Race Report – World DOMINATION (errr… championships)   7 comments

Thank you to everyone for being patient with the lack if information coming out about the race. It was a whirlwind after the race, and I just didn’t have time to sit down and write for a couple of days.

I could pretty much write a book about this race, and the events that lead up to it. But for the sake of some sort of brevity (and its not brief in the least bit…) I’ll just jump into RACE DAY!!!

I don’t really get much in the way of race anxiety anymore; I have the thought pattern of, “there is nothing more to be done at this point” on the night before a race. This race was different… The night before this race was FILLED with anxiety! I set three alarms and kept checking to make us they were all set to AM not PM, I wrote myself a note and posted it on the door to remind myself to turn on the electronic shifters on Armando, I even woke up to check to make sure the brake calipers weren’t rubbing against the wheel. It’s fair to say I slept like shit that night, but that’s okay because adrenaline is a helluva drug.

My alarm went off at some stupidly early hour (ok, it was only 5 AM, so not THAT bad.) The team manager, Tim Yount, had warned us to get to transition early; the ITU (international triathlon union, for the uninitiated) officials had pretty much said that they were going to go through everything on race day with a fine toothed comb. They were being extraordinarily strict about everything (competitors could only wear the most recent country uniform, no temporary tattoos, no stickers on your helmet or bike except for your race numbers, your bib had to be on a race belt, etc etc etc) and it was expected that it would take a zillion years to get through bike check-in. I’m an early bird when it comes to races anyway since I hate the feeling of possibly missing transition setup because I was running late, but Tim had us all concerned. So stupid early it was. Turns out, I only needed the one alarm, because that sucker went off and I hit the ceiling!

Sherri met me at my hotel at 6:10 so that we could walk to the race site together. Those silly ITU officials were LIARS! It took us an entire two and a half minutes to get through bike check-in. Sure, they made sure that we were in uniform, and that we had our helmets on our heads and buckled (yup, to walk through the gate), but seriously, they didn’t really do anything out of the ordinary. We found our racks, set up our stuff, and chatted with the folks around us. Each country was racked together and then broken down by age group, so I was racking with the ladies that I raced against at Nationals. I have to say, that was pretty cool. I didn’t remember who I raced against until I got into this transition, then it was like, “HEEEEY! I know you!” Everyone was super excited; sure, some women had their game faces on, but most of all, the atmosphere was one of nervous electricity. Once transition was set up, a few of us wandered around to find an open cafe… No coffee and this girl doesn’t get going. At this point, it was about 715, and the race didn’t start til 830…

Sherri and I went for a nice little warm up just before the race.  Since she hadn’t run the course yet and it was short, we just went through the course as our warmup. I had been concerned when trying to follow the course map a couple of days earlier, because the course looked like a drunk kindergartener’s drawing. There was a turn every 50 meters or so, with the longest open stretch being maaaaaaybe a block long. No need to worry, though, this was the best marked course I’ve ever run. It isn’t marked, per se, but rather COMPLETELY barricaded off. You want to feel like a fucking rock star? Run on a completely barricaded off course!

We make it back to the venue with about 15 minutes left before the first wave went. Sprint duathlon is not the most popular sport, so the entire field was split into only 3 waves separated by 4 minutes for each wave, with the men 39 and under going first. Hanging out with a bunch of women competing in an international race for 8 minutes before gun time? Fucking amazing feeling!. So, most of you have seen my uniform, right? If not, there’s a picture below. The point is that my uniform makes me feel like goddamn Wonder Woman. Now, take little, old me, in my Wonder Woman outfit, and put me among 75 other women, ALSO in their Wonder Woman outfits, and put that group of people smack in the middle of a group of 200 women all wearing something that makes them feel like Wonder Woman, and shit gets pretty powerful. People are hugging, wishing each other luck, laughing, chatting… It didn’t matter what country you were from, you turned to that woman next to you and said, “good luck, congratulations on getting here, you’re a fucking badass rock star!” Ok, maybe not EXACTLY in those words… But you get the idea.

It’s a self-seeding start, and there’s no timing mat at the beginning. Everyone runs on gun time, meaning that your time starts as soon as the gun goes off, so the clock starts ticking even before you cross the start line. Does that matter to me? Not really. I’ll take that 5 second hit to my time to seat myself towards the back. I am more comfortable passing people who are slower than me than I am being passed by the SUPER CRAZY ULTRA MEGA FAST women. The announcer says, “on your mark,” then *BANG*!!! I am sooooooo glad I didn’t start closer to the front, because yeah… some of those ladies are mutants.

