Main goal of season accomplished!
I am very happy to report that in my first "A" race of the season - The Philly Tri - I accomplished my goal of qualifying for my professional status.
This is a huge accomplishment and I am very proud, however, it did not come easily, nor did I expect it to happen this early.
Rewind: April - home from Tuscon training camp, but deferred from St. A's with achilles tendonitis, not running, miserable. May - week in Paris (vacation with mom, gmom and sis) great mental "break" and amazing place to begin running again, no real workouts, just exploring the most beautiful city in the world on foot (and thrilled to have my right one not hurting with every step). Then home to realize this season is HERE and I need to be TRAINING. Two pretty disappointing "test (fitness) races." June - after deciding Philly is going to be my first "A" race, ready to work hard to address nutrition, fitness, and equipment issues that could be holding me back. Nutrition: Extra cals to fuel workouts, specific macro nutrient goals, coach's super shake (3x day) = energy UP. Fitness: with more energy, the head was in it, attacking workouts
Equipment: THANK you, Brian! My sponsor, Keswick Cycles, has been amazingly supportive - even to the extent that Brian, the owner, took the time (spent about 3+ hours w me one morning) to do time trials with me on the Philly course with two different bikes (one 650 wheels, one 700) to figure out which bike was going to work best for me. This has proven to be HUGE. Two more "test races" that were much more successful. An overall win at an Olympic distance race and a 2nd female in a sprint (no taper) and posting my fastest 5k time off the bike to date (also almost 2 mins faster than last year - same course)! Confidence back. Still nervous for Philly though.
I knew at Philly the competition would be a different level. Some very elite females registered. Nonetheless, I knew that I had to go into the race believing I was fit enough and ready to compete among them. Then, the twist came. At the sprint race the day before (which Mike competed in - last minute decision- and did amazing!) there was a tragedy. A man died in the swim and police the search for his body in the river was continued Sunday morning (our race day) so the swim was canceled. Our race became a duathlon (run, bike, run).
Most people would say, I should have been thrilled (swimming is my weakest leg and running my strongest). Although I knew this would give me an advantage, I also knew that no matter what, it was going to hurt! Running a 5k as fast as you can, then biking a very challenging (both technical and hilly) 40k bike course, THEN running another 10k as fast as you can, is no joke on the legs. There was no doubt that the second run, the longer run, in 90+ degree heat (thanks, mother nature) definitely tested the limits of all athletes competing that day.
Also, I knew a few athletes competing in the elite female field were some very strong runners that would have the same "advantage" I had. So, nothing was taken for granted. At the start, I mentally prepared - I'd have to hurt to place.
That is always the case, I've concluded. If you want it, you have to push harder, and for longer, than everyone else to get it. No win, or goal, or success will (nor should) ever come easy.
At Philly I pushed - everything I had on the bike (which was my biggest fear - not knowing what the last 10k was going to feel like/be) - then again on the run. I admit, I conserved a little (just enough) on the first 5 k - which ended up paying off. I had the 4th fastest 10k time (even among pros!) of the day.
After this race - I've gained confidence, definitely fitness, and most important of all - experience.
I was 2nd elite female (needed to place top 3 for pro qualification) and 9th overall - including the pro field - which had some top notch athletes in it.
I know the duathlon gave me an advantage, and I do not plan to take this for granted. I am very relieved to have the pro qualification standard met, but I will continue to race elite for the remainder of the 2010 season. I still need to continue to work a ton on my swimming. My bike and run also need to continue to get stronger and faster progressively. And with a new motivation (to compete among the professional field next year) I am ready and focused on using this season and next off-season to put in HARD, SMART work.
Thank you, always, to my support system - your confidence in me, inspires me to continue this journey, chasing my dreams.
the chase continues