Did that really just happen?!!! Second place??? Anyway, before I get to Syracuse, I should say a few words Eagleman. I procrastinated way too long and never got around to writing a race report, which is bad since Eagleman is one of my favorite races. However, my race performance at Eagleman was pretty unexciting this year. Other than getting stung by the infamous Choptank river jellyfish and swimming slightly off course, the race went by uneventfully. The one good thing that happened was I finally ran a consistent half marathon. It wasn't fast, but I managed to feel good and run strong the last few miles which is something I have not done yet this year. The bonus at this race was the amazing homestay host I had this year. Dave was so generous, cooked all kinds of good food for us, go up early with us on race morning, and came out and cheered us on and took pictures (check out the picture gallery for all the fun!). I met Kendra and Grant, who were staying with Dave as well. They are new pros with such a great attitude and good positive energy. I will never forget the post-race crab feast that Dave put together for us in his backyard. It was a great ending to the weekend and one of the reasons Eagleman remains one of my favorite races.
And then of course came Syracuse 70.3. I am still a little in disbelief that I finished 2nd. My season had been off to a good start with lots of improvements and solid performances but not a lot of high finishes. While my goal is always just to race well and I am constantly striving to be faster, it's nice when you get rewarded for your sacrifices and hard work. It was an amazing feeling to run down the finishing chute on Sunday and finally get a little reward. What has surprised me even more and made this finish even more meaningful, is all the texts, facebook messages, tweets, phone calls, etc. that I have gotten from friends, peers, sponsors, and fans congratulating me. I feel so lucky to know so many people who are positive and supportive and honestly happy for me. Thanks everyone for all the love! I never could've gotten here without all the support, especially from my husband, family, Coach P @ Lifesport, and my amazing sponsors, Zoot Sports, GU, Rudy Project, High Road Cycles, Amrita, Greenepsych, Nathan Sports.
So anyway, here are the nitty gritty details of the race for those interested. I skipped town and headed up to Syracuse the weekend prior to the race. Golf's US Open was taking place 2 miles from my house in Philly and it was complete chaos around the neighborhood. Plus, it was a good excuse to spend some time with my parents, who live near Syracuse, and do a bit of recon on the course. I was even luckier to have gotten connected with Sam and the CNY tri club. There is a great triathlon community up in Syracuse and they were so nice to adopt me for the week and let me join in with some of their training sessions. The weather got progressively hotter and hotter as the week went on and race day was looking to be quite a smoker! Before I knew it, race morning was here and I was heading down to the water for the start. When the gun went off, I tried to catch some faster feet but wasn't very successful. There were some VERY fast swimmers in this race and since I couldn't catch their feet, I ended up swimming by myself the whole swim. I usually prefer to follow or have others around me, but I was actually enjoying the space and smooth water. I came out of the water in 5th and headed off onto the bike. The long uphill run through T1 was brutal and there was not much time to settle the HR and find my biking legs before hitting the first hill. For those reasons, I hate that first climb! But, I knew I was going to feel horrible on it so I just sucked it up and got to the top as quickly as I could. The next 15 miles were steady climbing before finally getting a nice long decent. The rest of the bike course is flat and rolling terrain back to the finish. Molly had caught me somewhere during the early climbing section of the bike and we battled back and forth a bit throughout the race. I managed to sneak a bit of a lead on her in the last few miles of the bike and so I headed out on the run still in 5th. I had my fingers crossed I could maintain my 5th place money spot but I knew Molly was close behind me and Jennie was not far behind either (and I knew Jennie could run fast!). I climbed up and out of the park and prepared myself for lots of pain. My legs felt awful, I was feeling pretty overheated, and the run course was one of the hardest courses I have raced on. I grabbed water, cola, sports drink, ice, sponges, etc at all the aide stations in hopes of keeping myself moving. It's funny how certain parts of races seem to take forever and others happen so fast. What felt like all of a sudden, I was in 2nd place. Yikes! I definitely felt a mixture of fear and excitement. I had managed to catch 2 girls by the end of the first lap and even more miraculously, not gotten caught. Halfway through the 2nd lap, just as I was climbing up the worst and longest hill on the course, I glanced up and saw Dede only 50m up the road. I had been so focused on just maintaining my 3rd place, I hadn't even been thinking about catching anyone else. And just like that, I was in 2nd place. A position I have never been in before, with 2 fast runners steadily gaining on me, and 3 more miles to go. 3 more REALLY LONG miles! I was running as fast as I dared, just on the edge of cracking. I focused my mind on just getting to the next aide station, up the next hill, through the next turn, anything not to think about how far away the finish line still was. Finally, I crested the top of the last hill which was about ½ mile from the finish. I could hear cheers for the girls behind me and knew I was going to have to put it all on the line to stay in 2nd. A couple minutes later, I saw my dad, who had a look of panic and excitement on his face, and then my husband who was acting a little more energetic than normal. Here is a pic of him from my one of my prior races....
And finally, I was running down the finishing chute and got my highest 70.3 finish!!!!!