Pinehurst Olympic – Worlds Tune Up

This past weekend was my final race of the NCTS and my final “tune up” Olympic before Worlds!  The timing of Pinehurst was perfect and it’s one of my favorite races on the NCTS so I was delighted I was able to do it

I felt calm and relaxed before the race.  Probably because I knew I could wear my wetsuit.  🙂  Transition and everything was set up without a hitch, the weather was perfect and the water felt great.  Setting up to be a great day.

Swim: 26:00 – 26th
My anxiety rose as we stood in the sand waiting for the race delay due to fog sitting on the water.  We stood trying to see the turn buoys amidst the fog, which is never a good sign when you have trouble seeing them from shore.  The gun went off and I did my best to go fast but remain calm.  I was determined not to lose this race in the water.  The water was beautiful, and surprisingly easy to sight.  I felt cool, calm and collected during the swim and tried to focus on the little pointers I’ve been given at masters.  I also tried to focus on not swimming aerobically, but just a step above that.  I didn’t wear my watch in the water for the first time ever because I didn’t want to stress the whole rest of the race if/when I saw my swim time.  So for the remainder of the race, I wondered, rather than stressed.  I’m not sure if there is an upside to either.

I was very pleased when I found out I was out of the water in less than 26 min.  Yes, it’s still pretty damn slow – but it’s over 3 min faster than my swim last year at the same race – so I’ll take it.  One step forward, hopefully not two steps back as I have in the past!  Maybe waking up at 4:30 in the morning, driving to BFE to swim very uncomfortably, for over an hour, 3x’s a week is paying off after all 🙂

T1: 1:28 – 4th
After the debacle the night before Lake Norman with my toe, I’ve been skeptical, to say the least, about attempting a “flying mount” out of T1.  Given the hill at Belews right out of transition, it was a great “reason” to not have to do a flying mount in my last race – when I reality it was just an excuse because I’m scared.  Nonetheless, T1 out of Pinehurst was flat and I knew I needed to force myself to work on this faster transition.  I rubber-banded my shoes on my bike before I left for the swim start and said a little prayer.

I give my mount a 6.5 ranking.  As I was running to the line to jump on, a guy equally (or less) experienced with flying-mounts was also approaching the line.  As he ran and jumped on his bike, he didn’t have really any momentum and ended up swerving into my way.  I’m not exactly sure how I got on my bike but it seemed to be a modified flying mount with a side of uncoordinated.  Nonetheless, I was off and rolling in an acceptable amount of time, but this definitely left much to be desired.

Bike: 1:20:52 – 1st
Well, I’m not gonna lie, I rode hard.  I rode over seven minutes faster than last year on this same course – some of it to be contributed to less wind, some contributed to my badass bike, some contributed to having a power meter and some contributed to being more “short distance” fit – a very nice combo I must say.  My coach and I set a power number and I stuck with it.  At first I thought she was crazy when I saw the projected power number in my Training Peaks account, and for the first 3-5 miles while I was riding, I also felt like she was crazy.   At one point early on, I think I joked with myself (because what else do you have to do when you’re riding over an hour alone??) – “does she think I’m frekin Kristin Armstrong?”   As it turns out, my targeted power was spot on – it was hard, but feasible.  I started to feel really good about 8 miles in and thankfully stayed strong for the rest of the ride.

About 25 miles in, I passed Keri Mayhew who I knew would be ahead of me out of the water, I just wasn’t sure how far. Given the open category participant list, I didn’t assume there was anyone else ahead of her so I pressed on riding hard the last 5 miles trying to put a gap in her knowing she could definitely outrun me.  I pulled into T2 about :45 sec ahead of her in 1st, hoping it would be enough, arguing in my head with the realistic side of me who knew it wouldn’t be.

T2: :46 – 3rd
Nothing to report.  At all.  Which is what makes for a good transition!

Run: 46:40 – 7th
If I was pleased with my swim and bike, I was equally as displeased with this run.   The first 2 miles I set out pretty much as hard I could knowing that Kari was not far behind me.  I felt really good for the first mile, but knowing how I felt by the time I hit mile 2, I had a feeling this run was about to take a nosedive.  And it did.  The run course has been suiting for me in the past with no huge, terribly steep long hills, just a serious mix of shorter rollers.  I’ve traditionally had a great run on this course and I was hoping for the same about this year.

Before I hit mile 3, I could feel dehydration setting in and I was simply running out of gas.  I had taken in my usual amount of fuel on the bike, but had a feeling going in to this race my hydration wasn’t where it needed to be (evidenced by the color of my morning tinkle), coupled with not having access/time to get my usual breakfast the morning of, and I was right.  I felt so very thirsty the whole run course, which is a very bad sign.  Despite, I pressed on the best I could.

Kari passed me just after mile 3 which took the wind out of my sails a bit. As she passed me, she said: “Girl, you freikin crushed that bike course, you flew by me like I was stopped”.  All I could squeak out was: “kinda like you’re doing to me right now”.

From that point forward, it was simply an effort to get the pain over as quickly as I could.  I could not pace with her, but she stayed within sight for quite some time.  I walked 3 or 4 times trying to dig deep to find the energy to get to the finish. I had a gel with me, but at that point, it would take ~15-20 minutes to “take effect” and it would be too late by that point with only ~3 miles left of running.  So I just gutted it out.  It got ugly.  I ran 44:16 at this race last year so needless to say, I was disappointed.

Overall: 2:35:44 – 2nd open / 3rd overall. I’d like to point out a 15 year old slipped in ahead of me by a full minute. 15. Talk about a bright future!

Compared to 2011, my overall time however was over EIGHT minutes faster this year.  I was very pleased with that. There is still a lot of room for improvement though and I can only hope that everything comes together at Worlds.  No, I will not win the race.  I won’t even come close.  But I’m hopeful to end the season on a high note where everything in my control comes together and I feel good throughout the day.  I’ve done the work and I hope to reap the rewards.  🙂

A good result at Pinehurst also squeaked me into the top 5 overall female for the NCTS.  Yay!  Congrats to Jenny, Keri, Malia, and Lynne for their awesome finishes this season!

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