The last race in my three race string was the Dallas US Open, the final race in the Lifetime Fitness series. I was excited for the race but definitely tired from all the travel. I arrived home from France on Monday but spent a few days on the east coast again, flew back to Denver on Thursday, then left 20 hours later for Dallas...racking up the frequent flyer miles. I was in a bad mood on Friday, but had a nice time at the race briefing and VIP party. It is always a treat to get free food, the life of a poor pro triathlete, and catch up friends that I haven't seen in awhile.
The day before the race Rinny, another pro, and I caravan'd with some of her Aussie friends to the race site. It was only supposed to be @24 miles away but driving there took forever. It made me wonder if the bike course is really 40 miles not 40K. After getting a bike, run, and swim at the race start, we drove the 20 feels like 40 miles and headed back downtown. After a relaxing lunch, I headed back to my room to rest and do all my pre-race rituals.
Race morning started very early....we had to be down and ready to go at 5am. It was still pitch dark for the first hour or so when we arrived at transition. I went on a dark ride through the park and hoped I didn't hit a pothole and crash before the race. The race started off well; the pack was swimming well and then we turned around at the far buoy and started swimming directly into the sun. I think our pack zigg-zagged back and forth and wouldn't be surprised if everyone swam an extra 100 or 200 as we tried to find our way. It was amusing and didn't really bother me too much as I figured everyone else was just as screwed as I was. I just tried to follow the feet and splashing up ahead...probably blinding following them as they zigg-zagged. Once on the bike, it was a bit of a draft-fest for the first few miles as we road through the pack on a tight single lane road. It was a bit frustrating but at least it was only for a few miles. Once on the main road, the pack spread out and drafting officials started hovering around us. Joanna Zeiger got a questionable call to stand down early in the bike; I didn't think she was drafting but sometimes the officials can see things we can't or make calls that suck but we have to live with....I had a great ride and was doing well in second place with Sarah Haskins and Julie Dibens. Then, with only 2 miles to go in the bike, I took a drink and had my water bottle in my hand as I went over a huge bump in the road. The bottle popped out of my butter fingers as I hit the bump with full force. Since I was in the front of the bike, the drafting official was right next to me and told me to stand down. After 90 seconds of standing on the side of the road watching competitors whizz by me I finally able to remount and continue. It was a bit of bad luck for me and very frustrating, but in the end I really wouldn't have done anything differently except maybe put my bottle back in the cage right away post-drink instead of trying to get in two swigs. After the stand down I arrived in transition, not in 2nd place but in 9th. I tried to keep my focus and not stew about the penalty. About 2 miles into the run, I started to cramp in my quads right at the teardrop and was struggling to continue. I tried to take in as many liquids and took a gel right away. After a few miles of struggling, I was able to push it a bit again but was constantly aware of my quads. It was not a good end to the race, and I lost another few places finishing in 12th. Without the 90 second stand down, I would have done better but at least I finished the race and did my best despite some challenges. Next year, I hope that I am able to be competitive at all the lifetime fitness races. On a positive note, I finished second overall in the Lifetime Fitness Series and definitely improved dramatically from my racing last year.