Last weekend I ventured to the Wisconsin Dells (via Chicago) to race. A perfect pre-race day weather wise greeted me and I checked out what the course had in store for us on Sunday. The bike had a few hills, some rollers and lots of beautiful farm views. The run was hilly the whole way---not a bit of flat ground.
After living in California for three years I have gotten used to the obligatory sun that shines from May-September. The midwest offers lots of green but to have green you need rain. Unfortunately, rain is what we got on Sunday morning. I knew there was a chance since the weather peeps had put it at about 10-40% depending on which website you checked. There were rumblings in transition that it was only supposed to sprinkle so I remained positive that it would not be a redo of last year's downpour in Chicago. I was wrong. Sprinkles quickly turned to a steadier rain and just before entering the water to warm up it became a solid downpour. I won't lie and say I was still super motivated and ready to go---the rain definitely dampened my enthusiasm a bit. However, once I got in the water all the trepidation faded away and I was ready to go.
Since it was an olympic distance raced stacked with short course specialists the swim was on from the start. I remained in the chase pack until about 1200m and then a large piano came crashing down on my back. I literally felt myself sink in the water. A couple girls who were swimming behind me came around me quickly. I focused on building my kick into it since I had to run up a steep hill right out of the water. I thought about not crossing over because as Andy says, when I get tired during our open water swims in Lake Berryessa (he kayaks), I begin to "snake like Alberto Contador climbing a mountain." Tight core, turn the arms over and kick was all I said in my head for 300m or so. I was happy to have pushed myself so hard to reach this point but I would have preferred to last through 1500m!
I ran uphill and jumped on my bike. It was pouring. The first 1.5 miles were on a narrower road with a lot of curves so I took them a bit more gingerly. I felt like everyone was biking away from me awfully quickly. However, once I got out on the main road I could see my competition was not that far ahead. Well, not all my competition, but some. I biked hard and tried to be brave on the fast descents but as I recounted to a friend in an email post race I did have the thought "I am too old to go down and break bones." His response was appropriate because he basically told me to toughen up and asked if I was in the "osteoporosis division."
I biked as hard as I could muster, made a few passes and laughed at the absurdity of biking in a downpour. It was a replay of Chicago minus the potholes on Lake Shore Drive. Other than puddles the course was in great shape and I was not worried about going through a puddle that was actually a huge pothole. I made my way to the finish of the bike and was relieved to get there unscathed but also felt like I could keep going. Except for Alcatraz, I have done all half ironmans this year and I think the lack of specialization in training for the olympic distance showed. This was probably magnified racing against the caliber of athletes that showed up in Wisconsin.
I got out on the run course and felt pretty smooth but not super strong. I just needed a bit more speed (and some killer instinct too). Laurel and Kelli passed me and then I was stuck in no man's land with no one to chase and no one super close behind me to hold off. I was alone in race pain and struggling to push myself harder. Mentally it was tough for me.
I finished 9th. It was not great, it was not bad. Next up is a good training block to prepare for Rev3 Branson in September.