As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I truly saw Pucon 70.3 as the final race in my 2018 season. I didn’t take a proper break after Daytona but I did spend nearly a week in Canada for the holidays. So while I didn’t stop training there was certainly some time where I didn’t get in the typical block of training required to maintain my fitness. Racing in December and January is never easy. It’s truly a balance and you can’t be in peak fitness 12 months of the year. I was completely aware of where my fitness was at and what I should expect of myself on race day. With all of that being said, I still was going for the win!
On the day we were due to travel Jarrod woke up feeling a slight paralysis on one side of his face. He did his workouts and then he decided to go to a walk-in clinic. We’d both been sick a lot over the holidays and he suspected he had sinusitis. I had to rush and pack for both of us as he was at the doctor for 2.5 hours. Jarrod rushed home from the pharmacy and we barely made our flight in time! I honestly didn’t think he was going to come- in hind sight he maybe shouldn’t have because his condition worsened with travel and he developed Bell’s Palsy. He thought he could race with it but after speaking to our Doctor, he advised against it. While it is okay to exercise with Bell's Palsy it needs to be aerobic. The race organizing committee was so understanding and offered the assistance of their medical staff. Other than that, the days leading into the race went smoothly until the night before the race. I ate dinner and went to bed around 9:30pm. I fell asleep quickly but woke up an hour or so later feeling feverish and sweating. I suddenly needed to use the toilet very quickly. This happened for the next few hours. Then I started burping a lot and tasting dinner in my mouth. I wrote all of this off as nerves. I kept telling myself, “I’m fine, I’m just a little nervous.” I woke up for the race and when I stood up my stomach turned. I threw up dinner from the night before. I did feel much better having it out of me. I started nibbling on Base bars and then eventually honey stinger chews to replace calories I had lost. I also find that once I have thrown up my body is susceptible to keep doing it. I got everything together for the start and I was grateful in that moment that Jarrod wasn’t racing because I really needed his full emotional support at the start.
In in the swim I stayed very calm and allowed others to set the pace. I didn’t have the energy to fight and I didn’t want to burn any matches. I think that calm energy really helped with the sighting difficulty in the swim because on two separate occasions the three ladies in front of me began swimming very off course and I moved into the lead both times. The turn buoys we’re simply not tall enough and everything was orange: the turn buoys, sight buoys and kayaks. And once we were swimming towards shore the sun prevented you from seeing the swim finish gantry.
I exited the water in a lead pack of 5. I had a great T1 until my gear bag split in half. I couldn’t figure out why my wetsuit wasn’t going in- I handed it to the volunteer, told them it was broken and carried on to my bike. That cost me some time and I got onto the bike about 20 seconds down from Barbara and Maca.
I caught them around 7-8k. I moved into the lead and made a big push when a pro man passed us going a good clip. But I just couldn’t hold the big watts I knew I would need to push to drop Barbara. What makes Pucon 70.3 especially unique is that it's aired live on TV. Between the TV motorcycle sitting next to me providing excellent shield from the wind for those behind me and me being nearly a foot taller than than the girls behind me- it was going to be really hard to drop them even if I was feeling like my normal self. After about 45min my watts dropped drastically; I wasn’t even pushing IM Watts. I couldn’t believe they weren’t coming around me to take a turn at the front- but I understood. Barbara is an amazing runner and even if the entire field came off the bike together she would win. Maca is young and inexperienced at the 70.3 distance and I knew she was simply excited to be riding with us.
At the turn around we could see the field was really not that far behind, maybe 2 min at most. Finally around 50k Barbara came to the front and shouted some words or encouragement. We took turns with the lead for the remainder of the ride. Honestly, Barbara could have easily sat in all day and still won so I was grateful for some help with the pace making. I moved into the lead for the final 8k since it’s all downhill. That’s when I started throwing up again; not a ton but I definitely lost some calories.
I had a fine T2 and went onto the run in 2nd place; it felt great to be upright and running. I think in that hunched over position it’s hard for me to settle my stomach after I was already ill that morning. I nursed my gels and just stuck to water and my stomach was fine. I made it my goal to lose less than 2min a lap to Barbara on the run. I had no idea what Maca was going to do but I knew Elizabeth Bravo was in 4th and she can run really fast. I saw the first turn around that we had a big gap on Bravo and that I would be fine providing I didn’t fall apart. I was in agony by the third lap; all of the pounding from the downhills had destroyed my legs. My legs were giving out at the times and just kept telling myself to be strong. When I got to the final section in town I could see that I had a comfortable lead on 3rd so I relaxed a little but stayed focused. I let myself enjoy the crowds and support from the fans. When I finally got to the finish chute, I high-fived all the kids and walked the finish ramp and took it all in. I was really proud of myself for persevering after being sick all night and it felt really good to cross the line in 2nd place.
Overall it was another unreal racing experience in Pucon. It is always tough racing Barbara, but especially on this course. The run course is built for her and she just seems to fly up the hills. I would love to come back and try to execute a compete race on this very challenging course. But as I said at the beginning of this post- that is very hard to do in January!! Thank you to entire organizing committee for another incredible event. For now it is time to rest, regroup and make a plan for the rest of the 2019 season.
Thank you for reading!
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