July 16, 2016
Beaver Creek, Colorado is an absolutely stunning place to visit. Racing there is another story! This one has always been tough for me. I think it’s that way for everybody but that doesn’t make it hurt any less.
Chris and I decided to drive out and make a good long weekend trip out of it. We stopped in Ogden, UT for one night to visit our friends Cindy and Art, who we don’t see nearly enough, and then arrived in Avon on Thursday afternoon. The race was Saturday but I didn’t want to arrive any earlier in the week because of the effects of the high altitude. I did a little bit of training and course recon, but the course hadn’t changed from last year so there was no sense in fatiguing myself with all that climbing. So I swam a couple times to iron out my wetsuit dilemmas, did the last part of the bike course that didn’t involve climbing for 5 miles, and a short run with some strides to fire up the nervous system. I really tried to keep a positive frame of mind and not dwell on how hard this race is and how much it was going to hurt or how I haven’t had great results here in previous years.
So on Saturday I warmed up as best I could, trying to prime my system for the effort that was about to come. The pro women started 1 minute behind the pro men, and being one of the stronger swimmers in the field I knew I’d probably be on my own for sighting but I ended up settling in behind another woman for a brief time. I really wasn’t feeling great and didn’t want to blow myself up for the rest of the day so I just settled into my own pace and tried to keep my HR as calm as could be. I ended up not sighting well to start the 2nd lap and found myself way too far to the right and needing to get back on course.
I think I was the third woman out of the water/T1 and set off on my bike in chase of the leaders. I tried to ride at a moderate effort to keep my heart rate within a reasonable range as the course began climbing the ski mountain. The first 6.5 miles are a pretty steady hard climb so I tried to just keep a steady rhythm and caught one woman ahead of me a few miles in. At the first aid station I was about 2 minutes behind the leader. a couple miles later the big climb was over and I tried to push it on the flats and descents to make up time but near the end of the bike I really hadn’t made up any ground.
When I began running my legs felt like jelly and I I felt like I was barely moving. The run also begins with a long climb which has some steep sections with switchbacks and it can really jack your HR up if you’re not careful. I ran as much as I could and slowed down to a brisk walk when I felt my HR getting too high. I got passed by an amateur female which was a bit of a blow to my pride, but I tried to use her as motivation too. She was climbing much faster than me but I caught her on the downhill and as much as I tried to stay with her on the next climb I just didn’t have the legs. I was really struggling and frustrated but knew how upset I’d be with myself if I gave up just because it was hard. I knew I wasn’t going to win this one but I wanted to be proud of the effort I put in so I pressed on and finished 2nd.
Once again, it hurt just as much as I remember each year and I know it wasn’t one of my best performances physically, but at the end of the day I was proud of myself for pushing through it and doing the best I could that day. Maybe I’ll have better luck next year!