so I raced short course at Wildflower, which I know confuses people because I am a long course triathlete and the pro race at WF is long course. Since Wildflower was only 2 weeks post-Ironman China, I wasn’t even planning to race there, and had chosen Florida 70.3 (another 2 weeks post-WF) as my next event, and also my primary pro card qualifier. Which also confuses people, because they think “oh, I thought you were already a pro.” Well, technically the USA Triathlon federation likes us Americans to prove ourselves on U.S. soil, so despite having a couple good races overseas in the pro division (where, depending on the race and region, you can race pro/elite without having your pro card), I cannot race as a pro here in the States until I prove myself to be a top amateur here. Which means top 3 overall amateur in one of the major races. Turns out Wildflower is on that list (both long and short course), and with AVIA as the title sponsor, I had a free (VIP!) entry and could help represent and promote AVIA and the race. So I figured I’d hop into the short course event, which would be my first hard training workout post-Ironman without hindering my build-up to Florida.
Coach’s instructions were “just have fun.” But he has told me in the past to race a half ironman like an Olympic, so I deduced that I should race an Olympic like a sprint triathlon. OUCH! A lot of pain in a very short period of time. I pulled up my race photos from ASI Orders and you can see the hurt in my face momentarily…
The race began at 9:00am. If you were a college boy. 9:05am, if you were a college girl. Or, if you were a 27-year-old Wongstar, you got to start at 10:15am… after all the men, youngest to oldest, then all the Team in Training folks, and then all the women 24 & under. I ended up hanging out in the AVIA VIP tent in the morning to stay off my feet and out of the sun. Plus this meant no waiting in the long lines for the porta-potties!
When 10:15am finally rolled around (I don’t recall ever starting a race this late), I lined up in the front and went for it. Finally I got a triathlon swim that was wetsuit-legal, no jellyfish, and no crazy currents! Just nice still water, well marked and even the turn buoys were on my breathing side. My BlueSeventy Helix was awesome (I wish I could race every race in it) and for once I was in front of the majority of swimmers in my wave. I navigated well and swam hard, though there wasn’t actually anyone to draft off of, because the faster girls in my wave were either 6 minutes ahead of me or sparsely scattered. In fact, I didn’t see many other green caps around me, which gave me the mistaken feeling that I was second out of the water as I approached the shore! HA! I think I was actually 8th or so, clocking in 26-something minutes which is pretty darn good for me…especially after my last two swim fiascos, 42mins for a half iron and nearly 90mins in the Ironman, this was reassuring.
I tore off my Helix wetsuit while making the most awesome face, caught on camera:
Since the race was sponsored by AVIA, obviously I decided to grimace during the whole race just like the Avia skull logo…
Arrr! because I’m such a great sponsored athlete like that.
I bolted into T1 and threw on…yes…my aero helmet. I heard it would be cold (at least 40deg F colder than China, brrr!) so I wanted to make sure I was warm enough. Plus you can’t deny that there is much more room to put on big sponsor stickers. like the Avia skull. Arrr! because I’m such a great sponsored athlete like that.
I managed to slip my feet in before Lynch hill steepened up, and from there on out passed masses of cyclists. I lay on the hurt and did not get passed by a single athlete. There was one guy who refused to let me pass and played the “no you can’t pass me!” game, but after 5k was no match for my devastating quads.
My rear shifter came loose off the end of the Oval bars at around 10k and I almost panicked, thinking about the mechanicals our girls had the previous day. But I realized the shifter was still completely functional, so as long as it didn’t fall off, it would be ok. It just reinforced me to keep the hands in the bars at all times.
My arms look really skinny here. As I got fitter at training camp, everyone kept saying how skinny my arms were getting. Some girls were even envious, but I thought, why would you want puny arms that can’t swim? I would rather have bigger arms that can actually pull through the water! And half of my bloody arm warmers won’t stay on my puny arms any more. WTF.
Back to the bike, I was tearing it up, and damn, it hurt. Ironically I had ridden the course pretty easy a couple days prior with Amy, and had thought “wow, this doesn’t feel nearly as hilly or hard as it did when I was in college!” However, come race day, going at vomit-level, this was not the case. It was just as hard, if not harder! The only difference was I was going much faster! It is like what Mat always says, it never gets easier, you just go faster. So true!
