So the month of July I spent getting myself acclimated to the altitude and my new surroundings. But I was beginning to get a little antsy; I needed to have a race to look forward to. What is training if you don't have an event to train for?! So I registered for the rattlesnake olympic distance race in Aurora, Co. I was under the impression that this was going to be a nice flat race. I was all excited and ready to see how it feels to race in Altitude; not to mention to see where I was at with all my training. Well, to my surprise the course was everything but flat. The bike course was the hilliest course I have raced; the run was not only hilly it was also whindy. I had to switch gears immediately and get my head on straight. Once again my coach came to the rescue and had nothing but encouraging words to say. She was right, I have been training hard and doing lots of climbing, I am ready...
Race morning rolls around. I'm up at 4:30am to make sure I have breakfast 3hrs before the race. Back to bed I go...you know that extra 30min of sleep is key. Race morning was beautiful! watching the sunrise on my way to transition was a bonus. However, the winds were a little concerning.
Transition set up went very smoothly. I was in and out of there in 30min, all the while making sure I stayed hydrated with my EFS drink, pre-race, and right stuff water bottle. I went for a short warm-up jog and then down to the beach for a brief swim. Before I knew it we were getting lined up for a time trial start. That starting method is always interesting to me. Why not always do waves starts, I thought to myself. I soon realized the purpose of the time trial start when it came time for me to swim the second loop of the swim course. This swim course required the athletes to get out of the water, take about 20 steps on the beach around a bouy and the back into the water. It could have been a disaster if too many people attempted to get in and out of the water all at the same time.
I felt good during the swim. However, I couldn't figure out why I felt so out of breath the majority of the swim. It was almost as if I was pushing hard no matter how much I let up to get into a rhythm. Then is dawned on me that it must be the altitude. Well, I might have felt out of sync but my overall swim was better than expected; I was first out of the water!
T1 went smoothly, for some reason everything just slide on like butter. Off on my Kestrel Airfoil I go. Within the first 10min of the ride I begin drinking my EFS drink, pre-race, and right stuff mixture. I needed to make sure I didn't get behind on hydration, especially since this course was so hilly and the wind was not letting up. As a matter of fact, the wind was a tail cross on the way out and a head cross on the way back. There were a few instances where a gust of wind about blew me off the shoulder. The wind wasn't the only challenge during the ride. I remember thinking, when are the hills going to stop?! I was excited to see the turn that lead me to transition.
T2 was hassle free. Once again, everything slide on like butter. It was nice to only attempt once when putting on my shoes and buckling my race belt. After grabbing my EFS flask and tyr visor, I was off to the run course. Something about that run course was tough; maybe it had something to do with the wind, trail turns, and hills. It seemed like I was coming up on the turn-around point several time; nope, just another turn and hill. Finally, reached mile 3 and the turn-around; I took a sip or two of my EFS shot and thought, half way done with the run. At that point I new what to expect and was able to get my head on straight. The thing was, I was all alone. It is nice to be out in front but it sure makes it tough to race hard. I battled with wanting to slow down several times. If it weren't for my Garmin I would have fallen off pace several times. Well, to be brutally honest, I was off pace for a large part of the race. I chalked it up to all the external factors (altitude, wind, hills, etc.). Come on now, everyone knows it is easier to blame it on things that are out of your own control, right?!
Overall this race went well. I learned that I can race at altitude and in the hills; the confidence is there again. Now it is time to race a Half Ironman in those conditions. Thanks for all the support from my sponsors: Hed, Tyr, Kestrel, Right Stuff, Profile Design, CycleOps, and First Endurance. You all make training and racing fun!