I was looking forward to racing an Olympic distance tri against a solid professional field. I know how to race this distance and wanted to just compete. This was my first Olympic distance race as a pro. I had nothing to lose but lots to prove!
Brian and I travelled to PA on Wednesday since we have family near Harrisburg. It was nice to hang out with family and also to adjust to the time zone. I was able to take some work with me, but mostly just enjoyed some downtime before heading into Philly Friday evening. We stopped at the race expo and learned that the sprint race on Saturday might not have a swim because of all the rain that has increased bacteria levels in the water. So I knew this might be a possibility for our race on Sunday as well.
The bike course is fairly technical, and with potentially wet roads, I knew it was critical to drive/ride the course beforehand. We drove the course Friday evening, paying attention to the road conditions, corners, hills, etc. Then we made our way to meet up with our homestay, Paul, only 10 minutes from the course.
Saturday morning, before the sprint race went off and the rain started, Paul, who was also racing, graciously rode the course with us showing me the ins and outs and providing some nice tips. I was so glad to be able to see it while riding because it’s always much different than driving it. We found out at 1pm that afternoon that the swim was cancelled for our race. I was disappointed because I have been looking forward to racing it. But weather dictates the race and TriRock had to make the call for safety. At least a triathlon has 3 sports so we could bike and run
Race morning, it was drizzling out still and the roads were all wet from the storms the night before. I warmed up on my bike to see how the road conditions were. I was actually quite excited. I felt like I was doing a bike race again (with the addition of a run). The rain and wet roads would just provide another challenge! Since I haven’t ridden in rain in several years since being out in California though, I decided to take the corners more cautiously than I would otherwise. I didn’t know quite how my tri bike would handle in the rain. I did know that if I took corners too hot and crashed, I would be adding a lot more time to my bike split than if I took them a little more cautiously.
With no swim, we went to a time trial start on the bike. We started a few steps back from the mount line. Most people started with shoes on and then clipped in once they ran past the mount line. I tried doing a cross mount and hopping on the bike then clipping on, and it went over well. I got going and rode the first mile hard to the first climb. Pros had 20 sec between each rider, which was a nice separation to avoid any clusters. I went off in 7th position and had about 10 more women behind me. It was hard to tell where you were relative to others throughout the whole bike. It was truly a time trial and a race against the clock. I targeted the other women in front of me and just raced hard. I enjoyed the 2-loop bike course. It was completely closed to cars, TriRock did a fantastic job at sweeping the course after the night’s rain and coned off areas where there was high water. There were lots of hills, plenty of cornering, and nice flats to power through on. It was important to pay close attention to the roads and to not look down. The second loop was better than the first after seeing what was on the road and how cones were set up for the turns. It was really fun to ride hard. There are definitely places that I could have taken less cautiously, but I’ll remember them for next year.
T2 was awesome! We racked our bikes then ran through the transition zone where all of the age groupers were standing waiting to start. It was definitely muddy grass but I didn’t care. The cheers from the other racers was unbelievable — it was so fun to experience that. My homestay yelled loud for me as I passed by.
The run was a flat 2-loop course. This allowed us to see where we were within the field much better. I tried to just focus on my race and to run hard and not get caught up in positioning. It was too hard to figure out, especially when my brain turns to an 8-year old girl’s brain when I race! I tried to keep a consistent effort and finish as though it was a sprint finish against someone else. My homestay heard my name called as I finished and he was just starting his race.
I placed 5th overall so I took home a small paycheck. I was very excited to stand on the podium and celebrate a well-played race! I had lots of family that came to watch, which was really amazing. It was fun to share with others what I’ve been doing for the past few years and to just enjoy their company after a hard morning’s effort. TriRock treated their pros very well and we couldn’t have asked for more support from them. I am excited to support their race in return and will continue to in future years!