Ride Like the Wind: Rev3 Florida Race Report

What. A. Race. It’s nearly three days afterwards and I’m STILL having trouble walking normally. I don’t think i’ve ever been this sore/stiff in my life!! A large part of that may have been the impromptu 11-hour road trip to Louisiana, but it may have also been the fact that I had a killer bike split, followed by my first solid half-ironman run that included NO WALKING WHATSOEVER, not even in aid stations (my usual run-time killer)!

It was supposed to be a quick trip, with a flight into Florida bright and early Saturday morning and a midnight return back to DC. Instead, thanks to Hurricane Sandy messing up the entire East Coast, I ended up driving back to my parents’ house in New Orleans (where I’m attending a wedding this upcoming weekend) and am currently alternating my lululemon pants and bike shorts as my only “pants” for the week (wedding shopping required but TBD).

But before heading up the Eastern Seaboard, Sandy brought some fun to Southern Florida, including lots of crazy winds and big surf. When I arrived in Venice, this was the scene:

After checking out the sand and surf, I listened to the tail end of the pro panel and caught up with a bunch of other Rev3 peeps, including ChloeElaine, Jaime, JordanJoel and John for dinner, where we all speculated on whether or not the swim would go on.

The next morning, the swim was cancelled—but for very good reason. with rip tides and crazy waves, Rev3 definitely made the right call… which means I still haven’t gotten my ocean/gulf swim experience… guess I’ll just have to sign up for Rev3 Florida 2013…

With so many races in October, and with the simplified bike-run format, I was very relaxed going into it: simple transition prep, bottles prepared, all ready to go. we watched the pros start off with a 1.5-mi run for their run/bike/run duathlon before lining up single file by bib numbers for the time trial start, where we would be sent off one person every three seconds. Turns out as lucky #100 I was the first non-relay age grouper! Not only did this mean clear roads and no fighting for space on the road, it also meant this was probably the closest I’d ever come to experiencing the “competing alone, against yourself on the bike” feeling that so many pros mention in their posts.

And so I rode scared. With no one else to gauge effort against, I just put my head down and PUSHED. Ten minutes in I thought to myself, ‘this is not sustainable’. Thirty minutes in I thought to myself, ‘this is really REALLY not sustainable’. But then a girl passed me and I didn’t want to a) be passed and b) worry about drafting so I fired up the cylinders and repassed to retake the lead. Again, I kept thinking to myself that I’m either setting myself up for an epic blow-up or a fantastic bike split. My watts were through the roof and (with the help of a killer tailwind) I was coasting along at 24-26mph on that first stretch. I love riding fast and this was fantastic.

This was also one of the busier parts of town and I have to pause here to mention that the Venice volunteers were AMAZING! Despite some old-fogey jokes cracked at their expense at the athlete briefing, the volunteers were out in full force on Sunday – it felt like every single stoplight, intersection and driveway had a volunteer or a cop car helping protect and cheer the riders. Almost all were cheering while on volunteer duty, which was a huge boost along the bike route. What’s even more amazing is that most of these volunteers didn’t know what a triathlon even was! I met an older gentleman volunteer who used to do triathlons “back in the old days” (his words not mine) and he was joking about how clueless the volunteers were before attending the volunteer check-ins/meetings. This is GREAT news for the sport and I hope the volunteer enthusiasm means that there will be an even-more-awesome Rev3 Florida in 2013!

And then we turned into the wind. At this point I was getting as low as I could into my already extremely aero-bike fit (thank you Josh Frick and CycleLife) and trying to find the smoothest sections of the road to ride along. a few of the men started to pass me but otherwise it was empty road for miles. It turned into a game of “how many laps of Hains Point do i have left?” for non DC-folks, Hains point is a flat, flat, flat and WINDAY 3-mile loop in the district frequented by cyclists.

