After debating for several weeks on which race I wanted to start my season with (way too many options), I finally settled on Puerto Rico 70.3. I was looking forward to visiting Puerto Rico having never been there before. The race itself looked fun too-islandy, beachy, hot, humid, windy... After solid winter of training and a great training camp in Australia, I was more excited than normal to get out there and race. Unfortunately, and with terrible timing, I caught a cold a few days before the race. I did everything in my power to get rid of it as quickly as possible but honestly, I needed a few extra days. I kept my fingers crossed for a miracle and hoped that my body would still feel good on race morning but I did have to re-adjust my goals a little. Regardless, with the pro field being extra small and with strong swimmers, I prepared myself for a lonely swim. The gun sounded and off we went. Just as I was about to settle into my own little swim groove, I looked up and saw some feet not too far ahead. The opportunity to draft and not swim alone was right in front of me! I accelerated as best as I could and to my surprise, I managed to get onto the feet and stay there for most of the swim. It was hard for me to get a sense of whether we were swimming fast or slow but I knew my effort level was good and I was thrilled for the company. I was happy to see post-race that I had managed to break that elusive 30min barrier (yes, I know swim courses are pretty unreliable when it comes to proper distances but I'm just going to go with it). Sophie, the girl I was drafting off in the swim, gapped me a bit as we exited the water and I chased her through the super long transition. It took me FOREVER to catch my breath and get my HR back to normal race levels as I headed out on the bike course. Initially we made a bunch of turns and went up and over a few overpasses but then headed out for 2 loops on a flat and windy highway. I attempted to keep Sophie in my sights despite my legs not feeling very peppy. This is not uncommon for me in the first few miles of the bike but as we hit the first turnaround and my legs still felt like garbage, I knew I was going to be in for a long day. I had made a promise to myself at the start of this race that no matter how I felt, I would keep the effort up and keep pushing no matter how bad I felt. So, I did my best to stop obsessing over my watts and just keep the effort up. This was made quite a bit harder on the back half of the first loop since we were heading straight into a head wind. On the second loop, we began merging with the amateurs. To my surprise, the motorcycle that had been trailing me from the beginning of the race, pulled around in front of me and began whistling
and beeping to clear the way for me. All the pro women had our own police escort and it was such a nice treat. The run went about the same way as the bike. I just felt flat. The run course was gorgeous. It had great views of the ocean, went through the streets of San Juan and along the water by one of the spectacular forts. With that being said, it was one of the most challenging run courses-hot and hilly. There were so many people out on the course cheering though it actually went by quickly despite how I felt. People lined all the hills and cheered with so much enthusiasm and the aide stations had lots of music playing. I tried to keep the hope alive that I might be able to run my way up a spot but it wasn't in the cards for me that day. I ended the day in 4th place.
I had one day post-race to do a little sightseeing before heading home. We strolled through the streets of Old San Juan, visited the El Morro Fort, tried mofongo, a plantain-based dish traditional to Puerto Rico, enjoyed some Puerto Rican coffee and of course, got a little beach time. Up next, Ironman Texas for my attempt number 2 at iron distance racing. Yikes!