I just got back from my first 70.3 race! I decided to give the 70.3 distance a shot a few weeks ago and found the Timberman website...when I saw the pictures I just knew I had to go :) I haven't been that far NE, so it would be an exciting adventure. On Thursday night I packed up my new TT bike, my Cervelo P3C. I just got the bike about 3 weeks ago and was able to make a quick trip home to Oklahoma to have Steve at Schlegel Bicycles fit me. Thanks Steve!! I must admit I was a little hesitant to make such a change (all I've ever riden is a road bike) and the bike felt so different. Amazing the change I've seen in the last three weeks as I've come to love my bike and was excited to see what I could do on it in a race. So on Friday evening I arrived in Manchester and found out my bike decided to have separate travel plans...it was hanging out in Chicago! Since there wasn't too much I could do about it, I got my rental car and drove 1.5 hour north to check out the race-site. And then headed another 30min north to my hotel. After a long day of travel, I was glad to hop in bed and fall asleep while watching the Olympics. Saturday was pretty low key, basically just getting ready for the race: race meeting, building my bike (which arrived at 4:45 in the morning :) ), pre-race workouts, a pasta dinner, and watching more Olympics.
I woke up EARLY on Sunday feeling good and ready to race. I had a 20 min drive to the parking lot I'd found to park at and then a 4mile ride to the race site. I got into transition to set up and found out it was a wetsuit swim. Now how in the world does the water temp drop from 73 for three consecutive days before the race to 70-71 race morning??? But what can ya do, and anyways I've got my super speedy Aquaman Gold Cell! I finished setting up transition, did a run warm up, took in all the excitement and headed to the start. The start was so much more low key than ITU racing, it was great! Simon Lessing picked up an orange con to make an announcement to all the pros "No one is to pass me from now to the finish, understood? And...no one touch me on the swim!" Andy Potts didn't follow his directions, but don't worry I did :) So I expected to have one of the faster women's swims and hoped to catch some of the guys feet...however there was a strong current and as the guys went wide in order to use the current later...I didn't' know this was going to happen, so I had some clear water to the first buoy. Rounding the first buoy I met up with Pip Taylor and we swam together the rest of the way. I had a good transition and started up the gradual grade out of transition feeling good. Since this was my first half I didn't know what to expect on the bike or exactly how hard to go. I just put my head down and went. It was definitely different riding in no-man's land for so much of the ride. Chrissie Wellington passed me about 40min into the ride and I did what I could to keep her in sight. Thank goodness there were still some of the guys behind me, so about every 30min someone else would pass me and give me another target. I cruised into transition with the 2nd fastest bike split and broke 2:30 on a tough course with over 4600 feet of climbing, so I was pleased. I've really been working on running fast off the bike, which paid off because I felt great! I was cruising along and passed the 5K mark in 19:30, my HR was below my target zone so I thought I was doing okay at that pace. I backed off a little bit and was still feeling strong through the end of the 1st lap. As I ran through transiton the crowd was awesome and I heard that I had a 4 min lead on the next two girls, sweet. My legs kept on moving and I was holding a solid pace through 9 miles, and then my legs decided they were done. Oh, I started hurtin! The run course was pretty tough too with little to none flat stretches and 3600 feet of climbing...as I started up a hill my pace was 8:20, uh oh! Needless to say miles 9-11 were painful. But when I passed the 11 mile marker I knew I only had 2miles left, 14-15 min. I took it one minute at a time and as I neared the finish line I could see the clock at 4:29, I tried to push it to break 4:30 but crossed in 4:30.03. Not to bad for my first 70.3! I ended up 2nd to Chrissie and earned a spot to the 70.3 World Championships, yee haw! The post race festivites were amazing: great people, great food, and lots of fun. And a huge thank you to all the volunteers and to Keith Jordan, race director, for putting on such a fantastic event!