Training for this race felt a lot like training for Norseman - get on your bike, climb every hill you can find, repeat. I felt myself getting stronger this summer. A nagging hamstring injury that I'd had for years was GONE. I was feeling like a fish swimming. I nailed a few tough track sessions and built confidence in my run. When race week approached and the taper madness hit, I thought I was feeling too good, and started inventing things that might be wrong with me. "I think I'm getting arthritis in my left thumb," is something I actually said out loud. I felt great.
Until I arrived in Lake Tahoe and went for a practice swim and realized that the Internet forums were all correct: swimming at altitude was no joke. The lake was beautiful and it should have been a sublime practice swim. But instead I was panicking thinking that I was having to breathe on every stroke on this easy swim - swimming at "race pace" for any period of time was out of the question. Running felt the same way - a much slower pace for the same effort at sea level. Yikes.
|Tough swimming at altitude but so beautiful, clear, and little gold flakes washing up on the shore.|
Race day arrived with some drama - a black bear had broken into the transition on the beach the night before and eaten 5 gear bags! I suppose bears can't resist Honey Stingers either. I realized how foolish it was to store food in our bags overnight, but I hadn't even considered the possibility.
|T1: Bear City.|
The air temperature was around 40 degrees and I opted for a vest, arm warmers, and gloves on the bike. It's hard to get arm warmers and gloves onto numb hands, but a couple of awesome volunteers helped me and I was out on the bike course pretty quickly.
|Prettiest T1 in the USA.|
Up the 4.5 mile Brockway climb, which is more Lemmon than Imingfjell, but nevertheless felt pretty tough the second time around. It was filled with spectators who were cheering in costumes, Tour de France style! Descending the other side, my goal was to get to 50 mph, but I only managed 47. It was exhilarating! Then back to King's Beach for round 2.
|Photo and relentless cheering by Mom and Dad!|
The run was beautiful too. And a surprisingly challenging course - with only 900 ft in elevation gain, I figured that once you were off the bike, the run would be easy, but there were several steep, challenging hills and an off-road section where you had to go up and down some dirt stairs. You got to run along the Truckee River for part of it. All of it was gorgeous. The air smelled fresh and delicious and even though my lungs were burning, I was loving it.
|So happy to see Mom and Dad at every corner.|
|Mom, the relentless cheerleader, on the run course!|
I know I left it all out there because as soon as I crossed the line, I felt terrible. Nauseated, couldn't eat anything, and finally got an IV, which didn't really help me feel better, but I'm sure it helped me recover. A week later, I'm finally feeling more like myself.
Even though it was a long shot, I attended the roll down for Kona slots. They got snapped up right away by first and second place. But how cool that I even had a chance!
|Dad and I just after roll down in Squaw Valley.|
Thank you to Emily for preparing me so well, to blueseventy for the incredible Helix that just keeps bringing me swim PRs, to Bicycle Heaven for making my Slicey beautifully race ready, and to Tri Bike Transport for getting her safely to Tahoe. Thank you to Mom and Dad for being the greatest spectators and cheerleaders ever! Thanks to Trent for reminding me that racing is fun, and a special shoutout to Hillary and the Smashfest Queen family for unwavering cheers and support all season long. And thank you to all of you for the love and support and virtual cheers that you were sending while I was racing. I felt every bit of it! Loving this journey.