It’s been 21 months since I last raced… not that I’m counting or anything! (I don’t count the two tri’s that I struggled through last year). So I was admittedly a bit nervous heading into the Clermont EDR Race… but who isn’t nervous before a race.
I arrived in Florida in pretty good health and feeling pretty fit thanks to a solid winter training/guidance from my Coach and therapy from my support team (Airrosti + Active Body Chiropractic), and with top-notch equipment, thanks to the folks at Mox Multisport (thank you again for the bike support!).
That being said, I was a bit unsure about how my foot would hold up – I am still working on re-aligning my body from my oh-so-long date with the walking boot and my ankle it is still getting stronger, particularly when it comes to running. I had put in good mileage, but done little hard running, particularly on the ground (versus the treadmill). So, the goal of the race was to just test my fitness and see where I stand. As I re-build my fitness, I am figuring out my place(s) in the sport – Draft? Non-draft? Short course? Long course? My goal was to crush it the way I believed I could and just see where I stacked up, nothing more nothing less (of course, checking the pro card box again would be a nice bonus!). It’s races like these where I hear the voice Dr. Jack (my high school sports psychologist) echoing in my mind’s eye, all I could control was my performance – so that’s what I was gunning to maximize.
Race morning was chilly by Florida standards – 52 degrees we woke up at 4:15am and cloudy with scattered raindrops… BUT still 50 degrees warmer than average temps in Chicago the previous morning! Greg pushed me to get in the water for a good warm up. I was glad I did – it allowed me to get my bearings, assess the chop, and get my HR/breathing going.
Draft legal/ITU races are run much more professionally than your standard race – bikes and helmets are checked, racers are announced. I love the officiality of it all, and waiting for the horn, I had flashbacks to those moments of anticipation waiting for the horn during my rowing days at Dartmouth. That feeling of intense focus and anticipation is like none other. Standing at the line, I had tunnel vision: there was nothing but the water directly in front of me, and then the horn.
It was a bit of a rough start as we jostled for position. But I felt strong and, in retrospect, feel I handled the chop OK on the way out, finding some clear water and moving up in the group. We rounded bouy 1, bouy 2, and then finally got a bit more strung out as we headed in to shore. I was 5th out of the water and was able to overtake a couple girls running into T1. It was awesome to hear Adam and Greg screaming, “GO!” at the beach.
The bike was a bit frustrating. We didn’t work together as effectively as I could have (despite my efforts), but I didn’t (yet) quite have the explosiveness to break away. I came off the bike about 5th as well, and, after a fumbly T2, was out onto the run course. I almost forgot that feeling of running after a hard bike… one of the few things I remember hearing at the start of the run was the announcer declaring, “Those ladies’ legs are feeling like lead, folks!” and thinking “thanks for reminding me!” But I embraced his words and focused on breathing easy, moving my arms, and focusing on light feet to feel as good as possible. On the whole, I was happy with my run given the fact that I’ve essentially been putting in only base miles, with very little tempo/race-pace work. I ran up to 2nd in the first ½ mile, where I stayed through the finish.
After the race, there was no rest for the weary, as my best friend, Molly (or, Marth, as I know her!) was getting married later that day in Jacksonville! Marth is my first close friend to get married, so it was certainly an emotional day. And I couldn’t have been more proud or any happier for her standing up with her as a bridesmaid. It was a beautiful evening and an amazing chance to re-unite with the DRC crew! :D
Overall, I took a lot of good lessons away from the weekend. Perhaps first and foremost: never attempt to be in a wedding and race the same weekend, particularly when there are 2-3hrs of driving between the two - we put in approximately 950miles of driving over the course of 72 hours!!! It was jampacked to say the least, but Adam got my personal medal of honor for being so incredibly amazing. It was a true Team SalAd effort, and I only hope one day I will be able to repay him for such amazing cheerleading, sherpa-ing driving, you name it!
In terms of strength and fitness, I still have a long way to go to be where I want to be. I know I have more to find though, so I’m excited to get back to work before my next race (which is as yet TBD). That being said, I continue to work through my foot/ankle + alignment issues with the help of Greg and my new therapist (read: SAVIOR!) – Kim Whitney. I’m confident that with their support and guidance, the sky will be the limit! After getting my butt kicked by finals for the 2-weeks since Clermont, I’m now FREE (well, for a week) and headed to Las Vegas for a TeamIE camp. Stay tuned for updates from out west!