I knew I was in for a challenging day when RD Dan Conway announced that PLAN B had become PLAN A. With severe weather looming to the North of us, the decision to cancel the already shortened swim was made. This is always a very tough decision for race officials, but I believe they made the right one. In order to keep some organization to the bike/run Time Trial, racers had to run across the start mat; across the beach; through the swim exit arch; and into T1. They let people start in 1-2 second increments, and the bike and run course remained the same.
I had the honor or kicking off the 26th Anniversary Turtleman. Of course, I loved going first, but I also knew that the women behind would have a time buffer at the finish. With the amazing cyclists in the crowd I knew it was going to be a challenge to stay in front. As a swimmer, the swim serves as the PERFECT way to start a race. A natural way to get the HR from 75-175… and without that, there’s a true ‘Fish out of water’ response. Or yes, I biffed it running through the water (kicking it off in style). Brook when by me right out of T1. She looked strong and focused. I just couldn’t find my groove that quickly, and had to work to keep her in sight. With a lot of standing water on the roads, riding conditions were pretty sketchy, and cornering was a test. I got back in front of Brook on the back stretch (maybe mile 1.5), but it didn’t take long for Julie to come blazing by. It was a little crowded on the roads at that point. Most of the top guys were passing us, and the impaired visibility caused by the downpour certainly didn’t help. I was pretty nervous out there, but tried to stay focused on powerful pedal stokes and played it safe in the corners. I passed Julie back again (mile 5), but it didn’t take her long to drop the hammer on the rest of us-She was amazing out there. I did everything I could I try to keep her within sight, but she disappeared in a hurry. I was very happy with my effort on the bike, yet Julie kicked my butt by over 2 minutes (on a 21 mile course). Way to go Julie!
I was EXTRA careful on the final corner into the park this year…Last year I put on a little show that included road rash and blood, and was having no part of that this time around. As I made the corner I could already see Julie at the top of the hill on the run. I worked hard through T2 (always interesting when all your stuff is soaking wet) and I was told I was 1:17 back. I figured she had about a 20 second buffer on me from the TT start, so I knew it would take a solid run effort to defend. The run is a big square, and just after the 2 mile mark I could see Julie ahead. I was feeling pretty smooth and zippy (as much as possible for me), but like any running race, it was painful. Seeing a best friend ahead does interesting things for your motivation and self talk: I caught myself thinking, “Ah, Jules is doing great, she deserves this win.” but I snapped out of that remembering that I have a big race in two weeks and running strong will be a requirement there. I kept digging for a little extra and finally caught Julie just after mile three. It’s tough to see your friend suffering (I assume the monster bike and the plethora of half ironman’s in the last few weeks took a toll on her run legs), but I give her tons of credit for going after it. I kept up the pace looking anxiously ahead to the finish line. Despite the VERY dark ominous sky, I was greeted by a bright welcome at the finish.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t long thereafter that the skies opened up and basically wreaked havoc on the race for many Age Group participants. It was a crazy day at Turtleman, but race organizers did a great job keeping people safe. This is always the number one priority and although many may be disappointed with their modified race, nobody can out sprint Mother Nature.
Photos to come… Highlights posted on YndeCam.Kerry is filtering through video footage and photos clips, so I expect he’ll be posting another fun video to Facebook soon enough. But for now, we’re off for bike ride…
Have a Super day!