July was a big month of racing for me....I started off with my first 70.3 race in Lake Stevens over the 4th of July weekend then headed to Minneapolis for the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon on my birthday, the 12th, and finished off the series with the New York City Triathlon the next weekend. Doing three races in a row is physically challenging, but I think the hardest part is getting mentally keyed up to race three weekends in a row. I find that the first and second races are much easier than the third unless something happens to botch one of the first two.
The series started with a bang when I won my first 70.3 race. I led from the start of the swim through the bike and run, finishing with a five minute lead over the 2nd place athlete. It was tough in a different way than my usual olympic distance races; the bike and swim were a bit lonely at times. I am so used to racing world cups where you are surrounded by other athletes for most of the swim and bike. In addition, the bike was a challenge because I wasn't quite sure how to pace myself and didn't want to destroy myself for the run. The run went well except for some cuts on my feet that really started hurting the last 8 miles. Jeff told me not to run in my trainers without socks, but I didn't listen. As I ran those last 8 miles, I couldn't help but smile thinking that he was so right...running in trainers without socks is not a good idea at all. I am glad that I decided to do the Lake Steven half; Jeff and I had a great weekend and were able to catch up with our friends Dan and Kim living in the Seattle area. Dan did the race too; both he and Jeff did a great job and it was fun to see them finish.
The next race in the series was the Lifetime race; it was my first trip to this race and I was very excited especially since the race fell on my birthday. I was a bit trashed from the 70.3 and only had 6 days to recover. By Friday before the race, my body seemed to be doing better, but the cuts on my feet were still hurting badly. To run with them, I had to do apply layers of Vaseline and bag them up all week long...but this wasn't an option for the race. I decided to tape over the cuts and hope for the best. On Saturday morning, I felt good and started off with a good swim exiting the water with the leaders minus Sara McLarty who was somewhere ahead of everyone. On the bike, I managed to stay with the group and had a great ride. It was a non-drafting race, but it felt almost like a drafting race with all of us bunched together. No one was trying to draft but there was definitely an advantage to riding with a strong group of other women. I exited the bike with the leaders and felt a bit tired on the run. I managed to hold on for 6th place but was never able to hit 5th gear. It felt as if I was doing the whole run in 2nd gear running steady but not fast. Despite the disappointing run, I was happy with the race especially since I had done my first 70.3 less than a week earlier.
The final race in the series was the New York City triathlon. I must admit that by the time the third race rolled around I was not very enthused to race. I tried to keep a positive attitude but felt pretty poor during my training all week. On the positive side, I spent the week at my parents home visiting family and meeting my adorable little niece, Lexie or Alex (her official nickname is still tbd). It was great to catch up with all the family in town, but it made fitting in all my training a bit hectic as it was squeezed around lunch and dinner plans. Sadly, I didn't event get to spend much time on the beach. I did get in one open water swim and felt very wimpy as I only lasted 30 minutes since it was so cold @68 degrees F. On Friday, my parents and I went on a 6+ hour journey up the city; normally it takes about 3.5 hours but with the traffic we spent quite a few extra hours in the car. We stayed at an amazing hotel, the Loews Hotel downtown, and many thanks to Jeff's brother's brother -in law, Jon, who set us up with the suite. Saturday flew by with me trying to fit in all the requisite workouts, and my parents spending some time shopping and meeting with friends around town. Race day started off badly and went downhill from there....I wasn't mentally on my game and it showed. Despite all the challenges, I am glad that I managed to finish in 5th and didn't give up on the run even though I really wanted to stop. The humidity on the run combined with the hills in central park made it a tough end and definitely the hardest run of the series of races. I was glad to finish and see my parents, cousin Bridget, and mom's friends waiting for me. Many thanks to everyone for their support and a special thanks to mom and dad for their support in the ensuing days. It was hard to leave on Monday; it always seems like my visits go by too fast.
After the third race, I was mentally fried and really needed a break from triathlon. I did have a special treat planned first a visit with friends and then a weekend away with Jeff. First, I visited with some friends in Bethesda before flying back to Colorado. It was great treat to catch up with Ashley, Antonio, and of course little Lorenzo Cole. Last time I met the little guy he was in the NICU, and it was great to see him thriving at home. It was great to spend some time talking about all sorts of things non-triathlon and hear how things were going in their life. When I arrived back in Colorado, it was great to see Jeff. And I had a much needed mini-break from training to rest up before getting back into serious training for the second half of the season. The weekend with Jeff in the mountains was perfect. We had a great ride on Saturday, the Copper Triangle, 80 miles and 8000 feet of climbing; then we followed it up with a long run at altitude on Sunday. By the time we got back to regular life on Monday, I felt refreshed and ready to start training again.