New bike, new collarbone, new season!

I finally got my season off to a start this past weekend, only about six weeks after I had initially planned to kick off the 2013 season. While it wasn’t a PR and I certainly made more than my fair share of silly season kick-off mistakes, it was a nice way to ease back into racing. After receiving my AMAZING QUINTANA ROO earlier this week and I approximated my fit (e.g. lots of hopping on and hopping off my bike on the trainer while giving it a random tweak here or there), swapped out my pedals and hoped that my body would be okay with the new frame and (lack of) fit for the race on Monday. It’s a good thing my CD0.1 is so smooth and easy to ride because after a rainy Friday and Saturday, Monday’s race would be the first time riding my new QR CD0.1 outside.

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This weekend was also exciting because the race also happened to be the Paratriathlete National Championship. Through the the Rev3 Tri Team, one of this weekend’s paratriathletes reached out to me for a homestay because her other plans had fallen through. As a result, I ended up hosting visually impaired triathlete Diane Berberian, who would go on to win her division and earn a spot to the London world champs while racing here in Austin. While acting as her off-course guide for the weekend, Diane got me drinking the long-course Kool-Aid as she told me stories about racing back in the early 90s. I also got to learn more about the paratriathlete community and some of the obstacles she has faced even within that community.

On race morning, things seemed simple enough with just a quick ¾ mile walk from my apartment to T1 but after a quick warm-up, I realized somehow my watch was entirely dead. Instead of having it sit on my wrist and be a useless distraction, I ripped it and my HRM off to throw in my bag even though transition had already closed. The person guarding the gate let me slip in and I threw my wetsuit over the barrier while I quickly ran to put it in my backpack. When I came back… the wetsuit was gone! Thankfully some girl pointed me in the direction of an older man who was sauntering off with my wetsuit in hard. In an "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!" moment, I was able to point out that there was already a wetsuit in his backpack, which was neither a BlueSeventy, nor a female suit like the one he had just blatantly stolen -- he started it off playing dumb that he had stolen it but with some sharp words and pointing out my name written in the suit -- crisis averted!!

view of transition the day before

This weekend I chose to race in the Elite wave, despite not knowing exactly how much fitness I had lost since breaking my collarbone or managed to regain in the weeks since. In fact, I have only been back running for 6 weeks at this point and have only been in the pool for – drumroll, please – eight swims total since breaking my collarbone. I really had no clue how the day was going to go and not having a watch was only going to make it that much more uncertain. But I did get this sweet "P" temporary tattoo that made me feel a lot better than having my aged-up age on my calf:

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We started as the first group after the pros and paratriathletes, both male and female elites together. I loved this because it meant more fast feet to chase after but it also meant I got whacked a few times at the start, causing me to get a little too protective about my collarbone and seek out calmer pockets to swim in. I also ended up swallowing a LOT of potentially contaminated water but thankfully didn’t show any of the symptoms that some other unlucky folks ended up with. Came out of the water not knowing my time with a pack of guys and two girls up ahead and booked it to get in and out of the interminably-long transition.

I passed one of the girls in T1 and then shot out onto the bike with the other girl about 30-seconds ahead. We also came onto the course as the pro women were starting their final lap of the bike so I was able to chase (for a minute or two) two pro women who rolled past before they put a gap on me and disappeared. A few minutes into the bike, I ended up catching the girl ahead and then spent the entire bike trying to maintain that distance.

The CapTex bike can only be described as having lots of turns. Lots and lots of turns. With a four-loop course, with each loop having two tight 180-degree turns and five or so hard turns (one at the bottom of what could have been a fast descent), you really had to take advantage of the few straightaways to get any sort of momentum going. And so that’s what I tried to do, using the other elite men as rabbits to chase on the first few laps and then the later waves of slower competitors as motivation to pass as many people as possible.  I definitely faded some in the last two laps but knew the entire time that the other two girls were hot on my heels. At one point I couldn’t remember whether the course was four or six laps and not having any sense of time or distance, I almost missed the bike turn-off but managed to catch up to another elite male to follow him into transition.

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After another obnoxiously long transition, it was out onto the run course. I can’t say the two-loop run course is the most exciting thing in the world, especially because there is a much cooler path around the lake they could have used, but it was relatively flat and had lots of out and backs to get a good sense of where the girls chasing me were. The only issue was that between the bike and the run course, I couldn’t ever see who was ahead of me – so I had no clue what position I was actually in. On course, there was an awesome DJ and some really hilarious spectators and posters and at one point we ran through an entire block with the most intense bacon smell I have experienced in my life (talk about making you nauseous on the run…) but otherwise the run was unmemorable. Again, I had no clue what my splits were or how fast I was running and was racing totally by feel.

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I ended up doing a 2:26 and finishing as 11th elite (out of 14...), which is about where I started my season last year--minus the injury--but definitely still a few minutes off of my Olympic distance PR. Checking the regular age group results, I would have won my AG, so I'm happy with the decision to step up and race in the faster wave. Beyond that, I know I’m faster and hopefully with a few more swims and runs under the belt and a watch to provide a better sense of race day progress, I’ll be able to drop that time significantly.

Rev3 Williamsburg is up next: I’m working to find time to get my bike fit and ready to roll and licking my chops looking at a race course that is relatively flat and looks F – A – S – T!

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