On Friday night I went out to dinner with Charisa and her husband Steven. We had received an email from the head referee that night informing us that the water was close to the 68 degree cut-off for making it a non-wetsuit swim. Charisa and I were both without speedsuits so we discussed what we were going to race in if it turned out to be no wetsuits. I will admit, the swimmer part of me hoped for non-wetsuit as swimming is my strength but at the same time, 68 is freaking cold. Luckily, I brought a swimsuit I could race in on the off chance it was no wetsuits. I had a good dinner with great company, got to bed early and woke up ready to race hard in my season finale.
When I arrived in transition around 6:45 (love the 8am race starts) it was rumored to be a wetsuit swim. I was pretty happy because being cold kind of stinks. However, 30 minutes later we heard from the race official that the water was 71 degrees and we would be racing sans wetsuits. My warm up run took me back to the car to change into my alternative race outfit. Most of us did not have speedsuits so I did not feel at a disadvantage without one. The race started on time and we were off in the calm waters. I felt pretty good at the start but picked it up a bit after the first 5 minutes or so and settled into a good pace. My sighting was good and I swam most of the race with Ian. For some reason I felt like I was WAY behind. I don't know why but I envisioned tons of pink caps ahead of me. However, I came out of the water about :55 behind the women's leader. I was happy my swim and was ready to get on my bike and really push myself. My cycling is improving and I wanted to end the year with a good ride. I took off and went hard from the beginning. My legs usually hurt at the beginning of the ride but tend to come around after about 10-15 minutes. My watts were solid from the start I rode hard because I was determined to hold off my competitors for as long as I could. At the first turnaround I was able to get a look at the gap to the leader (about 2 minutes) and see where the other girls were. I had a bit of a gap to Christie and Charisa. Now, let me tell you, I was biking scared. I thought they would catch me. Nevertheless, I put my head down, told my legs to shut up and RACED. I was not going to let them catch me without a fight. This has been one of the many lessons I have learned in my first full year of racing as a professional. You have to RACE. Of course, I am not going to try to stick with Tyler Stewart if she rides by me but I know that I need to pick it up a bit and if someone is close behind or just ahead I need to raise my game. As an age grouper it felt like one big time trial. People were all around and you were not quite sure who was in your age group, etc. It is totally different now. I have to be in the race. If I let the train go by and don't try to stick with it I am out of it. Anyway, back to the race. About 2/3 through the bike I had a bit of a bad patch, my legs were burning and my watts dropped just a bit. I remained focused and slammed down a Powergel with 100mg of caffeine. This brought me back---the watts came up and I finished the last bit of the ride strong. On the last out and back I got another glimpse of my competitors and I had held them off! Lastly, I saw a tarantula ambling across the road. Pretty cool and I was glad I did not run him over.
I came off the bike 90 seconds back from the leader. I knew that Annie was a really solid runner so I settled into a good pace but did not blow myself out trying to catch her the first loop. I knew that I would need energy for that HUGE hill and to not get caught by anyone behind me. It was pretty warm as well so I had to be smart. I saw Annie at the turnaround and she looked to be running very strong. When I made the turn I saw my competition. One girl was right there. I thought to myself "where did she come from?" I was sure that I had not seen her on the final out and back. However, I could have missed her. She looked to be running really well. The race was on. I wanted to hold her off. I made it up the hill---holy crap it was long and steep and started my second loop. I decided to run a bit faster on miles 5 and 6 to try and hold off the fast runner behind me. I made it to the final turnaround and she was right there and running strong. I dug in as much as I could. I tried to save a little energy for the final hill so I could power up it and hold the fast charging girl behind me. Well, she caught me at the base of the big hill. I stuck with her for about 1/2 the hill and then I completely blew. My right calf was on the verge of cramping and I had the chills. She started to run away from me. I was pissed. I hate being passed on the run and especially less than a mile from the finish. I completed the final hill and was happy that I would not have to run it again (until next year). I mean really, that hill was torture! I finished in 3rd and only 1:20 behind Annie. She had a 3:10 lead on my after the first loop of the run but I had slowed down a bit. I had no idea I was that close. Anyway, I met Andy at the finish and while I was happy with my race I was a bit disappointed to give up 2nd place so close to the end of the run. Andy said "good job, you were 2nd." I was confused, 2nd? I had just crossed the line in 3rd. He told me that the girl in front of me had missed the final out and back on the bike and was disqualified. It was a bit anti-climatic but I was happy that I had held on to my 2nd place finish. However, I still had been passed on the run and that never makes me happy. The one thing that did make me extremely happy was the fact that I had not been passed on the bike. What an accomplishment---to get on the bike in 2nd place and come off the bike in 2nd place :)
Now it is time for some intense rest and recovery and little trip out to Kona to watch a race there next weekend. I leave tomorrow. I am taking a few swimsuits, some shorts and a pair of goggles. No bike. Mahalo for reading my final (triathlon) race report of the season! After the trip and the rest there is more to come....
(ps--I'll post some pics from the race when I get them)