Wildflower lived up to my lofty expectations. Since starting triathlon a few years ago, Wildflower has been on my wish list of iconic must-do races. Unfortunately for me, it was a day of 2nd places: 2nd fastest swim to teammate Jodie by just under a minute, 2nd fastest bike to Leanda by just over a minute, and 2nd fastest run to Mighty Mags by just under a minute again. What did this all add up to? A 2nd place overall but agonizingly only 7 seconds outside of the win. I will be having nightmares and flashbacks about that slim margin for quite some time.
The day started well. In the swim, as expected Jodie gaped the rest of us immediately. I lead the rest of the women around the course. I exited the water second woman not as far behind teammate Jodie as at Singapore but still almost a minute down. The bike course in Wildflower is no joke. It reminded me of doing the Alcatraz bike course twice with a 25 mile flat super windy section between the reps. It made the Quassy bike course look flat. After struggling in Galveston, it was nice to have a better bike performance on a course that was challenging and left no place to hide. I just tried to bike smart and save a bit of gas for the run. My nutrition plan went well. First Endurance drink went down smoothly, and I peed early on the bike around mile 35 which was a first (usually my system takes right around T2). I finished the bike about 90 seconds down on Leanda. She pulled away on the flat windy section of road. I definitely need to either get a femur transplant or work on my flat windy TT riding after this race and Galveston. During the first 9 miles of the run, I wasn’t able to take any time back from Leanda. Then suddenly around that 9 mile mark, the gap of 90 seconds started to slowly come down. By the time I got to the final mile, a steep downhill to the finish, the gap was only around 20 seconds. On the final downhill mile, whenever I tried to push it my calves and quads would quiver threatening to cramp up with each footfall. Even still, I made up another 13 seconds to come within 20 meters of Leanda but just couldn’t quite get there. I needed another quarter mile and I could have done it. It is hard to race for just under 4.5 hours and lose by 7 seconds. But Leanda is such a tough competitor, and she made me work hard to take back any time at all. I think we both pushed each other to race harder and were respectively only 5 and 12 seconds off the legendary Julie Dibenator’s course record. Overall, I am happy but will be haunted in my dreams by Leanda running just up ahead unreachable and taunting me.
With three races down for 2011, I am excited to have started the year well and even more excited to be a part of the team this year. Thanks so much to all Doc, all the team members, Alex and all our amazing sponsors.