Ryan and I left after I was done with school on Friday for the 2.5hour drive to Galena. I swear, this drive always seems so much longer than it actually is. For some reason, we never seem to think Galena is that far away....until we are in the car at hour 2 and realize we still have over 20miles to go.
In any case, we made it to Galena and picked up our packets with a few hours of sunlight to spare. We decided to ride our bikes for a bit just to make sure things were working okay. Good thing we did. Ryan pumped up our tires and less than a minute later, his popped. We joked how hopefully this meant it wouldn't happen to us on race day before heading out for an easy 15minute ride.
When I say "easy 15minute ride," I'm referring to it how Ryan would. There was nothing easy about it for me. My legs felt so incredibly tired and sore. My IT bands never loosened and my hamstring (yeah, the one that crushed my marathon dreams in 2012) was tight throughout the ride. Ryan joked with me that I was finally sore because I hadn't raced last weekend....which I actually think could be true. I have done a race every weekend since mid-April and had never been this sore, so it was strange to think that after not racing last weekend, I now felt like I had been "run over by a truck."
I was confident in my swim and run, but in almost any triathlon, it's about the bike...which I clearly was not ready for. I had tears in my eyes during that "easy 15minute ride" just thinking about how all of this hard work wasn't going to pay off, but also telling myself that this race is just an outdoor triathlon experience to get ready for the REAL race on June 9th.
In retrospect, I should have realized that I was on Hard Week #3 of 3 and just completed the hardest bike workout of my life on Wednesday followed by a hard tempo on Thursday, so SHOULD have been as sore as I was, but all I kept thinking was how badly I wanted Galena to be a good "debut" race for me.
In any case, I stopped my sadness and got in the car to ride the course with Ryan before heading to dinner. The course hadn't changed too much in terms of the roads we ride on, but we did avoid one of the biggest and most challenging downhills thankfully. Ryan got up to 60mph on this hill two years ago and it has a decently sharp turn that could really cause an accident. Luckily, they changed this part of the course....and we ran down it instead. More on that later.
We went to our favorite pre-race place, Spike's in Eagle Ridge, where Ryan had the pasta bar and I had my standard bison burger...and some delicious raspberry beer. We headed to our cute hotel, Stoney Creek, and met up with John and Oscar before crashing for the night.
This year, the Galena Triathlon changed the course so that it now had TWO transitions. Yep, you swim in the normal lake, grab your bike after throwing all of your stuff (wetsuit, goggles, swim cap, etc) into a bag labeled with your bib number, and ride your bike 17.5miles to Transition 2, where your running shoes are at. This caused a LOT of headache for not only us, but many other triathletes on race morning.
PowerBar was a sponsor of this race, so despite the late (9am) start time, Ryan and I still had to be at the finish line by 7am to get his stuff set up. We saw the shuttle bus (as promised) at the finish line when we arrived, and were told there'd be another one coming in about 30minutes. 7:30am catch the bus, arrive at the water at 8am, Ryan take off at 9am....sounds perfect, right?
If the bus was on time, it would have been. However, we waited from 7:20-8am for a bus. We saw at least 10 pass us as they headed to Remote Parking, and never came back for us. Our friend Alejandra (and the three others who we met waiting for the bus) still had to drop their shoes off at T2, so we were getting pretty nervous. Luckily, the volunteer that was with us got real mean after 30minutes of us waiting and called the race director to yell at her. A bus was stopped in front of us 5minutes later.
We arrived at the race site at 8:40am....no time to test out our bikes (we left them overnight) or do much of anything besides get body marked and put on our wetsuits. My wave wouldn't start until 9:30, but I just felt so awful for Ryan.
After seeing him come out of the water in a pack of 5 (6th/7th overall) and do an awesome flying mount on his bike to immediately take the lead out of transition, I chatted with a few friends, met my teammate Emma (coached by Bill as well) and headed to the water with my Sammy's teammate Dani.
I never really get nervous for races, except for when they're triathlons. My heart was beating a million miles per hour and I just wanted to get this thing over with. Luckily, when the gun went off, I rushed into the water and was immediately in the middle of the pack (good for me, considering I would start at the back in previous years with my slow swim).
I surprised myself and kind of got angry in the water. Girls were hitting me and kicking me (all part of the sport), so I'd speed up and go around them. Many girls kept going off course, so I made sure to stay on the inside and make a line closest from buoy to buoy. This strategy seemed to pay off as I came out of the water with only 5 girls ahead of me, and in a time of 9:44 (for me, for a 660, that's really good).
