Wow!! I have been so swamped with getting prepped for this accelerated nursing program...it's like school has already begun, run here do this, do that, emails for readings and homeworks that are due on the first day of class (so much for 3 weeks without school...grrrr!!) I did manage to get in 3 days of solid fun last weekend though.
Friday afternoon I frantically ran around the Cleveland suburbs trying to get all my gear packed for the GCT, pick up my new Blackberry phone (had to have a PDA or a smartphone for school - what a crock and a waste of money!!), and get up to Mentor to drop off my gear and help out some of the USAT guys with registration and paperwork before hurrying back to Solon to work until well after midnight.
I spent about 2-3 hours getting pre-registered race packets ready before heading into work. There had been a delay on the paperwork side and the truck with the equipment had broken down about 30 miles from Headlands, so we were under the gun to get sh$t done.
Finally, about 2:00am early Saturday morning I drifted off to sleep, only to hear my alarm go off way to darned early at 7:00am!! I rushed out the door and stopped at AH's to pick up the 2 bags worth of aluminum cans I had saved up for the Burned Children Foundation. I arrived at Headlands in the middle of the first kid's race and saw many familiar faces not only cheering, but offering their services as a volunteer for the race. I saw AH leading the kid's on the bike course with a big smile on his face...he loves to be in the lead :)
I parked and hurried out on the bike course to help with traffic control until all the kid's had successfully completed their 3 or 6 mile bikes, depending on their age. Then I settled in for the long haul.
The sun had managed to take the early lead out in the morning, but as the afternoon approached the rain inevitably took over. The expo for the GCT went from 10:00-6:00pm that day and it was outside, so we did the best we could to keep ourselves and the paperwork as dry as possible. Packet pick-up was a lot of fun joking with many familiar faces and wishing everyone good luck tomorrow. There were of course a few confused about GCT registration and USAT registration as is always the case. AH was nice enough to provide us with some delicious pizza and I managed to hold out until a little after 4:00pm at which point Mary and Joe, who were working the USAT tble with me sent me packing and told me to get some rest.
When I got to AH's I was so tired from the last 2 days I fell asleep on the couch until he woke me up to take a shower at 7:00pm. I was still groggy after the shower, but I did notice AH had thankfully prepped all my race gear for me. I trudged down to bed and prepared for another early morning.
It was 4:45am when we woke up. It was storming. It was wet!!! We were out the door around 5:30 and when I arrived at Headlands it was still raining and there was lightening. Hmmmm, looked like there wasn't going to be a swim again.
I jumped out of the car and wheeled my bike to transition before heading back over to the USAT/registration table where I met Mary and Joe and started working on day of check-in's. Around 6:30am, I got word from the RD that the swim was canceled and everbody would do the du. Sprint would be doing 2M run - 12M bike - 2M run. Olympic would be doing 5K run - 40k bike - 5k run. The storming had stopped, but the current and the waves made setting the buoys impossible and the coast guard had had no other choice.
I didn't really have time to dread all the running like I normally would as I was too busy trying to get panicked last minute racer's through registration. Finally after 7:00am Mary and Joe again kicked me out and told me to get ready for my race. I raced over to get my gear out of my car and set it by my bike in transition as it was nearly closing time. AH was pouring Powerade in my new aerodrink, when the bracket came loose and the bottle refused to stay in place. Oh Crap!! He tried to fix it, but it was too late. One of the USAT guys yelled over we had to go. I would just have to race without fluid on the bike and remember to hit the aid stations on the run.
We managed a 10 minute warm-up as the olympic distance was to go off first. I hit the bathroom to pee and to put cold water on my arms, face and jersey. It was humid and my muffin top was feeling a bit charred on the ends. I was not looking forward to this. My one and only other du had been so painfully awful and I had finished 2nd to last for the women. I beat the last place girl by 1 second. The one good thing I could do before the race though was spread the Assos cream on my crotch, so the bike would hurt less...YAHOOO!!! AH, decided to do the same too.
I lined myself up somewhere just ahead of the middle of the field. There were no mats at the front, so I started on the far left to give me some leeway to pass.
