All in a Texas-sized Family

Last week I flew to Galveston, Texas to compete in the Ironman Texas 70.3. This race was exciting for a number of reasons:

  1. The Lance Factor – There has been such mixed reaction about Lance Armstrong’s return to triathlon. I don’t care what anyone says – I am excited he is back. Lance is, undisputably, a huge brand and an incredible athlete. His presence brings attention to our sport and it ups everybody’s game – both positives in my mind. And as a little first year pro, I was pretty darn excited to be able to race against him!
  2. My First Pro Race (of 2012) – Ok, so this may not have been my first pro race EVER, since I raced at Ironman Cozumel last year, but I felt like it was. Texas was my first race since committing full time to training, and coming in this time around felt different – I felt as though I was competing as a pro for the first time.
  3. U.S Pro 70.3 Championships – There were nearly 100 pro men and women competing on Sunday, which made it a huge and world class event. There were more past Ironman and 70.3 champions that you could count on one hand in the women’s race alone, so you knew it was going to be an exciting day.

I went into this race with a completely open mind and no idea what to expect. As my coach, Matt Dixon, put it – it was a blank slate. Rather than being results focused, I was intent on racing my own race and seeing where my off-season training had taken me.

I was excited. I was nervous, but I was also controlled and calm. This winter, most of my training has been all about the swim – by far my biggest weakness of the three disciplines. I’ve been completing more than 8 swims and anywhere from 40-60k yards a week. On the bike I have done a lot of base riding with tons of climbing to work on my glute and hamstring strength, which has also been a big weakness for me. And while running took a bit of a back seat for a variety of reasons I was feeling great.

I felt confident that I would see some good progress in my performance.

Fast forward to the day before the race. I started to get a little bit (read A LOT) more nervous and the confidence I had been feeling was starting to wane. Thoughts like “what if I DON’T swim faster” started to creep into my head. Oopf – no good! During a taper week you often end up feeling pretty crappy and flat in the days before the race. And despite understanding that feeling flat=good, it is hard not to get a little nervous that your mojo won’t show up for race day (Note: on the flip side, feeling great the days before a race is also cause for nervousness out of fear you peaked too early). Needless to say, in my hour long ride and 10 minute jog on Saturday I was having one of those moments where I questioned how I was going to EVER ride 15 mph or run an 8 minute mile, let alone 24 or 25 mph or a 6 or 7 minute mile pace. I felt like poo.

But race day came and all I can say is that I am thrilled with my performance. I still have a ton of work to do across all three disciplines, but I was really pleased with where I am at for the start of the year. My swim was 4 minutes faster than last year and a PR by more than 2 minutes! I know, I know – a 30 minute swim isn’t exactly something to be writing home about, but it is big step for me in the right direction. My bike was solid and was the 2nd fastest female split. I felt great, but more importantly I came off the bike feeling fresher than I ever have before. And my run….oh my run. I had hoped for more, but at the end of the day, even with an average-at-best performance, I maintained my position and I finished 6th, which I was completely stoked about. I made a pay check, and my self-proclaimed pro debut was about as successful as I could have possibly hoped it would be.

A few key highlights from my week in Texas (and in no particular order):

  1. Watching Balazs Csoke (My crazy Hungarian Cervelo teammate) eat an entire jar of raw garlic cloves (which is apparently normal for him) – Gross…and really weird!
  2. Eating 3 “Frank” Cheeseburgers and a huge bowl of chocolate ice cream after the race in the amount of time it took my homestay mom, Lulu, to finish half of one burger
  3. Eating a 4th “Frank” Cheeseburger on the drive to the airport, and then getting some Blue Bell ice cream before my flight….I might have been a little hungry
  4. Making some incredible new friends in the Woodlands in the Trimble Family, Austen Trimble, The Gibbons, Daniel Fontana, Carla Stampfli, and Balazs Csoke
  5. My AWESOME homestay family in Galveston. They rocked. Be jealous. I’ve already called dibs for next year. They feed me ice cream and cheeseburgers.
  6. My PR Swim and a huge PR swim for my Purplepatch teammate Jen Tetrick. We are making strides Jenny T! Heck Yeh!
  7. My rocking new Saucony race kit. I love it. #findyourstrong
  8. Knowing I made the right choice to pursue this dream. I am happier than I have ever been. It is awesome and a very special time for me.

Time to get back to work now! New Orleans 70.3 is coming up in a few short weeks and then we’ll be making the final push for Ironman Texas on May 19.

A huge thank you the Trimble and Benavidez families for their warmth and hospitality and truly opening up their home to me. You both really made me feel so comfortable and welcome – thank you. To Balazs Csoke, Daniel Fontana , Carla Stampfli, Maureen and Greg Gibbons – Such wonderful people and great competitors – I can’t wait to share many more race experiences with you. Austen – Thanks dude for everything you did last week and congrats on completing your first 70.3.

Last but not least I really need to thank Gerry Rodrigues from Tower 26. It gets me a bit choked up just writing this, but he has been EVERYTHING to me out here in Los Angeles since I arrived on January 1 – a coach, mentor, friend, parent, Matt Dixon’s “eyes”. I have a huge amount of faith in Purplepatch and the Tower 26 programs to progress me as an athlete to be my very best. Thank you Gerry, for all that you have done these last several months, and for being willing to take this journey with me.

Until next time. Never stop reaching for the stars

Don’t dream it. Be It.
Xx
Sarah-

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