My goal was to keep my pace, not get caught up in the excitement of the start which would cause me to push too hard through the first lap, because I wouldn’t have been able to hold up for the entirety of the race. I have spent months working on keeping a pace, and that shit totally paid off. That gun sound shot through the stadium and women bolted. W went out the track and onto the streets. Like I said before, the course was exceptionally windy but for the most part it was a relatively easy course. Flat track, then down a block to a u-turn. After the turn, there is one small hill, probably only about a 50 or 60 foot climb over a block. At the top, you take a right and end up on a cobblestone street that has been well-used and has huge gaps between the cobblestones. Basically, this stretch of streets is a fucking ankle breaker and it’s SUPER important that you run carefully and take care where to put your foot on every stride. This surface lasts for a couple of turns, the course flattens out, then the fun begins. The middle third of the course winds and twists though the old city, and is a pretty steep descent. The road that we are following is pedestrian only, only a couple of meters wide, and is lined with beautiful old buildings with balconies that have pots of azaleas dropping over the side. Everyone has azaleas, I swear! The road surface is large stone pavers that have almost no unevenness to them, it’s smooth as glass, and did I mention downhill? So we come off this cobblestone ankle breaker of a surface, then WHEEEEEEEEEE OH MY FUCKING GOD THIS RUN IS AMAZING!!!!!! The first lap, there aren’t that many spectators; it’s still early by Spanish clocks, but it doesn’t matter. I’m running on a barricaded course, through a medieval town, with a smooth surface, downhill, it’s about 55 degrees, AND IM IN FUCKING SPAIN, Y’ALL!!!!!! I’m pretty sure I was averaging about 2 minute miles at this point, because I was fucking FLYING! I don’t know that I’ve EVER felt that much exhilaration on a run! At the bottom of the hill, we hit a regular street, then run by the river and back to the stadium again. At the stadium, we take a half a lap, then head out to do it all over again. The water station is at the bottom of the hill, and instead of giving you a cup of water, they hand out bottles… Full bottles of water, with lids on them, and they’re cold, and the mouth is really small, and I definitely failed miserably at getting any of that into my gullet. But my chest was nice and soaked, so I guess that’s something. I drop my bottle in the litter zone and take off up the hill. This lap, there are more spectators out there, and they’re cheering us all on. Because the course is so tight and windy, it’s pretty tough to know where anyone is, and you’re running blindly. I’m absolutely okay with this, it gives me the opportunity to really, truly run my own race and not worry about anyone else. I’m mostly running by myself, but there’s crowds of people gathering, and they’re all cheering in various languages, and some are trying to say my name as I pass, and occasionally I hear a “GO CC!!!!” from one of my teammates who’ll be racing in the standard later. Seriously, y’all, this must be what it feels like to be a rock star. I was there, by myself at times, with crowds cheering me on, and FLYING down this course. Never have I felt like I was running a more powerful 5k! I come around that last turn and back into the stadium and shoot in to transition.

Now for the part you are all waiting for with baited breath: the riiiiiiiide. If you know me personally, you already know that Orbea provided me with a sponsorship. For those who are just stumbling onto this incredibly long race report, let me explain. I ride an Orbea road bike when I race. This bike is a sexy, sexy Spaniard, and I am completely in love with him. When I qualified for this race, I was trying to figure out how to get my sexy, sexy Orbea to Spain without breaking the bank… or my bike. I decided on a whim to contact Orbea and tell them about my hot, torrid love affair that I have been having with one their bikes and and told them that they should hook me up with a sponsorship. did I think it would work? Hell no! But it did. Apparently, when you say completely ridiculous things about your bike, someone notices, because they agreed to sponsor ME!!! The deal was that the lovely, amazing people of Orbea would send a bike to Pontevedra for me to ride for this race. I would then ride that gorgeous machine, box it back up, and the shipping agency would pick it up at the hotel and ship it back to the factory. The original bike they were going to send me was similar to the one I ride at home, but there was a problem securing that bike so they changed bikes on me last minute. The bike they sent me? Shit, it’s not a bicycle… It’s a Lamborghini! This bike weighs about a pound, has Campignolo electronic shifters (that I had to have the team mechanic call back to the states to figure out how to TURN ON), and was pretty much made for me. The geometry was perfect for my super long torso and stumpy, yet powerful legs. I put my pedals and aerobars on it, so I was able to steer, power and control using what was I was accustomed to using. I don’t think I have ever, nor will I ever, have the opportunity to enjoy a machine of this quality. And I enjoyed the HELL out of that sexy Orbea! Now back to the report…

I run into transition, and I am feeling good. I didn’t look to see what my 5k time was, I didn’t care. I felt strong and didn’t want to throw myself off in case I had a bad time. I got through transition in what felt like 20 minutes (you had to run down the entirety of the center of the stadium, do your transition, then go back alllllll the way around the stadium out to the bike out spot. I cross the timing mat and the mount line, and IT’S ON MOTHER FUCKER! The first mile is out through the town, over this really kick ass suspension bridge, then out into the hills. I had ridden the course once before, so I knew exactly how uphill that first half was going to be so I started my bike portion with a bit of a quick spin to shake out the run and get my legs ready to cliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiimb.

