I have always wanted to go and race Wildflower as it is one of those iconic events on the North American calendar that looms legendary in the history books. However, whether it was too scary, too early or too much of a road triathlon (only the latter) I never got a chance to toe the line until this year. Boo! I should have been doing this a LONG time ago! So, so cool! I had a super time having my butt handed to me by a deep field of super athletes with Julie Dibens reigning supreme way at the front of the race. I am happy with fifth as really, I didn’t even have any kind of outcome goal going into this race so that was just fine. Also I did have a bit of a new bike snafu so although I didn’t really get to see what I can do on the bike I did manage to ride up to second before some issues occurred so like Conrad, I rode well and held on for a good finish.
Mine is a cautionary tale of new equipment. I got a brand spanking new killer amazing red rocket superspeedy Specialized Transition two days before the event. My new steed and I met on Thursday morning and went for a 45 minute date riding around Morgan Hill before we drove to Wildflower. Friday morning I took my friend out for another ride and then put it to bed before the race on Saturday morning. So I had a total of 2h of time trial biking to prepare for this event. However, the bike fit I got from Bill at Procity was amazing! I finally listened to him and allowed him to move my stuff all over the place, essentially moving me into a TT position. So riding the bike was so much less of a problem than any time I got on a bike in the past in my stupid hybrid mountain-biking-on-tri-bars position I was so insistent upon in the past. Money. However, there was still some stupidity for me to add to the mix later. Anyhow, all went smoothly leading up to the race and I would like to thank Nick and Jeff at Shimano, and Jeff, Joe and Myron at Specialized for the mechanical support of champions. My issue was sort of out of their hands.
I had a ton of fun rooming with Virginia Beretesegui, last year’s winner and fellow AVIA athlete. We stayed in a pimpin RV right next to transition complete with internet, cable tv, kitchen, shower etc. In fact, on race morning I was thinking, how am I going to plow through this giant line to the portaloo and still make the start? When, it dawned on me, my bathroom is RIGHT THERE!! Lucky me.
So at 8:05 am, nestled in layers of Profile Design neoprene, I dove in to start my third half Ironman ever. I was so not nervous. In fact, I really was considering it a day of training so even if I was LAST I was okay with how it was going. So off we went and disappointingly, I lost the feet I was looking for instantly. It is amazing how much worse I swim in neoprene than without. It has nothing to do with brand of wetsuit and everything to do with me just not knowing how to swim fast in one. Lesson one: figure out why the heck you underperform in a wetsuit!! For how I am swimming right now in training, my swim was an absolute, complete and utter disaster. Dislike.
So off onto the bike. I was super cool and had my shoes on my pedals and everything and it only took me most of a kilometer to insert my feet into said shoes. Tard. Luckily there is a mile before the hill so by then I was sorted and up I went. I passed a couple people there, maybe three, two of which were boys. As we left the campground I caught Sam, someone else, Magali and another boy or so. However, with no idea of who is who and what is going on, I didn’t know where I was. So blasting off into the first 25-35 miles….
Trucked along until about 30 miles where I caught Virginia. Blew by. I noticed it was super easy to make time on hills, not so much on flat-downhill. I was the only non disc wheel in the top five to tenish: noted. Then I also noticed my side bums were getting tired. Like, painfully. I had a GU thinking maybe I was cramping. Nope, mystery pain. So then I told myself you are just tired from Vegas, you are here for training, geterdone. But it sort of hurt and kind of sucked. So for all my good pacing when I got to nasty grade, my legs were crap. I was not blowing, just stuff was hurting and my power was gone. Crappy. I was talking myself through it when I got repassed by two people, one of whom was Angela but she wasn’t going to run so when I was counting spots back for some reason thought I was in 6th. No idea that I was going back from second. Oh well. Anyways, it turns out when we measured after the race that my seatpost dropped a little over an inch. Hence the bum pain. Use post paste when you have carbon on carbon and avoid all bum pain in future races. Dislike post dropping.
So when I came off the bike I was feeling a bit stiff and unsure of whether I had just blown on the bike so I started the run VERY conservatively. The run is very very hilly. Like, almost reduce you to walking hills so you probably could detonate completely not unlike XTERRA runs. I just ran cruisy with no concern for being caught until the last 3 miles where I was like, I am not blowing, get your ass going! I was passed by Magali and Desiree before settling into fifth to finish.. but not before running a little off course in the dirt before Shawn from AVIA is like: “what are you doing over there?” and I was like “where do I go?” and he is like” straight up the road (you idiot*)” which made perfect sense rather than running the path to somewhere else. Ah well, who needs a good run split?
So fifth! I was light years behind and feel like I coulda been faster on the bike but we’ll save the knowledge until my next half Ironman attempt this year.
So the base/strength training is done and before I go off to race for five weeks I am going to try to inject a bit more speed to use in combat on the XTERRA tour. I am sure I am in good shape.. it is just a few tweaks necessary to get the engine running in top performance.
Thank you so much to Specialized, AVIA and Shimano for your awesome support and the huge fun this weekend. I had a super time! Congrats to all my AVIA teammates on the podium with Eneko in third, Virginia in third and Magali in fourth. Very solid team performance! Also my Specialized teammates rocked out with Phil Graves in fourth, Rasmus in fifth, and Desiree in second in the women’s race. Conrad rocked the bike to come into T2 in second then jogged in the run to 10th. I love the fact this race really made us all feel like a team. Triathlon can be a lonely individual sport so having team cohesion was incredible.
After the race I had a great time with the girls Magali, Donna, Tracey and Angela ice bathing in the lake and then Sam McGlone joined the AVIA crew for some margaritas with Amy so the evening after the race was a great time. If you have never been to Wildflower you are missing out. This race is absolutely, positively amazing. It is hard as heck but you will never regret doing it.
So until Texas I will be hanging at Specialized HQ for secret meetings about world domination then back to the pool. Dagnabbit I will swim fast this year!! Or at least ride and run fast afterwards. Hopefully both. Back to work.
* He didn’t say that but I know he was thinking : silly blonde dirt girl… too many mtb crashes..