Clearwater was AWESOME!!! I arrived on Monday (actually early early morning Tuesday, after an all day flight from Canada!) and got settled into my hotel. The hotel was awesome, fully equipped kitchen and a block from the transition area, so much better than last year. I hung out for a few days and got ready to race fast on Saturday. I helped out with the Lifesport swim clinic on Thursday morning...it was windy and cold, absolutely freezing...what was going on, I was in Florida for goodness sakes! But Randy flew in that afternoon and brought the sunshine and warm weather with him...so by race morning it was perfect. I was so excited to see Randy since I hadn't seen him in FOREVER! On Friday afternoon, I had a short interview and filming with the Ironman crew and then off to the race meeting, where we found out they had decided to move the swim from the ocean to the bay. Darn it! I was looking forward to some fun in the ocean on race morning. But it ended up turning out good anyways...and now the race start was literally outside of my hotel room.
I didn't sleep much the night before the race...it was weird, my mind wasn't racing or really thinking of anything...I just seemed to lay there and keep saying 'sleep!'. Oh well, I'd already gotten my solid 10hr of sleep the night before, so I'd be good to go. I got out of bed before the alarm went off and all of a sudden the adrenaline (and caffeine) started to pump into my system and I was ready to go!!!
Did all the pre-race stuff and then headed down to the swim start with my Ipod blaring Miley Cyrus :) Fun times! I felt loose, relaxed, and ready to go during my swim warm up. Met up with Mags for a pre-race hug and a wave to Coach Lance. Then it was time to focus and get ready for the sound of the gun! We were off and I had a pretty good swim. It was a bit hard to see the buoys and figure out exactly where we were going...but it was all good. Once we turned the a few buoys, it was a solid swim the the huge pirate ship next to the exit ramp. The ramp was pretty narrow...so we crowed up it and I bolted to the transition area. I ended up crossing the timing mat first...fastest swim split! I had a descent T1, a bit of a hiccup, but was out on the bike before I knew it. I just put my head down and trusted my new cycling legs! All the hard work and the epic sessions with Coach Lance in Victoria were going to pay off...and I was bound and determined to stay with the lead girls. Julie Dibens got away and was up the road but the rest of us hammered along together (legally!). The men had started 5min behind us...so before I knew it they started whizzing by...and they were one huge group, it was crazy!!! They swarmed around us...and were gone after not too long. The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful. I just tried to stay steady and keep on pushing home to T2. As I turned onto the main road before crossing back over the bridge...a car totally pulled out in front of me to cross the road, absolutely oblivious to me (or that the roads were blocked and a race was going on!) Thank goodness they had their window down, I was yelling at them and they finally saw me and braked just in time for me to swerve around them. I arrived in T2 in 5th place and was ready to go show off my new running legs. The crowd and support was amazing...I had so many people cheering for me!!! It was great to see Randy and Coach Paul about 1mile in...and then Coach Lance at the top of the bridge. I felt pretty good and just tried to get the legs moving forward. I was running so relaxed and felt like I was just floating. As I finished the first lap everyone was yelling that I was gaining on 4th place. I kept on pushing and passed her, sweetness, I was in 4th!!! and ready to run some more girls down. Well, unfortunately, my legs decided they were done and they blew up big time! Mags and Laura came running by and I knew it would be so good for me to go with them and be able to use their energy...so my mind was saying GO! and my legs NO! I did my best to keep it together...but oh I was hurtin. I have never blown up in a race before and let me just tell ya, it was not very fun. I went from steady 6:30miles to 8:00min miles, OUCH! At that point, it was time for survival management and just making sure I got myself across the finish line! I got passed by a few more girls and ended up finishing in 8th. So 2 spots ahead of last year and 7 min faster, I'll take that!!! Mags ended up sprinting into 3rd place, congrats girl!!!
Had some fun post race hanging with the Lifesport team and then a day and a half at the beach with Randy. It was so hard to leave the sunny beach knowing I was heading home to snow in Colorado! But oh so nice to be back home!!!
Thanks to everyone for all the support, couldn't do it without you! Thanks to Ramon Serrano for the race photos above. Fun photos to be added soon(don't have my memory card with me right now.)