This race was my first triathlon of the year, and my first trip to the state of Texas. It was also one of QT2’s key team races for the year, so we had over 30 athletes racing! It was held in Galveston, which is along the Gulf Coast. I flew in Thursday night, and spent most of Friday and Saturday getting the bike and gear ready, carbing up, and mentally preparing to race. Of course, we got to have a little fun in there too – I had a great time hanging out with my roommate, Amy, and even got ride the ferris wheel and play some carnival games at Pleasure Pier (pictured above). It was fun to catch up with some teammates that I had met at camp, and meet some new people!
Race morning came quickly, and we were up before dawn for our applesauce breakfast of champions. We lucked out on race day weather – it was going to be warm, but not hot, and the wind was calm. We set up in transition – I was psyched to have an end spot in the huge transition area!) and made the long walk to the swim start. Before I even had my wetsuit on, they were calling our wave! All the girls were chatty and in good spirits, which helped take the edge off the pre-race nerves. Rocking out to some Lady Gaga on the dock didn’t hurt either.
I had a pretty good position in the swim to start. A bunch of the girls gathered to my far left – I decided to stay out of the crowd and hang out further to the right. I had my own little space, and had no trouble getting started and breaking away from the group. My plan was to start aggressively and swim hard. I took the lead early, but was passed by one person within a few minutes. After practicing lots of drafting at camp (a foreign concept to a long-time pool swimmer!), I jumped at the opportunity and got right in behind her. I was able to draft for a bit, but she took a strange turn part way down the first stretch and I lost her. The rest of the swim was mostly navigating my way through the slower swimmers in the waves in front of us, while trying to maintain a strong stroke and good turnover. We were lucky that the water was very calm, only a few random waves which I can only assume were from nearby boats or something. Swim split: 27:18
The bike was, for the most part, uneventful. Just the way I like it. The wind was manageable – a cross-wind that was slightly in our favor on the way out. The hardest part was staying focused for the flat out and back course. I was really happy that I was able to stay in my own race on the bike. 2 girls in my age group passed me quickly in the first few miles, and it would have been really easy to push early in the bike to try to stay with them. Even though I was worried about getting passed that early, and if I would have a chance to catch up, I had a pacing plan and I stuck to it. Last year’s me would have tried to go with them – this year, I know better. I dropped the ball a little bit on fueling, missing about 1/2 bottle on the bike. Something to work on… especially important to nail hydration in the warmer weather races I’ll have coming up this year. Bike split: 2:39:21
Getting to the run brought excitement (my favorite, and strongest part), relief (I made it through the bike without a flat, falling, etc), and, for this race, some nervousness. I was vying for one of the spots for the 70.3 World Championships in Vegas, and I guessed there would be about 2 spots for our age group. I knew I was somewhere near 4th place (accurate), but since I was passed so early in the bike, I had no idea how far behind I was. But, I knew I had been running well, and my legs felt good coming off the bike, so if there was a shot, I was going for it!
I guess you could tell I was excited to be running – I looked down at my watch in the first 1/2 mile was was running sub-6 pace! I knew this was not sustainable at this point in my training, so I dialed it back a bit and tried to hone in on my goal pace. The run course was 3 loops, with a number of out and backs within each. This made for a great support along the course, from spectators as well as fellow teammates racing! It was great to see lots of QT2 blue out there, and the support helped me push through the run. After the first few miles, I found myself comfortably running around 6:20-6:30 min/mile. After the first loop, I realized I had no idea where I stood in my age group. Many more runners had begun to enter the course, and now I didn’t know if the people I were passing had been ahead of or behind me. I just kept running hard and hoped that I had, or would, pass the girls ahead of me. Surprisingly, the run went by really fast, and all of a sudden I was rounding the corner into the final turn. It was great to have Tim and Cait, who had just finished their races, cheering me in along the homestretch. Run split: 1:23:52 Final race time: 1:36:20 – a 21 minute PR from last year’s 70.3!
Turns out, I had passed 1 girl early in the run, and 1 more just at the end, putting me 2nd place 25-29 AG, and gaining a spot to the 70.3 Championships! The 1st place girl in my age group had dominated the amateur race – won our age group by 12 minutes and finished 8th overall (including the pros!). I finished 20th overall, and 4th female amateur- I was hoping to finish a little higher in the non-pro field, but I know I have some serious work to do on my bike to make that happen. QT2 as a team did awesome – tons of podiums in both the pros and age groupers, and we won the team competition! I’m so impressed at the talent and just general awesomeness of my new teammates. We wrapped up the day with a fun post-race party at The Spot. The next day, it was back to Boston!
Thanks you, thank you, thank you to all my friends and family back home. I can’t even begin to explain how awesome you were in the weeks leading up to the race. So much support and good wishes. One of my friends even threw me a “surprise” race week dinner with a couple friends and my sister (with core diet friendly food too!). And the support didn’t end there – I was so touched and greatful for all the emails, texts, messages during and after the race too! Seriously, you guys rock.
And of course, a big thank you to Tim and QT2, for getting me to the start line prepared and confident. The attention to detail in every aspect of training and the race plan is amazing. I knew what I needed to do out there to be successful. And to our awesome sponsors – Pearl Izumi for our new kick-ass race kits, Quintana Roo for the speedy bike (that got me a 10+ min bike PR!), Rudy Project for our cool helmets and glasses, Powerbar for fueling all of our training and racing, and Normatec for supporting the recovery we need to train hard and race fast. And a special thanks to Brian at FastSplits for getting me a great fit on my Q-Roo, and Jim at Be Well Boston for helping to keep me injury-free during training.
Looking forward… about 5 weeks until my next half ironman, Rev3 Quassy. I’ve heard good things about the Rev3 races, so I’m looking forward to it. It’s also another key team event, so there will be big QT2 representation there! The next month and a half will be spent mostly trying to make some gains on the bike. I’m also going to race a really short, speedy sprint tri next weekend, which should be fun!