Run 1 - the run went out really fast. I tried to settle in easy, but with it only being 2 miles I seemed to be starting slower than the entire field. We got out about a quarter mile and then I began overtaking people. I had no idea where I was in the women's field so I just kept running at my pace. When I saw the people coming back from the turnaround I was somewhere near the top 10 for women. As I made the turnaround myself, I grabbed some gatorade to drink and water to dump on myself. I had opted not to wear a visor as it was only 2 miles and messing with a visor would be a waste of time. There was a girl from the Erie Tri Club I had been focused on as we entered back into the park and with less than a quarter mile to go I passed her. I saw both my roommates with JP standing to my left cheering for me and I managed a smile. TR was yelling at me to hurry it up and get up there a I was 6th or 7th female going into T1. Time was 14:33.
T1 - got to my rack and for some reason I missed my bike for about 5 seconds. I was looking for a Trek, not a Felt...doh!!!! Pulled my shoes and helmet and was off running for the exit. However, Slow Poke Rodriguez (SPR) decided to run hard to T1 and then take a nice leisurely spin out on his bike. Time 1:20 (Eeee Gad...gotta work on that).
Bike - I mounted at the "PINK LINE" (not yellow Durno). I got on my bike and clipped in quickly, which I was really worried about because I have Speedplays on my Trek and these new Looks are trickier. Unfortunately, it didn't really help me. Like I said I had this poker in front of me and I couldn't go any faster, so I did the only thing I could. I stayed behind him as passing in the park is a no-no. I did pull out to the left and try to block other riders from trying to pass me though. I had about 5 sitting behind me, but this one guy made it through and I yelled at him. He replied with an "Oh, I didn't know" and I yelled really, really loudly in hopes the SPR would pick it up, with a "dude do you really think I would not have passed this guy already?" Needless to say, it didn't work. I could only sit there and wait. The park exit couldn't come fast enough. I was getting itchy. The women ahead were getting farther and farther away and the slower runners were catching up!! I saw volunteers at the exit and I asked for the okay to pass and as soon as I got it I put stood up and cranked on my new bike. There were 2 others just ahead of SPR, so when I pulled out so did one of them and I was blocked in, so I veered to the outside lane and rolled around all of them. I had lost some time and had my work cut out for me.
I am realizing that my tri bike has no comfortable position, so I was going to ride those aerobars the entire time, except on the turns and tracks. I began passing people, but most were men. I saw a few girls here and there, but didn't know if they were in the sprint, oly, or relay. I rode the section comfortably hard on Heisley not letting the headwind exhaust me as it can if you don't realize it's there. I have no computer on my bike either which in some ways is a blessing as I don't have to be frustrated by speeds or times. I can tell when my effort is too high or too low and I also know about what cadence I am at. The Erie Tri Club chick passed me about a mile into Heisley, but I passed her about a mile or 2 later. She had pushed hard into the headwind and had to recover. She too was riding a very nice Felt. As I passed her I asked if she new the course and she said she had ridden it before. I told her to get through this section, hammer it from Jackson to Blackburn, get through that headwind and then hammer it back up Heisely. She thanked me and off I went. The roads were still wet from the morning rain and as I approached the first set of tracks I saw a rider down. Oh God!! He was laying on the tracks and volunteers were there. I slowed and asked if he was okay, ready to stop and help. The volunteers told me they had called EMS and I could go. Turns out there were quite a few wrecks that day. Two people had to be taken to the hospital. Every time I think about them being hurt I feel sick and wish there had been a way to prevent it. I cautiously made it over the tracks and picked up my speed. As I neared the second set of tracks I said a silent payer.."God, please get me over these tracks." I have never been scared on my bike like I was that day. I saw PL and other Spin Team members screaming and motioning at riders to slow and take the tracks cautiously. I managed a "hey Paul!!" He yelled back "2nd Female, she is right up there Beth, go get her!!!" Now when he said right up there I didn't know when I crossed the tracks one of the 2 riders less than 50 feet was her!! They were riding side by side and I yelled "Either coming down the middle or on your left...MAKE A DECISION!!" The guy on the right moved to the left and then quickly veered to the right nearly crashing all 3 of us! I pulled hard to the left and scooted around him. I yelled "Dude, come on, you gotta make up your mind!!!" Then feeling bad for yelling at the guy, I said "sorry for yelling." I did feel bad, but damn he nearly got us all hurt. This is where I also took the lead in the race...me in the lead..that never happens.
