina Kraft.
I got onto my bike pretty quick and hit over 350 watts trying to keep Magali in sight but the gap grew on the many turns out of Fort Wilderness. On the open road on World Drive, I could still see the women up the road and I was catching them, but once Magali caught them, they were able to work together and they were out of sight. This was certainly tough for me to watch. I keep thinking that I am not suited to flat courses, but that isn’t the case. The trouble is that athletes can get together and gain an advantage by working together on flat courses, where as hilly rides make that impossible. When I rode up the Beast in St. Croix (16-21% grade – about 6 minutes of climbing), I dropped all the women who were riding with me. But on a flat course, there is no Beast and so athletes can stick together and make it tough for someone riding alone to catch them!! Rats! Regardless, 20 years of racing has taught me never to give into discouragement and to never, ever give up. I continued to ride hard and my wattage was over 200 watts and my average speed was hitting the 38-39 kph mark for much of the ride.
I loved the ride and I rode as aggressively as I could. I could see no one – not another women – not a man – not a draft marshal – no one – but I continued to pound the pedals, hydrate and take care of my nutrition as I prepared to run the women down.
Meanwhile, I was losing quite a bit of time to the women in the pack ahead of me. The pack, which now included 4 women, got off their bikes about 8 minutes ahead of me. Those were a long 8 minutes for poor Dave to watch. You see, my creaking frame was actually cracked along the bottom bracket! Unknown to me, Dave had returned to the transition area the night before the race and had applied epoxy to my frame to mend the break. So when Dave saw these women, some of whom I had out biked 2 weeks prior in St. Croix, get off their bikes so far ahead of me, he thought that my bike had busted and I was lying in a heap of carbon on the road! Not only was Dave just happy to see me when I rolled in, he was relieved to see me! I didn’t even listen to the time deficit – I just ran as hard as I could.
I stayed positive, happy and totally engaged in running fast. Regardless of the outcome, this is a workout and a step towards being a fast racing machine in the next few months. I ran down a few women but I couldn’t put any time into Jo or Magali or Leanda, the race leader, who was way up the road and having the race of her life. I made up quite a bit of ground on Nina and Amy but I ran out of road and finished in 6th place. One of the best things about this run was that I felt fast, my energy was great, my attitude was positive and my heel was absolutely 100%.
I finished the race feeling great and feeling pretty fresh despite racing every single minute of it at my very best pace. That is success. In the meantime, I will build on my swim, bike and run speed in preparation for the REV3TRI event in Connecticut on June 7th and then the Subaru Muskoka Chase on June 14th.
In the meantime, I have savored yet another day in sport – a day well spent celebrating fitness, health and friends! Thanks for your support.