The last twenty miles took a toll on me mentally: every time I saw an intersection, I pleaded to the course gods that it was a turn taking us back to T2 and out of the headwind: no such luck. It wasn’t until the last three or so miles that we got a brief break zooming back into transition.

I do want to pause here and say that unfortunately I had a bad experience with a pro triathlete that left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. But first: I HATE drafters and I hate drafting. In fact, I’m reckless when it comes to passing because I would rather blow steam getting past someone than worry about keeping three bike lengths between us. I hate the mental aspect of triathlon and would rather be in the zone and focusing on my bike than what someone else is doing around me.

That being said, with about fifteen miles to go, I passed one of the pro females who had started 15-minutes in front of us. I did it quickly and built up a large gap because when we came around a final U-turn with ten miles to go, she was nowhere to be seen. Out on the run, when she repassed me, she started to say “good job“, so I gave her a thumbs up as she passed. I then realized the “good job” was only sarcasm as she proceeded to make a really nasty comment about all the “drafting I was doing”. Shocked, I responded with “are you KIDDING me?!” and then “[stew] you too!

As promised in my somewhat obnoxious/dramatic tweet, here are my splits/watts from Sunday that seem to indicate very little drafting was going on. Let me also remind you that was the very first age grouper to start, meaning that it’s doubtful I even had that many opportunities to draft out there. Anyways, whatever. Maybe she should have focused more energy on her own race because she ended up dropping out halfway through the run.

The out-of-control blow up I had been waiting for in the back half of the race surprisingly never came. As long as I kept tossing powerbar gels down the hatch and a few salt pills here or there, I never felt terrible. I did wonder how on earth I was going to be able to run though…

bike - 2:28:41

I rolled into T2, grabbed my run gear and set off running. Oh boy, this did NOT feel good. The little voices kept telling me to walk but I was determined not too. Game on. Even though I started my watch, my splits were never right: I accidentally started in bike mode and switched over about a mile in but never quite synced up with the mile signs on the course. The only numbers on the watch were low-to-mid 8:00s so I wasn’t feeling too happy about my run performance for most of the run.

On the first loop, there were pros to watch and two manatees swimming side by side in the canal alongside the route. On the second loop, the winds picked up and I tried to keep myself moving by throwing as much Coke and Gatorade down the hatch as possible. With three miles to go, I took a step and it felt like someone jabbed steak knives through the soles of my feet. I had felt hot spots developing on the bottom of each foot but for some reason my blisters decided to peak simultaneously and in full excruciating force (and they now cover approximately 3/4 of each foot, meaning the only footwear i have been able to comfortably wear are swiftwick socks and my dad’s house slippers… sexy.).

The only thing that kept me going is that with the 2x out-and-back course, I could tell that no one else was making much headway on the deficit I had built on the bike (other than thealways-speedy Tara who flew into second for a 1-2 Rev3 podium – holla!!). Knowing this, I went into survival mode and gutted it out to the finish.

run = 1:42:04

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/52411444]

Also: Joel has a great race report from Florida that describes the bike and run a lot better :)

I was so happy to be done and once i stopped puking back up the massive quantities of Coke and Gatorade i had swallowed, I hobbled over to the ocean, dumped everything in a pile on the beach and started wading into the water. Once I got over the OW OW OW as the salt water stung my blisters, I dove headfirst into the chilly water and it felt amazing… until both legs cramped up fully,  another wave pushed me back down and I struggled to doggy paddle back to the shore. Great, i thought to myself, she wins a race and then dies trying to go for a dip in the water afterwards

In all, a great race and a fantastic way to end my season. In some ways it was a reassurance of my performance at Eagleman, redemption for a miserable day in Vegas and a great motivator for 2013. While I was bummed with the cancelled swim, I already know that my swim needs work so why not end 2012 on a high note? So happy to have competed and shared the experience with the entire Rev3 family.

i mean, where else do they cheer on and celebrate the final finisher with as much gusto as if the finisher had just won the entire thing, regardless of cut-off times and time limits? This truly says it all: