My 2012 triathlon season was supposed to end in July with the Long Course World Championships in Spain. So, why earth was I racing in Oklahoma nearly two months later? I would like to blame this one on Adrienne, but I think I was the instigator of this little trip. That said, she was definitely the enabler. Adrienne and I had qualified for the Long Course National Championships the prior year but wanted to see how Spain went before we committed to Nationals again. I loved the Worlds experience in Spain and wanted the opportunity to try and qualify for Worlds 2013 in France, so as soon as I got back from Spain I tried to register for Nationals. I quickly found out it was sold out; how was that possible? The race had reserved 550 spots for qualified entries and if they were not claimed by July 1st they opened them up to general registration. As this is the only way to qualify for Worlds, a lot of people reached out to the race director, including Adrienne on behalf of us. We figured chances of getting into the race were slim. I was running one evening, having a particularly bad run and thought it was probably good that I was not going to Nationals. That same night, Adrienne got an email that the race director had opened up 50 spots and we had two days to register. Oh, crap. I easily came up with a dozen reasons why I should not do this race really only one why I should. If I didn’t race, I would always wonder if I could have qualified. Three weeks later we were on a plane to Oklahoma.
I cycle crooked. I run crooked. I swim straight, but not on this day. The swim was an in-water start because the water levels were really low. The base of the lake was red clay that was really squishy. It was weird and felt like a mud bath on your feet. For the life of me, I could not swim a straight line. I actually think I was swimming more wide than crooked. In any event, coming out of the water I knew my time was not going to be great. Laura was there cheering and taking pictures which put a smile on my face. Swim: 44:14 Definitely not my best swim time but I still had a lot of racing left to do that day, so I couldn’t dwell on it.
We had driven the bike course the day before and it wasn’t quite as flat as the online profile appeared. The slightly rolling hills did not bother me, as I actually prefer rolling courses. The road quality, however, was not good. There were a lot of pot holes and just general rough road. After my two flats in Spain, I was a little nervous. The bigger concern was my actual readiness for riding 56 miles. I had not ridden longer than 40 miles since Spain. This was not me being a slacker. I peaked for Spain and afterward I kept training but my body was in recovery mode. I really struggled during my training rides to get my wattage and cadence up. Knowing this, I had a little concern of how my body would react during the race. Adrienne flew past me in a flash around mile 2. A lot of people, mostly men, passed me. This was hard for me mentally, but I focused on the wattage ranges Joby gave me and knew I really could not have pushed any harder. My final bike time was 3:07:22. All things considered, I was happy with this.
We ran part of the run course on Thursday; it was a pretty flat course, two out and back loops along a paved trail. Similar to my bike training, I had not run more than 6 miles since Spain and had not run more than 3 off of the bike. Again, I was not being a slack ass. Joby knew the only way to get me through this race was to focus on shorter distance training with intensity. As always, he was right. The first out and back loop was OK. I got to see Adrienne a couple of times and she was looking strong. Laura was running around with signs for us screaming and ringing her bell. She seriously got a blister on her hand from ringing it so much. I swear I could hear that girl from miles away and it kept me smiling. It was hot out though and I was definitely feeling it by the second loop. I slowed down a lot the last 3-4 miles which was frustrating. I hadn’t looked at my overall time since I left T2 and doing math while racing is not my strong suit. Based on my slow down toward the end of the run, I figured I was well above 6 hours. I was pleasantly surprised coming down the finish shoot, hearing Adrienne screaming for me, and seeing that I could still go sub-6hr, albeit by 29 seconds. Run time – 2:03:21 Again, not my best run by a LONG shot, but I definitely left everything out on the course. I was a little dizzy after the finish and didn’t realize how over-heated I actually was. Both Adrienne and Laura said I was on fire. Pretty much immediately we went to an ice bath that was set up and dipped our feet in to cool off. First time I have seen this at a race and it is a great idea.
This was one of the most organized and well supported races I have ever done. My goal was to qualify for Worlds in 2013 and both Adrienne and I did that. For this, I feel very lucky and grateful. Time wise, I would have liked a better result of course, but I knew this race was going to be a serious challenge for me and it was. I had a hilarious weekend with Laura and Adrienne. I drug Adrienne there, but Laura came voluntarily and I love her for it. My only regret, we didn’t get to the state fair. Racing really cuts into sight-seeing time. My 2012 race season is officially over now. No Laura, I will not be doing Tinsel Tri. I will happily sherpa and spectate for you though. I have had an unbelievable year of racing and training with amazing teammates and friends and am excited for what the 2013 season has in store.