When your best girlfriend and training buddy plans an epic race weekend a month before the “BIG” race because conditions will be similar to your first 70.3, you go and you dont think twice, especially in a spot like Folsom. I LOVED the sprint last year and had a great time! It was time to give the Olympic a shot.
I went into this race not really knowing what my times should be or even what they had been in the past. After dinner on Saturday night we started looking at race times and I came up with a plan. 3 hours and 30 minutes. The would make it NOT the slowest ever Oly ever finished on this course. (I should aim higher but it seemed like a very reasonable goal that would still make me push myself) I then decided I had better break it down further to make it a bit easier to manage on a tired brain. Allowed an hour for the swim, 1 1/2 for the bike and 1 hour for the run. It would be tight but if I get lazy if I leave myself too much room anywhere.
Olympic waves went off starting at 7:00am. The second age groupers, 40-plus, because thats who I am now, went off at 7:04am. My feet touched the water at 658am. It was in that moment I remembered how close Lake Natoma was to the snow pack. Once the first wave went off and I submerged in the water I started to panic. It was REALLY cold. Ive been swimming at Millerton for two months now and it hasnt been THAT cold. I almost turned around to get out and catch my breath but decided against it since I was determined to show everyone in my life how tough I really am. The swim was .9 miles. Thats longer than it sounds. Straight into the sun and not being able to see any of the buoys until i was right on top of them I was thankful to be a back-of-the-packer. Took about a half mile of breast stroking and kind-of putting my face in the water before I calmed down and settled in. The only thing I fought in the water besides the cold was nature debris and lots of it. Total swim time: 43:05
After I fumbled my way through T1 I was off on the bike. My feet were numb and there were more “rolling hills” getting to the backside of the course than I remembered. I settled in fairly quickly though and kept hearing coach and Courtney in my head. Stay uncomfortable. When I started to get comfortable I would look at my time and thinkI might not make it in the 1:30 I gave myself so I would push for awhile. “Pass the rider in front of you. Good……Now pass the next one.” It felt like a much quicker ride than last year. Once I hit Mile 18 I started to get really nervous that I wouldnt make it…and then saw someone I knew before the turn around not far ahead of me. That flipped a switch in me. Lots of sprinting between there and the park. My heart dropped a little that I didnt make the 1:30 cut off I had for myself but didnt have much time to dwell on it. Bike total time: 1:31:42.
Last year my run was the fastest 2 miles I had ever completed. No time to even over heat. 6.2 miles on that trail is a different story all together. Decided I had better just push when I could and walk when I couldnt muster my legs. Lots of non racers out on the back part of the course at that point. Passed more people than I was passed by and stopped for water and ice (if available) at the stations. Lots of encouragement from my team out on the course which I really needed because I was pretty sure I wasnt going to make my goal time. After the turn around I was starting to wonder how far from my goal I was and just before the Mile 4 marker I figured out how to see the total time on my watch. 3 hours, 3 minutes. HOLY MOTHER…..I could actually beat my time. I did. I still walked some and begged for ice at the last station but I finished with time to spare. Total Run time: 1:07:04.
So what did I learn? That I need to tell the little voices in my head to shut up. That I need to focus on MY race and not where I want to be in a race in my ‘perfect world’. That I need to give myself VERY specific goals to keep me focused during the race. (I think that will help silence the voices) and that I need to spend much more time with the people who lift me higher and not the people who make me bat shit crazy and make me feel less-than. It was a great weekend with nothing but great friends and I needed that in the worst way.