Third time is a charm. Wildflower was another huge success. Everyone on our team (except our coach, sadly) finished their race. The weather was UNBELIEVABLE. The rain ended on Friday night and temps stayed in the 70s all weekend, with some cloud cover. Getting to race wildflower in mild temps is a true treat.
My goals for this race were:
-Break 4 hours. I wanted to definitely do it "around" 4 hours, but I REALLY wanted to break the 4 hour mark, even if that meant 3:59 minutes. Thought that goal was a long shot.
- Cut my transition time by at least 2 minutes. (9 minutes in 2008). I got it down to 5 minutes. I was pleasantly surprised
-Bike a 12.4 pace, which is what I did in 2008. This year, I biked a 12.9 pace. I did the bike in 1:54. At training weekend, in March, I had biked it in 1:58.
-Run: I wanted to take 10 minutes off the run, since I can actually run somewhat this year. Did it in 81 mins, a 12 minute improvement over last year.
Swim: 35:38 (1 minute improvement over '08)
T1: 3:43 (3 min improvement over '08)
Bike: 1:54:25 (5 minute improvement over '08)
T2: 1:57 (1.5 or so minute improvement over '08)
Run: 1:21:57 (12 minute improvement over '08).
As I mentioned in my Icebreaker report, my swim skills have kind of flatlined this year. Last year, I made huge gains in my swimming. But now. I've gone about as far as I can go without doing serious technique improvements. But that having been said, I am doing OK. The temperature of the water was nice and warm. The water had an odd green glow about it. Everything in the swim really clicked. As usual, as I got out, my heart rate was up too high from hauling butt back to the boat dock. I had to slow my trot up the ramp to get it to drop down a bit. When I got into the transition area, they were playing Baba O'Riley on the loudspeakers. GOOD OMEN! I love that song. It was awesome to see the coach in T1, cheering us on.
T1: I was racked 20 feet from the bike out, and doing the happy dance because that meant I didn't have to run far to get to the mount line. Nothing sucks more than having to run around transition in those damn bike shoes. I love my new wetsuit. It slides right off, making for a super fast transition. I didn't have to pee this time, which was weird, because peeing in T1 is something I've done in every single race I've been in. It's practically tradition.
GREAT bike this year. Lynch Hill was sooooo not a problem. I've been up Lynch so many times by now (I think this trip was 7 or maybe 8 times). I can honestly say I *know* HOW to ride up Lynch: take it easy and just keep going. It's a long slow climb. Too many people attack Lynch, which is not what you want to do because it wastes your legs too early in the race. Its the hardest hill and there are 23 more miles to come. I save my attacking for the return trip. Felt a tad heavy for the first 6 miles or so. Was having some stomach upset that seemed to be relieved by consuming water instead of gatorade. I got to the turnaround in 58 minutes and was happy about that. Had a gel which didn't upset my stomach. Once i hit the turn around, I absolutely caught fire. The hill that I hate after the turnaround seemed to not be there anymore. All that training I did in Amador this winter REALLY PAID OFF!!!!
Noticed the sun was hotter...no clouds on the bike ride. Sprayed on a little more sunscreen and took off! I was outta there in a flash. Somehow I managed to be in T2 less than 2 mins, which was surprising because I was all the way opposite from the run out.
Remember, Wildflower is the sickest, most difficult run you'll ever do in an Olympic Distance Race. At training weekend, I was able to run the entire run course...that was on fresh legs, of course. I knew going into WF that after that difficult bike ride, being able to run the entire thing, for me, was a tad unrealistic. So my strategy was to run when I could and walk the big hills. And that's exactly what I did. The first 2 miles were VERY hot even though the weather wasn't. Mentally I was feeling pretty down despite knowing I had a shot at going sub-4. Then at Mile 4, a bit of divine intervention: CLOUD COVER. It got very overcast and the temps dropped. My left leg, particularly my ankle, was cramping up pretty bad at this point making it hard to run. But I kept going..on to the fire break.... We were getting closer to the campground, which meant more spectators (was it just me or were the spectators all drunk this time?). I went through a gauntlet of drunk people ringing cowbells and blasting Brass Monkey. I loved that. I said to them "cowbell + Beastie boys = awesome". Gave me a much needed boost. I also realized that I really stood a shot at coming in under 4. Getting to the finish line was fun but painful because the Wildflower finish chute is soooo freaking long. But everyone was there and I got my icy cold towel and medal. Then I got to crash and get my post-race stupidity syndrome.
I was extremely happy with how I did. I knew I had a realistic shot at finishing 'around' 4 hours, but my goal of under 4 was one I really had to reach for, and I kept it in mind the entire race. I keep making continual improvements, and in this Wildflower run I beat my previous run PR (Pac Grove 2008), which is a ridiculously easy, flat run. I broke all my previous Wildflower PRs at this race. Looking back the one thing I would have done differently (there are other things, but the main one thing) is I should have had another gel before setting out on the run course. I get conservative about eating gel because with me, gel + the run course = bad. So I did this race on just 2 gels. If I had had that third gel somewhere on the bike course, I think I would have had some more juice for the run.
A lot of people have asked me: will you do Wildflower again? Answer: I don't know. So far I've done it 3 times and have made significant improvements each time. I love Wildflower. It's my favorite Olympic distance race. I especially love doing Wildflower with Team in Training. However, Wildflower comes with a SIGNIFICANT downside: The camping thing. Yes, camping is fun with Team in Training because of the hanging out and the campfires and the bonding. But camping also involves sleeping in a tent before the race, which is not the most comfortable way to snooze. That's not even the true downside.
What I like least about Wildflower are the logistics. Transition is over a mile away from the campground. So after the race, you have to pack up your gear and wait for at least 30 minutes for the shuttle bus to take you back to the campground because, believe me, you don't want to walk 1 mile uphill with your gear after a race. Then once you get back, feeling all wiped out and bonky, there's the task of packing up the gear and setting out on the 250 mile drive back to Sacramento. I find this part to be too overwhelming, and yesterday, in an effort to get it all done and get the heck out, I neglected to eat or drink enough after the race. Which led to me being violently ill for at least half the car ride home (thank heaven for the large plastic bag in the truck). I'll never look at the Starbucks in Santa Nella the same way again.
But I am fine now and looking forward to the next race.....Tri for Fun 1 at Rancho Seco on June 7th.