Sunday, April 8, 2012

Houston, we have a problem...

Wow, can't believe the day unfolded the way it did. Unfortunately I mean this is in not quite the positive way that I hoped, although I took a lot of positive memories from the race.
The week leading into the race I was putting together some last minute things to include my new Kestrel 4000 and zipp wheels. While I usually would be apprehensive about trying anything "new" for the race, I was lucky enough to have the exact replica of my bike last year, only the 2012 model. Also, being the first race of the year you tend to forget the little things, so I was a tad more stressed than usual getting together my 2012 gear, which includes different sponsors.
I flew with the kids into Houston on Thursday evening. I was born and raised in Houston and we decided to stay at home, which is a 45-60 min drive to Galveston. For me it was worth it to sleep in my "own" beds and feel completely comfortable. Plus the kids had a blast playing with our old toys---and I don't mean grandma and grandpa, although they had a blast with them! Friday was a short run in the neighborhood and a swim at the community pool. Saturday we went to Memorial Park for a short ride and run. Everything was working well and I felt at ease with my equipment. Further, this is the first time in several years I haven't been battling some sort of illness or injury associated with illness (you can read my post last year at this time after taking the antibiotic levaquin and it's lingering effect). I was feeling fit, confident, and mostly at ease because I knew what kind of race I was capable of rather than the big question mark I can go into races with at this time of year. I just wanted to race!

Sunday morning came and before I knew it I was setting up my bike in transition. I walked over to the start with Amy and Brandon Marsh and I've got to say it feels great they are back in Texas. I've known them for years--and dare I say I've known Brandon for nearly decades?!?! Yes, we are getting old! Of course I realize I've forgotten my swim cap in transition. The only thing that made me feel not quite so air headish is that Amy left all her nutrition at home! Ha! Sorry Amy, although we all know it turned out okay for you!

I hopped in the water and it felt a little warm for a full wetsuit. I'm wearing BlueSeventy again and it fit like a glove. The start horn went off and I immediately had clean water. I swam as hard as I could, deferring to no one. I knew I was at the tail end of the lead pack because I was absolutely redlining it to stay there. And then I moved over to get on the inside and I was just off, keeping pace but being in the worse position...alone!! I kept trying and trying to get back on. This went on until about 1200meters when I realized, "wow, I'm really hot." and "wow, I'm going to explode if I keep this up." A quick sighting behind me revealed that a few women were working their way back up to me, so I soft stroked until they caught me, then tried to hop in behind them. Problem was several of the women weren't having it and wouldn't let me in! Alrightly, fine. I can help pull you along but you won't let me in, that's cool. So I let them all go and just cruised it in on the back. The lesson? Get my butt on that front pack next time!!

Out to transition was smooth. I heard 2 minutes down. Perfect. I can deal with 2 minutes. I started the bike and knew my legs were ready to play. I take a turn to head out towards the seawall and immediately hear a POP and all I can thinks is, "oh no, I think that was me!!" I stop and feel my front & it's okay. I feel the rear and sure enough it's completely flat. In a split second I made a decision. I was going to finish this race, no matter what the result. I immediately head back to transition yelling, "Does anyone have a rear wheel?" I get back and a spectator with his bike says I can use his. I'm thinking, "okay, I'll get this on, and maybe I can still run my way back into the top 10." What seems like forever we get the wheel on and sure enough it won't even spin. Crap. At this point I see the next wave of women heading out on the bike and I think, "well, I can still have a good bike and run today." Another spectator, the generous Jill, runs to her car, gets her bike out and we proceed to put her wheel on. She says to me,"it needs to be pumped up, I haven't pumped it in awhile." I said, "does it spin?" Sure enough it does and I tell her, "hey, that's good enough for me." I look up at the clock and it's ticking over to 45 minutes. At this point I thought, "get out there and smile because you get to do this." also with, "and don't you dare start feeling sorry for yourself." From there I biked strong, making sure to smile and encourage others around me. I will say about half way I thought, "what the heck are you doing Jessica?!" But tried and succeeded in pushing away pity party thoughts. The wheel worked great, although I believe in properly inflated disc wheels more than ever!!

I started the run and my parents had a very concerned look. I ran out of t-2 with a smile and said to them, "I'm okay." Later my parents said they were relieved because they thought I had crashed. On the first loop I actually got to appreciate the race going on around me. I quickly realized that running into the top 10 was completely unrealistic. And I will admit that I'm a little mad at myself for not trying a little harder on the run, because my training indicates that I'm ready for some fast running. But then again I realize I'm being a little hard on myself and being in no man's land and not being "in the hunt" is not the most conducive to your best result! I finally finished. The first thing Gwyn says to me is, "did you win?" I told her, "kind of sweetheart." Seemed good enough for her!

After the race upon inspecting the tire it appeared to be sliced clean through. All I could wonder was what on earth did I run over? On our walk back to the car we decided to inspect the turn. I really didn't think I'd find anything, but sure enough after about 10 seconds something shiny catches my eye. A razor blade is just sitting there on the road. I know some people carry them in the event of a flat to help get their tire off. My suspicion is that someone could have dropped it. Needless to say it's just rotten luck. But it did give me some satisfaction that it was not a mechanical error of any sort.

So some of the most exciting parts of the day was seeing the men and women's race unfold. I saw Kelly completely dominating and Amy land on the podium. I'm lucky to know these ladies for a long time. Besides that, to see the hard work they put in year after year is inspiring. Sometimes I think people realize what a long, tough road this can be. They are just great examples of perseverance. And they are just nice people, which makes it even better! And speaking of perseverance I couldn't be prouder of Tim O'donnell. While he's known as T.O. to many, I think of him as Timmy, the midshipman I met 10 (wow, I'm getting old!!) years ago. I don't know many people that work as hard and never give up. As a fellow former officer in our military, I couldn't be more thrilled that he took home top honors at the U.S. Pro Championships while also representing Team Red, White, and Blue! Despite the fact he gave my twins "Navy" onesies when they were born, we still love the guy!

It always feels amazing to win. And it feels amazing to get on the podium. But this day I learned that I can have the courage to put my ego aside and focus on just racing as hard as I can no matter what the result. I guess that's my "victory" for the 2012 Galveston 70.3. But don't think for one second I won't be back next year as fired up as ever!

Thank you to my incredible sponsors who allow me to get to do this: Revolution 3, Kestrel, Powerbar, Pearl Izumi, Recovery Pump, Rudy Project, Blue Seventy, and Louis Garneu. A lot to these guys are like family (and not the embarrassing extended kind!) And thanks to Ryan and Jesse at Sun and Ski Sports for jumping through hoops to get my bike built. Thanks to Ray and Colt for getting my wheels ready, and to Bill Marshal of Challenge Tires for making sure it was operational in Galveston. Coach Kevin, who is so much more than a coach--thank you! Lastly, thank you to my amazing parents! My mom was wonder woman taking over the kids and letting me focus on the race. And my dad for always being there, no matter what--year after year. I hope I tell you enough what your support means to me.

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