September 13, 2008
Pacific Grove, CA
It's hard to believe that this was my 12th year racing the Pacific Grove Triathlon! There were only 2 years that I hadn't competed, the first in 1995 as I was more into running on the cross country team for San Diego State University and the the second in 1999 when I was on the U.S. National team (as an amatuer) competing in the Triathlon World Championships in Montreal, Canada.
I train on this course at least a few times per week not because I'm thinking about getting ready for this race, but because it's where group rides go, runs with my dog Sprocket head this way and of course our Friday Night Open Water swims at Lover's Point are.
A few days leading up to the race I started to get nervous...those little butterflies had awoke and were starting to wreck havoc. Why was I so nervous? I've raced and trained here for so long? I think that it was because it's been a while since I've raced an olympic distance.
My new sponsor Avia set up a great promotion...Pinky Goes Orange! I dyed my hair in honor of the Avia color orange and in return Avia handed out orange wigs at their booth as well as in the transition area; for any athlete that wore an orange wig across the finish line, a prize was given. Prizes ranged from transition bags, to shoes to Avia kits! It was so great to see so many people running with the orange wigs on! What a great way to not only race hard, but have a good time doing it! Thank you Avia, it's great to be on board!!
My race didn't start until 12:10pm, so I had plenty of time to cheer on friends and family (my younger sister Erin raced) before I started. Our horn went off to signify our start and the 6 women professionals (yep, there were only 6 of us!) ran into the chilly water of Lover's Point. I felt good and pushed hard so that I was leading the race for a brief moment. We entered the kelp quickly as we swam toward the first turn buoy. As we rounded the buoy I dropped back a few places and decided to draft. I didn't feel as relaxed as I thought I would and as much as I thought I could have lead the entire swim, I found myself in 4th position, drafting off of the girl in front of me. After swimming one loop we must get out of the water, run around a large rock embedded in the sand and make our way back into the water for the final loop. I felt heavy running around the rock, but managed to get into 3rd position for a while, before again dropping back to 4th place. It's hard to tell where the other 2 women behind us where, but it seemed as though we had a bit of a gap on them. I exited the water in 4th position; the 3 girls ahead of me were only seconds ahead and we did enter T1 at about the same time.
On the bike, the 4 of us quickly got organized and the 4 loops that made up the 24.8 miles began. The wind had blown some of the clouds away, which gave way to the sun as well as the wind that we encountered on the way out, towards Asilomar. The 4 of us worked extremely well together as we each took our turn at the front, pulling for as long as we could and giving the rest of the girls a turn out of the wind. I knew that Jillian and Annie could run but wasn't sure about Becky W-H, but I tried attacking on several occasions to see if I could get away, but every time I attacked, the girls where able to get back on. At least I could try to wear down their legs for the run!!
I really was impressed at how well the 4 of us worked together as each of us took our turn and no one slacked or made complaints that they couldn't work. It truely was one of the best rides (in a draft legal race) that I have ever done and I thanked each of the girls afterwards. Working together like we did rarely happens, but when it does we all benefit from working together and giving it our best...so Jillian, Annie and Becky, if you read this, THANK YOU AGAIN FOR MAKING THE BIKE PORTION EXCITING, DIFFICULT AND REWARDING!!
I tried one last break just prior to heading into T2. I thought Jillian, Becky and I had made a slight break from Annie, but once in transition, I saw Annie head out onto the run first, with Becky second and me in 3rd. Within a few seconds or so I was able to pass Becky and had my sights set on Annie. Of course it wasn't long before Jillian passed me and then proceeded to pass Annie, putting herself in 1st place as we headed out on our first loop. I kept pressing and was finally able to catch Annie after the first turn-around as the road started a to slightly increase in elevation...a false flat up hill (which hurt just as much as a true up hill). I now found myself in 2nd place and I could see Jillian up ahead. I had my sights set on her and was doing everything I could to catch her. I had a slight side ache and could feel the liquid that I drank during the ride sloshing inside my stomach. I'm sure all of us felt some sort of ache and tried to push through it...no excuses, that's what racing is all about. Finishing loop 1 I was gaining on Jillian and tried to push even harder on the second loop. I kept thinking positive thoughts and pushing forward, hoping that Jillian wouldn't be able to hold the pace she was running. Coming to the close of loop 2 i was within reach of getting her and she knew it! She immediately picked up the pace when she saw me and was able to gain more distance on me. She eventually held me off and won the race in 2:06:25 and I was second in 2:07:04; a difference of only :39!!!
I gave it all I had and was very pleased with my race. As far as I know this was even a PR for me on this course, so that was just as sweet.
It was great to have so many people cheering me on, thank you very much as it really does help. And to those of you who wore the orange wigs...YOU ARE AWESOME! I hope everyone who raced and volunteered and spectated had a great time this weekend! I'll see you all there next year!
My next race is in 3 weeks down at Lake Lopez, in San Luis Obispo; Tinley's Toughest.