Three things have been going on in my athletic life.
1) I broke the tape at the VA Beach Rock and Roll 5K. I was the first woman and perhaps third overall and for that I received a bike escort and I got to break the tape for the first time! I've won races before but there has never been an escort or tape! So that was pretty cool. I may even buy one of the finish line race pics. I finished around 20:0X.
However, the event was not all sunshine and rainbows. One, I was kind of annoyed the 5K was untimed as when I signed up back in December the race was definitely still an actual race (just like they timed it in 2012). The fact that it was now a fun run was news to me when I got my race confirmation two weeks prior to the race and let me tell you, this made for a very expensive fun run-with all proceeds going to a for-profit company. Not amused. Two) there were no women's-specific race shirts-though the associated half marathon had them. That makes no sense. I gave my shirt to J4. Three) There were not enough porta-potties and everyone I was with almost missed the start of the race. I had no time for a warm-up, ran w/out my Garmin finding satellite, and had to stop and tie my shoe a quarter mile into the race. The shoe I take responsibility for-rookie mistake-but I normally tighten my shoelaces four or five times before a race. I didn't have time to be all crazy before this start. Four) This was the weekend the news broke that Rock and Roll would no longer be supporting elite athletes and Ryan Hall didn't show (I don't blame Ryan). Kind of a bummer as J4 and I would have been near him in the corral. I don't know, the race kind of disappointed. I mean, why have a bike escort and finish line tape and make things feel all pro...but don't time anyone?!?! So weird. Ultimately the race was a very expensive half-first-rate/half-fun run event.
2) I competed in London this past Friday in the Sprint Age Group World Championships. The event was really special as I never thought I would have the chance to represent the US and I loved my USA kit! I was the last qualifier in my age group at Nationals so I was prepared for some stiff competition.
You rack your bike by country and age group and when I got out of the water it was very easy to find my bike if you catch my drift. If memory serves I came out of the water with one other F 30-34 US woman, but she and I were the last US women out of the water (out of about 18 women) and she got out of T1 quicker than me so I had plenty of space in transition to do my thing. Oy.
The bike was slow and, for some people, confusing. The slowness: it rained during the race. There were curves and tight U-turns on the course. As my wave waited to start the swim word spread that people in the earlier waves were crashing so everyone I saw out on the course took things with great care. At the pinpoint U-turns I was going as slowly as I could while still being clipped in. Everyone seemed to be being careful and I thought that was great. As a result, the bike for most people was slower than planned. The confusion: it was a three loop bike course. People were DQ'd for doing too few loops or too many loops. Some found the signage and the course confusing and, sadly, their days ended with DQs. Total bummer (a super nice US woman I met DQd). Not helping matters, one of the official race magazines had the wrong number of bike loops listed in the course program. J4 and I had a lengthy conversation about that at dinner the night before where I insisted that, despite the magazine, it was a three loop bike course per the competitor handbook. After this conversation J4 had a race day discussion with other spectators who told him it was a two loop course and as I was finishing up my second loop J4 yelled, "Finish Strong!!" I was already having a bit of anxiety about getting the number of loops right but I trusted myself and went for that third (and correct) loop while J4 headed over to watch me start the run...where he had quite a wait as I was still biking!
The run. Finally. I had a great run and passed a lot of people and people cheered for me ("Go USA!!"). I outkicked Mexico and Australia in the home stretch and, even though I was 80th (out of 98 finishers) in my age group, the US team manager handed me a US flag to carry across the finish line. I felt happy and proud and great. The race pictures JUST came out and I glanced through a couple of other people's and they also look happy. It was a pretty happy finish line!!! Most people seemed thrilled to be there.
I left the race thankful for the opportunity to compete and humbled to have raced with such great athletes. I mean, I even got my butt kicked running to T1 from the swim!! These women were no joke! The whole experience was just really really great.
3) After the triathlon J4 and I grabbed lunch, got my bike out of transition (and returned it to the on-site store I rented it from-best decision ever not to ship my bike), and headed back to the hotel where I had 0 time to reflect on the day before signing up for the 2014 Boston Marathon. My Boston hotel is booked and plane tickets are purchased and I am so looking forward to that event in April. I expect it will be a very special year to participate.