I can't adequately describe in words how much I needed this weekend. I love my new home and new life out east, but I genuinely miss my people! This past week leading up to the weekend was an emotional roller coaster for one of my favorite people and it sucked being 700 miles away and feeling like I couldn't do anything to help her. She's strong as hell and although I knew she was going to be okay, I also knew that she needed this weekend just like I did. Cue GIRLS TRI-WEEKEND (and three-fourths-quad-pod reunion).
Up early Friday for my solo road trip to Michigan and, as per usual, not quite prepared. I was out of pineapple skratch and my favorite tri-berry powerbar wafer energy bars. Did I think to go shopping ahead of time? Of course not - that would be what the general public refers to as "being responsible" and "thinking ahead".
I did, however, have all my tri gear laid out but no actual clothing packed, nor had I cleaned out the car for my road trip (though I did remember to get an oil change so thats something). Packed up my stuff, double/triple checked that I had the big things like a bike. helmet. asian flavored chick peas. you know, the really important stuff.
Fast forward 11 hours and I was pulling up to the quiet lake to meet my sole sisters for a practice swim. Seeing them hanging out by the water (as I waved at them and missed the place to park) put a huge smile on my face - it was like coming home. I really missed my friends. They'd already pulled a "breaking and entering" act of defiance so we could get to the water... anything in the name of training, right? 15-20 minute practice swim and I was feeling pretty good. I normally don't swim before races, but after sitting in the car for 10+ hours, it was nice to get the blood flowing and play in the quiet water with the girls.
Founders brewery for dinner and had an incredible portabella mushroom sandwich and a couple nitro oatmeal stouts - Mmm. Then... THEN... Jurassic World. It was awesome, though I was quickly running low on energy and was really looking forward to bed. I was forced to get Reese's Pieces to keep myself awake... yep, forced.
Slept in until 8:30 (-ish, I woke up a few times but feel back asleep). Thats like noon to the rest of the world since I generally don't sleep past 5:30 am. The girls stayed in the room and I headed out with my bike and running shoes to the race site for a quick ride and run. As soon as I parked I realized I had no helmet. I toyed with the idea of riding sans helmet but if you've met me, you know I can't ride without a helmet. If you really know me, you know I should probably wear some sort of protective head gear at all times.
So, back to the hotel. Grabbed my helmet and arm warmers which I had also left behind (it was pretty chilly). Realized I also forgot my watch, but hey, no big deal. Quick 20 minute ride, legs felt good. 15 minute run and I was done and hungry for breakfast.
My parents showed up while I was taking a shower, amazing to see them! We headed out to breakfast at this cute restaurant and after debating between everything on the menu, I settled on a crab/asparagus/cheese omelet with a side of two pancakes. Ate it all along with a few glasses of water and coffee.
We then needed to go to the store to pick up last minute items for the race. I wanted to hang out with my parents too but for some reason they didn't want to come shopping which I thought was weird and unlike them. We headed out to Meijer and did some shopping - I had forgotten my uncrustables sandwiches so I picked those up plus gatorade and a starbucks double shot for race morning. My blueberry bagels, peanut butter, and bananas had at least managed to make it into my bag - at least I remembered that much in my scatter-brained mess of a packing situation.
Headed to packet pick-up and it ended up being a bigger deal than I thought - it even had a mini-expo which was great because I picked up some salted caramel GUs (supply was running low). Ran into James there - he was racing the Olympic. We wandered through the tents for a bit and then the girls and I headed back to the hotel. Opened up the door and I immediately noticed pink streamers... whaaaaat? Turned on the light and the whole room was decorated with streamers and Hawaiian themed decorations as well as my Mom's awesome posters. There were tiki bags with electric lights and leis and grass skirts even! It was super thoughtful and amazing - I love birthdays the way a five year old loves birthdays. Love.
