Oh Wildflower! The "Woodstock" of triathlons, which brings 90-degree heat, wind, lots of hills, and crazy (not always clothed) fans, is one of my favorite events of the year. Of all the places I've raced, Wildflower is special to me because its where I raced well enough in 2011 to earn my Pro Card.
Before my Achilles injury kept me from racing in 2012, the plan was to give some 70.3 races a try. With a swim that is similar in distance to the Olympic, but a bike and run that's more than double, the 70.3 just suits me better. More time to catch up after the swim (there is some irony here...more on this later). Now that I'm back to racing and feeling great, it was time to go back to this famous triathlon and give the Long Course a try.
My first ever half ironman (aka - 70.3) was a great experience. Not only was it my very first 70.3, but many other firsts happened along my 4.5-hour journey. The week leading up to the race was extremely warm. Wildflower is usually a very warm race, but the heat seemed to be on everyone's mind this time. The air was so warm that for the first time in Wildflower history, the water temp was above the legal limit for pros to use wetsuits. This didn't necessarily make me nervous, but more "crap, I'm already at a disadvantage with my swimming ability, and now I can't wear a wetsuit!" Little did I know, I was about to have the swim of my life.
I was calm and relaxed on race morning as Rebecca and I packed the car and headed to the course. I was excited to get this race underway. The air was already starting to warm up and the water was a balmy 70 degrees as I jumped in for a warm up. In past races I haven't given the swim warm up enough credit. I've been working really hard in the pool over the last 12 months and know that I feel better and swim my fastest times halfway through my workouts. I was one of the first swimmers in the water to warm up for this race. I made sure to get in the equivalent of my nice long pool warm up so I was ready to roll when the horn went off.
|That's me in the red in the LEAD pack!|
|Last miles of the bike...legs fried|
|Coming into the finish|
Wildflower was the race of many firsts. My first half ironman distance, the first time I was out of the water with the leaders, the first time I've experienced leg cramping and so much fatigue on the bike and run, and the first time I've taken a bathroom break in the middle of a race. Just like I told Rebecca right after I crossed the finish line, I am so hungry to get to the start line of my next triathlon and very much look forward to my next 70.3. I finished 21st out of 36 pros with a time of 4:35:30, but the greatest achievement I take from this race - 7th out of the water and a huge amount of confidence in my swimming ability. In 2014, I'll be back down to Wildflower, better prepared to mix it up with the leaders on the bike and run!
As always, thanks for reading and following me along my journey as a triathlete!
Thank you Elyse & Rebecca for the great pictures!