I was super psyched to get my race plan from Kelly on Thursday night with instruction to race hard, hard and harder. Use this race as a trial run for USAT Nationals in two weeks. Showed up to the race this morning ready and raring to go, despite having woken up at 2 am, not able to fall back asleep. I was in transition by 5 am, only to discover that the tire I thought I had successfully changed on Thursday was flat again! I headed straight to bike support to have a tech change it, figuring better them than me, since I must have messed something up when I changed it myself. Got it all fixed up and finished setting up my transition area. I was able to rack right next to my friends, which made the morning so much more fun!
Before I knew it it was 6:30 and time to clear out of transition and get in a quick 10 minute warm-up jog. This was the first time I have ever done a warm up for a tri as part of the test for Nationals and I loved it. I was ready!
Swim - 11:28
It seemed to take forever for our wave of 29 and unders to be called into the water, but the gun finally sounded and we were off! I started swimming right away, but it was the most physical swim I have ever been in! We haven't had much rain this summer, so the water is really shallow and a lot of people chose to walk aways, even though the gun had sounded. I finally got out in front of the walkers and had some clear water out to the turn buoy. Got caught up behind some slower swimmers from the wave in front of me, but was able to swim strong and sight well the whole time, so it was a great swim. I was third out of the water in my wave, 1st in my age group and 22nd overall.
Bike - 58:58
The bike started off great. I ran out and got clipped right in, no problems! Headed out on the bike course feeling strong and passed a bunch of people pretty quickly. There is a railroad crossing on this course, just before the 5 mile mark. As I approached it, I started to hear a train's whistle. At first I was in denial. Saying, "No, no, you've got to be kidding me, this isn't happening, I hope they are kidding, they'll stop the train, right?" Well no, they don't stop the trains, they stop the racers. A group of about 30 was waiting for the train to pass and a USAT official took our numbers so that we wouldn't be penalized for the down time. Luckily it was a short train and I was off again almost as soon as I stopped. I quickly passed everyone in the train group and had an awesome stretch of road all to myself. I was hammering along when everything started to feel soft and my speed slowed. I was in denial again (sensing a theme) for .2 seconds before I realized if I was going to get a flat, now was the perfect time since bike support was right in front of me! I waved them down and they got to work changing the tube and finding the cause more quickly than I ever could have (especially since I was shaking and trying not to cry). While my tire was being fixed I gave myself a little pep talk - "You are not out of this, you are not quitting, race your own race and practice pushing through for Nationals." I got back on my bike and took off with a very grateful thank you to Syracuse Bike! Now I had to go catch all my friends that had passed me while I was stranded on the side of the road. One by one I found them all :) I hate to say it but that setback may have been just what I needed to get refocused to push hard for the rest of the time on the bike.
Run - 24:08
I was in and out of T2 quickly, and almost immediately saw Coach Kelly yelling and cheering for me to run hard. I couldn't help but smile as I yelled out to tell her about my flat. I'm pretty sure she said something about forgetting it and just running. So run I did. It was very unremarkable - flat, one loop out and back. For some reason there was only one water stop (there were supposed to be two) but I have to thank Doug and his wife for remembering I had said before the race that I would be looking for a cup of ice. Sure enough when I came around the turn they were waiting for me. Huge, huge thank you! But the run was the only piece of my race today that I'm not thrilled with. I know that I can run faster. For some reason I just seem to have this mental block racing off the bike. But I know what I have to work on.
Total time - 1:37:05
I wound up just 6 seconds behind 1st place in my age group and 24th overall, despite the flat. I didn't time the stop on the bike but if I had to guess it was at least 5 minutes. Figuring that in, I would have cracked the top 10 (8th I think?). I am thrilled. This race was an important lesson in not giving up. I have heard so many times, from so many different people, that if you flat in a sprint you should just give up. Well I'm here to prove that it isn't over till it's over. There is no reason not to pick yourself up and keep going. Podium spots are fun, but until I'm a pro making a payday from placing in the money, it doesn't make a lick of difference whether I came in 1st or 2nd or off the age group podium all together (although I do love my Iron Girl charm!).