The swim was one I am so very very proud of. I saw two years ago that Meredith Kessler and Leanda Cave had gone to the far left to start. They were out of the mess of the middle pack. I decided to do the same this year. My companions were Leanda and Melissa Hauschildt. Surrounded by greatness is a good place to be. I had the fastest start and most awesome swim. I led the way for the first half, was passed by Annabel Luxford and then Leanda and I sat on her feet. I came out of the water with those 2 women proving that I am one of the fastest women triathletes in the world. I'll claim that. It feels good.
The bike was solid for me. I was not the fastest, not the slowest but somewhere in between. I was passed quickly by women who would come in the top 12 of the race. They had gained some time at the beginning but Bree Wee and I reeled them in slowly coming off the bike only a minute or so behind. I had drank 3 bottles, consumed my 5 gels, was soaked from the rain but happy. I was still in the race and I felt just fine.
The run began and to be very honest I had no expectations. For the first time this season my hip was not hurting and I could run easily. To get to that point though I had to back off my run training significantly to get the inflammation down. I was not run fit to the level for which I needed to be at a World Championship race but I was there and that was good enough. I started with a smile on my face. My only goal – get to the finish. That couldn't be that hard right.... how many of these have I done? This year alone, seven. And so it began. Angela was just ahead and not running like she knows how. She suffered a panic attack. I wisely thought I know this so well. I got her running again, she struggled, we talked, I told her about staying calm, count I said, know how hard you worked to get here, stay calm. In the end finishing the race was not worth it for her. I get it. She has nothing to prove. We did do that lap together though. Starting on the second lap, I started to have troubles, going downhill, the easy part. I felt my airways constrict, started walking, stay calm I told myself, nothing to worry about. I walked and it kept coming. Nothing, absolutely nothing I could do. I saw Dan Smith, a friend from Victoria and I walked over to him. “I don't know what to do, I can't breathe, it's asthma” Of course there was nothing he could do. As I proceeded to get dizzy in the heat for lack of oxygen a total stranger offered me her inhaler. I took it. Two deep breaths. Relief. I was ok. Except I wasn't. I failed to finish the race.
The only difference this time from two years ago was the support I had at the race. My Dan was there. As I cried of frustration into his shoulder I was reassured that it was really ok. He was proud, everyone was proud of me. I know that my future looks different now. My priority to be racing among the best triathletes in the world is changing. We packed my bike, got into the car and began our journey into the Death Valley. By 3pm I was in another world, far from the race, disappointment, absolute elation that Melissa had won, Zipp discs, power, bikes, sweat, tears, gels and accomplishment. I was on what felt like the moon. After going through a flash flood that day closing the road, driving back through another storm, more flash floods, finding myself sitting in the Stovepipe Wells Resort Pub with a burger and beer, Dan sitting across from me, talking about the next adventure we have on the horizon, never felt so good.
What a day. Full to say the least. Hope, dreams, joy, frustration, elation, wonderment, satisfaction and love. I would have it no other way.