Wildflower: Take 1
For years, the Wildflower Triathlon has been a race on my triathlon bucket list. In this year of transition, I finally had the opportunity to check it off the list since it is less than a 4 hour drive away from me. I’d heard the stories of how much fun this iconic race was, and looked forward to toeing the line at Wildflower, which was also my half ironman debut. Between the throngs of people and electric atmosphere to the challenging course, this race didn't disappoint.
The swim started out much more aggressive than I thought it would, and after a poor start where I got clobbered, I found myself having to go way to the outside and sprint to regain the position I wanted. A couple of girls had gapped me already, but I was able to settle in and work with 2 other girls throughout the rest of the swim. I exited with the girls in 4-6th place and was definitely psyched to have people cheering me on as I ran up the hill into transition.
One of the biggest surprises of the day came after I hopped on my bike and headed out of transition. Being a newbie, I had no idea the twists, turns, and hills that were awaiting me the first couple miles of the bike; it was the same feeling one might get reading a mystery novel and having no idea what was next. On one corner, there was a steep downhill with a sharp turn which I thought must be leading to more downhill, right? Wrong! Steep downhill quickly turned to steep uphill and me quickly figuring out the proper gearing. Ha whoops! Once I got out of the park and to the part that I’d driven the day before, I was able to settle into a groove. Since this was the longest race I’d competed in to date, I made to sure to be very conservative on the bike and not kill myself the first 30 miles. Once I hit mile 40 (Nasty grade hill) I was still feeling good, so I decided to kick it up a notch and really challenge myself on the hilly sections. I entered transition decently happy with my overly-conservative bike and how the race was going in general (despite being pretty far back in the pro field) and was excited for the run – always my favorite part of the tri. :)
Despite all of the challenging hills on the bike, my legs felt surprisingly good coming off the bike and I immediately tried to establish a high cadence in the first mile of the run. However, I also noticed that while my legs felt good, my body was starting to feel the effects of just how hot it was out there (mid 90's I believe by this point in the race). After a hilly mile 3 in which I thought I was still in good shape, I felt my gut start to cramp and I started to get chills. I slowed down quite a bit on miles 4 and 5, realizing my main goal here was just to finish this race and I was still less than halfway into the run. Mind over matter, I told myself. I’ve been in trouble in many other races and have been able to stick it out until the end. Only one other time in my 7-year long career have I had to DNF due to illness or injury. Unfortunately, this was a different situation. Right after mile 6, I began getting dizzy and weaving while I was walking. I started blacking out and apparently fainted. I’m not too sure what happened next, but I do know that an awesome group of guys from the aid station brought me a chair to rest and recover in along with lots of gatorade and water. I’d planned to keep going but wasn’t getting much better after 15 minutes so they called an ambulance for me and my day was done.
I was so so bummed not to get to finish this race after all the work I’d put in to get here and am still baffled as to why my body shut down on me after executing my nutrition plan perfectly. But, I know that I’ll be back racing here again. Despite the bad race, I can still say it was a fun weekend catching up with old friends and making new ones as well. Also,the hospitality of Tri California is second to none. If you’ve never done a TriCal race, I highly recommend it as the pros are treated like gold. There aren’t too many races I can think of where bottles of wine and chocolate chip cookies are raffled off to pros the day before the race.
I'm so thankful for all those who have helped me get to this point to be competing this year, especially my sponsor Sklar Exploration. I'm also grateful to my husband, Tony, for driving me to and from the race and taking good care of me throughout the weekend. Thanks to my readers for checking in on me-- next race is just around the corner in Dallas on June 1st. Here's hoping it's a little bit cooler than last year!!