I'm a huge believer in Strava. Many times, the information on Strava is used by local governments to make roads more pedestrian/cyclist friendly.
But, I had to get away from it for awhile.
I was heading into the hardest olympic distance race I've ever done. (This year was a new bike course).
I hadn't done an olympic distance in TWO YEARS.
I was nervous. I was having race dreams for weeks leading up to the race.
I have never raced the oly well. It's my nemesis.
Do I even need to mention that the oly distance is really f*cking hard?
It hurts. It's mentally draining to push threshold for a couple of hours.
Still, I had my race plan ready. I had done as much research as I could.
All I really wanted was to accomplish two things:
1.) Try not to be last.
2.) Have a successful race.
The morning of race, I was one of the first women to rack my bike.
Then, I went back to my car for a little while to have my second breakfast, read over my race plan and listen to my pre-race playlist.
When I went back to transition, the rack was filled with women setting up their bikes.
Bikes that represent these women don't play.
Bikes that cost more than some cars.
I took a deep breath.
Then, I noticed that three of the women were wearing their Age Group Nationals jackets.
I grabbed my wetsuit and went down to the water.
I have only podiumed at the oly distance once. It was in 2013. I came in 3rd....because there were only 3 of us in the age group.
I went down to the water. I stood there and looked out over the water. "One event at a time, Tea. You're not racing these women. Your goal is to do the best that you can today."
The RD announced that the water temp at shore was 62 degrees.
For two weeks prior to the race, I'd been working with my masters swim coaches on cold water races.
They set me up with a warm up plan and gave me advice on how to handle the swim overall.
I do my warm up routine.
My nerves left me.
I head over to the start.
I don't care what the distance is.
It was time to race.
When I got to the start, the pack splits up very easily: fast swimmers, faster swimmers, fastest swimmers.
I went to the front. A few seconds later, I felt a woman push me to the side saying, "Sorry. I need to be in the front".
I looked over at her.
I took off running as hard as I could and hit the water in an all out sprint.
There were very few buoys which made sighting very difficult. Around 600m, I glanced over my shoulder....to the right.....there's no one there.
....to the left.....there's no one there.
I glance back.
I can barely see anyone behind me.
As I made the first turn, then the second.....I start catching previous waves.
I see a couple of people with my swim cap color....ahead of me.
Where'd they come from? How'd they pass me without me seeing them?
I'm not going to worry about. Back to MY race plan.
I found out later in the day that those swimmers were sprinters who started after me and were doing the shorter course.
I finished 1st in AG with a 5 minute lead on 2nd place.
I tore up the hill. The path to transition is deep red sand. I had decided ahead of time to ride without socks, thinking that my feet would dry off enough that I could put socks on for the run. Normally, I don't run with socks but the majority of the run would be on gravel/rocks.
It was time for Black Betty.
How do you know when you are in the correct zone for an olympic distance bike?
Your legs start burning and they don't stop until you get off the bike.
Early on in the ride, we have to climb the Beast. Liz gave me specific information for the climbs.
I was focused. I climbed. I passed people. I passed people who were off their bikes and walking the Beast.
My legs were burning.
Shortly, after the top of the hill, I pass the sprint turn around.
I won't say the bike was easy, but I was ready for it.
I'm catching everyone ahead of me.
I noticed there are few women coming from the other direction.
I'm passing even fewer women.
For a brief moment, I start thinking, "Can I possibly be in 1st place?"
With that little glimpse of a thought....not only NOT being last....but possibly being in first????
I started riding harder.
I didn't really believe it, but I was doing the math. What about the women who were mysteriously ahead of me on the swim?
I pulled into transition.
I wiped off the sand as best I could and ran.
I knew that if I was in contention for a podium, I was going to have to run my heart out.
A woman in my age group passed me around mile 2.
During the run, I didn't follow my plan.
But, I didn't give up. I suspected that I was in the running for 2nd now.
Could I hold off 3rd? Don't think about it. JUST RUN.
With 2 miles left, I was running as hard as I could.
I crossed the finish line and KNEW I had a 10K OTB PR. Although, I didn't follow my plan. I hit the EXACT TIME and pace that I thought I could.
I immediately took off for the results table.
I came in 2nd.