It's been over a full week since racing Wildflower Triathlon, so I thought I'd walk down memory lane for a few. Join me?
Leading up to the race, I was feeling strangely pulled together. You know that feeling like, what the HELL am I forgetting because this seems too easy!? Turns out, I didn't actually forget anything, which can only mean that my guardian angels worked their asses off that week. Hallelujah. Thank you.
My workouts all went well, though I was experience plenty of my usual pre-race tightness. I headed to Cali on Wednesday, so I would have plenty of time to decompress and enjoy being out of town for a couple days. But Wednesday I woke up feeling awful! My joints ached, I felt nauseous and had a headache. Nice. I tried to keep up with my calories, but only barely and only because I knew I HAD too. Travel only seemed to make me feel worse, and by the time I arrived at my hotel in Paso Robles at 11pm, I was feeling worse. I kept telling myself to NOT PANIC, there was plenty of time to pull myself together. Or, so I hoped.
10 hours later, I woke up feeling like myself again - except every time I tried to eat. UGH! I spent the morning mostly being lazy, but managed to run to the store, put my bike together and head to the lake by 1pm to pick up my packet and take a dip in the lake. This is when things really turned the corner. As I arrived, there was almost no one around. Not the massive crowds and caos that I'd anticipated. WHEW! I snagged my race packet and strolled down to the lake to hopefully loosen up, and to see what this Blue Seventy Helix was all about. The wetsuit was amazing, it fit perfectly! I still don't understand how it can be so incredibly snug, yet comfortable at the same time. I don't really need to understand, but I most certainly appreciate! As I did my short 15 minute swim, I felt better and better - quite unusual for me, since swimming generally isn't my "sanctuary". Anyway, I left the lake feeling GREAT! AND excited to race in a couple days!!
Uh-oh, Friday already!! My morning was again, pretty chill. I took my bike out for a spin through the vineyards around Paso Robles, it was stunning, and so peaceful! Most notably though, after my ride, my appetite returned! I spent the rest of the day steadily working my way through a pretty significant pile of food supplies. In the afternoon, I headed up to the lake again.
After dropping my gear, I took a quick peak at the expo, where I actually met Kristin Mayer (Betty Designs)!!!!! There we were @ Wildflower in the middle of NOWHERE California and she and her hubs were working their own both at the race expo!! I couldn't believe it was really HER - I tried to casually look at the swimsuits I dream about and had no idea what to say, really, so I intrudcued myself, a quick chit-chat and took off before I tried to say something funny...that wasn't. But seriously, it was really her, and I still can't believe it!
After that, I went to track down Wattie, to pick up my HELIX wetsuit and podium shirt. And BOOM, there he was! As he sorted through shirts, just casually said, "oh yeah, and that's Heather". I peaked in the door, and sure enough, there was HEATHER JACKSON, just resting up. And I found myself again speechless - absolutely shocked it was really her! I don't know what I expected, but I'm just going to tell you now, she's a REAL person ya'll! Just then, Paul Brown returned and saved me from one more second of awkward silence! The rest of the night was pretty uneventful, I left the lake around 6:45, grabbed a quick sandwich on my way back to the hotel, made sure everything was laid out and ready for the morning, set my alarm and counted myself to sleep.
Race morning - YEEHAW!! As usual, I gave myself plenty of time to get to the race, arriving and parked by 6:15am, 3 hours before I was set to start.
But, before I knew it we were off!! I had a decent swim start, it was pretty typical of me, still not the most confident swimmer, but at least I didn't panic! Did I mention how AMAZING my new wetsuit is? I L.O.V.E. it! Blueseventy Helix. Get one.
It was already time to bike :) I landed my flying mount, and was off!! There is a pretty good climb right from the start, which allowed me a great opportunity to pass a LOT of people - let the fun begin! Rolling hills usually make it difficult to establish a rythm, but I managed to settle in pretty quick and the miles just clicked on by. And BOOM, I was staring up Nasty Grade...if you haven't done it, spoiler alert: it's NASTY!! Not only that, it was well into the 90's with a nice hot head wind. I was warned to keep my RPE in check due to the difficulty of the run, but that is NOT my strength. Basically I pushed until I was literally too hot to push any harder. My head felt like it was on fire, the beating sun and lack of adequate ventilation made my helmet an absolute oven. For a second I started to worry, but since the only way out of this was to finish, I just tried to climb faster to minimize the amount of time I was out in the heat. Logic.
Once I hit "T2", I had recovered. It felt SO GOOD to run! I was loving it. Until, of course, I hit the climb between miles 3-5. It sucked. My run began to osilate between walking and jogging, while my heart rate only continued to soar. Not only that, my stomach started to feel ill, and I started to get chills. DON'T PANIC. Stay calm. Carry on. I didn't feel like I could keep anything down, but I knew I had to try. I forced down a PowerBar Gel and some water and shuffled onward. I have had so many big races go so terribly wrong, and all that played in my head those 2 miles were the words of my coach - "you deserve a good result, go get it". Between miles 5 and 6, I started to recover and by mile 6 I was feeling good again. Since it was so hot, I decided I better be a little conservative still. Until about mile 9 I ran well under where I'm usually comfortable racing, but I just couldn't hold back anymore! With only 4 miles to go, I poured it on and felt GREAT and I was having fun! It did help that Eurostar was there to get me through the last hill!!
People were cheering that I was the 1st AG female finisher - seriously!?!? I don't think the announcer had time to notice, he was too focused on trying to pronounce Wenatchee...3 tries and still wrong!
Post race was just as surreal - hanging out with my Wattie teammates. All I can say is, I want some of their awesomesauce!
After awards, I had to get my butt out of town to catch a few zzzzs before heading to the airport at 4am. It took me less than 5 minutes to dismantle and pack up my bike - RECORD! By the time I arrived at my hotel in SanJose, it was after midnight. Ugh. 4am came too fast, and just like that, I was already home and whlole thing was over.
Even now, it's hard to believe that it actually happened, I had a good result at a BIG race. I couldn't be more grateful! HUGE thanks to my family, coach Jason Jablonski of SET Coaching, Gale Fruit Company, Wattie Ink, all my teammates, and sponsors: K-Swiss, Power Bar, ISM Saddles, Blueseventy, Speedfil, Reynolds, Scott, Kask & Fuel Belt.