Today is July 18, middle of the summer; yet as I write my fingers are just beginning to thaw!! Let’s just say that the triple digit heat we’ve had in Nashville for the last 6 weeks did me no good in Lake Stevens, Washington. The though of racing in the Pacific Northwest sounded very appealing but what I experienced was quite the contrary…
I was greeted at the Seattle airport by Timex teammate and Ironman Live reporter, Dave Erickson and we drove to a local Tri shop for a Q&A session that Dave was filming. Tim O’Donnell and Mirinda “Rinny” Carafrae were the special guests. What a great way to start out the weekend!
Dave and I woke up Saturday morning and drove to the race site in hopes of getting in a quick swim. We were both eager to try out our new Blue Seventy Helix wetsuits fresh from the van of rep, Ryan Van Derloop! We arrived at the lake to the site of pure beauty; crystal clear water surrounded by evergreen trees. I dove off the dock and found my breath leaving me very quickly…it was COLD! Dave was laughing at me because in reality this 70 degree water was not at all cold. Heck, I have been swimming in pools between 85 and 90 degrees so it felt cold to me!
Next we jumped on our bikes to ride the first 10 miles of the course. Nashville, TN is far from flat, but believe me when I say this course was hilly! Again I found myself gawking at my surroundings….beautiful.
We headed back to the car to drive the remainder of the bike course (and man am I glad we did!!) This bike course was nothing short of hellacious but it was good to see it ahead of time. We checked in at athlete registration and stuck our bikes in transition. It was beginning to rain but nothing like what was in store for race day!
The alarm clock went off at 4:30 and we were out the door by 5:00. My wave (M30-34) went off at 6:41 just behind the pro wave. I got my transition set up and headed to the swim start for a warm up. My wetsuit felt awesome and I was itching to start. The swim start was an in-water start and there were over 100 in my wave. We inched forward to the first buoy and seconds later the gun blasted. I positioned myself a bit more aggressively this time as I was hoping to catch the first group out. I swam hard for the first 500 meters and quickly got into a rhythm. The swim course was marked by buoys on the left which favored my breathing. Add to that a rope along the bottom of a lake, and sighting became effortless! I exited the water and looked at my Timex Race Trainer Pro to see 29:12…I was pleased! The moment I left the water to run for my bike was the WARMEST I would be all day..
My T1 was 3:30, absolutely unacceptable. I don’t know what the heck I was doing but clearly I was not focused. I had arm warmers, gloves, long-sleeved jersey, sunglasses and socks to contend with. I finally got out of T1 and my Quintana Roo Illicito was ready to roll. Not 5 minutes into my ride did the skies open up. The rain felt very good to begin with as my heart was still beating out of my chest from my swim. I kept riding head down, trying to focus on the task at hand. I rode up, I rode down, in the saddle out of the saddle. My Timex Cycle Trainer was barely visible thanks to the rain but at least I could see my average speed. The longer it rained the wetter and colder I became to where all I wished for were hills to climb in order to keep warm. This bike course was kicking my butt and it was taking many athletes down. There were athletes crashing left and right which freaked me out even more so. My descents were ultra slow and my brakes were barely working. I was on my guard and a nervous reck from mile 20 on. The site of T2 never looked so good. As I dismounted to run my bike in, my socks were soaked and my feet were frozen solid. My bike split was 2:39:21 for a 21.1 average speed. I was not happy.
I fumbled through T2 with frozen hands and feet. My hands were so cold that I could not unstrap my helmet, finally I just pulled it off my head. It was nearly impossible trying to pull my Newton Distance S on my feet. I was so ready to start this run! The run course was a 2 loop figure 8 and was very well supported by the town of Lake Stevens. Aside from not being able to feel my feet, I got into a groove pretty quickly. Each mile, I was aware to take at least a sip from the aid station. Even though I was soaking wet and freezing, I knew better than to run by an aid station. At the beginning of the second loop, I looked at my watch to see that I was very near to a 1:30 finish time. My previous best on the run in New Orleans had been 1:29:55 so I was eager to beat that. I just kept running trying not to think about the finish line. At mile 11, I saw teammate and pro athlete Christine Anderson running for the finish line. I was pretty sure now that I would beat my previous best. The finish line actually came a bit sooner than I anticipated but I was still very glad to see the line! I looked down at my watch for my run split and was thrilled to see 1:29:50!
All in all, a good performance but the conditions shocked the heck out of my “southernized, backwoods, country-folk” body!!!