On Thursday March 17, after Jay got home from work, we packed the car and headed on down to Santa Barbara where we stayed the night. Because we left late on Thursday, we didn't want to drive the entire night to get to Oceanside and since we had stayed in SB last year, we decided to do the same this year. Friday morning we continued our drive to the Oceanside Pier where the Ford 70.3 race was to be held. We picked up our race packets while my bike went to the mechanics for a bit of an overhaul. Yep, it never fails that just prior to a race something goes wrong with my bike! It's like clockwork; funny how it happens just before and not during...I guess luck is on my side. Come to find the rear derauiller cable was frayed at the brake hood and needed to be replaced.
I think there is something sharp in there that keeps causing this problem because just before Kona I had to replace the cable as well.
Note to self: Have someone who knows what they are doing take it apart and fix it!!
Jay and I met up with Beth and Flo, two friends of mine who also race professionally and the four of us went for an easy spin along the run course. After that is was time for a quick and late lunch and then to the pro meeting at 5pm. The meeting was brief and to the point (just the way I like 'em) so Jay and I got out of there quickly and drove to our hotel to check in and get cleaned up.
Beth drove over to our hotel in the pouring rain to meet us for dinner that night. Forgetting that it was St. Patrick's Day and the first two restaurants we went to were packed with an hour wait...we found a place with no wait. The food was good and we were hungry!
After dinner we said good nite to Beth and drove back to our hotel to finish preparing for tomorrow. At 4:20am on Saturday the alarm woke us up and we put our gear in the car and drove to Starbucks. I couldn't believe that there was a line at 5am at Starbucks, but there was!
We had some time to kill as we made it to the race start pretty early. We finished our coffee in the car while it started to rain again! Not only was it raining, but it was quite windy...too windy for my taste actually and I was in hopes that it would die down before our race started.
Jay and I went in to transition together but quickly went our separate ways as he was going to race as well and needed to set up his own transition. After my transition was together, Beth and I went for a short run to get warm and the weather continued to wreck havoc.
It was time now to get into our wetsuits and hopefully get a bit warmer in the process. Jay and I had wished each other luck and we hoped to see each other on the course! The pro men started 3 minutes before we did and we were fortunate enough to get into the freezing 55 degree water for a very short warm-up swim; and to be quite honest it wasn't really a warm-up swim at all. I didn't even want to get my face into the water. You know it's cold when your teeth hurt!
The gun sounded off at 6:43am and as usual we were jockeying for position for the first 300-400 meters before the group settled down. I couldn't get into a rhythm and I think it was because it was so cold. I had a group of women to swim with which I find now more often than not! It's about time too! I was swimming with a fairly large group when I happened to sight in front and saw that there was a gap between our group and a group in front of us. I decided that I'd try to catch them and moved out of the slip stream that I was in and go for it. I realized after a while that
"Wake Up, Jay"
I wasn't making as much progress as I had anticipated and moved in behind one of the girls. I did however move up within the pack and now found myself at the lead of my pack. I exited the water and ran along the pavement sidewalk on the outside of the transition area and passed at least one woman on the way.
To explain how this transition area worked, once you exit the swim, you run on the outside of the transition until you reach the rear of the transition area and then run down the middle aisle until you get to your designated spot. So, as I'm running down the middle aisle who do I notice just in front of me but Michellie Jones and Desiree Ficker!! I was just a few seconds behind them. I quickly got out of my wetsuit and was putting on my helmet and grabbing bike to exit when I see Beth running out of T1 just before me. She had a great swim by the way, coming out ahead of Michellie and Desiree and I think just behind Hillary Biscay and Dede Greisbauer. My swim time was 28:10 which put me at 7th exiting the water and 2 minutes down on 1st place. I was in such a rush that I forgot to put on my race belt and sunglasses! I quickly passed a few girls and suddenly found myself in 3nd place; it was brief as Desiree who had stopped for some reason passed me like I was standing still! I eventually caught up to Dede and passed her just to be re-passed by her some time later in the ride. I didn't bother to put on arm warmers or my vest that I had put out just in case and while on the bike I almost wished I had taken the time to put them on as the sun was still having a hard time showing herself. The bike course is a mix of gently rolling hills and semi-flat sections. Katja Schumacher had passed me and for a while she I and were playing leap frog out there. We were never close enough to draft as I made sure that there was the appropriate space. In a non-drafting race I am not one to draft. I heard stories though of some of the women drafting which in a race like this I consider cheating.
With 15 miles to go, my low back was starting to hurt. I think this happened for two reasons. The first being that I had not spent that much time in my aero position prior to this race and second I had not trained on too many hills. Two things that I need to work on for future races!
I entered T2 with a time of 2:43:16 (20.6mph ave.). With the 3rd fastest transition time I was out quickly in the hunt for a top 3 finish. I was in 7th place off the bike and quickly caught Katja and Kristianna which now put me in 5th. Dede was ahead of me a ways and I kept my eye on her and eventually passed her just after mile 3 I think. I felt strong on the run and kept moving ahead. The run course was mostly flat with a few bumps in the road (small hills) and a course change from last year was the 400m stretch of sand that you had to run on 4 times! That made it of course a bit more challenging, but I liked it and actually passed a few people in the sand!
I don't know how many minutes ahead the third place woman was but I wanted that spot and I kept pushing until the end. Unfortunately I never caught her, but I was happy to finish 4th in a time of 4:42:31. I had the third fastest run split of 1:27:14. Two years in a row now with 4th place finishes...I think next year I'll have to improve!
Beth at the Awards
My next race is this weekend in Roatan, Honduras. This is a PanAmerican Cup Olympic distance race with Olympic qualifying points.