Sunday, May 5, 2013

Wildflower 2013 - Can't wait 'till next year!

31st Annual Wildflower Triathlon 2013
Thanks to Endurance House Middleton I was able to travel out to sunny California for the 31st year of the Wildflower Triathlon.  This race has been on my 'to do' list since I started in the sport, so I couldn't resist this chance to head out there.  Heat, hills, trails, tough conditions...this race is right in my wheel house.  Unfortunately, there are some things we don't have control over...and one of those is getting sick.

I am not one for excuses.  I am not one to just drop out of a race.  I traveled to CA with a bad cold, cough, and barely a voice with the hope (and encouragement of everyone) that it would somehow be gone by race day (Saturday).  I had my doubts and was unable to do any real training the entire week before the race...and I mean I seriously couldn't breath.  I couldn't run for more than a mile, couldn't swim more than a 200 easy at a time, and could ride, but slowly.  I'm all for rest before a race, so this didn't drag on me too bad, but it was more the concern that how would I race if I couldn't push at all?

So I went out to Wildflower.  Sick.  Coughing all night each night I was there.  I woke up race morning feeling my worst yet and was thinking I shouldn't race...what would be the point anyway?  I messaged with coach Cliff and talked with Mark and decided that it would be a good learning experience for me to try to go out easy and treat it more like a training day than a race.  This seems good, in theory, but I am a racer.  Even if I'm not in the mood, when the gun goes off I somehow a magically in race mode and will go hard, as hard as I can 'till the finish.

Swim Start - from the top of the hill you have to run up to get to transition!
Transition- All set up and 'ready' to race
So after plenty of debate, I made it down to the race start.  The swim was called non-wetsuit, which didn't really matter one way or the other to me.  The men's wave started first and looked BRUTAL!  To keep my breathing under control I was going to have to take it very easy at the start.  Gun went off and I just let everyone go fight for the front.  I hung in the back, swimming easy heads-up and found some clean water to the side of the group.  This made for a very calm start and after the first buoy I found myself feeling ok, relaxed, and starting to pass the back group.  I swam entirely my own race and just worked my way up the field the entire swim.  I was thankful for the pre-race swim on Friday w/Heather where we really worked on sighting for the finish....I can't stress enough how important this is.  Having a landmark (other than a buoy) can be crucial for making it smoothly to the finish and this is one of the most important things to practice before the race.

Friday morning CEC Team swim!   Heather, me and Chris Bagg
Wow, so I felt great about making it out of the swim without any breathing episodes and feeling generally relaxed the entire time.   It's a steep uphill run to transition...which I also took easy.

Possibly my first time using rubber bands on my pro :)
Onto the bike - goal:  just ride, don't try to race.  This was very tough.  I was feeling ok, riding conservative, especially on the climbs.  My breathing was steady for the first 25-ish miles, and it was then that I think I tried to start picking it up.  Unfortunately my body was not having it...particularly my lungs.  Extremely frustrating because I could feel my legs and body were well rested, but I just couldn't get air.  This led to an eventual couple times stopping on the ride to try and get my breathing under control.  Not good.

Top of 'Nasty Grade'...this picture doesn't even do it's nastiness justice.
I finished the bike, but not without plenty of slow going.  I knew it was medically safest to stop racing.  There wasn't even a question in my mind about continuing after the bike ride...It would not have been possible.  I headed straight to medical, wheezing for air, and was administered plenty of hits of an inhaler to try and get my breathing back to normal.
Top of a climb on the bike course- probably one of best views of the entire ride. 

Didn't get to use this stuff!!!  Bummer. 
Getting sick sucks.  Getting sick before a race sucks.  Being sick and having to stop during a race sucks, but somehow I know that I didn't 'quit' the race.  This is my first DNF.  I pride myself on being mentally tough during the last part of difficult races and really just keeping going when it would be much easier to stop.  This was a different situation....where my body gave me no choice but to stop.  I don't regret starting the race because of what I learned/felt during the swim and bike and am even more motivated to get well and throw down at the next one!

Kids Race on Friday-  so fun to watch!! 
Take home thoughts and Thank-you's :

-  HUGE THANKS to:  Our Timex team manager Tristan for getting me wheels, gear, and all of my last minute requests, Endurance House (again) for the support, Tri-Bike Transport for making travel SO easy without lugging my bike around, Coach Cliff English for getting me into shape and race ready, my awesome boyfriend Mark for the pre-race pep talk and just everything :)....Also sponsors for my killer gear:  QR, Shimano -love the Di2!!!, Powerbar, and Rudy Project.

-Wildflower is awesome, I'm going back next year!  They treat their pro's so well and make you feel like a real VIP.  It is a bit of a pain for travel, but the venue, people, and vibe is what I wish every race had.  It was fun to see friends and catch up and see some of them do so well :)

Thanks for reading.  Stay healthy.

Just the standard view from the road heading to Oak Shores (where I was staying this weekend).
Relaxing at Oak Shores after the race


  1. We knew you were really sick on Wednesday. I am amazed that you raced at all given there was no miracle healing on Friday. It is disappointing, but your coach gave you good advice. I have had only one DNF too. I won't ever forget, but I used it as a motivator.

    I am impressed with your reflections on this and look forward to seeing what you do with your next race!!

  2. Tough break with the illness, but kudos to you both for getting out there and for knowing when it was smart to call it. You'll be back ready to fight another day in no time!