This past Sunday, I competed in my first race in almost seven months. I really wanted to test out my fitness after a couple of months of tough training after my recovery from surgery. I knew that my swim/bike fitness was well on course, due to strong training workouts in those disciplines; however, I was not quite sure how my running fitness would fare in the race since I have just begun doing speed workout several weeks prior to the race.
A new addition for 2009 is team travel, which is nice because you don’t have to worry about finding your way around a new city and you will always be staying close by a teammate or coach. I have to confess though, I still managed to get lost biking to the race course (twice)! In addition, athletes are supported by a team bike mechanic, doctor, chiropractor, and massage therapist---so we are very well supported!!
Surprisingly, the race went better than I expected and I finished in 5th overall, but it was a very close race as it was only a few seconds behind first place. The race began with just under 50 women on the starting line and race conditions were very nice, maybe just a bit warm with temperatures in the lower 80s. The swim portion was in a lake with calm, 22 degree C water. I had a descent swim start and was in second position after the first buoy. I was feeling pretty good halfway through the swim and ended up leading most of the second lap. Annabelle Luxford and I ended up exiting the water side by side and I entered T1 in first position.
The bike course was 8 laps with a longer climb and downhill making up most of the lap. I knew that I wanted to try and get the front group small, so I worked the first climb hard and after the climb had a 20 second gap with Annabelle. Unfortunately, we were not strong enough to hold off the chase pack of around 13 or so athletes, but we were able to maintain over a minute lead on the following pack. The bike was not easy, but I was very aware of making sure I was staying hydrated as the sun was hot and the air was very dry.
My second transition was okay, I ended up running out mid-pack and about 7 seconds behind the leader. I started out the run with my legs feeling a bit heavy from the bike and worked my way up to third after the first lap (the run course was mostly flat with 4 mostly shaded loops). At the start of the second lap, I was able to run up to the two leaders and was feeling pretty comfortable. I was expecting my foot to fatigue just after the half-way mark (the foot drop I usually experience) and prepared for it mentally in case I was feeling the symptoms, but they never came! I have not felt this comfortable and fluid in a race in quite some time (since I had my ankle sprain). It is such a relief to know how successful the surgery was and know that my foot is functioning better. It is still not quite 100%, but I still have another six months for the nerve fibers to completely regenerate, so that is also great to know I have room for improvement. I tried a couple of surges in the third and fourth laps to try and keep the pace high, as I did not want the race to come down to a sprint finish because 1) sprinting is a weakness of mine 2) I have only completed a couple of speed workouts so far this season.
Overall I am very pleased with my first race back and eager to try and improve on my next race! My run was the biggest surprise of the day as I felt the best on the run portion and ran 45 seconds faster than my goal time. I have a long season ahead of me and will do my best to stay on top of my body and prevent any injuries with my leg as it is continuing to get stronger.
I am headed back to Colorado and will first recovery from the Europe trip and start another training block before my next race (WCS #3 in Washington D.C.) I am really looking forward to the race in Washington, as we will get to race in front of the US Capitol, White House and many other historic buildings. We also have the opportunity to meet the mayor of DC and help out a kids triathlon race.
The other Americans did very well, as Sarah Groff finished in 8th place and Mary Beth Ellis had a strong finish. Jarrod Shoemaker had another strong showing at his second WCS race and finished in 12th place.
The post race dinner was much better than normal---as the Spaniards treated us to a feast! We were all invited for a free meal inside an amusement park, although we were not able to go on any rides. The food served was plentiful….bread, chicken wings, salad, cheese, sangria, ribs (yes, ribs in Spain…I almost felt like I was home in the US) and a really great chocolate cake!! Of course it was an adventure trying to find the exit of the park…..we went out the way we came in and found we were locked out (we later realized we had to exit from a different area) but, we all just decided to climb over the gate and walk around for 30 minutes until we could find the metro to take us back to the hotel. Fortunately, I was with a big group, otherwise I would have been really lost!!
As I type this now, I am headed back on the plane to Dallas where I will go through customs and wait four hours until my flight back home to the Springs. I really hope there are not any delays because by the time I get home, I will have been up for about 24 hours…..and my body will be ready to sleep!!!!! Unfortunately, Nate will be out of town on a business trip and won’t be able to pick me up at the airport---I have not seen him in almost two weeks, so that was a disappointment to know that he would not be home.
Hard to believe it is already June and summer is here!! I think I can finally pack up all those winter clothes for awhile (Colorado gets some cold days in May).