Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Wildflower 2015, dusting off the rust

California has my heart
Central California, camping and 2000 of your closest friends...sounds perfect, right?  And somehow I hadn't been to Wildflower since 2011.  Being two weeks out from Ironman Texas, I hadn't wanted to take on the long course race, so opted for the Olympic (can these Ironman legs go fast?) distance race. I'd never done the oly here and was excited to knock out two miles from the swim to T1 and then to only have to run 4 miles after the bike!

The plan was to drive down with Kayla and her hubby, she would race Saturday (crushed it and got 4th in her AG), I would race Sunday while they went wine tasting (insert sad, sad pandas here- they taste and I race?!) and then they would pick me up on the way home from Paso.  There was a clan of Coeur Sports gals racing and as soon as we pulled into the camp area (which is massive) we immediately pulled in right next to their site.  We must all know the best place to camp!

We set up shop, got a chicken kebab (one of WAY too many that I would eat over the weekend) and put Kayla to bed for her pre-race beauty rest.  I rode around the course on Saturday, had an awesome time cheering for folks, and watching the pro race unfold over the last mile of the race.  I've never seen the kind of pain on a face that I saw Saturday on a few competitors guy (Thomas Gerlach I think?) could see 4th ahead and was gritting his teeth like something could just tell he was going to catch 4th or kill himself falling down the steep Lynch Hill on the way to the finish. It was awesome and inspiring.  The women were EQUALLY impressive with Heather Jackson leading the charge and Liz Lyles eating up real estate and eventually taking the W at the line. And they say women's sports aren't as interesting...

I had the bike prepped and stuff laid out, although I think my 9:55AM start was the latest race I've ever started and was excited for my leisurely sleep in time of 6AM on race day....Why up so early? For one, we were camping and once it gets light, you're up and two, the last shuttle to the swim start left at 8:30...leaving me plenty of time to solve the worlds problems before my waive went off.

Pre Race nutrition: not normal but what I had at camp...2 bananas, 2 packets of peanut butter, 1 bite size Bonk Breaker, large coffee on way to swim start and some Osmo to sip on. ~900kcals from about 7-9:30AM

We woke up to thick as pea soup fog, which left me scrambling to dig out a pair of amber Roka F1's from the bottom of my bag (bright as ever the day before for the long course race).  The fog eventually lifted since my wave went off at lunch time and I thankfully also had a pair of the grey mirrored goggles that were PERFECT for the job.  A fresh pair of goggles on race day gets me so fog! I had talked with Mark the night before and he asked me if I was ready to race...even though this is prep for Texas, I believe that if you go out onto a race course, you RACE...there is no such thing as "training through a race" or "taking it easy" for me on race day.  You pin on a number and you respect the course and do your very best. He told me that if at ANY time I felt comfortable, to push harder.  And that's what I did all day long.  I led out our group on the swim.  One gal tried to come with me, but I felt like I lost her pretty quickly.  I sighted well and exited the water in 22min, which was a 1:29/100m pace...Tim (coach at Stanford Masters), hope I did you proud!   I will attribute the speedy swim to my brand new Maverick Pro which not only made me fast, but also left me with ZERO neck chaffing.  #forthewin

Up a MASSIVE hill and onto the trails for a 2.2 mile run to our bikes.  This was a great way to spike the HR and get yourself ready to climb Lynch Hill- to those I passed while making dying animal noises, my apologies! I kept telling myself to not let anyone pass me (we were the next to last wave) and to keep pushing!  Soon enough we were onto the bikes and out into the hills of Central California!

I had ridden the course on Friday and Saturday and knew we were all in for a, can't find your groove, up and down, chip seal kind of ride with a potential headwind on the way home.  All of that came true, but I thought I would be able to cover the 24 miles in 1:20 or just under.  I've been riding the new Enve 4.5's and LOVE them for hills and windier courses. I hit the turn-around after 41 minutes and knew I would need to do a bit more pressing to make it home quickly.  The racers at Wildflower are amazing, so many of the folks that I passed had words of encouragement and were just so kind.  I know that I am serious on the course as well, but sometimes it's nice to still be friendly and not just so uber competitive that we can't get our heads out of our rears!...Your interactions with others on the course don't have to be matched by your inner dialog mantra of "kill, kill, kill!!".  I managed to keep the goal of not getting passed and had passed a fair amount of women so was hoping as we went into the run that my bike and I had begun to be in contention of the AG win.

Bike Nutrition: 2 bottles of Osmo and 1 bite size Bonk Breaker PB and Choc Chip ~275kcals

Team Coeur!
Only 4 mi to go, it can't be THAT hard, right?!!! Uh, wrong...ever done the long course at Wildflower?  Due to the course modifications that have to be made since the swim to T1 transition removes 2 miles from your end run, the olympic run goes straight up Beach Hill.  A gem of a 1 mile climb that had me taking teeny, tiny, count to 10 walk breaks :(  Olympics are so hard for me to get into that right mindset of "it's over before you know it so you must RUN the uphills HARD".  But before you knew it, I was running at the top of Lynch Hill and ready to give my quads a proper beat down with the steep mile downhill that remained between me and the finish line.

I crossed the line as the 2nd amateur and 1st in my AG.  I hadn't been excited about the race before it started, but once I hit the swim, I was PUMPED to be out there's been 7 months since Kona, how does that happen?  Now it's less than two week until Ironman Texas and time to put myself into the bubble of hand sanitizer, staying away from all sick people and a final two weeks of wine deprivation.  The last of which is truly sad as a wine club shipment JUST arrived.  Alas, it'll have to wait until post Texas!

Thanks to my training partners and best friends, they make getting the miles in FUN.  Thanks to Mark for coaching me through it all and to my sponsors for making sure all I have to do is show up and race!

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