After body marking and getting my chip, I racked my bike on the OPEN division rack in the front of the transition area. I spotted several Trimarni athletes and other Greenville triathletes which was fantastic to see so many familiar faces. I'm the type of athlete who enjoys being around other athletes and having others make me laugh before a race whereas Karel likes to do his own thing without anyone else around.
Around 6am I walked back to the car with Karel and started my warm-up with dynamic stretching and a light jog with a few pick-ups. Around 6:30am, I walked to the lake with my wetsuit, cap and goggles to start my pre-race swim.
I stayed in the open until it was time for the open wave to start at 7am.
1.2 mile swim Time: 26.06
Give me a mountain view, calm lake water, a group of fast swimmers, my (new) favorite goggles for open water and the fastest wetsuit that I've ever swam in and you know I will be swimming happy.
The water temp was comfortable, semi-clear and calm.
At 7am, we were off!
There was a strong group of around 15 swimmers who started off fast for our in-the-water start. It almost felt like Kona to have so many strong swimmers so close together until the first buoy (well, minus the colorful fish, sea turtles and crystal blue waters). We all stayed close together until the first buoy and as I found myself with a few swimmers until the second buoy, I kept my eye on one girl next to me who was swimming really strong. We swam close together until the last buoy before the turn buoy and I found myself swimming away from her and closer to the group of guys in front of me.
I wasn't sure if any females were ahead of time so I just focused on the guys in front of me.
The group of guys in front of me were swimming strong and I tried my best to catch them but it seemed like every time I was about to get them they picked up the pace. It was on the way back to the finish when I started to inch my way closer to the guys and finally was able to get some draft from the other swimmers.
Still keeping the buoys on our right, I kept a straight line directly to the bridge so that I didn't swim any more distance than necessary. This provided a straight shot to the bridge where I was greeted with ice cold water just under the bridge. It was refreshing to feel the cold water and nice to see the spectators above me but I was also ready to finish up this swim and get on my bike.
I felt really good throughout the entire swim and really tried to not resort to my comfortable Ironman effort but instead, I tried to go for a slightly harder, uncomfortable, yet sustainable effort.
I was able to catch a few guys in the final few minutes of the swim before getting out of the water, up a ladder and on to the dock.
I ran into the transition with a few guys and quickly grabbed took off my wetsuit and put on my socks, bike shoes, helmet and sunglasses. I felt like it was a quick transition (free speed!) and I was in and out. I started up my Garmin 810 as I was running out of the transition.
I spotted Karel as I was running my bike to the mount line and he gave me a look of confidence and told me that I was first female out of the water. I'm not sure if he said anything else because I was so excited to get on my bike and tackle this difficult course with over 3500 feet of climbing in 56 miles (the Training Peaks elevation correction told me I did 6040 feet of climbing - which sounds super epic - but I think it was closer to 4000 feet).
I had planned to drive the entire course the day before the race with my athlete Jim but due to a hard downfall of rain, which made it impossible to see the arrows on the course and street names, we had to turn around after 15 miles. Ever since my bike detour at Rev3 Knoxville, I've been a overly nervous about staying on course at my races so I wanted to do everything possible to make sure I knew this challenging course, which included a lot of technical sections and lots of turns.
I reviewed as much as I could online, over and over again, and felt confident going into this race.
Despite never seeing an average speed over 17.5 miles per hour on my rides here in Greenville, I felt like this was going to be a good bike course for me to go hard (fast is all relative on challenging courses).
The first few miles were fast after climbing a steady climb out of transition. Being the leader of the women's race made me ride scared but that's also how I have been racing over the past few years. In the past, I was typically passed on the bike within the first 20-30 minutes by other fast ladies but thanks to a lot of cycling work, I'm riding stronger (and happier) than ever before.
I found myself with a group of 5-6 guys in the first 10 miles of the bike and staying draft legal helped me ride strong and steady. I had an official by me several times and I never received a look that I was doing something that I shouldn't be doing. Karel has helped me understand exactly how far I need to be to stay draft legal in a race which has helped when I am in-the-moment, racing hard.
But it was only a matter of time before the guys would ride away. Even with a 54-39 front and 11-28 rear cassette, I was loosing ground on the downhills and was unable to make up the ground I needed on the uphills to keep these guys within my reach.
After around 5 miles, we had a good 5 miles of extremely twisty turny, up and down roads, which was a lot of fun but it made it difficult to manage a steady effort. I found myself trying to chase the guys and after about 45 minutes, I had to remind myself that this is not a bike race but instead a triathlon. But as much fun as I was having, I needed to settle into my own rhythm and race my own race.
For the next 25 miles, the course continued to meet all my expectations - it was absolutely beautiful and what an amazing location to suffer on two wheels. Creeks, trees, farms, animals and a nice fog making it perfect weather for riding. The course was well-marked with arrows before every turn and plenty of police officers to help with traffic control. The course was open to traffic and there were some sections with gravel on the road but I never felt unsafe on the road.
For the rest of the race, I lead the women's race and had no other cyclists in sight. Similar to Lake James 50 and Ironman Austria, I found myself in a race by myself. I was riding as hard and strong as I could for 56 miles but this over 2.5 hour time trial effort was not easy. I love the idea of having competition around me as it brings out the best in me. I always feel like I can go harder with other people around so I rode as if the other girls were right behind me so that I would keep myself going.
After a long steady and steep climb around mile 40, I found myself a little tired but on the downhill from the climb, I felt a reboot and I was back to my riding business.
The course was filled with lots of punchy climbs and it was never boring. I was riding so happy despite giving a sustainable strong effort throughout the entire ride.
Never looking at my Garmin to tell me how well (or not well) I was riding, I went all by feel for 56 miles.
