I can't believe I debated this race. After racing Tempe Tri 4 weeks before and having a "good" race, I just wasn't sure I wanted to go do loop after loop around that lake again. The bike makes me so nervous, I never swim well and it's usually freaking hot.
Then, about 2 weeks before the race when the last price increase was about to happened I decided, oh why the hell not. I've been training my ass off, why not go see what can happen out there, so I finally registered.
The only little hitch in the plan was we were finally getting back to Mexico for some much needed R&R. With a busy summer season starting early, our last trip was the first weekend in June. I always forget how much I love this place, but am quickly reminded when we reach the guard gate of our neighborhood and I feel like 20 lbs just lifts off my shoulders. I look to the right see the gorgeous water, open a Sol and breath the fresh sea air. It makes me HAPPY. Thankfully, I had company for some good training so the first morning started out with a quality run inserting some mile repeats and slightly faster than half IM pace. I felt fantastic! The rest of the weekend included lots of beach time, some open water swims and while I tried to be good, probably too many cervesas. All I can say is I have NO regrets!
I was a bit stiff, stuff and bloated from Wed-Friday, as per usual after a long weekend in Mexico, but my legs started to get some pep and my head was in the right place. I was crazy calm and just felt ready come Saturday evening, absolutely no nerves. I knew I was fit, and healthy and after some conversation with Michelle, I was just going to go for it and blast through the race. I had nothing to lose, the race didn't really "matter."
Truth be told I needed some bike confidence. After last year's poor bike split at this race, I actually don't really feel like I've had a bike split that has reflected all the hard work I've put into it this year.
The short and sweet race recap goes as follows: I BLASTED through the swim. I went after it from the get go staying with 2 other girls from my wave. I felt super but was working really hard. I thought to myself, FINALLY maybe I'll actually have a good split. Then about 3/4 of the way through it on the way back to transition we hit the wall of other waves. The two girls I was with veered to the left going towards the inside of the buoy and I went outside the chaos (probably too wide), and tried to bring my kick in to pick up speed. I managed to not lose too much time from those girls as I saw them getting out and up the stairs, but when I looked at my watch and saw just under 35 minutes I realized, yup... another shitty swim.
Thankfully I didn't let it get to me. I hopped on my bike and started to hammer. My goal was SUB 2:40 which I have never done. 2 years ago I biked 2:40 last year (with some mechanicals) I biked 2:44. I had the time of my life on the bike on Sunday. I got stronger on the second loop, and after a teammate (who I'd been waiting to come by) passed me on the 3rd loop, I actually gained more confidence as I was able to stay (legally) with her and actually drop my effort a bit to get some calories in.
On the bike I realized a couple of things. While I've thought I've been racing hard, I haven't. I don't remember working THAT hard (at least for the first 2 loops) in a very long time. It was good to remind myself what it felt like. I did struggle to get my normal solid foods down and had to really bulk up in the last loop. If there is one thing I'm good at, it's nailing my nutrition and I know the consequences on the run if I don't.
I hit the dismount line in about 2:36:30. HUGE bike PR.
As I headed out of T2 I had teammates screaming to relax and find my groove and make the mistake of telling me I was in 3rd place. I was all worked up and tense and just tried to chill. Phew, it worked. I quickly realized that my legs were fine, even after the hard bike effort and the rest was up to me. Within a couple of minutes my teammate that had passed me on the bike caught up. PERFECT. Just what I was hoping for. I figured we could help each other on the run! This is exactly what we did. For about 7 miles we took ~2 min "pulls" trying to keep as close to an 8 min pace as possible. I notice my energy levels a bit lower than normal, but as soon as I would get some gel or cola in me it was like a huge boost! I actually stopped and walked through 2 aid stations to drink FULL cups of cola. I missed about 100 calories on the bike and the harder effort was definitely showing energy wise so I just needed sugar and caffeine.
In the last 2 miles I was tired, but my body felt FINE. I was told the person I was worried might come pass me was 4 minutes behind. I dug. I gave it what I had and I finished the race with an 8 minute distance and course PR finishing in 5:01:48.
For a bit I thought I had landed 3rd OA, but there were 2 gals pretty far ahead that no one saw. 1st overall finished in 4:36 blasting everyone else! She was in my AG, so I was moved up to 1st place AG, 5th OA.
I couldn't be more happy with how the day went. I've spent the last 2 days focusing on my recovery to get my body back for one last super long weekend of training!
I can't believe after all this hard work, the big show is in 3.5 weeks. I can't WAIT.