After a few hundred meters, I drop the gears and start to speed up and turn on the power. The bike course is gorgeous, but it’s no joke. Spain has hills and mountains, and Pontevedra is no exception. Coming out of town, the road surface is shit, it’s concrete with huge cracks and potholes, and a really rough surface. It’s easier to ride than chip seal, but still is not an idea ride by any means. Getting out of town only takes about a mile, and when my gps clicked that first mile out, I looked at my pace. I did that first mile, on shit roads on a slight incline at 22 mph. Did I mention that this Orbea was a Lamborghini? Yes, I know that the motor is as important as the bike, but this was AWESOME! Just outside of town, there’s a change in surface and you go from concrete to newly resurfaced, glass-smooth, super fast asphalt. The next 2 miles has some good climbs, and a cute little town (it’s Europe… All those little towns are cute). There were race officials dotted along the course, and volunteers, and cops, and a few people yelling, including one old woman sitting on her balcony yelling something incomprehensible from what I can only imagine was a toothless grin. But for the most part, it was just me and my bike and gorgeous views (and other competitors, of course… on the bike course you could actually see where everyone was.) Miles 3 and 4 were the bitches. This was where the bulk of the climb came in, and it was longer with a steeper and more sustained grade than anything that we have in Austin. Yeah, I trained on hills, but I just don’t have the access to train for this. 2 solid miles of up, up, up.

At the bottom of the hill, I came up behind my friend and teammate Sherri. She’s a bit slower on the bike than I am, but we were entering th long haul of a hill together. I didn’t have the opportunity to actually get past her before the climb started and I had to make a decision. Here’s the thing. In age group competition, you are not allowed to draft behind other cyclists, and the rules about passing another cyclist on the course are super strict. You have 15 seconds to come up into what’s called the drafting zone (and per ITU rules, that zone is 10 meters, or about 4-5 bike lengths) and make your move to pass your opponent. As soon as your front wheel breeches the line of their front wheel, your opponent must drop back out of the drafting zone. 15 seconds is plenty of time if you’re on a slight incline, a flat, or on a descent, but on a long, steep incline, 15 seconds is an impossibility. I got a penalty at Nationals when I tried to pass on an incline, so maybe I’m a little more sensitive about it than most, but I decided that I was not going to pass Sherri going up the hill. I could have done it, but doing so in a time that would guarantee no penalty would have meant blowing out my legs, completely wasting myself, all while STILL HAVING TO CLIMB, and still having plenty of time left in the race. So I hung out about 10 meters behind her and we climbed. And climbed. Ad climbed. Sure, my final time probably took a hit, but fuck, I don’t care. Here I was, on the hottest bike ever, climbing though gorgeous countryside with trees and vistas, on a beautifully maintained road, and my friend was right there, too. I have no problem that I took my time to savor and enjoy every. fucking. moment of that climb. When my legs were SCREAMING, I looked off to the left, and there was a little village on a hillside, with little houses with red tiled roofs. It was peaceful, and beautiful, and suuuuure, we weren’t the fastest people up that course, but fuck it. (I will say that no one in our little area of competitors passed each other on the climb… I think we were all in kinda the same boat… Pass and kill ourselves? Or settle in for a good ride…) All the while we are climbing, the men were coming down the same hill (it’s an out and back course). These guys were FLYING!!!! I was so, so, so looking forward to that. We crest the hill, and I make my move. My Orbea was so responsive that the minute the grade flattened out even a MINUTE amount, he took off. I passed Sherri, yelled something supportive at her, and took off. Mind you, just because we were done with the big climb, that doesn’t mean that we were at the top, there was still plenty of climb left in the last 2 miles heading up. It just happened to be at a more… reasonable grade. A this point, my legs are a bit jello-like, but I have a grin from ear to ear… I made it up the monster of a climb that has been haunting me for weeks. Ad I did it in style, dammit, and loved every moment of it. I come up to the u-turn, and now it’s time to flyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

