The race started at 12:00pm, 92 F. The course was 1 lap swim, 8 laps bike with a small twisty hill, and 4 lap run along a road one way (no shade) and pathway on return (some shade). It was my first race this year where there was no chance of rain and I was not wearing a jacket at the start to stay warm. Given that I have been training in Austin where temperatures are routinely in the 90s and thus used to dealing with heat I thought - no problem, my body will be able to handle this... 2 hours - thats all right! I was ready to swim, bike and run up to my potential. I felt good and was excited to race.
The gun went off and I was perfectly positioned next to Hayley Piersol, just one of the USAs amazing swimmers in the sport. I just had to follow her and I would be ok. I followed her right into the first pack and swam comfortably on the feet of the leaders and specifically Sara McLartys for the first 900meters or so. I kept thinking this is good, stay here and don't let them go... but then around the second buoy Sara decided to strap on a turbo jet and my wonderful draft was gone! Just like that. I had no feet, no Sara pulling me along happily and I found myself having to work very very hard to close a gap that was opening up. Ugggg. The gap ended up being around 15 s and despite the fastest transition (which I am quite proud of) and working so super hard to close the gap on the bike - I failed. Second Uggg.
Jillian Peterson pulled up to me with Jennifer Speildenner and she was going super strong. It is with these two that I rode the 8 laps. Not much to say on the bike except that I felt fine, had lots of time to drink and actually ran out of my GU brew... 2 large bottles in 1 hour. It was that hot.
So the run began and I just heard Zane's voice in my head saying 'run up to your potential, grab someone and stick with them.' No where did I hear in my head "Respect the heat - It will get you if you do not conserve". So off I went running. I passed Jillian, passed McLarty and was all of a sudden in fourth! Brilliant. I would be lying to say it didn't hurt but to be honest after the second loop I was feeling ok. I believed that I was holding a pace I could sustain. The numbers were right (if not slow). It was not until the 3rd lap that I started to think wow I am really getting hot. Then I started to think, this is really hard and I am not really loving this right now. Then I started to think, I hope I can finish (that was on the 4th lap). Then I stopped thinking and just tried to stay on the path (the weaving, closing my eyes began). I crossed the finish line and was helped to the medical tent where I was given ice, water, a place to rest.
I ended up seventh. It was a great race on many different levels but mostly because it was a great race to prepare me for the Pan-American Championships in Puerto Vallarta. I felt rusty going into this race as it was my second ITU race this year but now it is like the chain has been lubed, a few aha moments happened and I have no doubt that I am on the right track.
On my way back to Austin now and will definitely be working hard. I will keep you posted but mostly my blog will be me saying I eat, I sleep, I train and once in awhile get excited because I have discovered a new icecream to make in my new ultimate icecream maker. Stay well my friends, congrats to all my fellow racers this weekend and thank-you volunteers, race officials and City of Tuscaloosa for a great race!