Pinehurst….Check!

So one of two of my last races of the season has come and gone and it feels great to have ended the NC series on a high note!  I had a great race and felt wonderful all day, despite having not rested for this race, so I’m hoping that’s a good sign for HalfMax next weekend!

Pinehurst is a great race…however it always seems to come right as fall is hitting hard and it’s COLD!  We did luck out, it was pretty tolerable on race morning, low 50’s and warmed up for the most part to pretty perfect racing weather.

I ventured to this race alone which was actually kind of peaceful to be “in my zone” the whole time.  I very rarely travel or race alone and most all of the time I love having the company but it was nice to change it up.  Two athletes I coach were down racing Saturday and Sunday also, and one of my favorite One2Tri Racing teammates came down a day early to cheer us on before he raced Sunday which I thought was so so cool!  We did a group dinner Friday night at a restaurant that turned out to be much nicer than we anticipated, but certainly delicious!

I didn’t get up until 6:20 on race morning….wow, sure beats 4am alarms!  I was headed to the race site by 6:45 and really feeling ready to race!  I loved having picked up my packet the night before and just felt very at ease on race morning knowing I had athletes there I was more focused on.

 

Me and Stacey pre race.  Love her

About 7:45am, I’m standing in transition talking to Kendra, Jip and Shayna, and low-and-behold, my mom taps me on the shoulder!  She had asked for the race site address the night before saying she was going to check to see how far away it was, but I never heard back from her so I assumed she decided not to come….but she’s the best and she did!  I was so excited to have her there!!  Stacey also volunteered at the race and having my coach by my side, and not actually racing, was pretty cool.

So my goals for this race were pretty much the same as they are in every race….improvement in the swim….ride hard enough to be competitive but not hard enough to blow myself up, and run like the wind.  I went 2:48 at this race last year, which was a good race for me at the time but I knew I had more in me this year so I set my goals at sub 2:45.  Being one week out from Nat’s, I wanted to really really dial into my nutrition at this race to be sure everything I plan for next weekend is on point.

The swim is a beach start which I actually kinda like.  You get a little “momentum” vs the open water starts so I felt like I was really moving the first 50/100 meters.  I started next to Mollie Brewer, an athlete from Triangle Multisport (the Co. Stacey coaches for), and knowing she’s a slightly better swimmer than I, I planned to try to stick on her hip the whole swim.  It actually worked!  This might be the first time I was able to “strategically swim” vs. “survive” as I usually do.  So…we’re making progress.  The turns got a little hairy and I lost Mollie for a bit, but I saw her ahead of me after the final turn at the 800 meter mark and planned to try to work it to catch her and sit on her feet.  I fell slightly short of totally catching her but I was able to keep her in site and stay in a good groove the whole swim.  I’m still not producing stellar swim times, but I swam a 28:30 (29:10 on the race clock by the time I hit the mat) and I have to be happy with that.  I swam a 30:19 the previous year so net, 1:09 gain.  Not huge, but I’ll take it.  46th women last year, 34th this year.  Still a major “ugh” at 34TH, but the improvement is what I’m trying to focus on.  At this rate, in about 6 more years, I’ll be swimming with the leaders 🙂

Mom actually got me swimming….the girl facing the camera

T1 was fine, uneventful, though felt a bit slower at the time.  All the usual “couldn’t get my wetsuit over my ginormous Garmin”, stumbled putting on socks”, but overall fine and actually the 10th fastest of the day.  Need to make that top 5.

 

Ready to roll……

The ride was….well, kinda hellish.  The course, as I learned last year, is freikin hilly as all get out.  There are few flats, and, as anticipated, the wind was whipping making the flats feel like 10% grade hills!  Nonetheless, I remained in a very positive mindset, put my head down and used my “gator eyes” to site the road, and pressed on.  I tried to remind myself that everyone was in the same conditions, I wasn’t the only one going slow and working hard, and focused on my fueling and hydration to distract myself.  I didn’t get passed by anyone, and I think I passed no less than 100 dudes.  I am most excited to race open next year to at least be somewhat in the mix (or a bit behind) the people I’m actually competing against….I’m tired of riding with 45+ year old men.  Overall, if I had to guess, I probably averaged about 210-220 watts on the ride, but only 20.8mph or 1:27:30 ride time.  I rode a 1:29 the prior year so a net 1:30 gain.  I’ll take it.  As I rode in, the announcer was calling out the first female age grouper was off her bike….and that was me 🙂

I NEVER put my race belt on IN T2 – always as

I’m running out. What was I thinking!??!

T2 was super slow and I’m kicking myself because I finished only 8 seconds overall behind the girl who finished 4th overall and my T2 was about 15 seconds off.  My feet were pretty numb so I just fumbled with my shoes a bit.  Nothing too detrimental until you look at the results and see everyone’s 50-something T2’s and my 1:18 and you can’t help but kick yourself.   That’s racing!!

The run was great.  I fueled perfectly on my bike which led to an energetic run off the bike, which is a great feeling.  There’s nothing worse than getting off your bike feeling like crap knowing you’ve got however many miles to run.  I set out at a quick pace to try and gain some feeling back in my toes/feet and managed pretty well.  There’s a nice downhill as you head out and I tried to get the legs firing the best I could before the first climb.  The climbs are no joke, but I really like this run course because the statement “what goes up, must come down” very much applies.  As hard as the hills are, and some of them are loong, there’s always a nice long downhill as a reward.  It’s easier to psyche yourself up to run up a big hill when you know recovery is on the horizon.  My first two miles clicked off at 6:55 and 6:56 and I was feeling really good.  I opted to walk quickly through aid station #3 to get some fluids in for the last 2-3 miles and I’m glad I did, though mile 3 was a bit slower than my goal pace.  Overall, I held it together in my head very well and spent much of the run planning my race strategy for next weekend vs. focusing on the pain.  A great mind game 🙂  I ran a 44:16 (7:04/mile pace) and I was pleased.  I ran a 45:46 here last year, which was fast for me at the time….so a 1:30 gain is pleasing.

As a whole, this was a great race.  I blew my goal time of 2:45 out of the water coming in at 2:43:52 and improved in all three disciplines over last year – total time 2:48:42.  I finished 5th overall compared to 11th last year and was 8 seconds off 4th.  The winner however, was 8 minutes ahead of me (jeeezus), 5 of which are lost to her in the water.  Just another demonstration of how I need to continue to improve in the water. That said, the 6th place girl was 4 minutes and 40 seconds behind me.

So one of two races down.  It was so fun having athletes out there to cheer on and race well for my mother.  I’m getting super super excited to race next weekend, and that is usually a good sign.  My nerves are turning into excitement and I’m ready to lay it on the course to wrap this season up strong!  T-6 days!

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