When you live in Texas, any race within driving distance (especially a 70.3 event) is a must-do, seeing it takes a minimum of 3 hours to get out of the state itself (8 if you are going west). Lonestar 70.3 in Galveston happened to be the Professional National Championships this year, so I figured despite it being a pancake flat course, it would be a good challenge and of course the the added bonus that Derick (my husband) and I can pack up the car, drive 4 hours south and be back home the evening of the race.
I viewed this event as a big one, one which I wanted to do well at. While I did not go into it on a ‘full rest’ since Coeur d’Alene is my focus, I did allow myself a few days of recovery to go into this event feeling strong. We drove down on Friday afternoon, settled into our hotel on the ‘Seawall’ and later that night, about 1:00 AM, were welcomed to Galveston by 75 mph winds and what appeared to me (being from Indiana) to be a hurricane. The next morning things were still quite windy, but I made it out for a quick 30 min spin and a 15 min run, only to later find out that these winds were only weaker than Hurricane Ike’s winds by 10 mph; so this was not a ‘normal’ occurrence for Galveston. Luckily, Sunday was predicted to be sunny and calm. I got my workouts done, threw on my Zoot compression socks, put my legs up and proceeded to lounge around our hotel room watching bad TV until the 3:30 pro meeting. We had a nice early dinner with Richie Cunningham and his girlfriend Melissa and were back to our room by 7:00 or so. I shut the blinds and acted like it was not a beautiful evening outside; just helps my body start to think about sleeping a bit, unwind and get ready for the 4 am wake up call.
Sunday morning was beautiful relative to the previous morning, and we arrived to Moody Gardens with more enough time than necessary on race morning; logistics were great for this event. It was seemless to get into the parking lot and the layout was simple, thanks to the Jack and Adams crew and Keith Jordan and his clan organizing the event. I got the transition set up and meandered over to the swim start, which was off of a pier into Galveston Bay (yes, the one Robert Earl Keen sings of).
We were off right at 7:03 AM, 3 minutes behind the pro men. It was non-wetsuit as the water temperature was 72.8, and it was actually pretty balmy. I usually love non-wetsuit swims, however today turned out to be different. I really struggled out there; this coming right on the heels of having a great swim in California only a month prior. I do not swim well in chop, and this surprisingly was extremely choppy. I knew by the first turn that I had lost the first pack, but I tried to focus on swimming strong nonetheless. Every time I looked up, it seemed I was greeted by a firm slap in the face by an oncoming wave. I was shocked out there! We were in a ‘bay’, wasn’t it supposed to be calm? I thought to myself how tough this swim was going to be for weak swimmers, as I am a strong swimmer and was really struggling out there (hence the wetsuit comment). I carried on, tried not to worry about the fact that the small lead women’s pack was slowly fading into the distance and kept plugging away. The ‘Swim Finish’ banner could not come soon enough for me.
It was out and onto the bike course, literally 28 miles out in one direction, then back. I am on my new Quintana Roo CD0.1 this year, and this thing rocked for me today. We dealt with some pretty strong headwinds and crosswinds on the way out, and I plugged away as hard as I could. I was sitting in 5th out of the swim, passed two women after the turnaround and then was passed by one on the way back in. I found myself repeating the acronym “CMAO” out there… which stood for ‘cycling my a*s off’. I have found that if I have any hope of being within the top 3 of a 70.3 event, I cannot afford to come off the bike far back. So, I did all I could to keep myself with the top 5 or 6. I stuck to my regular nutrition plan, one gel flask filled with 4 Raspberry PowerGels, and 3 PowerGels taped to my top tube, all of which I consumed (along with just water for hydration). This has worked out well for me as it prevents any stomach upset mixing gels and energy drink. By the time I hit mile 45, I found myself thinking two things: 1) I am getting bored with this flat-ness and 2) My butt and upper legs *really* hurt right now. Luckily the last 10 miles went by fairly quickly, and it was time to get to the run and see what this tough bike course had left in my legs.
I came into T2, racked the bike, threw on the Zoot Ultra TT2.0’s, grabbed my gel flask, Jack & Adams visor and was OFF. I was sitting in 5th place and from what I was being told, about 5 minutes out of first. That would come out to 1+ minutes per lap (a 4 loop run course) that I would have to put on the winner. It would be tough but I sure as hell would try.
I do not get my splits as I like to mostly race by feel, but I glanced down at my watch and noticed I was clipping off a few 5:45 to 5:50 miles right off the bat. I was pretty surprised, knowing how much I had left on the bike, but I tried to just relax and settle into a rhythm. It was so awesome being here in Galveston, because I was hearing so many people cheering for me and yelling my name! I guess that I know more people in Austin and Houston that I realized! It really got me fired up and I cannot tell ya’ll how much it helped. I slowly put time on the leaders, moving from 5th to 4th to 3rd, which was where I would settle. Unfortunately, I ran out of real estate, as I crossed the line only 36 seconds out of 2nd place, however I later found out that I had run a 1:18.18, which for me was a phenomenal run time and nothing to be upset about. I celebrated a bit going into the finishing chute, knowing that I had laid it ALL out there and when you do that, there is absolutely nothing to be unhappy about. I pushed my body to its limits, as I feel I always do when I compete. I was 3rd overall in a tough field, and I have to commend all of the other women in the race today as they all raced strong and made me work hard for the finish.
I have to give a HUGE THANKS to my sponsors. PowerBar nutrition and gels have become a staple for my races and training, and I know that when I stick with PowerGels in a race, I will make it from start to finish feeling strong and my stomach feeling happy. Quintana Roo, a new sponsor for 2010 has been amazing; not only do I love the CD0.1 for it’s comfort and my ability to produce good power on it, but QR has great people working there and they have been nothing but supportive. I feel like this bike was made for me! I have been with Zoot Sports for a few years now, and their clothing and racing shoes are second to none; the shoes always keep my feet happy both during the race and after. Additionally, Jack and Adams, Xcis Software, Advanced Rehabilitation, 3 Cosas Massage, Hill Country Running and Go with the Flo Accupuncture have all been nothing but supportive and I thank you all for that. Finally Chris McCrary at Katalyst Multisport, thank you for believing in me. And of course my parents and my husband Derick, words cannot describe how much your endless support means to me.
To wrap it up…I never really race for 3rd, I am always racing for 1st. Sure, I may or may not get it but that is always the goal; why shouldn’t it be? Just as my blog title says, I live by the motto ‘Aim High’. That said, when you know that you get up and give something all you’ve got, there is no reason to hang your head down. Don’t ever be afraid to try something; whether you do or do not achieve it, I guarantee that you’ll come out better, stronger and knowing a lot more about yourself after the fact than had you of never tried. It’s not easy, but it’s not supposed to be easy. That’s the beauty of these things; they make make you see what you’re truly capable of, whether you realize it or not. Thanks for reading, and see you out on the race course, I hope!