The first race of the season seems to be one of the most nerve racking ones. Mostly because I think to myself “What if they have been training harder than me all winter?”
Starting the morning early with a late start due to campsite issues and then getting last choice on the rack for transition gives you very little time to think about all the things that can go wrong. This can be a blessing and a curse at the same time. Not having time to warm up or foam roll made me even more nervous that I would have a hard time during the swim. After finally setting up my transition, getting to run a few yards and pedal my bike around the flat grass field, it was time for me to jump in my wet suit and on to the boat. As I was being taxied up stream with new friends, the entire way I kept thinking to myself that 1000 meters has never looked so far.
The water was not as cold as I was expecting, but sure did give me the creeps at first when I looked into it and was unable to see any part of my body. The darkness of it resembled a dark stout, but it sure didn’t taste like one… While waiting for everyone else to jump in I had a chance to get a short swim in to try and loosen up just a little bit more. Sooner than expected was the call for one minute to start time. I lined up side by side with everyone else. “30 seconds” and now the nerves had finally started, just in time. “5, 4, 3, 2, 1 GO!” and we’re off. I settled into my pace and swam my own race as I felt that I should. Once I finally sighted and saw that I was under the bridge, I felt one of the best feelings that I could have-the swim was almost over!
I got out of the water to find that Jim Dandro was right beside me and he gave me some great words of encouragement to get up and moving. I stumbled a couple times, getting my wet suit off and shoes and helmet on. However once I was on my bike I really got into the zone that I am used to.
I had no clue how far behind I was but I knew that I had plenty of ground between me and the top place racers. Once I left the field I was told that I was 3 minutes back from the leader. Since I had ridden the trails before, I knew them well and felt very comfortable letting go of the brakes and letting the tires slide every which way as I held on to this roller coaster of a ride. Too many turns to count I felt as if the tires were just going to give way and leave me sliding through the sand on my back. I felt that I was able to pass multiple people but, for some reason, there was always another one in front of me. Once I started my last lap I was told I was less than two minutes back from the leader. Diving back into my second lap I gave the trails everything I had. I took in all of my GU energy packs that I had brought along for the ride and pushed as hard as I could. Roughly 2 miles left of the bike I saw Marcus Barton off in the distance and knew that I was closing the gap. I flew out of the trail exit, under the bridge and off through the grass field towards transition. As I entered the paved road to transition Dwayne Dixon, was current leader, was leaving for the run and Marcus was throwing his shoes on. I was astonished that I had made up twenty one spots on the bike and was leaving for the run in third place.
Not too long after the run started, I was passed by Daryl Weaver, who went on to win, then half way through I was passed by Joshua Loren. As I finished the second hill climb on the run I knew it was time to give it every last effort I had. I pushed and gave the last pieces of energy I had to make it back to the finish line. I could see Darren Cox behind me as I made my way back down the gravel road to the black snake trail and gave myself no choice of letting him catch me. As I was trying to dodge every pot hole in the trail, I saw glimpses of him through the trees but had no idea how far back he actually was. I finished the black snake trail, crossed the road and off through the field I went.
I crossed the finish line in 5th place overall, stopping to kiss my beautiful fiancé / number one cheerleader, taking 1st in my age group and had a finishing time of 1:57:08. I ended up getting 24th fastest in the water, 1st on the bike and 7th on the run. All in all it was an awesome, fun and super-fast race! So excited for the next race to come and some fun times on the trails!