Friday, January 21, 2022

Great Floridian 1/3 PTO Race - 10/24/20

 We moved out of Kailua home on September 9th and moved into a hotel in Honolulu for 10 days.  We kept the bikes with us and brought the Kickr along as well so I could keep working on the come back.  I was figuring out how to run again decently well.  It involved a lot of stretching and rolling.   We left for the mainland on September 19th, spent a few days visiting with family in LA and then started our road trip to Florida.  Needless to say there were a few weeks in there with very spotty and low volume training.  I was enjoying running around downtown and had worked my way back up to about 8 miles reportedly "continuing to feel better and better".

Once we were kind of settled in FL - read we had our suitcases, bikes and the Kickr (none of our actual
household goods yet) - I resumed training with the goal of seeing if I could be ready to give things a go at the PTO sponsored pro race at The Great Floridian in Clermont.   I strung together 2.5 weeks of consistent training, I did some hill reps and my legs "felt great".  The race was free for pros and just an hours drive from home so we said why not, the only way to get experience racing in the pro field is to go and do it.

Race Morning I was more nervous than I think I've ever been.  Maybe I was possibly more nervous for my first ever tri or my first ever Ironman, but I was literally shaking and I could feel my HR creeping up.  Andrew was with me the entire time and I saw a good friend near the start line that asked if she could give me a hug.  Yes, absolutely yes, anything right now to attempt to calm down.  I swam briefly in the lake the day before the race, it was my 1st time in a central Florida lake and I was nervous.  The water was murky (this was def not Hawaii!) and the were grasses/weeds off to the side of the swim area...seemed like perfect gator territory.  It probably only made me more nervous for the race day swim!

I lined up with the ladies in ankle deep water and waited for the starting gun.  With this being a 1/3 distance race there were a # of pros from different backgrounds - short course all starts, long course phenoms ready to battle at this unique distance.  The swim went out fast and I help on for the first couple
of buoys.  I stayed with another pro or 2 for the 1st 1/2 of the swim and then lost touch.  The thought of gators kept me swimming hard!  I came out a couple minutes after the next pro, but hey I was content with that. She was leaving T1 as I was getting to my bike.  

I headed off on the bike confident in my strength and ready to have fun.  The fun was quickly interrupted by the amount of traffic we had to deal with.  Some of the bike course had us crossing 4-6 lane roads with minimal traffic control.  There was one point where we had to make a right turn and athletes were all over the place compared to the cars in the right hand turn lane - some coming up on the left of cars and other on the right of the cars, all while traffic was coming straight through the intersection.  Mind blowing.  At that point I think I went to safety over riding hard.  This was easily the most dangerous bike course I've ever raced on.  At one point going up hill a huge pickup pulling an even larger pontoon decided to start passing the cyclists and giving little to no room.  I guess that's Florida roads.  Once we were in the hills and on the backroads it seemed a bit better traffic wise.  I was having a hard time getting into a rhythm and for one of the few times in my life I could not wait to get off of the bike.  As I made my way back toward T2 I keep downhill through a neighborhood the went into a sweeping left hand turn.  As I looked ahead while making my way into the turn there was a large landscaping truck pulling a large trailer of equipment that was coming into the turn smack dab in the middle of the road.  I didn't even make a conscious decision, it was like my body just decided we were aborting the turn and not getting run over so I hit the curb while slamming on my brakes and flipped over my handlebars. Garmin Fenix 5s+ watchband snapped, handlebars were crooked and my mid back hit the edge of the curb - other than that I was ok.  I got back on my bike and peddled the last couple miles into T2, shook up but ok.

In T2 Andrew and a couple other pro family members were right there as I was getting my run shoes on.  I said something along the lines of holy hell, that was the most dangerous bike course I've ever been on.  They said they were still waiting for a few more female pros to come and to get on my way.  Turns out one got side swiped on the bike course and a couple others rode off-course.  I got myself sorted and out to the run course as quickly as I could.

The run course was nice and on a paved trail with a decent amount of shade.  I set out running not sure
how my hip, pelvis, groin would react.  It felt ok, not great, not bad.  I couldn't really open up my stride but I was running faster than 'easy' and I was holding it together.   The out and back in each direction gave a chance to see other pros (miles ahead of me) and come back through the transition area where most of the support was.  It started to get warm out there but I was able to hold onto my pace and cross the line in 1-piece.  

Overall, I was super glad to get this race under me and have the experience.  It was far from my best day, but it was the best day I could put together at that point.  And given that I couldn't run just a few months earlier I was super happy just to put together a decent run after a bike.  This race gave me hope, hope that

if I kept doing 'the things I needed to and I kept the patience' I would be back.  I obviously flared things up a bit because as I read through my TP notes for my workouts during the week following the race I noted "felt fine" - which means eh, it didn't feel good, but it wasn't bad enough to stop me.  

This race at least gave me the confidence to proceed onward toward the rescheduled Florida 70.3 in Haines City.  I had just about 2 months to get ready for it and I wasn't working yet so I set my sights ahead and vowed to keep up with my hour of stretching/rolling/PT exercises every night to keep my hip manageable. 

Next Up: Spoiler Alert! The reschedule FL 70.3 was cancelled due to COVID...

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