Monday, June 17, 2013

Eaglemen 70.3 - That was unexpected!

I want to start this blog by sending out my thoughts and prayers to Meredith Kessler who was leading the 2013 Eagleman 70.3 until she crashed and suffered a concussion. I am a huge mbk fan and she is without a doubt one of the toughest, most talented and gracious female pros on the circuit. I wish her a speedy recovery and I know she will bounce back stronger than ever.

Eagleman 70.3 would be epic this year as my 2 sisters and cousin were competing and my Mom, Dad, Uncle, Brother-in-law and husband would all be on the sidelines cheering their crazy heads off.

I was extra nervous heading into this race because I was chasing some much needed Vegas points (in a crazy stacked pro field) and I also wanted my 2 sisters and cousin to have awesome races.  I flew into Maryland on Thursday afternoon and my bro-in-law scooped me up from the airport and as soon as the one and only Nugget (a.k.a Genny White) arrived home we headed out for an early dinner. It was the most relaxing pre-race arrival I have had this year and I think this helped me with that extra gear on race day.

We filled the pre race days with oyster eating (!), pancake eating and relaxing.

Race day arrived quickly and before I knew it I was running over to check on Genny in transition and make sure she was good to go. She had everything under control and seemed to be ready to race fast (which she did, by the way!).

I went through my normal pre race routine which included fiddling with my helmet - putting in on and taking it off like a gazillion times to make sure it fit OK and then going for a easy jog to get the blood pumping. The heat and humidity really got me sweating which was all good until I tried to squeeze myself into the Zoot Prophet.  Whoa! Now I know what a sausage feels like.  Fifteen painful minutes later which included swearing, breath holding and more swearing I managed to complete the simplest yet most tear-evoking task of the day.

I made it into the suit!

Swim - 28:29 (Not my best but the swim was confirmed as long and also was very choppy and HOT!)

I spotted Meredith and super swimmer Robin Sandos on the start line and positioned myself right next to them. The gun when off and immediately I felt strong and fluid. I found myself swimming stroke for stroke with Robin feeling like the pace was easy and relaxed. I made a move to try and bridge the gap to Tenille and after 5 minutes of this effort I went from feeling relaxed to absolutely boiling in my wetsuit. I quickly weighed my options and because I wanted to avoid lobster- in-the-pot status I let off the throttle and tucked in behind Robin. For the rest of the swim I shared her feet with Rinny and managed to bring the HR and body temp back down a bit.  

I sprinted through transition hot on Rinny, Sandos and Serpico's heels. I promised myself I would not lose them as I wanted a group to key off during the bike.  
Serpico, Carfrea and my backside (sorry!)

I had one of my best transitions, hopped on the Felt and was able to keep Rinny in sight. She charged out of the gate and I put my head down and was determined to close the gap. After 30 minutes of TT effort I finally was within 10 bike lengths of her, then 9, then 8 and then she did something unexpected and sat up for a quick second to get a drink. Because there was a referee by us the ENTIRE ride I was forced to pass the World Champion. Oh boy.  I immediately doubted myself. Was I riding too fast? Was I destined to implode?  But something funny happened after that pass.  I actually felt great. I looked down at my Garmin and my watts were right on target. I felt smooth and aero and fast. I thought of all the tips my coach taught me and that was to GO FAST on LESS WATTS, tuck your head, get aero and stay that way, keep the speed going into and out of the turns.  Rinny ended up passing me back and we would go back and forth with also Serpico in the mix until about mile 45 when I decided that I was feeling so good that today was the day that I would take a big chance on the bike. I put my head down and made a charge. I pretended that I was on a training ride and that I was chasing my great friend Ryan Kelly.  Ten minutes later I gave a rare look back and I was gaining ground. Holy moly! I actually made a move and it worked! Sweet Jalissa!  

I spent the rest of the ride thinking fast thoughts for my cousin and 2 sisters who were out there fighting their own personal battles.

Before I knew it I was cruising into transition (through the mud pit!) in seventh and heard Danny and my Dad yelling from the sidelines about the situation up ahead of me. Turns out Susan Serpico, Sarah Piampiano, and Tenille Hoogeland were all within striking distance. I caught Susan and we exchanged good jobs and then I charged on.  I fought to keep Sarah in sight which proved difficulty as she was cruising. My first 4 miles were 6:09, 6:15, 6:08, 6:10 and Sarah was pulling away from me!  I willed myself to stay strong and to not give up.  As we neared the 5th water stop I decided to try and open it up for just 3 minutes. The move worked and I got close enough to Sarah and heard her call out for ice. I opted to skip the aid station to try and open up a gap and again worked!  I was lucking out! :) Now I was on the hunt for 4th place.  I saw Tenille off in the distance and made a silent goal to try and pass her before the turn around.  Just under one mile later I found myself in 4th!  Angela, Laura and Jenna then passed me in the opposite direction (they were in 1st, 2nd and 3rd place) at the turnaround and they all looked super strong and were about 4.5 minutes ahead of me.  I knew there was a slim chance I would catch 3rd if she kept running like that so I was now in protection mode. DO NOT give up 4th place.  I hit the turn around and saw the hungry hounds behind me! AH! Move the little legs!  The tides had turned and now I  was running scared.

Arm swing, leg turnover, arm swim, leg turnover. The aid stations were great and fueled my fire!  I put my head down and did some work. At 10.5 miles  I saw Danny and my Dad. They were jumping up and down and yelling "45 seconds to 3rd!" Holy Moly!!!!  That got the adrenaline going.  I surged for 20 seconds and around the bend was Jenna. I decided right then and there to make a move because my legs did NOT have a sprint finish in them.

I moved into third at mile 11 and ran like mad to the finish.
 My Dad and Danny greeted me at the finish. I was so happy!  A hard effort on a hot day with some big Vegas points as a bonus :)

The energy after the race was high. I ate, changed clothes and then got back on my bike and cheered my cousin and 2 sisters to the finish. I was impressed how strong they all looked and really did ROCK it in a big way!

Eagleman 70.3 is a great race and I will definitely be back next year. May even make it a dirty double with Raleigh 70.3 the weekend before like my crazy friend Beth Shutt. :)