5:00am the cell phone alarm went off and I couldn't have felt more fresh when I woke up. I started the coffee and got myself ready by putting on my race clothes and putting my bike in my car. The transition bag was packed and I was almost ready to go. I made myself my normal pre-race breakfast, but for this race the calories were a little less. 1/4 cup of oatmeal, a few nuts and 1/2 banana. A full bottle of water and I was ready to go. I had a short drive to Sand Key beach but I took my time and thought about the upcoming race....All I wanted to know was if I would have an E on my calf (like i had hoped at St.anthony's) to show that i was elite. Ok, so I look forward to the little things. After I parked the car and said many hello's to friends, I was very happy that I received an E on my calf, in addition to my race number #18. Another perk to racing elite, I racked my bike on the 2nd rack in the transition area. I must say that I was very intimidated standing around the other Elite girls. I train with a few of them and have raced with them in the past (I was racing age group, they were elite) but being able to start with them was a great honor for me. I was greated by my parents and that really calmed my nerves. My mom and dad always seem to lighten me up. I also saw so many people that I knew so that was a great feeling. I warmed up before the race and excitedly got out of the water to start with the men and women elite. 7am we were off and I was happy with my start! For once I wasn't the last person in the water. I have been practicing the run-in the water-start (thanks to coach matt hess) and I just started swimming my arms off. I was chasing down a white cap which I thought was another female, but suprisingly it was a male. Since we were the first wave to start, I was shocked when my mom told me that I was the first woman out of the water. I could hear it on the loud speaker and I took a quick look behind me...Oh my gosh, I was the only woman out of the water and on the course! I told my mom I would enjoy the moment while it lasted (as I was running out of the water, my mom was quickly running with me and cheering) cause I knew i was about to get cycled down by these amazing cyclists! I wasn't sure how far behind me the girls were, but after looking at the results, I had a 2 minute lead after the 1/3 mile swim. I knew Karel would be at the top of Memorial causeway waiting for me on his bike, so my only thought was to have him see me get to the bridge and still be the lead. Oh, and I forgot to mention that the motorcycle was in front of me as I was heading out of the park and I followed the motorcycle (which was going much faster than me!) for most of the bike ride. How cool was that!!! I never really took in any of these moments until after the race, but when I saw Karel on the top of the bridge, I knew he was really proud of me. I have him to thank for my major improvements on the bike! Not only is he a great training partner, but he is a perfectionist when it comes to working on my bike tune-ups. After the two causeways it was a fast stretch until the bellair causeway. I was in between 21 and 24 mph for a good stretch of the ride along Indian Rocks and I was passed around mile 9 of the 13 mile bike ride and then passed again around mile 11. I did all I could on the bike and I had to be happy with my 21.5 mph pace which was something that I wasn't even close to last year! I can't believe that i am averaging 20 mph in a half ironman and over 21 mph in a sprint triathlon. Last year I could hardly average 18 mph no matter what the distance or training ride! The run in the park was tough, with the first mile on the soft sand. My transition was quick and I had no time for socks or a visor. I was run down by my running partner Celia, so i guess that was anticipated since she always pushes me hard on our 2 hour+ runs. Of course I always tell her we are running too fast! :) hehe. I did pass one girl on the run but i was chased down by the other 4 girls. wow-I just couldn't believe how fast these girls run! I really look forward to my tues morning workouts on the treadmill as a great opportunity to work on my speed. however, after this race I know I need to step it up! I ended up in 5th place and I was so excited with my finish. 1:11.36 and the difference between 2nd and 5th place was 35 seconds!!! It was a very exciting race for all the females and I just couldn't believe that I had the motorcycle in front of me!!! To make things even better, I won money for my 5th place finish (money to the top five females) in addition to a beautiful award.
I just can't believe how far I have gotten in two years of training for triathlons. I feel like I become more competitive and stronger with each day of training and more knowledgable with the sport as the days go on. I am getting into the long training days of my Kona training, so i will do my best to keep everyone updated on my journey to the Ironman world championships in 12 weeks!
Congrats to everyone who finished at Morton Plant Mease! I had a great time working the expo most of the afternoon on saturday and it was really fun meeting new people at the race. Thanks also to my parents and karel for watching the race.