Made the turn onto Blackburn, which is always has a shitty headwind and just cranked away. I looked over my shoulder to see the former first place girl and the girl from the Erie Tri Club hanging back there. Hmmmm, I only had a mile or two to go and the one girl is certainly faster than me on the run and the other is about the same as me. Damn, I need more time on the bike to get away from these girls if I wanted to hold the lead.
I turned onto Heisely to head back to the park and was cranking, but as when I looked back they were still there. I decided I had to backoff on the bike, so as not to blow-up on the run. I was not going to be able to beat them solely on a fast bike split. We entered the park together. I began prepping for the my first "flying dismount." I made the U-turnish, turn in the park to head down the last straight-away to transition and immediately began pulling my feet out. I did it so much faster than I thought I could I had to soft pedal for a few hundred feet. The crowd was so big I couldn't see the drive way to turn into transition until I was almost on top of it. I made the turn and saw the pink line for dismounting. Looking back, I was probably a little anxious, as I swung my leg over and dismounted way before then...haha :) I crossed the line runnning, no shoes, running in only my socks. I was thrilled to have done it!!! I had only been able to practice 4 times earlier in the week...Whooo Hooo!! Time 37:59.
T2 - Racked my bike next to the Erie Tri Club chick and told her she was doing great. She told me this was for her dad, who died of cancer. I told her "I was sorry to hear that, and her dad would be proud" and then I waved my arm and added "well come on girly, lets do this!!!" It seemed like I was in T2 forever, but I guess when you are already half done before getting in there you have lots of extra time. I headed about 5 feet from my bike before turning back and grabbing a gel quick. All that and I still managed a time of :47. Yep, you are reading that right :47 seconds!!!
Run 2 - I passed the aid station and again grabbed water to dump on myself and Gatorade to drink with my gel, huh? Wait!! I don't like gels with sport drinks. Man!!! I did it anyway. Yuck!! Sugar shock!! The run was awful. My legs were tight and pooped. I felt like poo. TR was still there yelling at me to hurry it up...hahaha. I figured I would get run down by both those girls as my race would be over in 1 mile, but I had to run 2. Hmmm, that's a problem. Made it to the turnaround and took some more water, but have I mentioned how yucky I felt. My stomach had gone to hell and vomitting sounded like a possibility. I just trudgining along, knowing I was slowing every step and then it happened. The girl that had been the leader passed me with less than a half mile to go. I really wasn't too bummed. I knew from that moment on the bike on Blackburn holding those girls off would be nearly impossible. I was now on the last straight away down balcktop path in the park, trying to maintain my pace and hold off the girl from the Erie Tri Club. I didn't know how far back she was and I wasn't about to look. AH, got to me and tried to encourage me to pick it up, but I "Shooshed" him and told him "not today." I was content to just hold my position, no that's a lie. I wanted to stop and puke, but thank goodness for pride. Made the final turn to the finish and was so happy to be done with that miserable mothertruckin' run. I took off my chip and threw up a few times, only to feel much better. I think it was the heat and humidity mixed with the fact that I was taking gels and Gatorade on the run. Time - 16:06 (TURTLE Power).
I grabbed some few and quickly headed back to the car to change out of my race clothes and into some less sweaty attire I really wanted to hit the water for a quick swim, but I needed to help with results, so my swim would have to wait. The race was pretty much finished by noon, but I didn't have time to get my quick dip then because clean-up took us about 3 hours. I ended up with a tad bit of a headache from all the sun and heat, but TS found some beer and tempted me into self-medicating. Finally, around 3:00pm a group of us hit Pickle Bill's where I managed to drink way to much before jumping into Lake Erie at 8:30pm to watch the sunset and finally get in that darned swim!!!
I was to say the least completely exhausted by the time I got to AH's, but I learned this...
1) I love my new bike
2) Working an event is way harder than racing
3) Working and racing an event is the BEST way to go :)