So, needless to say I took great pride in toeing the line in Yokohama last week. Even though it's been 2 years away, my years of experience served as an autopilot for setting up/warming up and everything about racing.
I was ranked last but with a small (albeit, strong!) field, I wasn't too concerned. The gun went off very quickly so i had very little time to think. I got pulled under and pushed back literally within the first 10 strokes. I didn't give it much thought given i had zero expectations for the race. I moved myself to the outside and just put my head down and swam. I decided i should look up to see where i was, dreading looking up to see a sea of arms infront of me. To my surprise, i only saw about 4 people! I looked around the buoy thinking, "this can't be the front" but there was only open water ahead. Feeling smug and comfortable i let a girl up beside me. Then another one came of my other side and i began to get squished in the middle. All this drag and smacking arms landed us a few seconds back from the top 3 girls but i wasn't super concerned. My transitions were rusty but I hopped on my bike in good position and rode straight up to the leaders.
The bike was super cruisy but i wanted to keep up the pace to keep the second pack from reeling us in. I haven't had a ton of run training and i knew that would be my weakness so a small front group was going to be my ticket. We eventually did get organized and had up to a minute lead at one point. Unfortunately, the skies opened up and a downpour began. Our group was cautious on the corners, which i am thankful for, but unfortunately this caused us to be caught on the last lap.
My T2 was bad to the point of humor but i was planning to head out on a imaginary solo 10km TT so it didn't reeaaallly matter. Will have to clean that up for next time though! I was nervous of bonking so i took it out comfortably. Looking back, i may have run a little too comfortably but i figured better safe than sorry in my first attempt back. I was already super satisfied with my swim/bike.
I ran with a smile nearly the entire time. This is what I had worked so hard in rehab for. I finished in 17th place. I was probably the happiest 17th place finisher in the history of WTS racing!
Now I'm on the plane home from one of the coolest experiences of my career! The Red Bull Endurance Project. 6 athletes from cycling, running, triathlon and motocross were looked after by 7 of the greatest sport physiology minds as well as a handful of other experts in physio, massage, hydration, mechanics, and nutrition gathered in Mammoth Lakes California.
We studied our heart, lungs, muscles, brains, blood, urine...literally everything possible. This camp was cutting edge, testing things that have never been tested on athletes like oxygen saturation in the brain and cardiology testing for things like how much force your heart produces with each pump. We also tested the volume of blood the heart can pump, 24 hour blood sugar monitoring using a device inserted in our backs, the voltage coming from our muscles, the oxygen saturation in our muscles, our heart rate variability through the night showing how much recovery went on...the list goes on and on. My finger got pricked literally 100 times during the 4 day stint of testing, but it was well worth it!
Besides all this data, we made great new friends, soaked up a lot of info from some great minds (think Tour De France physiology, nutrition and coaching, people who develop their own testing devices and software) we also worked really hard, had a lot of laughs and gave each other a real hard time! Note to self, do not wear toe warmers in California in front of cyclists ;)
I'm heading home with a lot more knowledge, confidence, friends and clothing ;) I need to thank Red Bull for putting on this amazing camp! I saw first hand what went into it during the camp and can only imagine what went in to this overall. It was cool to see the staff so passionate and having such a great time putting in 20 hour days, cleaning our sweat and drool... they really had the hardest job! I never could have imagined this would be the camp i signed up for last winter. It was so much more than anyone could have imagined!
Now for a little rest, and back to the grind...implementing what I've learned of course!! :)