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Posted by on May 12, 2013 in Blog | 5 comments

Earning my Finish at Wildflower 2013

After my “failure to launch” the 2013 season at Escape from Alcatraz I was really looking forward to racing at Lake San Antonio. Interestingly, the result, or lack thereof, at Alcatraz made me more relaxed leading into the race. I train and race full time because I love it. Even when it does not go as I planned, I still look forward to doing it everyday. Of course, sometimes a four hour ride feels like crap from the first pedal stroke but I still get to give it a go. I always try to will my legs to come alive if they feel badly. Sometimes they do and sometimes I am still waiting for them to feel better when I pull back up to my house. So, as I prepared for Wildflower what I wanted most was the opportunity to get to the start line healthy and ready to race—much like I approach each day of training. I prepared, checked my equipment, got my nutrition ready and focused on doing the things I needed to do to have the best day I possibly could.

My three goals:

1. Enjoy the process
2. Finish
3. Race confidently and get through the tough times

The week of Wildflower was VERY hot. For the first time in history the race would be non-wetsuit for the pros. As a swimmer, I am usually very excited about this but since I had a new Roka wetsuit I was a bit bummed its debut would be postponed. Since I have a tendency to get cold easily (big surprise there) I did warm up in the wetsuit so I would not get cold standing around waiting for the start. Luckily, once you were in the sun it was warm even at 8am. It felt great in the moment but was an indication of how warm the day was going to end up. I ended up in a group of four but as the pace quickened around 400m in I started to lose some feet. I fought my way back up, got dropped and then saw them slowly slip away. Boo…not what I had hoped for but I stayed strong and did what I could to minimize a slowly growing gap. I had moments of frustration and got a little down on myself but then I would bring my focus back to the present and what I was doing. Towards the end I started to get cold (I know, SHOCKING) and was happy to reach the boat ramp and hop on my bike.

My plan was to put a little more effort into the first seven miles out of the park and then settle in at a solid pace. To be honest, I did not feel superb at the beginning of the bike. I still put in a good effort, got passed by a few fast chicks but stayed positive and focused on what I was doing. And, what was I doing??? DRINKING a lot! I sucked down just short of five bottles of Powerbar Perform and on course electrolyte drink. I figured if I wanted to run well in the searing heat I needed to hit the run hydrated. I had practiced this in training and the race was no different. I also visualized my training rides and how I felt during intervals on my bike. Another thing I did for no apparent reason—repeated the phrase “like a boss” to myself. For example, when I was riding well I was “like a boss.” When I was having a bad moment, I thought, “not like a boss.” I have NEVER used this phrase. Why it popped into my head during the bike segment is beyond me.

Once I hit Nasty Grade at mile 42 it was pretty warm. The climb is completely exposed and it was blazing hot. I reminded myself of climbs in Napa that I climb all the time in training, put my head down and got up it in as quickly as possible. It did not feel great. I was breathing hard and sweating a lot! I made it to the top, descended, spent five minutes after the descent getting rid of some lactic acid and then settled in for a hard effort back to T2.

I hopped off the bike and my legs felt okay. I repeated the word “patience” to myself over and over the first few miles of the run. I tried to relax, find my form, save energy going up the hills and take in fluids. Luckily, I felt pretty good on the hills. They were tough as usual but I was able to keep my effort under control as I climbed. Whenever I go uphill on the run I say “tick tick tick” in my head to keep my feet moving; it is like my metronome.  The key is not to go “tick (big pause) tick (big pause)” because then that is how your feet move! I passed a couple girls on the big hill from mile 4 to 5 and kept it rolling as I made my way back into the campgrounds. I did have a bad moment at this point and felt like I was getting the chills. I knew I had to problem solve my way out of it.  What did I need? I settled on slowing down just a touch at the next aide station to get a good amount of fluid and taking a Powergel. It worked. As the race wore on my solution to any problem became “eat a powergel.” I also had the lyric from a country song (yes, I like country music) going through my head that says “you don’t get nothing that you don’t earn.” The video is below if you want a musical accompaniment while reading this report. It might make it more interesting! And, the song is full on country. Just a warning–some might not like it!

http://youtube.googleapis.com/v/6HHtsyXTYB8&source=uds

I wanted to earn my finish at Wildflower. I knew it would be challenging. When you add the heat we had that day it was even more so. I had moments during the run when I asked myself why in the world I was putting myself through the pain. However, I knew I had trained for that pain. It was why I was doing it. I did not get the opportunity to put myself through the pain at Alcatraz and I think it was what disappointed me the most. As I was running through the campgrounds desperately trying to make up more time on those in front me I said to myself “yep, this is why I do it.”

In the end, I finished 6th. A good result. I gave up too much time on the bike to a few in front of me so my challenge for the next race is to dig even deeper for those minutes.

Awards. I am on the right.

Wildflower is such an amazing weekend. There is something for everyone. When I was in T1 on Saturday racking my bike I heard them announcing the activities in the Kids’ Zone for the day. Finger painting, scavenger hunts and more. How awesome is that?!?! Mom/Dad can race (or both since there are races on Sunday too), the kids can have fun during the race and they also get to camp for the weekend!  The race is competitive but it does not lose the grassroots feel to the entire weekend. I know there are other races and people have to make a living, but this event has existed for 31 years. It has helped all those other races develop. Without races like Wildflower, triathlon would not be what it is today. We have competing race organizations but ultimately, we all need to work together to grow the sport.

5 Comments

  1. Great race Emily. You did everything right. And you've inspired me to drink a lot more next time I'm racing on the surface of the sun. 🙂 See you in the pool.

  2. Nice work, Coach E! 🙂

    Love the "like a boss" on the bike. That's hilarious! I might have to steal that one.

  3. I am so impressed with the discipline, talent, and intelligence you bring to your profession and to each race.

  4. Well done! It's always a wonderful thing to learn what runs through an athlete's head during competition. The things we say to ourselves, the things we do to push past the pain or distractions… the little voices that help us go forward.

    Remaining "focused" is such a challenge when pain or doubt creep in. It's the sign of a champion when you learn to negotiate that challenge.

    Congrats on a well earned 6th.

  5. 6th is very solid. Nice job. And, I'm going to have to try and repeat some of these things in my head.