It’s been a week since the last triathlon of my 2011 season, and I think it’s finally all settled. While this race was a replacement for the 5150 event in Clearwater that was canceled (because WTC wasn’t making ENOUGH money…), I was obviously supposed to race Club Med instead. I’ll explain that as the post goes on, but for now, just know it was a fantastic substitute.
With the email that 5150 Clearwater’s cancelation burned into my mind a few weeks ago, I was desperate to find something to end my season with. For every year I’ve competed, I’ve ended my season on a high note; be it a crazy PR, or a 140.6 finish. Traditions can’t be broken that easy, and while I would have been content(not really) with ending my season with my AG finish at Rev3 Anderson, I REALLY wanted a birthday race. I found the Club Med race series, and the finale, race #6, fell just a week earlier than 5150 had been scheduled. Two days before my 23rd, and just six days before my true peak, it fit in pretty perfectly to my schedule. And it was a drivable distance, granted a full day’s worth, but a hell of a lot less of a hassle than trying to fly with my bike. Thursday’s class ended, I stopped by my apartment to pick up my bike and luggage, then headed to Port Saint Lucie Florida.
What should have been around a 8.5hour drive turned into over 10 on the way down. My GPS likes to take me through traffic…even though I’m still trying to decide why there was traffic in downtown Atlanta at 3pm on a Thursday. Down the interstate, and onto the Florida turnpike. Fun fact: Toll booths don’t take plastic, and even at 11pm, stopping to have a ticket stating you MUST write a check for 2.50$ to FDOT gains you a lot of angry drivers behind you. I mean I offered the 4 pennines and couple of pop tops I had in my cup holder. There might have even been button in there! But alas; the attendant was not amused. As I was told by a couple teammates later, “Florida has to pay for our roads some how” and, “It cost me 20$ to get off in Miami”. At least it only cost me 10.50$; there’s always a bright side I guess. At 1 am I finally laid down in my hotel, nice and cramped from the drive, but I had 2 days before my race to loosen up. I did exactly that over the next two days, even checked out the course, on Google maps anyway (more than that’s taboo for me; ALWAYS equals a really bad race). Unplugged from my phone Saturday, watched a little TV, checked IMFL splits, then finished the book I was reading and drifted off to sleep.
Sleep was cut short though; I didn’t set my hotel clock back, so I was up an hour earlier than I planned…LONGEST. HOUR. EVER. Damn you daylight savings time! It’s amazing what you do over and over again trying to kill time and stay on edge for a race. It was still dark when I finally left my hotel at 5 am to set up transition. Between Tiesto, Bassnectar, and Dubstep, I felt like I was ready to explode when I stepped out of my car on site. Once I had my transition set up, I started my pre-race warm up. When I returned I glanced to my right to see Heather Gollnick 3 spots over… We all need a pacer; right?(she raced the sprint, which explains why I never saw her) The Club Med series is HG’s series, so she races the events. Even so, it’s different being lined up so close to a pro, especially when you keep catching their eyes but are too intimidated or star struck (both) to open your mouth. I worked to get my wits back, donned my TYR Cat 5 suit, and headed to swim start. The course looked long, but I can’t gauge distance looking at water to save my life, but once in the water I count strokes to gauge distance. Let’s just say each stroke is a meter instead of a meter+ for simplicity sake, well after counting to 100 almost 21times and finally running out of the water, I think it’s safe to say the course was long. 5th out of the water in 28:29. We had strippers, and all 4 of them body slammed me to rip off my suit. I had forgotten how that works. Fast T, and off on a two loop 26 mile bike. (Yes, the whole course was long according to my watch and the RD).
Now if you’ve ever raced, or ridden at all in Florida, you expect the wind. I hadn’t, and there was a storm coming in to make things worse. Cassia(my Kestrel) and I had work to do, and we sure as hell weren’t going to let a little wind screw up our races. The course was flat, but with winds coming from all directions depending on what direction your coming, it could have been hilly. I spent the first loop chasing (and passing 🙂 3 kids in UCF trisuits only to find out later they were racing the sprint. I knew the top guy had a little over 4 minutes on me, so I needed to run hard. With 6 total 180* turns, and a rain-soaked second loop, I came off the bike still in 5th with a 1:12 split. My legs weren’t under me when I started the run, because of the huge power spikes from the wind and 180*s, and I knew this would be interesting.
Ever feel like you’re running through water? Well multiply that so it’s like running through peanut butter, and that’s how my legs felt the whole run. My AVIA’s were pretty much yelling, ‘Why aren’t we moving faster?!’, but I couldn’t shake that unresponsive feeling in my legs. Two loop course through the Club Med golf course, the few things I really remember is the one 180* turn on the laps, and choking out, “How many people are a head of me?!” to the volunteer directing the oly athletes. I was still in 5th, and I told my self that meant I had 4 people to pass. One…two…where’s three and four?! Oh, 3 and 10 minutes ahead of me. And the guy that was in 3rd that i passed ended up getting DQ-ed for cutting the course anyway. My football coach in high school used to say, “If you’re not cheating, you ain’t trying hard enough”…Well we see how that turned out for this guy, huh. I crossed the line in 44:35, still the fastest oly run to date, but it didn’t feel it. I finished in a total of 2:27:35; 3rd OA!
Here’s the really cool parts:
Yes this was a small race, but my first OA finish in a triathlon. That’s important. It’s also important that even though it was small, it was very well put together.
I got to hangout with Heather after the awards, and even though she’s not the first pro I’ve talked to, it’s always really cool to be talking to someone who’s competing at the level you’re working toward
I had the fastest T times out of the whole field
This was only possible through the amazing coaching and support I’ve had from Tony Hammett at EnduranceConcepts, my family, 2nd family(TRAKKERS/EC teammates), kick-ass sponsors, Eileen, and the talent I’ve blessed with. As triathletes we need a support system, and I lean heavily on mine for good reason. We may put in the sweat of training, but could we really perform like we do without them?
And finally!!! Last season I ended my season with a few AG podiums in sprints. This season; I’ve ended it with AG podiums in olys, and an OA finish. It makes me pretty excited to see how the trend progresses next season. Big things in store…big things 😉