Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Memphis in May: Taking a Gamble




After struggling with a sinus infection that turned into an upper respiratory infection for most of March and April, I knew I needed to decide when I’d throw myself back into racing and test exactly where my body was at. I thought Memphis in May would be the perfect opportunity for me to do that, as well as get an Olympic distance non-drafting race under my belt before the ITU Pan American Championships just two weeks later.

Having raced here in 2012, I was familiar with the course, which helped ease the stress a bit. However, the conditions couldn’t have been more different than 2012. Instead of a hot, humid weekend, I was now dealing with a rainy and cold climate that left me wishing I had packed a couple more pairs of sweats and maybe a beanie or two!

Quick side note: although this was the Memphis in May Triathlon, the venue was actually located in Tunica, Mississippi, one of the casino centers of the south. Before the race, I met a man in the elevator who asked me what my winnings were for the weekend, and I smiled and told him I’d find out tomorrow (figuring he was talking about the triathlon, obviously!). He gave me a funny look, before telling me he’d lost $100 already on the slots but was on the comeback trail for the rest of the weekend. Now I understood… casino!

Anyways, onto the race itself… since it was such a cold morning, I decided to skip my usual swim warm-up and just prep for the race with a bike and run – that way I’d be able to keep myself as warm as possible for race start when I ran into the chilly water. The only problem with this plan was that a sweaty post-run warm-up me made it very hard to get into my wetsuit. I recruited my husband for help pulling the wetsuit up, and, as we both tugged, unfortunately some fingernails punctured my beloved wetsuit pretty good. At that point, I didn’t want to be cold so I figured I’d take my chances with it. As you probably guessed, by the time I got out of the swim, I’d taken on the form of a whale with all the water I picked up during the swim. However, all things considered, I was very pleased with my swim and felt I was in a good position for the bike.

Since it had been raining most of the weekend, what was once a grassy area had now turned into a mud pit. As I slogged my way through the run and to my bike I could only think of how many people pay hundreds of dollars to do a mud run and here I was competing in one for free….#winning! Once on the bike, I was able to settle into a good rhythm. This bike course involved very long stretches of road before turns, so I tried to make the time pass by quicker by challenging myself to look at my power meter often and try to up the ante every couple of minutes. Another entertaining part of the bike was reading the signs of the roads we turned on – most every one had the word “casino” in it somehow…”Casino Strip Blvd, Casino Resort Rd, etc etc.” With about 10k to go on the bike and biking into a headwind, I really felt like I was starting to lose some steam and my legs were starting to cramp a bit. I was passed by two girls within the last two miles and knew I’d have my work cut out for me on the run.

As I started the run, I immediately noticed that my legs felt heavy and the energy I usually have to run just wasn’t there. I tried to hang on to my goal pace as much as I could, but after a couple of miles, I had to accept that I’d have to pace myself a little bit more to make sure I was able to finish. I crossed the finish line in 9th and although I was disappointed, I was mostly just happy to be back racing. Sometimes you just have to look at the little victories.

In addition, I was grateful for the awesome company, including two friends who drove all the way from Chattanooga to watch me race: thanks James and Kimberly! After the race, I did a quick recovery spin, with two ladies I admire very much and don’t get to see enough of at the races: Abby Geurink and Natasha Van der Merwe. Wishing both of them best of luck at their races until we meet again!

Like I mentioned, I had a quick turnaround til my race in Dallas on May 31st for the ITU PATCO Championships. I knew I had my work cut out for me, but I couldn’t help thinking, “Let your faith be bigger than your fear.”

Thanks as always to those who support me both in good times and bad: Premium Remodeling, Sklar Exploration, and Serious Cycling. Your support allows me to do what I love!