Connecticut is beautiful, but boy was that a tough race! After spending most of the winter in the desert, there was a real appreciation for the splendor of all the green and the trees. I got to stay with my home stay from last year, the Bartons, and they made the pre/post race fun and enjoyable once again. Thanks to Andy, Marie, Angela, and Taylor for providing lots of laughter, fun and great food! :) Andy is a world-class home stay host.
Rev3 is top-notch when it comes to putting on races, which is the reason I love doing them. Quassy is a hilly, grueling course normally (I'd say it's in my top 5 for most difficult half-iron distance races), but on top of that the water was freezing; it obviously added an extra level of difficulty for mere-mortals like myself, who have little extra cushion and are using only a swimskin. The air temps were roughly 60 degrees, and I'm not someone who works well in cold weather. I knew I was in for a tough day before it even started.
Even before the race, the day didn't start smoothly; my helmet was missing a CSPS sticker and I was stuck. The race director, Charlie, was awesome enough to find me another helmet but it was not Rudy Project, and Rudy it has to be! I thought perhaps a fellow competitor would have one and, low and behold, a guy named Rudy wearing all pink and a pink Rudy aero helmet (I swear I'm not making this up) had a spare black one in his car! Rudy saved the day.
I tried to prepare myself the best I could and really bundled up pre-race, warmed up in a wetsuit and had extra clothing ready for T-1…but it didn't help much. Once that core temperature drops it's very hard to get things back to normal. It zaps the life out of you!
The swim went the best it could for me. I swam hard until my arms stopped working. I really don't know if others shut down the same way, but boy, after that second turn around I really had to focus on keeping my cadence high. Everything was slowing down from lack of warmth. It felt like swimming through quicksand. Once on land, I was Pinocchio trying to run on wooden legs into T1.
Donning gloves (when what was really needed was a parka and some hot chocolate...with marshmallows), I headed out on the bike. My work was already cut out for me, as there were 7 girls out of the water ahead of me. My legs were dead weights and I had no idea how I was going to even start moving. It was actually the worst feeling I've had in a race. For the first 90 minutes again, like last year, I couldn't drink or eat. For the entire 2:30 bike I had 3/4 of a water bottle and forced myself to have 2 gels - not enough, that's for sure. I managed to pick my way through the pack and work the hills the best I could. The 2 hour mark (40ish miles) found me in 2nd place and making gains on Heather Wurtele, who was out in front.
Back into T2 with my body warmed up (and extremely fatigued!), it was onto the run. It was rough. I did my best to get my cadence up and started back logging my calories I lost. Pearl Izumi was out there supporting me and it rocked! Thanks Geoff and Kody! I loved it! :) Heather was in the distance and Mirinda was coming up quick. At Mile 5 Rinny caught me and we battled it out for a mile or so. I held on as best as I could. I kept her in sight and tried to get my legs to move faster. The last mile of this course has you running uphill, and all three of us were within fighting distance and racing to the line. On this day it just wasn't there and I ended up just 41 seconds off first place and 24 seconds off second place; that's the closest race I've been in for a while. It was a blast to be out there and suffer with some top-notch competition!
I'm now taking a little break to get situated in Boulder, CO, which will be my training grounds for a couple of months! Thanks to EVERYONE, as always. I have some pretty amazing sponsors and I'm one lucky gal to have their support!
P.S. Here is a recap video of the pro race.