Eagleman is also a favorite because it is only a two-hour drive from DC. I drove down to the race Saturday with Maureen (a super supporter- still on crutches from achilles surgery!) and Doria who was also competing. All day Saturday was noticeably HOT and sunny... I drank a ton of electrolyte beverages all day (G2) and took some salt pills as well, and had my usual pre-race sushi for both lunch and dinner :-) We picked up our packets, went for a short 30 min ride, racked our bikes, and met up with mom and dad for dinner for said sushi dinner :-)
Maureen, me, and Doria at our hotel
My faithful support crew- Dad and Mom!
I was pretty nervous before the race, as I really wanted to get my Kona slot here so that IM Lake Placid could be as stress-free as possible. Race morning was hot and humid. As we arrived at the race people were saying the swim was now non-wetsuit... kind of a relief since I was not looking forward to putting on my long sleve wetsuit in the heat, but also would mean slower swim times and I particularly do not swim very fast without a wetsuit. Thankfully, I had remembered to bring my speedsuit, even though we had been told the day before that the swim would be wetsuit legal. On my warmup run, I remember thinking about how thankful I was to be here, competing healthy and injury free, after a major setback less than two months prior!
As expected, the swim was long, but was actually shockingly long. Although I think some currents came into play, I later learned that the guide buoys had shifted overnight, though the turn buoys remained intact. Those who followed the guide buoys like I did, rather than swiming straight from turn buoy to turn buoy, ended up swimming about 1/3 mile extra. However, I was in a good state of mind following the swim as I knew the course was going to be long, I just didn't know at the time that it was longer for me than for many of my competitors!
Prior to the race, my friend Brian had told me that his goal was to beat me off the bike, and predicted that my bike time would be 2:25. Given that my goal time was 2:20, this gave me some motivation to prove him wrong (and not let him beat me off the bike!) Unfortunately for him, he flatted on a tubular andwas unable to finish the race, so our competition was fairly one-sided. However this was all unknown to me while racing so I gave it all I had on the bike! It did surprise me how long it took to catch the leader in my AG... till the end of the bike portion, in fact. Due to my comparatively looong swim, though I didn't know this at the time. This was a little unsettling given that the run was going to be a wild card- who would best be able to survive the heat? But I had faith that God had a plan for me in this race and that all I could do was hold on, keep as hydrated and cool (via ice and water) as possible, and pray for strength and a good outcome!!
I later learned that the heat index (heat/humidity "feel" combined) was 104 on the unshaded run course. The heat certainly felt extreme from the start, but I was encouraged by the fact that with each mile I was gaining ground on my competitors, and keeping a somewhat decent pace given the conditions. I only went above 7:00 pace for a few miles, and generally kept it around 6:45, which felt sustainable. I felt hot but not sick or dizzy, which is better than many, many of my competitors experienced. I was praying continually throughout the run, as I knew that sickness/lightheadedness/ heat fatigue could hit at any moment. At halfway, I saw that I was about 4 mins up on the second place girl in my age group. I knew if I held on, I could get my Kona slot. As I neared the finish, I saw my parents cheering for me, as well as my former college teammate and pro triathlete Nicole Kelleher, who was supporting her husband Wes in the race. Was so great to see them both! Then I saw Maureen on her crutches with Brian cheering away toward the finish stretch! What a blessing to have so many friends and family out there. I later learned that in addition to winning my age group/ Kona slot, I had also won the amateur competition and placed 5th female time-wise, which was exciting! Since the first 5 pros were either world champions or runner-up world champions, I was very happy with this result.
Post-Race- Maureen, me, and Doria headed home!