It never fails that whenever there is a big race, the weather does something crazy. Here in Texas, it hasnt been too hot...yet! We were still getting 50 degree mornings for runs, and only occasional highs of 80s in the last couple weeks making training enjoyable and fun. However, come the wednesday before a big race weekend (IMTX for many and Memphis in May for me) we were beginning to see that summer flavor that we are USUALLY acclimated to. This weather dilemma was a little too late in the game and I knew this weekends race was going to be a scorcher! To make matters worse, the Pro wave didnt start until 10:30 am, by the time we got to the run it was nearing the peak sun and heat!
To be honest, I kind of used this little piece of information as a positive aspect to the race. 1) I am from Texas, so even though it hasnt been drastically hot, I would still be a little more prepared for the heat than some others. 2) A race is a race where your competitors have the same conditions. Too many triathletes look at times and results and analyze saying "Oh, I could do that". In reality, I knew the race was going to be mental. We would all be hot. We would all be dieing on the run. So what? I used this little piece of knowledge and decided I would go hard on the swim and the bike, know that everyone was going to suffer on the run, and just hang on for dear luck. You race your competition, Not your time.
[caption id="attachment_4303" align="aligncenter" width="627"] The famous Memphis bridge over the Mississippi river[/caption]
I made the trip to Memphis with my boyfriend Chase on friday afternoon. It was a 10 hour drive and it was actually REALLY nice to be able to drive. Lugging my bike around the airport is not my favorite thing to do. We took our time and drove the rather boring backroads until we got there around 11pm and went straight to bed.
Saturday morning, we biked some of the course and swam in the water. They still had buoys out from the sprint race so I had a good idea of what the course would be like in the morning. Basically the course was going to be windy, hot and dead flat. Memphis in May is supposed to be one of the classics to triathlons. This year was the 31st running of it, and it definitely lives up to the gossip as a fast course! I took a nap and then the pro meeting was at 4 pm and the girls noticed that for the first time in maybe ever, all the girls were there and none of the boys were. Bring it! I am not afraid of getting dead last, if I am competing against the best. You have to push your limits and learn before piecing it all together. Afterwards I went to top of the tank and early to bed, but this time not so early to rise....
Race Morning! As mentioned my wave wasnt starting until 10:30!! I had to sleep as long as possible or I would drive myself insane with nerves waiting. Welp, of course I woke up at 6 am wondering why I was not down at the race site setting up transition. I made myself sit in bed and eat my usual pre-race breakfast. Now it was only 8am. Still 2.5 hours to go!! Gesse! I am a morning person so I absolutely hated not being to get right into things!! It was definitely a little more relaxed of a morning though because I wasnt worried about getting to transition late or not having enough time. I had plenty of time!
Around 9 I began to gather my stuff. Poped the bike on the trainer, road, checked my tires and breaks. Then I went to transition and got set up, body marked, and chatted with a few gals. We all looked at each other like damn its hot! I tried to seek shade, but also needed to get a run and swim in real quick. I managed just that and noticed my energy levels were sky high! Taper was perfect and I was well rested. The water temperature was around 74 degrees and it was the perfect way to warm up but also stay cool. Finally just 20 minutes until go time. I was hungry already...
The thing that is so classic about the Memphis in May race is that its a time-trial start. We were sent off every 10 seconds, alternated Male/Female, by ABC order. This put me in the 3rd position and ready to chase but also ready to be chased. I ran off the dock and dove in (more like belly flopped!) I took off getting my arm cadence high and trying to gain on the two competitors in front of me. I had measured the distance between buoys with garmin the day before so I knew exactly where I was in the race. I felt good and controlled. I exited the swim in 21: high (not sure where transition actually started) and had the 3rd fastest female split. Success again in the swim! My garmin also said I swam 1.01 miles so I didnt go too off course either! Big Thanks again to Tim Floyd and Magnolia Aquatics for helping me acheive great strengths in a matter of months!
The first 14 miles of the bike were dead straight into the wind. I never know whether to pound it out with a big gear or to keep the cadence fast and lose some speed. I tried to find a happy medium. Since the race was later in the morning I decided to take my GU a few miles in, knowing that I would need the extra time to digest it. (I use Second Surge which is a 4:1 carb/protein mix. The extra protein in the past sometimes gives me cramps on the run so I knew taking it early would get rid of that. I tucked in and just tried to stay focused. There was one girl I could see in front of me and I tried to keep her in my sights. I knew that once I got to miles 12-14 the course would start to shift and we would have the wind at our back. I ended up catching one girl on a turn to head back into town. I was now moving at 27mph and didnt have enough gears to ride! Weeee. I focused on bringing my heart rate down because I knew I would need to be a little more rested to tackle the run with the heat. I drank the rest of my Energy Lab Execute bottle and splashed water on my back. I finished the bike in 1:06. It wasnt my fastest bike, but it was the slowest either. I was happy and I had a whole 40 minutes to go before a PR was going to happen.
Coming out onto the run the girls were really all close. I could see everyone. This is one of the things I was missing racing as an amateur. I loved having other girls around me. It was fun to challenge myself and debate the mental battle. The first mile was out on a rather shitty gravel path, which then turned into the never ending black asphalt road of hell. I compared this to being out on Kona on the lava fields. Though this run course is no where like what the Ironman competitors experience, it was just something I thought about. I was in 4th position and I could tell the 3 in front were hurting, and the 4 in back were hurting. I also knew that because it was TT start, 5th could actually be pretty close to me. I just kept going. I slowed a little bit, but kept telling myself "Its all mental". I remember at mile 4 wanting to quit simply because I was bored. I caught myself and told myself your not even hurting! Thats no excuse to quit! So I kept on running...I saw Chase at mile 5 and he began to run next to me and I snapped Get Away!!! haha..I just wanted to be done. I ran down the shoot 4th female and saw the clock...a PR!
[caption id="attachment_4305" align="aligncenter" width="414"] Payday![/caption]
I ended up the 5th female, and only lost to 4th by 30 seconds! All in All I was very happy with my race given the conditions and the mental mind games. This is just a reminder that a race is as much mental as it is physical. The best mental battle will ultimately win the race.
This was my best pro finish yet, a new pr, and I finally put together a rather decent olympic distance. I like to think of it as my "3rd times a charm" race. I have had a couple ups and downs this seasons. Good swims mixed with good bikes, or vice versa. Finally I semi got my act together and showed up. This race is also the last of my olympics for the time being. Next up, tackling a couple 70.3's. Should be fun!