I have had the good fortune to have already experienced what it’s like to ride around the Daytona International Speedway as a part of Scott Lagasse’s Champions Ride. I have only ever seen the Speedway during the Daytona 500 so this was an entirely different experience! The entire space felt so vast. There was plenty of space for a triathlon, parking, the expo, etc.
All week the forecast had been calling for a pretty serious rain storm on Sunday. As we went to bed the night before the event, we know there would be some kind of alteration to the event. We woke up on race morning at 4:00am and arrived at the race venue around 5:00am. Fairly quickly after we arrived we were told that a decision on the race would be announced at 6:00am. At that point they announced the age group athletes would do a shorter event starting at 7am and that the pros would still do a half bit wouldn’t start until between 11am -1pm depending on the storm. The had a meeting with the pros and we all pushed to keep the event inside the race track and to shorten it to a 2/3rds distance. We went back to the hotel and slept a bit and returned at 10:30am for a race meeting. It was announced then that we would do a 1600m swim, 37 mile bike (15 laps of the Speedway) and an 8 mile run starting at noon. Everyone was happy with this until the storm seemed to get worse. Barricades were falling over, palm trees were bending in the wind; it looked bad. The race was delayed a further 45min.
We all put our wetsuits on in the green room and biked down to set up our transition. We moved the pro racks so that the bikes were running parallel with the wind. Before that they were nearly getting blown off with the force of the wind. I clipped my helmet to the bike rack so that wouldn’t blow away. As I walked to the start line I tried to stay positive but I was feeling apprehensive; I was also completely exhausted. I have never in my career felt like I did on the start line of Challenge Daytona- I wasn’t sure I wanted to race.
The gun went and I felt good for about 200-300m and then I just couldn’t seem to surge to stay with Sarah. Sarah is incredible at swimming in chop, and Meredith and I lost 90 seconds to her and Lauren Goss. I had a solid T1 and I didn’t get any splits for a while- or I wasn’t hearing them properly as I rode past. It really wasn’t until lap 10 that I heard a 3min gap to Sarah. I wasn’t even watching my SRM that closely; I was far more focused on the effort. We were told pre race that both the lead man and woman would have a counter, but there was only one for the men. Around lap 7-9 I started to miscount. Starky lapped me around lap 10 for the second time and they showed him 3 laps to go- so I knew I had 5. But I was a little worried, because if I screwed up and went in too early it was a DQ. So on lap 12 I saw Nate (Sarah’s husband) and he yelled “what lap are you on?!” I screamed “12! 3 laps to go!” Sarah was also unsure of how many laps she had done. I was feeling pretty confident after freshly being lapped for the second time by the lead men and seeing their lap counter. I also could tell by my mileage and time that I was done.
I came into T2 about 4min down from Sarah. I had noticed my adductors/ groin had become very sore in the final 5 laps of the bike. I dismounted my bike and could barely run. I thought I had strained both of my groins! I started running and I might have looked ridiculous as I could barely lift my knees. I ran very carefully and around 800m the pain started to subside and by a mile I was running pretty normally. I was running pretty well in the end and managed to put a little time into Meredith who was in 3rd. It was super fun to cross the finish line on pit row. I was thrilled to share the podium with Sarah and Meredith. I was really proud of myself for putting that race together under the conditions.
I have been having some fun this past week doing some home renovations. Thanks to my very patient brothers who put up with me FaceTime’ing them night and day- I learned to tile. Now it’s time to get back to work to prepare for Pucon 70.3. I am so excited to return after having an epic battle with Barbara Riveros in 2017. It will be extra special to share the experience with my husband as well. It will be after Pucon that I was take a more extended break- I’m seeing Pucon as an extension of my 2018 season;)
Thank you so much for reading! Wishing everyone the happiest of holidays!
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