It seems like this summer has been hotter than normal everywhere, not one race has been wetsuit legal and I figured Augusta would be the same. Race week I noticed the weather was supposed to be 91 and sunny for Sunday. About right for this year!
Living in Florida, I have been training in the heat quite a bit but I still wouldn't say I perform well in the heat. Shorter distances it doesn't usually effect me but over 4.5 hours and it starts to take its toll. I was worried about how hot it was going to be on Sunday, but I've been trying to focus more this season on what I can control and not even think about things that can't be changed. I also saw the start list of 32 girls (larger group than usual). Once again, nothing I should worry about- just focus on my race plan!
I was very excited to race, I felt great and training has been going well.
Race morning they said the river was 77 degrees. No wetsuits allowed. That was a first for this race but I totally expected it!
Race morning, I arrived at transition around 5:45 am to set up my bike and run gear. Checked everything twice and took the shuttle a mile up the river to the swim start. I was at the swim start about 45 min early, went for a warm up run, stretched and by that time they were letting us out on the dock for a warm up swim. We each had to have a hand on the dock for the start, someone finally let me squeeze in and before I knew it, it was time to go! I had a great start, I didn't get punched or kicked, I started to swim away from the group I was with. One girl came with me and we swam together to the swim exit. I was 12th out of the water. I had a good transition and started out on the bike. I found myself riding with a group of about 8-10 girls. It was the largest bike group I've raced in. We were all spaced out at least 12 meters which made passing difficult. I passed a couple girls and a couple girls passed me and they kept cutting right in between me and the bike in front of me. I kept having to slow down and back out of their draft zone. I was getting really frustrated and didn't understand why these girls weren't getting penalties for slip streaming and not completing passes/drafting. Once again, nothing I can control. An official rode with us the entire 56 miles. A few times I decided to put down some watts and pass a few girls, only to be passed again. When we started going up the hills I had to go extremely slow to not get in their draft zone. I saw two girls get penalties. I kept reminding myself to be patient and don't get a penalty!
After 20 miles there was an opening and I could see some girls ahead of the group pulling away. I was so frustrated with this group of girls I took off and started riding faster than I should, but at this point I had decided it was worth it to get out of this group. I caught two girls ahead of me, passed them and was thinking, "thank god, I finally got away from them." I came to a hill and I heard the motorcycle again and a group of about 3-4 girls passed me. I was thinking, "great, here it goes again!" A few more girls cut in between me and the cyclist in front of me and I had to hit the brakes a few more times. 3 more girls received penalties. 10 miles down the road was the water stop and penalty tent, our group went down to 4 girls which was much easier to ride. I slowed down at each water stop and grabbed a water bottle, drank a little and poured the rest on me. It was starting to get hot and I was sweating a lot.
My last 70.3 I had no one to ride with, this race there was almost too many! It was nice having other people around me, it felt more like a race even though I did get a little frustrated at times. The bike/run transition came quickly, I felt like I could have ridden a lot faster than I did, but given the circumstances I did what I could and considering it was a hot morning I wanted to be a little conservative to give myself a chance to run well.
I started the run with a couple girls around me. I tried to stay with one girl for the first mile, but she was running a 6:30 pace and it felt really hard at the time, after the first mile I knew I had to let her go if I didn't want to pass out on this half marathon! First water stop I grabbed some water and asked for ice. They said they couldn't give me ice! For the next mile I kept thinking "no ice?!! But I'm so HOT! No ice?" I usually throw ice down my kit/sports bra and it melts for the next 5 minutes and really keeps me cooler. I tried to stay focused on running and had to adjust my pace a little since it was so warm out. (by the way the next water stop did give me ice! whew) After my first lap (6 miles) I could tell I was really feeling a little out of it. I took some salt and stopped at one or two water stations to make sure I did get enough to drink. I just kept telling myself to keep running, don't stop, keep running. Once I reached the 12 mile mark I told myself "just one more mile, 4 laps around a track, c'mon you got it!" Coming down the finishing shoot I could hardly even read the clock. I was definitely dehydrated, but happy I was able to put together a decent race in the heat. I know I can run much faster than I did, but it was the fastest I could run that day. I finished in 10th place, (4:36) 2 spots off the podium, but I had given it my best effort.
Thanks to my coach (Jon Noland) who has been keeping me in line, making sure I don't get over trained or burned out during the season and trains with me sometimes! Thanks to my sponsors, Epix Gear, ISM, Xterra Wetsuits, Flying Fish Bikes (thanks Joel for fitting me 5 times to make sure I am comfortable on my bike!).