Well, I went into this race thinking, "OK, so training hasn’t been going so well, but it is time to get my feet wet. Just have fun, swim, bike and run hard, and see what happens." Chuckie and I joked around about coming dead last – being the last one to finish the entire race (because the pros were in the last waves to start). My goal was not to be this person – I knew from the last month, this easily could have been me!
I slept well last night and went to bed quite early. Prior to turning the lights off I had been reading How Lance Does It by an old acquaintance of Chuckie's named Brad Kearns. There was a pesky fly in the room so I packed it in early rather than chasing it out of the bedroom.
In the morning, I woke up excited to be racing again – and to have COFFEE! I haven't had this motor oil for a long time and to have it race morning is a treat, although I do have to say, I could feel the acidity just 15minutes after the cup. I had to take a few Tums because my stomach was turning. It could have easily been butterflies as well. I am going to say it was butterflies, because I love my race morning coffee.
I had time to chill after packing my bag and eating breakfast. I ended up looking at old emails Chuckie sent me in the last year. He is such a good coach that he inspires his athletes by educating them, giving them great quotes he and others have written, and laying out everything out there in his e-mails (the do's and don'ts). I came upon this great quote from his trail journal (it was perfect timing for the quote and I have to say, he is a stellar writer):
"Methinks that if you don't take the time to lay down its foundation accordingly, Memory Lane won't be much of a road later in life; not long enough, nor wide enough. One thing is for sure: it is a one-way street and there is no going back. Those carelessly discarded yesterdays will haunt us all."
Needless to say, it got me fired up!
Pre-race warm-up: Last night, after talking with Chuckie, we decided it would be a good warm-up to ride to the race site. He was driving his motorbike (since he was volunteering at the race) so the Chuck-wagon was not available. The ride was 40 or so minutes, and as it turned out, this was the best warm-up for me. I am going to start all my warm-ups like I did today. The ride helped me get into a positive frame of mind and gave me the chance to enjoy the sunrise, enjoy life and think, 'gosh, I am so lucky – lucky to be racing and doing what I love!' I also had the chance to talk to myself out loud without other people thinking I was (am) crazy. I knew I wanted to show all my competitors how hard I have been training, so it was important to pump myself up at this point in the game. I made myself even laugh and say, 'Angela, you are going to WIN!' But at this point in the game, I knew I was only kidding myself. There were some tough girls at this race.
When I got to the race venue I had time to spare (1hour15minutes). After a few bathroom brakes, I jogged 11minutes. Over the loud speaker (much too loud for morning time), the race announcer mentioned that the race was going to start 15minutes later than previously scheduled. I ended up sitting on the sidelines taming my stomach and sipping on water. I jumped in the water with 20minutes to the gun. A quick pump-up talk from Chuckie and Jenni Keil (fellow athlete coached by Chuckie and more importantly, my new awesome friend!) and I was off!
The swim started in waste-deep water that looked a lot like the coffee I drank earlier. I kept reminding myself, "just try to stay on someone's feet and don't drink this!" Hmm, this lasted a solid 20 seconds. Even before the first buoy I was all alone and drinking from the Boulder Reservoir! I thought, great, I am going to be the last one to finish this race! I focused on keeping the girls in sight. Lo and behold, even though I thought I was the last female swimmer, there were a few others behind me. The whole time I was thinking to myself – don't let the men catch! I kept positive by focusing on being smooth in the water (if not fast) and repeating, "I will get them ALL on the bike!"
T1 was quick and snappy to me. I had no real mishaps except that it took me awhile to get on the bike with my shoes clipped in (I don’t practice much with transitions).
My focus on the bike was to catch as many, if not ALL the girls that were ahead of me. I rode hard and without a HR monitor. I asked Chuckie prior to the race if it would be ok to go caveman style and not worry about the numbers. Though Chuck always tells me to race caveman style but "be sure to collect the data," I find that when I wear a HR monitor, I am always looking at it. I didn't want to do that today. I just wanted to go for broke and not worry too much about any numbers.
The first part of the ride was uphill. It was awesome! I kept plugging away and ended up passing 4-5 ladies. I could see the 2nd place competitor in the distance just as I was turning onto the Boulder Reservoir Road. At this point I felt like there actually could be a chance to place in the top 5!
Transitioning into my run shoes, I had a bit of a fumble with putting my bike on the rack. It fell three times! I want to blame it on the angle of my bike seat rails but I think I was just too focused on putting my AVIAs on. After a slow start, I ran out of transition with the focus on catching the girls ahead of me. I felt strong but knew that what was ahead was not going to be fun. Chuckie and Jenni Keil were there cheering me on during the three-lap run course. It was amazingly helpful to have this support around. I was given run splits, cheered on, yelled at (guess: Chuckie or Jenni?) and encouraged.
I caught Amanda Stevens around Mile 3. Chuckie knew I could catch Jasmine Oienck and kept encouraging me to push a little deeper. He yelled, "Come on Ang, you’ve got this, I know you can push harder!" It reminded me of the day we rode together in the lightning storm where he was screaming at me at the top of his lungs (those are big lungs too!) to ride harder so we didn't get ourselves killed out there. At this point in the run, I had a voice in my head saying, second place is OK. I'm good just where I am. Moving along, I could here Chuckie yelling, which them prompted me to say to myself, "f*&** this! It's just pain – go and get her!" I have to say, it is truly amazing how a race ends up being a mind game with yourself. With that change of mindset, I caught Jasmine with 1.5 miles to go. When I passed her, I knew I could do it. I had this awesome rush I don't think you can get any other way except passing one of your stronger competitors – and taking the lead!
Just prior to finishing, a bunch of cheerleaders from Boulder High, all with pom-poms, traced me right to the finish line. It was awesome! First place – WOW! I had no idea this would happen today – let alone, in any race this year! Chuckie says we're celebrating by cutting tomorrow's swim workout down to two hours instead of our usual two and a half. What a coach, eh?
A BIG thanks goes out to my sponsors:
Ernie Wyder – my one and only financial backer!
AVIA for the best racing gear and running shoes a girl (or guy) could have!
Standard Process for my nutrition supplements. I swear by their products!
Specialized for my awesome race shoes and bike helmet!
Sable Optics for my CLEAR race goggles! It's important to see where you're going!
And to my suppliers…
I also want to thank Jenni & Jeff Keil for all their cheers and screaming – especially Jenni! And of course Chuckie – THE best coach. It amazes me that more aspiring pros here in Boulder aren't seeking his help. In a way, I'm happy they're not.
Next stop, next week: CANADA – for the Sylvan Lake Half-Ironman!