It is a stage race with a short sprint prologue on the first day, 2 olympics on the second days, and half ironman on the final day. I just finished it and I feeling pretty blasted but so HAPPY.
It was maybe the best race of my life. I have only had two races where I was absolutely over the moon. One was 2007 olympic collegiate nationals where I drag stripped a 1:56. I couldn't believe it and haven't replicated it until this weekend! FINALLY!!!!
The first day I got out to a good start in 6th place of 600 or so. I pushed pretty hard and, despite falling asleep in transition, I was in a good spot in an insanely competitive field with 3 pro triathletes and about 50 top tier age groupers. It was really a stellar tightly packed field.
Second day... I felt fresh and started out the olympic feeling pretty comfortable. The bike routes in these races are the most difficult routes I have done in my triathlon career. Very hilly. That being said, not many courses are hard so it doesn't say much. Either way it's hard for everyone. I did very well relative to the field on the bike and basically shut it down on the run just to be safe. I figured if I had anything left I could give it up later. I finished in 18th I think. I was pretty bummed to drop that much but it was a long wknd so I focused on getting in some food and trying to stay strong for the next race in 4 hours.
The 2nd olympic started with a bike, then jumped in the water, then the run. Same bike course and I dropped the hammer again. I actually swam out of my mind and finished 1.5 minutes faster than the last olympic despite my arms feeling like they were lead. I cruised the run like it was a half ironman and finished 11th and only faded about 2 minutes from the morning race. Moving on up.
I slept horribly. I felt like I was having hot flashes and woke up about 40 times. I ate 3 donuts in the middle of the night, desperately trying to get some sugar. Regardless, I felt alright when I woke up.
Race start was super cold but the swim was exceptional for me. A low 24 for 1.2 miles??! I was freaking out in t1 I was so pumped. On the bike in 25 minutes!!! It was a bit short but no more than 2 minutes so still a rock solid swim. I got on the bike with the top 5 guys despite starting 5 minutes behind them. ( all the races were TT starts) We pushed hard for the first lap and came through to the special needs station. It was the only aid on the course, so I figured everyone would stop. Wrong. No one stopped and I got dropped bad. I rode the second loop alone. Apparently I am the only one who drinks water in this race. As I got into t2 the boys were about 1-2 minutes up on me. It was an out and back course 2 times. Up hill out for 3.3 miles, down hill back. I just settled into a pace of around 7:00-7:20's. I walked a portion of every uphill to get myself under control as people were detonating all around me. The top 10 looked like a death march. I moved into 9th, then 8th, then 7,6,5. By mile 10 I was sitting in 5th and hunting. My quads were dead but walking and coke had saved me. I pushed hard and caught 4th place with a mile to go. I was jumping out of my skin as he had dominated all weekend. The last .5 miles was like the promised land. It was so gratifying. I beat my best case scenario by 40 seconds!
This race to me, was much more challenging than Ironman. The course and the intensity were unrivaled.
RESULT: I ran myself into 4th overall! It was a really competitive field and after sitting in about 11th going into the final day, I was hoping to just get into the top 10. But 4th?! Out of the question. My best friend told me I could get top 5 and I sort of shrugged it off, just focusing on finishing and getting around the course. I can't even express in words how happy I am to rip off a race like this.
It has been a long time but that makes it a lot sweeter.
Speaking of sweeter, I am going to be eating snickers bars all week. Pizza too. I can't wait to chill out because I have no regrets from this race. I am incredibly content right now.