We had a mini-party once Dayle's parents arrived and everyone spoiled me with gifts. I chatted with Coach T on the phone for a bit going over race strategy and getting geared up mentally for the race. Carrabba's for dinner (pasta with shrimp and asparagus plus calamari), then back to the hotel for Dayle's mom to get us race ready via heat massage, accupunture, and cupping. She focused on my shoulder/back where I've been having pain while on the bike and going to bed I felt relaxed and sleepy.
Oh yea, so that race report...
4:45am wake up call. First one up. Dressed in my SOAS gear with my usual hot pink visor and T casually checked the weather before opening the blinds.
"THIS COULD GET UGLY" was the headline. That made all of us laugh, but at the same time a little nervous that the race could be cancelled with the possibility of lightning. The threat of thunderstorms had been looming all week and the closer we got to racetime, the worse the forecast became. 100% chance of rain - they weren't kidding around. It was an absolute down pour.
Got my drinks together (2 with orange skratch - never tried it, but T had it, and 2 with water), a couple of GU chomps, 2 uncrustables sandwiches and a handful of salted caramel GUs. I stashed some salt tabs and ibuprofen in the race belt never thinking they would get wet and congeal into a pink powdery mess. Eh, turns out I wouldn't need them anyway.
Caught up with my mom and dad downstairs and loaded up my bike. I contorted myself around the bike in the backseat of the car in complete law-abiding fashion. "Athlete drop-off" was about a quarter of a mile away from transition, so I trudged through the rain with the rest of the water-logged athletes to transition. There were legitimate rivers flowing through parts of the transition area but luckily none near me. I arranged my stuff after cursing myself for forgetting plastic bags at the hotel. Ended up covering all my stuff with a towel and hoped for the best.
I hastily remembered I hadn't really eaten anything except half of a Starbucks double shot (seriously, what is wrong with me) so I crammed a banana and a soggy blueberry bagel with peanut butter into my mouth while I wandered out of transition. I found the Team RWB tent and made friends while I tried to pull on my wet wetsuit. Its tougher than I thought it would be - lucky I didn't tear that baby while I attempted to wrench it over my legs, body, and arms. By the time I had the wetsuit on, the race was starting and my wave was supposed to start 10 minutes after. Said hey to my parents and found T near the water with the other purple-capped ladies.
I positioned myself near the start hoping I might be able to stay near the front of the pack for the swim. Once the horn sounded, I took off and after roughly 10 strokes, I saw a few girls out to my right who were probably ex-olympic swimmers because they were already miles away. I ignored them and started swimming solo. I didn't see anyone around me until about 1/4 of the way through the swim when I started to catch up to the people in the waves ahead of me. Thankfully they were well out of the way and it was easy to get around the few that were in-line with the sighting buoys. The swim was less than exciting - kept a steady pace, water temperature was beautiful (upper 60's maybe?) and I stayed well in line with the buoys from what I could tell. Finished amongst black and red caps only so I knew I was ahead of most of half-iron women. Besides the handful of Missy Franklin's that had outswum me, that is.
Everything was soaked, which was no big deal. The real annoyance was the approximately 7 mile long transition area and the people walking their bikes like they were out for late morning Sunday stroll in the park. COME ON PEOPLE, THIS TIME COUNTS TOO. I should know, my transitions are already terrible and this delay wasn't helping.
8 hours later, I arrived at the line to mount my bike. Okay it was like a minute later but it felt like Monday morning. Anyway - got on the bike (still pouring rain, mind you) and zoomed off. I felt awesome. I NEVER feel awesome riding my bike, but I felt fast, so I went with it. I started to pick off the guys in front of me, trying to get a glimpse of women in front of me - I couldn't see any. The Missy Franklins in the swim were apparently Lance Armstrongs on the bike. A few men passed me - naturally, they were only in front for a little while until they sped away. My watch was reading a greater than 21 mph average which freaked me out a bit so I tried to get out of my head because my legs didn't feel like they were trying too hard. Go with it Prochnow. That NBC IM announcer voice that was narrating my story in my head was telling me I was looking good, so I continued on that pace.