The course was a bit congested at times, so I had to be very vocal. ON YOUR LEFT! ON YOUR LEFT! ONYOURLEFTONYOURLEFTONYOURLEFT!! I refused to let up my effort over the last 10k when the pain really kicked in, so over the last few hills I was also very vocal. Grunting, grimacing, and groaning out loud. I’m sure I sounded nothing short of an adult movie to the unsuspecting men that I was passing. And they would cheer me on.
Finally I got to whiz back down Lynch Hill on my Cervelo, Khan the Warrior Horse, and off to the run! I came to realize that long course or short course, my legs have now been ingrained to do the Wongstar shuffle. So I had to shuffle as fast as I could, shuffle-shuffle-shuffle. My first 2k went by in 8:10, which would have been sub-41 pace. Stellar! But the hard bike and maybe gunning out on the run too fast took its toll. It doesn’t seem that I have much of a speed differential from 10k to the 42k marathon so while great for Ironman, not so much for short course racing…! I’m predicting that my run pace in Florida will not be much slower than my 10k pace, so that’s good.
I tried my best to gut out the 10k as fast as I could. If I wanted a shot at top 3 amateur, I would have to race the clock, as we all started in different waves and I was pretty sure there were some fast collegiate women who had finished an hour ago. Easier said than done–by the time I had passed all the women I could see, I found it hard to motivate myself to go any faster. I started selecting various men to pick off, “get the red guy. ok, now get the blue guy. ok, now get the yellow guy.”
I usually have a policy not to post unflattering pictures of myself on this blog, but this one is so ugly it’s hilarious:
Arrrr! just like the pirate logo!
Finally I hit the top of Lynch Hill and tried to hammer down to the finish line but the legs were not listening. They finally woke up when we hit flat pavement and entered the chute. No time for a finish line celebration, I had to take off as many seconds as I could to my invisible competitors!
It was a bit clogged in there anyway, I had some last-minute dodging to do, especially when one guy pretty much collapsed right in front of me.
At last I was done. Done making awful grimacing faces. And I managed to crush my age group!
With the race over, I could smile again. Amy surprised herself with a 3rd in her AG.
Soda had a bit of asthma trouble during the race, but I was proud of her for sticking it out. Once we rescued her from the med tent, she was smiling again too:
I was happy with my age group win (and by far the fastest bike split) but it wasn’t good enough to put me in the top 3 overall. Those college girls really spanked me on the swim and it is hard to make up 7mins in an Olympic tri even if you bike and run faster! So as usual, I know I have a lot of work to do in the swim, but it will come.
I have to thank OC for being my “race wheel sponsor” at this race. Since he did long course, he wanted to help me tear up the short course. Plus, he is fanatical about pirates (ask him about why they wear eye patches…for night vision!) and his rear wheel matched my Avia pirate logos. Arrr! Don’t worry Coach, they are clinchers and I made sure to know how to change a flat on them!
It was a great weekend for Team Wongstar: Brad took 4th in his age group, Amy took 3rd, OC conquered long course, Soda stuck out a tough short course, and yours truly was an AG champion. We definitely had a lot of fun whilst not racing too! Although there were some grumblings about how maybe next year, we should all do long course so that we can party with everyone else on Saturday night…
A quick thank you as always to my sponsors:
-AVIA AVIA AVIA! for being the event host, all the great running shoes and schwag, and treating your athletes like the rock stars we are. It was great to meet all the head honchos! and the pirate logo is the coolest! Arrr! it be pleasin’ to me eye!
-BlueSeventy for the Helix wetsuit I finally got to use. It made me go the fastest I have all season thus far!
-Cervelo for Khan the Warrior Horse, who tore up the bike course, giving me a chance to catch the fast swimmers.
-Jeju for the financial support…rumor is I’ll be doing my next big race there very soon!
-a shout-out to Sebastian from SLS3. Thanks for letting me try out a pair of the compression leg sleeves! They felt great and I could hide them under my wetsuit and not waste time pulling them on in transition. Now I just need to grace them with the Wongstar logo…
-teamTBB: Alex, Brett, and my awesome teammates. It was great to see everyone again and have a big team presence at this race. You are all superstars to me!
I love (AVIA) Wildflower!