Transition 1 was full of large rocks and gravel. I literally walked to my bike because I was almost crying in pain. My feet are really sensitive, so this was pretty tough. I learned from Jen Harrison (PHENOMENAL local triathlete) that I can just put a pair of slip on shoes out by the water and slip into those. This will be SO beneficial and save me at least 30seconds I bet. *always a learning experience*
I came out of transition surprisingly fast for walking, and only had 2 girls ahead of me. I passed one (who I would continue switching places with throughout the bike; I'll call her Gatorade Girl as she wore a Gatorade uniform) right away and eventually got around another girl by mile 5. My teammate Dani also passed me around this time, which was frustrating but motivating. We later talked after the race and she gave me valuable advice, so I'm thankful for how things worked out during the bike.
I'm not sure we ever had a "flat" section on this bike. It felt like we were either going up a hill or down a hill the entire time, and I was struggling as bad as I had been on Friday. 2012 Jacqui would have given up. Thrown the towel in and be content with hopefully placing in my age group. 2013 Jacqui is tough. And doesn't give up. I kept telling myself that everyone was struggling and that I was doing fine (not looking at my mph as I'm sure that would have just caused me unnecessary stress and panic). My power was where it was at in Alabama, so I had to be doing okay. Going into T2, I knew Dani was probably 60-90seconds in front, and Gatorade Girl was just in front of me. It was now MY TIME to race.
T2 wasn't pretty. My left shoe just wouldn't get on, and the insole kept flopping around every time I tried to put my shoe on. I grunted in frustration, which made someone chuckle (I would have too--why am I getting upset???). I was so frustrated that I took off FLYING out of transition and almost completely face planted going up the first grass hill.
I could see Gatorade Girl just in front of me, but she looked like she was flying. Granted, she was easily 3 inches taller than me, so she obviously looked like she was running faster, but in my frustrated mind, this did not help. The first mile has a GINORMOUS uphill that many peopled walked up. John was right there, banging his drum and yelling at me to GOOOOOO. Dani was only 90 seconds ahead of me and John was determined that I could catch up.
When someone gives me a goal or tells me I can/can't do something, I go after it like no other. I passed Gatorade Girl during that uphill and surprisingly ran a 6:49 first mile (if you've done Galena, you know how challenging that hill is).
Mile 2 had that HUGE downhill that was part of the bike course in previous years, so I was not surprised when I clocked a 5:47. I passed Jen Garrison (the eventual winner) at this point, but since triathlons have wave starts, she ended up beating me by 4minutes! I was in the first wave, so knew I had to haul the entire time as there were girls behind me that could bike faster and my run was my only saving option.
Mile 3 came and went uneventfully in a 6:01. It was getting pretty hot out, and I was feeling discouraged that I couldn't see Dani yet. Just before mile 4, I saw her. When she passed me on the bike, she was so encouraging that I can only hope I was the same around mile 4. I split a 5:58 and sprinted the last half mile to the finish with the support of the crowd.
I met up with Ryan and talked with his grandparents (who had come to watch!) for a bit before heading over to talk with Jen Harrison and her friends. She gave us some good pointers and helped me feel a little more confident for Eagleman. She's racing it as well, and has done it many times, so it was nice to kind of prepare myself.
Ryan, John, Oscar, Dani, Alex (her fiance and fellow Sammy's teammate), Nate, Trina, Alejandra and I hung out under the PowerBar tent and relaxed and just had fun before heading to get our bikes. What a headache this turned into. Long story short, I don't think Galena will be having two transition areas next year with as many complaints as I heard. It was such a mess.
After picking up our awards (free 2night stay at Eagle Ridge!!!!), we strolled around in downtown Galena before calling it a day. Galena sure is relaxing, but it's good to be home:)
The gang post race.
My stud of a husband with his award:)
Sammy's Tri Team: Alex (1st male Du), Dani (3rd female Tri), me (2nd), Ryan (1st)
This race helped me put things in perspective. This race had a lot of good females in the field, and I held my own. I now know I need some work on transitions and my bike (although a small taper might help that as well), and am more prepared than ever to get after it at Eagleman.
3 WEEKS FROM TODAY!
I hope everyone was able to enjoy this beautiful weekend (running a race or otherwise) and am SO glad it's finally past winter!:)