So my legs decided to show up and play Saturday morning for a race that I officially signed up for Friday evening. I know I know... why race so soon after clearly needing R&R after Bonelli? Well, the OC Duathlon was tentative until Fri because of all that's going on, but given it takes place 3.5 miles from my house, I couldn't pass up a race on my home course. Plus, I finished my first year of grad school on Wed, good "life" things were happening & I felt that fire to compete. So I just lived in my Zoot compression tights all week in anticipation of the pending race and then wore Zoot active compression socks for the first time racing... good calls.
Note compression socks (and the cool award: sunglsses! That helps justify a race entry fee.)
The short version of the race is this: I felt great nearly the whole time, i.e. I was hurting but able to go at the paces I wanted to go (a big change from the recent Bonelli triathlon). There was a lot of drafting on the bike, and that pissed me off. Then I passed Olympian Julie Ertel on the bike (triathlete in the '08 Beijing Games), and that motivated me a lot. I held my lead on Julie until the final few seconds of 5k #2... if I had to get passed at the end, at least it was by an Olympian. Also during 5k #2, I think I hurt my right knee. Ugh. But overall, I hung with the top women coming in 5th; only ~1 minute behind 1st place at 1:46 and change. A close race.
I later found out that in addition to Julie, the other top ladies were pro and/or elite (see USAT quote at the end of my blog). Good to know. I also PR'd on this race by 10 minutes from last year. I was faster on the bike course in particular.
The long version of my race report....
My mom and I rode to the race start from our house just before 6 a.m. I love close-by races with no driving required! We dilly dallied with warmups, the bathroom, chatting with friends until 7 a.m. Having no swim meant no major stress for me! Let's do this!
Chillin with Ironman mama Carol...
5k #1: My goal was to not get caught up in the mix and go out too hard. I wasn't wearing the Garmin, so I went by feel and a regular ol' watch. It's an out-and-back course that's slightly downhill out, so slightly uphill coming back. I hit each mile just about how I wanted, between 6:15s and 6:40s, and I finished feeling strong at 20:30.
40k bike: This course is my course, so I was ready to hammer. The bike is where I particularly wanted to redeem myself from my crappy race/bike at Bonelli. Unfortunately my iBike was dead, so, again, no mph or data; I just rode by feeling. Not such a bad thing. The "out" on the bike includes the 20k TT route I did in early April, and my RPE was about that same as when I rode it then. It hurt good. (Also, fyi, the course is pretty much the same route as the OC Tri for those who've done that race.)
But then I got pissed. After the initial hills, the route gets flat for several miles and some big draft packs formed. Sketchy because the highway was still open to traffic and just ridiculous watching people willingly get free rides! As one lone girl, it's be hard and probably impossible to pass and leave behind a big pack, but I tried. Talk about a rush. Figures, they caught me so I had to back off enough in order to not get sucked into the draft. I was frustrated because I probably went a couple mphs slower in order to keep a safe/legal non-draft distance behind them. Lame-o, I wanted to go faster! Thankfully, at the turnaround, there's a random road we go on that's off the main highway, and the draft pack broke up there.
Right away I started hammering at my speed of choice, which led me to pass one special lady wearing her Beijing Olympic Triathlon racesuit. As I passed Julie, I said what an honor it was to race with her. She was super nice and encouraging. It's fun (at least to me) to race against good athletes and compare times. my bike split was 2 min. faster than Julie's :)
Overall, I did the bike in 1:04 and change, a 23 mph average. My best bike performance to date; 7 min faster than last year and 12 minutes faster than the recent Bonelli 40k (similar bike course profiles, too)! Redemption served!
T2: Gotta mention it because it's important to the story. First off, my hands & feet were freezing and I couldn't use them well at all. Then in a rushed state, I put my L shoe on my R foot! What the heck dummy?! I quickly switched, got my wits about me and was off.... only to almost start crying and cussing. My R knee was in excruciating pain. A pain I had never felt. Literally, I should have stopped but decided to see if it would subside. It was only a 5k, right?
5k #2: So I'm running along and my R knee is on fire in pain. I started to cuss out loud saying (close your eyes kids) "What the f*** is going on in my knee?! sh*****t." The guys around me probably thought I was crazy, then this PT guy who's running tried to diagnose me, ha! Too bad he diagnosed the wrong knee/leg (but he did have good advice nevertheless).
A mile into the run I decided, "What's 2.1 more miles? I'm doing alright in this race, so I can't stop." (meanwhile, I'm sure my running stride looked pitiful and I was probably making the worst face of pain ever.) At the turnaround I noticed Olympic Julie was gaining on me. I never looked back to check on her, but I knew she was coming. I tried to push on. Then with literally seconds left, she passed me. I said to her, "I'm at least glad it's you passing me." She chuckled and went on to finish only 5 seconds in front of me. Dang, I almost beat an Olympian :( My second 5k was a bit slower, 21:20.
Finish: I love being done with races. It's the best ever! As an added bonus, I got to celebrate with my dad and the new boy, Benoit, who both ran in the open 5k. It was my dad's first-ever race that I convinced him to do with a work buddy and Benoit, go me... hollaaaaa! All the boys podiumed too, despite--get this--missing the start of the race! They were late because my dad had made a Starbucks detour before the stop. Oh my... that would never happen if I was in charge :)
Benoit and I post-race. Did I mention I looooove Zoot?!
My mom also did the Du despite some little injuries on the table. We agreed she had to race with a different mentality and not go out trying to "kill it"but rather just have fun. She stuck to the plan, staying way mellow on the runs... but she hammered the bike (pain-free she said)!
After learning a little more about the women I was in the race with, I couldn't help but smile. Here's what's posted on the USAT website (the OC Du was a qualifier for nationals): "The women's race was very exciting featuring some well known names. [Bill] Leach says there was 'hot competition amongst the overall leaders and age group winners.' Sue Davis, the former Masters duathlon world champion, duked it out with 2008 Olympian Julie Ertel, former elite triathlete Dolly Ginter and up-and-comer Samo Michel. Only 25 seconds separated Davis, Ginter and Michel who placed first, second and third respectively. Ertel wrapped up the top four finishing 1:12 back of first."
....and then there was little ol' me in 5th (2nd AG to Sam Michel).
The only bummer of the race was leaving with a new bum R knee. I could barely walk for the rest of Sat/Sun, and I canceled my long Sunday ride which literally made me depressed (be glad you weren't with me on Sunday). I swam Monday, but couldn't push off the wall. So it's a waiting game right now... I did get expert medical advice already, and I have some ideas of what it could be. But I'm waiting a little longer and resting before taking further action. Hoping for the best.