I'll leave all the good writing to Marty and just give my race report. ;-)
We got to the race site almost 2 hours before the start. That was fine because it allowed me to use the port-o-potty's my usual 20 or so times without any trouble. We were also lucky in that we could stay warm in the car right next to transition, taking advantage of the perks of Marty racing pro. Race time finally came around and I nervously stood on the starting line with about 90 other collegiate women. The water was a chilly 640 and I was feeling sorry for anyone who didn't have a wetsuit. I went as hard as I could when the horn blew, knowing how difficult it would be to get stuck in the middle of such a huge wave.
Marty had asked me on the drive up what my strategy was. To be honest, I didn't much have one. My confidence had taken a blow at Collegiate Nationals where I had bonked on the run and had to walk a lot of it. I had my sights set on that race all winter and was disappointed that things had gone so badly. I learned a lot from that race, though, most importantly-you need to drink more than a few sips of water on the bike! My only strategy at Wildflower was to have fun. I told him I wanted to get in a good rhythm in the swim, hopefully not in the middle of a pack; stay comfortable on the bike (I had plenty of warning about the difficulty of the hills) and just stay relaxed on the run. That was it; I was going to keep it simple and make sure I enjoyed the experience.
The swim is still difficult for me to gauge. While I was out there I couldn't tell if I was swimming fast or not. I just kept pushing and came out of the water hearing Marty yell, "You're in 12th, Bri!" My split ended up as a 23:22, which I'm pleased with. All those morning practices I grumble about must be paying off.
The start of the bike could have only been designed by Satan himself. We went straight uphill for almost a mile, climbing 200 feet. The rest of the bike was up and down and up and down. I remember asking Sara McClarty to give me a comparison of the bikes between Great Clermont and Wildflower. Her response: "Wildflower is the Great Clermont bike times 10." It's a good assessment. I had passed a few girls in transition, and a few passed me back on the ride. I tried to stay within myself on the bike. I definitely didn't want to blow up on any of the hills, but I probably held back a little more than I should have. I was unsure of my position at the start of the run, but wasn't too worried. I just wanted to have fun.
I started the run and felt great. I started passing people but didn't know how fast I was going. I was completely comfortable, even with all the hills. At around mile 3 we went uphill for almost a mile, and I passed the 4th place girl. Just after that, we got on a dirt path that had little speed bump hills all over. All of the sudden I hear this familiar voice. "Come on, Bri!! You got one right ahead and she's sucking air!! Suck it up, Bri!!" Marty doesn't usually get to see me race, and he sure was excited today. I picked it up another gear.
With a little over a mile to go I finally saw the 3rd place girl up ahead. I struggled up the last dirt hill and got back into my rhythm. The last part of the race was down the hill we went up at the start of the bike. With my arms and legs flailing all over, I ran that downhill like none I had ever run before, and caught the girl from Stanford with about a quarter mile left. The finishing chute was right ahead and I stayed strong all the way through. Marty was there to greet me with a huge smile and hug. And I surprisingly ran a 39:56 for a pretty tough 10k. What a fun race!
I definitely achieved my goal of having a good time. When it all boils down, having fun is really what the core of triathlons is all about. Sometimes, though, it's so easy to forget.