I slowed a bit when I tried to eat the first Uncrustable around 45 minutes into the bike. I couldn't rip open the package and I ended up swallowing a small amount of plastic. Eh. Once I was able to figure out the plastic wrapping, I sped back up to my previous speed. The course was simple - 28 miles out and 28 miles back with what seemed like less than 5 turns. Despite the rain, I was pretty comfortable with how the bike was handling the slick pavement - thank goodness for straightaways and small rollers that ended in more straight roads.
Hit another small blip around 1:30 or 1:45 on the bike - I had a craving for a banana and I was coming up to an aid station. Slowed way down and called out "banana?" A girl looked at me and nodded and literally threw the banana at me which barely got close to my back as I crept past. No banana for me. Struggled with a package of GU chomps at that point because I knew I had to eat something, anything. Not sure why modern day food packaging was testing me, but I definitely lost that battle in an embarrassing way. With 15 miles or so to go on the bike, a girl quickly passed me and I decided I was going to stay with her. We picked up a male counterpart and the three of us took turns passing each other as we sped around a ton of athletes in the olympic race (the courses all overlapped each other).
My average for the last 15 miles was about 22 mph. Thats crazy fast for me! And I honestly didn't feel like I was working all that hard. It was still raining during the bike at that time and started raining harder by the end - but that wasn't about to faze me, I felt like I was killing the second half of the bike. For the first time ever in a race, I wasn't hurting and I was enjoying riding.
Another clusterfuck of a traffic jam in transition, but this time worse than T1. Complete dead stop at times. FRUSTRATING. I know my transition times always suck and this proved to be yet another terrible transition (there's never been a fast one for the record). A couple minutes later I was at the rack and discovered the river had finally reached our area. My shoes were sitting in a puddle and my socks were soaked. squish squish squish - I shuffled out of transition, quick stepping around more bike/people hazards.
Usually my favorite, but with everything soaked, it wasn't ideal conditions. The course was fairly flat other than a few small rolling hills and one mother of a hill. I began to pass people and with each woman, I tried to get a glance at their right calf for the "S", "O", or "H", designating which race they were in. Not really any "H's" to catch in front of me, though a couple girls flew past like I was standing still (They would later finish with half marathon times in the 1:30s). I could see one girl in particular very gradually gaining ground - I knew she was in the half but I didn't know her age group, as I was only seeing the front of her. Had a salted caramel GU right off the bat in the first mile, with the other two around miles 5 and 10. Around mile 6 or 7, the rain stopped and the temperature started to rise. I wasn't feeling the heat too much until someone yelled "DAMN ITS HOT AND HUMID". I looked around and was like, you know, you're right - it is hot and humid! At that point was the turn-around for the course which took place on a sandy path with the consistency of running on damp, packed, beach sand. With each step, I felt the energy suck out of me and by the time I hit the pavement again, I had lost my legs. I know this was a combination of poor nutrition on the bike and potentially a lack of fitness to finish off the run (the first half was on pace for a 1:43). Either way, the last handful of miles felt like I was still running in wet sand. I kept glancing at my watch and doing pacing math. Early on, I was guessing I'd be around 5:05 (huge PR). With a few miles to go, as long as I kept moving forward as a reasonable pace, I'd be under 5:10 - still a PR by 8 minutes. By the last turn with three miles left, my competition was uncomfortably close and I tried to hold her off. The sign for mile 12 was missing so with a glance at my watch, I picked it up with approximately 1 mile left to go. The finish line loomed ahead so I dug in and with a quick squint at the clock, I smiled - 5:08:03, a 10 minute PR.
(Little did I know, the girl that was gaining ground was in my age group - and I beat her by a measly five seconds! Looking back at the finisher pics, you can see her in every one. Victory.)
That time was good enough for first in my AG and a solid overall finish. Definitely a race I could be proud of after a disappointing time at Monticelloman. My family, Dayle, and James greeted me at the finish line. So awesome. Got a medal and finisher visor and a handful of pizza and mountain dew. We waited for T to finish just a bit after me and the sole sisters were reunited once again. We checked our results and I grabbed my award (plaque and $25 gift certificate).