I don’t typically have any fear coming down a hill, but the next few minutes of my life were possibly the scariest I’ve ever experienced. I started the beginning of the descent with strong legs. I did do a little spin to shake out the hill, then dropped the gears and turned back on the power. Before hitting the monster hill, I think I was averaging about 25 mph… I am not sure because I sure as shit didn’t feel comfortable looking at my speed on my watch. Then I crested that hill and OOOOOOOOOOOH MYYYYYYYYYYYYY GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD it was like a fucking roller coaster! You know when you get to the top of that first incline, and the little chain that’s pulling you up lets go, and the roller coaster cart drops back onto the track, then there’s that half a second of anticipation, then WHOOOOOOOSH? Yeah. That. Exactly that. I’m putty sure that everyone in the valley below, and all the poor people who were trying to have a peaceful and quiet Sunday morning, and everyone on the race course heard me. I was whooping and a hollering coming down that mountain. About halfway down the hill, I hit my terminal velocity and couldn’t pedal anymore (I was just spinning out) so I just got into as aero a position as I could get without completely freaking out, and held on for the remainder of the ride, tucked and terrified. That lasted about 0.000000001 minutes but felt like an eternity. I hit 40 mph on that descent, and probably held that for a good 30 seconds before coming to the bottom of the hill… Yeah, it was FAST. The last couple of miles coming into town are kinda a blur, because I was pumping some serious adrenaline through my veins from that down hill. I do remember coming back into town, and hitting that stupid, pitted concrete surface and feeling like I was going to be shaken off my bike. I actually had to slow down a bit for fear that I was going to pop a tire, and at this point since I was still going about 25 mph, that would have been pretty bad. The last two turns back into transition were pretty tight, and I had to hit the brakes a little so that I could navigate the narrow little buggers without doing something incredibly stupid like laying down a $13,000 bike… Silly, I know…

Heading back into transition, I’m grinning, I don’t care about my time, because I just had the ride of my life. All I can say it, wow… Wow!!! I rack my beautiful Armando (yes, I named him, even though I shouldn’t because when you name something, you get attached to it) and swapped my shoes out. Putting on my running shoes again, the tongue gets caught, and I lose a little time because I have to take the fucker off and reset the tongue so that I don’t completely murder my feet on the last lap. Then BAM! Off again. I feel good, I feel strong, I feel like I can only push it for a couple more minutes before my body gives out and I fall over and die. Perfect timing for that feeling, because I only have 1.6 miles left to go before that beautiful, beautiful finish line. Out of transition, down the street, up the hill… I’ve run the course so many times now that I know every nook and cranny and cobblestone. Right turn, left turn, flatten out… There’s hundreds of people outside the barricade, all cheering and yelling my name. Down the hill, through the old town, tight right turn, slight rise through the plaza… I’m hurting, my knee is taking a beating, my quads are screaming, my hamstrings feel like they are ready to pop… Down the last hill and to the river… The longest stretch I’ve ever seen, it looks like a million miles from here to the stadium (in reality, it’s less than a half a mile). I’m pushing hard down this stretch, and the team manager, Tim, is yelling from behind a barricade. He hands me a little American flag and screams, “this is the final push! 500 meters left! Goooooo CC Goooooooooo!” Who knew that a little 25¢ flag and a few choice words would hold the power of the universe in them? I try to pick up the pace, but I don’t have much gas left in the tank. Around the corner and into the stadium… Just a quarter lap around the track to the finish chute then 100 meters to the finish line. I think the announcer yelled my name, but since Spanish speakers find my last name impossible to say, I am not sure. All I know is that I am coming home to that finish line, there are about 20 other Americans and some Brits and some other finishers all standing there to cheer me in. I cross and get hugged by a zillion stinky and gross competitors. My friend and fellow central Texan, John, is there and so are the people from the Mexican National Duathlon team who I had befriended over the last few days. I try to breathe, recover a little, then see Sherri come barreling down the final chute. After cheering her in, we just stand there, dazed and a bit dazzled, hugging, slapping high fives to others, and soaking it in. We did it! Competed in the top level of amateur duathlon in the world. And rocked the SHIT out of that race!

Did I win? No. Did I have the best race I could have had, feel like I pushed it as hard as I could, and had an amazingly great time doing it? You fucking bet!

Months of training, pulling off a couple of fundraisers, more support than I would have ever thought possible all paid off. It was INCREDIBLE.

I don’t have my stats available right now, but I know I finished in 1:25 or so, well below the 1:30 I had arbitrarily given myself for a goal time. Also, I didn’t come in last in my age group, I was 23/25. But even if I had come in last, I would have been fine with it. Someone has to come in last, and this race was all about the experience, and what a fucking experience it was.

Oh, and for the record, I PR’d my 5k (the first leg of the race)!!! My previous best 5k was 25:59, and I finished this one in 25:15 and STILL had a long way to go before I was done.

Thank you all for the immense amount of support, for the love, for the encouragement, for absolutely everything that you all did to help me get here. Without each and every one of you, I could have never made it here.

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Posted June 3, 2014 by CC in Race Report

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7 responses to “Race Report – World DOMINATION (errr… championships)

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  1. Awesome! It’s amazing what that little flag Tim gives you does! He is such a great manager.

  2. WOO HOO!!! sounds absolutely amazing!

  3. That is awesome. Proud of you!!!

  4. You’re so awesome!!!!

  5. Great race report…felt like I was there. Way to go CC!! Awesome job chicky!!

  6. you are incredible! I love your love of the race! It’s the best kind of drug ever!

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