Monday, August 27, 2012

Dallas ITU Pan Am Cup - Feelin' HOT HOT HOT!

After racing a couple of consecutive non-drafting races, I was excited to switch back to the draft-legal format for the my first Olympic distance draft-legal race of the year.

Because there were multiple races being contested in one day, the pros were given the final 2 time slots of the day, with the women starting right around 11am. The swim started out as it most always does, with an initial sprint to jockey for position followed by a more controlled swim stroke in the pack. I don’t feel like I really was able to wake my body up until about the 2nd lap of the swim (halfway through), when I realized I had some serious ground to make up on the lead pack of swimmers. I exited the waters near the Marriott Las Colinas way further back than I anticipated and definitely a bit discouraged.

Onto the out and back bike course which was located on a road just in front of the Marriott grounds, I tried to dig deep for the first couple laps of the bike and see who I could connect with to form a pack and by the end of the third lap was able to settle in with a group of about 7 other athletes. With about 2.5 laps, some of us decided to use one of the turnarounds to make it a break for it, which split our group in half. Now with only a lap to go, a few of the girls kept pushing harder at which point I felt like my body was shutting down. I don’t think I’d ever felt so hot riding my bike. I knew if I wanted to have any shot of finishing the race I needed to slow it down and save my legs a bit for the run.

So, after letting the other girls go, I entered transition by myself and headed out onto the run, unsure if I’d be able to finish. I started out by jogging for a couple minutes to see how my body would respond. After 1 of 4 laps, I started to feel better so decided to pick up the pace and see how many girls I could pick off. I was able to run lap 2 and half of lap 3 at a somewhat normal pace before I started getting overheated again. At this point, girls were dropping like flies in front of me (passing out or pulling out of the race). This is the part where the mental battle started. I wanted so badly to quit and just lie down (it seems like the easy way out when you see others doing it) but somehow I was able to trudge on even though my body was shutting down and I was getting dizzy. My coach and two of my close friends (Renee and Forrest Lewton) urged me to keep on running and I can’t thank them and the other people out there supporting enough for keeping me going. The last lap was mostly a blur but I do remember closing my eyes for a couple seconds at a time and deep breathing. Oh yeah…and running into a parked car while I had my eyes closed (whoops!). I don’t remember finishing the race and had no idea what place I was in, but I do remember getting carried underneath a shady tree and lying there for quite awhile before sitting up and eating lots of popsicles.

This is definitely up there in the books for “hottest/most humid race I’ve ever done.” The only other race that comes close is one I raced in Rincon, Puerto Rico back in 2007…if you were there, you know what I’m talking about.

I ended up 6th place in the pro women’s field. While I was obviously happy with a top 10 finish, I can’t help but have mixed emotions after having a sub-par swim, bike, and run. But, I guess some days splits don’t matter and it’s more about doing the best you can and surviving under tough conditions.

Thanks so much to my friends Forrest and Renee Lewton for being my homestay for the weekend and making sure I was taken care of after the race. Much love to you guys!

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