The days leading into Williamsburg were, honestly, a little sub-par. It all started when my bike was stolen Thursday evening (granted, it was my wrecked bike but this ridiculous story is still unfolding as my bike is now posted on the local Craigslist…) and then my plans to fly in Saturday early backfired when I ended up with a cancelled flight, sprint through the Detroit airport and lost bags, all courtesy of Delta. Luckily, things worked out, Rev3 was kind enough to let me bring my bike the morning of the race and I managed to get to Williamsburg, handle all of the pre-race prep and grab a quick dinner before getting to the hotel I was sharing with fellow Rev3 and Team HPB-er Alyssa around 9pm (sorry Alyssa!). Flying in the day before a race… NEVER again!
Late flights meant I missed out on quality time with this awesome crew:
The stress of the day allowed me to conk out quickly and before I knew it, it was time to get up and go. Alyssa and I went through our pre-race prep and then opened the door to head to transition. It was pouring! You almost had to laugh because, well, that was unexpected! Due to bike drop-off, we skipped the shuttles from T2 to T1 and I drove instead, which made the morning incredibly seamless. I brought my bike to the race day mechanics, who did an awesome job and double-checking everything after my hurried bike build the night before – thank you Rev3 for always making sure athletes get what they need on race morning!
When it got closer to race time, we wandered on down to swim start, where you’ve probably heard by now, that racers were wading out pretty far into the James River before even starting to swim. It was a mix of dolphin dives, high knees, walking through the water – as someone mentioned, it looked a bit like a bunch of Zombies heading out to sea in multicolored caps. I was a little nervous with the chop, especially because I’ve never done an ocean swim and that’s what it was looking like out there race morning. I pulled on my Helix, lined up with the crew and then got sent off by awesome announcer Sean English.
Everyone had been talking about the current and how it was pulling folks to one direction but honestly I never noticed anything pushing me off course. What I did noticed was the washing machine-like quality of the waves – probably the best “hydration” I’ve ever managed during a race swim. It took a good amount of time to get used to the up and down of the waves and figure out when to sight, when to breathe, etc. On the back half of the course, I finally got my bearings and pushed through. I was probably one of the few people happy with my times that day – and I think that’s testament to all of the progress I’ve made in the swim in the past few weeks. I got out and then started the grueling run up to T1, making sure to strip off my wetsuit at the start and carry it up.
And here I made the first of two blunders in transition – I didn’t know exactly where I was (I thought I did but clearly didn’t) and then for some reason the rack numbers were not adding up to where I thought I should be. I probably spent a good extra 30 seconds just trying to find where my bike was in transition. There were spectators directing me and I was so out of it I just couldn’t figure out where they were pointing me to! Once I found my bike, I yelled to the crowd, “thanks for helping the dumb blond!!” and laughed and I ran out of T1.
Onto the bike – I made a quick pass of one girl in transition and then in the first mile or so of the bike. Shortly after another rider came screaming by, I believe the woman who went on to win first overall. I spent a significant portion of the race busting a lung trying to keep her in my sight and I think she’s the main reason I went on to have such a blistering bike split! We cut through a good number of the half riders and most of the Olympic and were just flying through the course. I must be jaded by my time in the Texas Hill Country but each turn I kept asking myself, ‘when is this course going to regain all of these downhills?!” It honestly felt like the entire thing was downhill, with maybe 2-3 short punchy hills on the back half that were honestly pretty insignificant.
It was in this back hilly part that I lost contact with the girl I had been chasing, as there were a few technical parts that I wasn’t ready for and wasn’t going to push with the wet pavement and a still-healing collarbone. I slowed down more than I was happy about and kept kicking myself for not leaving enough time to preview the course by car the day before. But I managed to hold my watts even without a rabbit to chase and pedaled into T2, currently in third place overall.
Out on the run, after losing my bearings in transition yet again, I came out at about the same time as the guy I would ended up running most of the run course with – I love the random friendships you make out on the course, especially when it’s a mostly wordless one J Early on we were running side by side and a girl passed me and he told me to “go after her!” My response was “well then, you’re coming with me!” And so we started tailing the girl who had trucked on past. Ultimately she just had more kick then we did and powered up the big hill on the run course and put a sizeable gap ahead of us. I was happy with my run split but definitely lost time getting up the hill and in doing so used up a good bit of energy, meaning that the last two miles were TOUGH. The hill did have a nice out and back so I knew exactly who was in front of me, behind me and how far back I was… meaning that I knew that I was in fourth place and third was just in my sights.
Typical Rev3 has to put something tough or tricky on the run course and this one was the little out and back you had to conquer after passing the finish before you could turn back into the finish. The #3 girl was just in my sights and clearly fading but I just did not have the final push to catch up and make the pass. I came into the finish happy to be done and WIPED!
New 2:18 PR and 4th overall is something I’m happy with but still think that smarter decisions and planning in the days leading up to the race and in scoping out the course, transition, etc. could have left me closer to the 2:15 range and 3rd place. I’m learning more and more as I get faster and more practice under my belt, that the little things matter more and more. I love this course, loved the medal and hope to come back next year to go even faster!