Monday, May 7, 2012

St. Anthony – The love-hate race

St. Anthony – The love-hate race
I have been babbling over the last few months on how excited I was to be competing in St. Anthony’s Triathlon. This was my third consecutive year racing St. A’s:  three completely different and amazing experiences. Good times are always guaranteed when out of spontaneous decisions! The first year, I signed up “just because” “why not” “heck, let’s go”… not knowing what I was getting myself into. My first “big” race with exceptional professionals competing. My friend Sophy who taught me how clip in and out of the bike a few months prior told me out of nowhere “want to go to St. Pete and race?” Turned out I had never been, so there we were about to compete in the national qualifier. I was excited, I gave it my all and enough said I qualified for Nationals that very first year. But this is not the reason I love this race. The swim is known for the strong currents, choppy water and has been canceled a few times the prior years for those exact reasons. It is technical, it is tough, it is competitive: what’s not to love! I am fond of the eminent challenge. The bike is the bike. Lots of turns but a flat course. And the run is so powerful. Running through the beautiful houses of St. Pete’s with the community on their front lawn cheering, clapping: an extreme source of energy and euphoria!
This year, the race was something else! First time out of town with about 20 Tri 2 One teammates competing. The emails leading to this race were hilarious. Especially with Mr. Arriola deciding to rent an RV for the team!  Bikes making love in the back beds and crazy triathletes laughing with no ending. The flying cab (Luis’ truck) got to to St. Pete’s in record time with an unexpected accommodation crisis. But we handled the situation just in time for the rest of the team to be worry free!
Pre-race workout was great. Good times riding the run course and seeing the fast, tall and beautiful body of Matty Reed! J We finished our longer than planned bike ride to get ready for the run. An also longer than planned transition trying to get everyone organized. We went for a short run and a well deserved refreshing swim.   We all then went for what I thought was a quick lunch but turned into a 3 hour hanging out in St. Pete. Let’s just say that when we got back to the condo, that shower felt like I had won the lottery!  

Dinner was full of laughter with the crazy IronBeto clown.
Race morning was smooth and fun. Getting ready with the fast and famous Tri 2 One Michelina and Ola!  But the wait from transition closure (6:45 am) to race start (8:50 am) was not as appreciated. On the bright side, we got to see the pros come out of the swim which was inspiring and got to cheer for all of our fellow Tri 2 Oners start.
The swim was choppy but consistent. Total time: 27 mins (without a wetsuit)
The bike was bumpy, hot, and unfortunately not what I expected. I lost the top of my aero bottle within the first 3 miles and consequently half of my hydration was gone. By that time it was about 9:30 am and the heat was not shy. The ride definitely had a lot of turns, wind and a lot of people.  I felt the fatigue from the day before but tried to pull it together. The course was familiar. I knew what to expect, no surprises. Unfortunately, I fell off the bike while dismounting which took me off my game. A “…” official crossed right in front of me while I raising my right leg over the seat to roll into transition. I hit the brakes and my tough P3 did a 360 on the ground. Two random people help me up and besides all the people cheering in transition, all I heard was this man shouting “just shake it off, shake if off!!!” I got up a little disoriented, grabbed my bike and started “jogging” through transition. This was my first bike fall. Enough said I was shaken up!
Trying to take my mind off this fateful fall, I saw this woman with a good pace but awful posture and decided to turn this moment into a win-win situation. I encouraged her through the run to keep her pace. We were both tired. I showed her my wound and it made her feel better. We cheered with a sip of champagne a random woman handed us and finished our successful run. The run was interested. I was determined to be empowered by this run and not let the fall ruin it.
I finished the first 5K with a 8:16 min/mile and picked it up to a 8 min/mile for the remaining 5k.
Post race was comprised of a painful pinched nerve in my lower back and a blackout but nothing to worry about. I am blaming the fatigue of the previous week, the heat, the nerve, the imbalance of electrolytes and my fragile self. Although I was glad to see everyone hanging out together in the tent, my morale was low. I thought I had hurt my new bike, was really shaken up by the fall and the blackout, and supposed I had done terrible. Until Beto shouted “you got 6th” What? In my mind I had not even done as well as my first time and was expected to be in the bottom quarter. But despite the fall, I finished 6th  out of 77 25-29 year old women which qualified me for the Hy-Vee Championship. The award ceremony was rewarding to hear all of the Tri 2 One applauds. We took home 5 top 10 which is amazing in such a difficult race.
Yes, this year, it was a love-hate relationship. I had expectations. I did not feel I held up to the expectations. It was a tough race, but hard work paid off. I guess the famous quote “It does not get easier, you just get faster” applies.
Congrats to Tri 2 One for an outstanding race and thank you for a fun weekend. Ready for next year’s come back!