The trip to CDA this year certainly did not disappoint. I was extremely lucky that while it was a long way from home, it felt quite the opposite. From crossing paths with Leslie and Nate in the airport for the second leg of the journey, to staying with Dawn and Mike who are from DC, to having Hillary in town along with Dimond Van Chris and the TriEqual women: this race felt like home for me. I also always enjoy returning to a race, and having been here in 2012 I was familiar with the roads and routes, as well as the coffee shops for a bite and caffeine fix in the AM. This makes a big difference for being able to relax going in to a race!
I usually wait until the end of the post to thank my sponsors, but this time is different. All of them played a huge role in this race for me, and deserve some recognition here right up top. Smashfest Queen – thank you for creating a brand that gives me a team of women cheering for me and to cheer for on each and every race course. Not to mention the Sakura Sun kit looked BOSS out there! Dimond – fastest bike on the market and some of the best people working for the team. Above and beyond! And traveling with no bike fees from the Ruster Sports Hen House — Thank you! Cadence Running Co – without you guys I literally wouldn’t have made it to the race. Thank you. Powerbar, The Right Stuff, and ISM – A pivotal part to success with nutrition and comfort. Oh, and thanks to the Washington State police man who let me go with a warning for talking on my cell phone and driving. 🙂 OOPS! I promise I didn’t do it again!
Race morning started……early. With the start being bumped up to 5:30 for the heat, it meant a 3:20 wake up call. Not the worst, I suppose……but, not the best. The water felt cool at 72 and we didn’t have wetsuits, but I appreciated the laughs with some of the other pro women as we reminded ourselves that this would probably be the coolest we felt all day and should enjoy it. We were right.
Before this race, I did my homework. I knew that one of my fatal flaws in South Africa was that I wasn’t aggressive enough on the swim with finding the women I needed to stick with. Biking alone was the end of my race, essentially — this wasn’t going to happen in CDA. I stuck to my target swimmers like glue, and I came around the first loop knowing I had at least 1 of them still with me. I dove in and started the second loop, and despite having to swim through quite a few age groupers, we stayed together. I was shocked to find myself leading a group of 3 others out of the water.
Onto the bike! I began riding with Haley Cooper-Scott. Fun fact: I’m a huge HCS fan! She is one of the women who’s careers I followed early in my ironman days, and definitely inspired me to go after that pro card. I opted not to tell her this while we rode, though….
I have been working on my bike A LOT since South Africa. In fact, I could probably count the amount of days I haven’t ridden my Dimond since that day in March on one hand. As a result I am happier than ever riding this bike and I think this day proved that good days to come on the whip are ahead!
Haley is a strong cyclist, and sticking with her proved to be slightly above the effort level I wanted to by mile 40ish. I let her go, and focused on staying clear of the draft zones of the many age group men around us on the course. Initially the pros were supposed to start close to 30 minutes ahead of the age groupers. However, with the earlier start, this got cut down to about 10 minutes. Needless to say, that wasn’t enough to keep the roads free and clear for the female pros, which was a bit disappointing. Given that most of us pro women were riding within 10 minutes of each other, if we could have kept things more clear it would have certainly made for a better race.
Over the span of miles 74 to 83 the temperatures on the road rose from 85 degrees to 100. That is a HUGE jump for a short time, and yes, we certainly felt it. It was simply hot out there. At that point I made the decision to do what I could to hydrate as much. as. possible. I knew I was going to need it. I also made sure to get my salt in me – I use The Right Stuff while on the bike and it has never let me down setting me up for a good run in hot conditions!
Heading onto the run, I actually felt pretty good and controlled. My pace was somewhere I would be happy with even if it wasn’t 100+ degrees on the road. While I was uncertain how it would play out by the end of the race, I knew I wanted to hold on and try to catch as many as I could before the wheels came off — whether they came off of me, or the others, I waned to put myself in money spot while I felt good. 11th place was not where I wanted to stay! Plus, I had Leslie to catch – she was only a couple minutes ahead of me.
The name of the game was just staying cool. It was nearly impossible as the temps continued to rise, but I did what I could and sure enough was able to reel a couple women in. As I started the second loop of the run and found myself bending over to drink water from a leak in a hose that was supposed to be cooling runners down, it hit me that I might be in trouble. Survival mode kicked in and I just tried to hold on.
This got increasingly harder and harder as I felt like my skin was on fire and I was running on the sun. But, I kept moving as best I could. Hitting the downhill finish, I realized I had one woman closing in on me. You’ve got to be kidding me!!! I did everything I could to get my turnover up and my legs moving, but it simply wasn’t there. Still, crossing the line in 9th place and by far my best pro IM to date, I was proud!
For everyone else who crossed the finish line that day: Congrats! If you can do that, you can do anything. Seriously.
Standing on the stage with Leslie the next day was a great moment. Her and I have been working hard the past few
weeks months years to get to this point. It is only the beginning, but boy it feels good to see some results!
No rest for the weary just yet though as we flew home Wednesday and had a day to prep for Charlottesville Tri Camp! One of our favorite weekends of the year was yet to come!