Honored, Humbled, Excited, Challenged, Blessed. What an amazing experience to race for Team USA at World’s. I was not the fastest or most decorated athlete there (by any stretch of the imagination), but I might have been the most excited about being there and being “apart” of the experience.
Arrived in Madrid 10 days before the race and enjoyed training and visiting Portugal and Spain on our way to Pontevedra. Arrived in Pontevedra, Spain on Wednesday afternoon and checked into our condo. Enjoyed Team USA run Thursday am in the rain and a highlight was Friday, police escorted, bike course preview with all athletes from around the world (hundreds upon hundreds all on gorgeous bikes). Amazing evening with worlds best, riding in the beautiful countryside of NW Spain.
Saturday: Weather was cooler all week and then began to warm up so spend Saturday relaxing, got in a short jog near the river and watched the elite women on their final bike loop and run, along the course. Then back to get dinner, bike and head to transition. Added a second bottle cage to my bike due to warm weather and no aid stations on the bike course. Bike drop night before 8-10pm (stood in line for team kit check, bike check and left it on site.) Back to apt. to head to bed.
Race Day -Sunday am: Woke up without an alarm and nice to get some needed rest this am. Had a protein shake early, then baguette with nut butter on my walk (not many vegetarian choices there). Entered transition 11am to prep transition area. Only allowed what you will use in the race to be in transition. All else goes to bag check (and it was nice to not have everybody’s things laying around. Keep it simple. All items must be in the bin (nothing on the ground). Started some wu and then took inhaler and grabbed a gel to bring for the end of the run. Should have had an extra bottle of water to drink prior to start as the heat was picking up. Kept warming up until 11:55 (could have used more time) when they corralled us into the run shoot. First group began at noon. We stood in the sun, heating up for too long.. tried to keep moving and stay cool (without shade), but also excited and just wanted to get started.
Standard Distance (10k/36k/5k)
Race start time 12:30pm (last group to start.. F40-75)
Plan – move up in the standings for USA, and finish in ~3:10.
Result – 27AG, 3:22 (highest place for USA was 11th, tough AG – some categories only had 15 racing, we had 30)
Run: 10k (4 loops with hill right at the start – 2 water stations.)
Plan- run my pace, stay strong on the hills, eat a gel on final lap prior to getting on the bike. Also, due to heat, most of us already planned to get water at every station on the course.) Hoped for under 1hr (told you I wasn’t the fastest runner).
Result – 1:02 (the last lap got me.) Started right side half way back and headed across the line. Smiling and enjoying the moment. Now to work. Go water right off the bat since already 80 and stood in the sun for too long without water. Loved seeing Jay and the girls on every lap. The course had 16 turns and that helped distract me from the hills, cobblestone streets and narrow alleys to run through. Held my pace pretty well for three laps, then on the final lap, the heat started to get to me. I ate half my gel and dumped the rest. I just needed to get on the bike.
T1: 3:15 (took too long picking poky grass out of my socks – even with a long transition area)
Hit transition quickly got shoes off and helmet on, passed a few in transition. Running in socks for shoeless transition. Yikes.. what is going on. Felt like needles on my feet.. clearly I didn’t “test” running on the dried grass, as it was so sharp and poking right through my socks. I ran the 300 meters to the track and then had to stop and pick all the stuff out of my socks.. not good. Hopped on my bike after letting at least one person get by me. Started pedaling and putting my feet into my shoes, when I noticed there were more splinters so I took one foot out while moving and pulled them out, put shoe back on, then removed the other and did the same. Good thing I am a good bike handler.
Bike: 36k (2 laps up/down 5.5 mile hill, last minute they cut the course 2k short/lap for a better u-turn location. No water aid on the bike) Plan- spin up the hill and haul down. Get past as many as possible and then hold my pace on the second run. Already losing several kilometers due to cutting course short, I had to work harder than before to make up time.
Result – 1:39 (winner did it in 1:15 -much room for improvement) Headed up the first hill on sore legs. Held my own and enjoyed hearing cheers for “TeamUSA” on the sidelines. Second lap, forced slow down at the roundabout for someone who was being taken away in an ambulance (another reminder that what we do can be dangerous, but we do it because we love it.) Headed up the hill for the second lap, and feeling the heat now. Had one bottle of water and one bottle of concentrated IM perform and Nuun for electrolytes. No aid stations on the bike and only water on the run, so needed those electrolytes. Legs were sore, but tossed in my head if I went all out on the bike would I have anything left for the final run. In retrospect, I should have gone for it on the bike.. I didn’t have anything for run 2 anyway.
T2: 2:01 (consistent with many others in AG but should have been faster)
New plan, dismount with shoes (so wasn’t superfast) and run in bike shoes to avoid slivers in the feet again. Drop helmet, shoes on, grab gel and run. Clean transition and glad to be on the final 2 laps.
RUN 5k: (2 laps)
Plan- it’s going to hurt, just get ‘er done.
Result – 35:22 (waaaay to long for a 5k, even at the end of a race) Headed out on the second run and I was already overheating. Didn’t drink all my calories on the bike, just couldn’t stomach it. Hoping some cool water over the head and shoulders would help 2x/lap. Many were having cramping and over-heating issues. I was grateful to just be hot. Team Dr. was on the sidelines pushing all to get water at every chance. First lap ran the hill and all but stalled at the top walking on the cobbles, just couldn’t pick my legs up. Got up some energy and kept on moving, hit the downhill and pushed to keep moving. End of first lap, team manager on the sidelines handing out US Flags to all of us to carry. I put it in my ponytail so I didn’t have to carry it. Everyone was so great. All were cheering us on. With women finishing last (due to starting last) we were the only ones on the course and it was great to hear people from all countries cheering us on. I was later to finish so appreciated all the support to the end. Tough to finish so slow on this last run after my strong training, but the day dictates all.
I was excited to finish and also a bit bitter sweet hoping to do better with all my training, but traveling to a race is always an interesting experience, especially overseas. It was incredible to get to race with so many amazing athletes of all ages. Incredible 70+ yr old woman from new Zealand rode next to me on the bike for a short time and what an inspiration. It was an experience I will never forget. Held my same USA ranking and finished in longer time than I hoped, but with the heat, travel concerns and lack of good vege food in Spain, I was happy to finish in the time I did. A few in my age group DNF’d (did not finish) and several needed medical IV’s post-race due to the heat and lack of electrolytes on the course. Grateful for my amazing family for all their unconditional love & support.
Sunday pm: Closing ceremony Sunday night after the Team USA party was incredible. Got to see 20 USA athletes on the podium receiving medals, popular Spanish singers and dancers performing all night long. Ken tipped me off that often times you can trade team items with other athletes. So, I brought a few extra TeamUSA tshirts to trade. Ended up with South Africa, Ireland and Australia team shirts, and an elite Mexico athlete asked to trade jackets with me. It was such fun. I highly recommend going to Nationals or Worlds if you ever get the chance. It truly is an amazing experience to race with some of the world’s best. And, if you family can be there with you, it makes it even that much better!
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