I fueled well throughout the entire ride and (almost) finished 3 full bottles, each with around 230-240 calories per bottle, each with a pinch of salt.
As I was finishing the bike course, with less than 1.5 miles to go, I made my way up the long climb (about 1/2 mile) before a slight descend into the finish.
I made sure to never think about the run when I was biking because the way I was riding as if I was not running off the bike. But after 10 years of endurance racing, I've learned that if you want to win, you have to be willing to fail. I was taking risks for 56 miles and I wanted to give it my all to finish as the overall female winner.
For the number guru's, here are my 25 minute splits from my Garmin (I went all by feel):
-166 NP (Normalized Power), 87 cadence, 23.8 mph
-189 NP, 88 cadence, 22.3 mph
-164 NP, 88 cadence, 21.6 mph
-170 NP, 88 cadence, 19.9 mph
-181 NP, 83 cadence, 18.3 mph
-159 NP, 87 cadence, 21.5 mph
-Last 1.5 miles - 172 NP, 80 cadence, 15 mph
13.1 mile run
Photo credit: Nicole R.
When I approached the dismount line, I spotted Karel. He snapped a few pics and told me great job as I ran my bike to the transition.
It took me an extra second to put on my Garmin 235 (for the run) but I tried to make transition as quick as possible as I put on my visor, run shoes and race belt. I did walk through the transition area as I put on my Nathan hydration belt and once I stepped over the timing mat, I started running.
The first few minutes did not feel good on my legs but I'm all too familiar with this feeling so I just ran with it.
I didn't see Karel for a while so I figured he was waiting until the next few girls came into transition area to let me know of my lead. Karel was on his mountain bike to cheer for me and all the other Trimarni and Greenville athletes (and everyone else) out on the course.
I was really excited for this course because it suits my strength of running on hills. Seeing that my running style is more of a glider versus than a gazelle, I do best on terrain that let's me power my way up hills with my quads than to push off the ground with my feet (not sure if that makes sense but that's how I feel when I run hills).
I felt really strong running the first 3 miles, which were all uphill. It was a gradual incline, nothing too steep, but it certainly required a bit of work to get to the turn around. I had one quick stop to shake out some kinks in my running form but other than that, I ran to the turn around without any additional walk breaks. Karel rode up and gave me a cheer and told me that I had a good lead, about five minutes. But he told me to not give up and to keep my effort going.
I sipped on my Clif hydration flasks (about 100 calories) every mile and a few times in between the aid stations and grabbed a little water at the aid stations for sipping. Although the course was a little shaded, I was getting a little warm so I used the water to cool myself. The volunteers were great and everyone on the course was giving me a lot of motivation - seeing my athletes, Bryan, Thomas, Al, Leigh-Ann (and eventually Jim - who had a mechanical) was a great energy booster.
When I approached the turn around, I took a quick breather, shook out my legs and a few deep breaths and exhales and made my way down the hill.
I found myself constantly playing mind games and talking my way to the next destination on the course as I was experiencing far more low moments as I was running than highs. Never did I let my Garmin tell me how good/bad I was running so I didn't look at my Garmin for the entire run.
When I made my way back to the transition area, it was a great energy booster to hear my name from the spectators and to run on the gravel (which I loved) and the grass (which I loved) as the first female. I took one quick walk near the transition area to shake out my legs and to stretch my back before heading back out on the run course and back to climbing for the next 3 miles.
At this point, I saw the ladies behind me once again and they looked strong....they also looked very close to me. It was a mile or so later when I saw Karel and he told me that I was in a good position to win the race but to not give up because the girls behind me were looking good and running strong. Hearing this from Karel was a great push as it made me not hold back. Although I wasn't able to run any faster, I was not giving up even though I was feeling more and more fatigued as the race went on. I kept telling myself that I am healthy and this is exactly what I train for and I can rest when the race is over. As much as I was hurting, I was loving every step as this is exactly what I love to feel when I am healthy - a body that can endure the pain that comes with racing hard.
I had told myself that the last 3 miles would be all downhill but the miles did not come quick. The last 3 miles were actually my hardest as it seemed like it was taking forever to get to the next mile marker. As I passed mile 10, I just told myself, ok 3 more miles - that's nothing.
Then as I passed mile 11, I told myself that all I had to do was to get to mile 12 and then I would be able to enjoy the last mile as I ran to the finish as the overall female winner. But in order to keep my spot, I had to push hard.
Thankfully, a guy was running the same pace as me (on his first loop) and he was really helping me out. Actually, his pace was faster than mine so I tried to stay with him. He was exactly what I needed.
He was fired up by my response and really pushed me to the finish. He was an awesome running partner and I told him to keep up his pace for the rest of the race and I would see him at the finish.
As I made my way to the gravel section, I was so relieved to see the finish line and as I ran to the finish chute, I heard my name as the first overall female winner.
Karel was already at the finish to see Trimarni athletes Drew and Al finish ahead of me and when I crossed the finish line, I felt equally accomplished as I did exhausted.
It didn't take long for me to hobble my way to Karel and before I knew it, I was finally resting my legs as I collapsed on the ground.
Oh ground, you feel so good.
I've had a lot of ups and downs over the past 10 years. I've had many successful races and I've had a lot of setbacks. I've accomplished many things with my body and my body has encountered a lot of obstacles.
This year has been extremely special because I've worked really hard and my hard work is paying off. But above all, I'm having so much fun training and racing.
I've called myself a triathlete for 10 years and I find myself loving this sport as much as I did when I started.
A big thank you to Karel, the Trimarni athletes, the spectators and the Greenville community for the cheers and support at the Lake Logan Half.
You all reminded me why I love to push my body as race day gives me the opportunity to put my training to the test and to raise my limits and challenge myself.