Wilmington was going to be the last race of the season for me and I was determined to make it a good one. We got there Friday evening, in time to pick up our packets and have dinner at the condo we rented with one of Marty's athletes and our dog Tassie. I won't reveal what we ate since most of you would recoil in horror at our pre-race dinner (but it was just a sprint and we were running out of options and time by that point).
I was dissatisfied with my performance at Lake Norman and also with my race here last year. I strung together some good solid weeks of training and felt pretty strong coming into the race, but also knew after glancing at the participant list that it would be competitive -- YAY!!!
I rode my bike to transition, set up my junk and chatted with people on my rack. Rode the trolley to the swim start (it's a point to point swim) - we got to wear our wetsuits! Although, upon going in the water I was pretty surprised, and even got a bit warm during the swim. Marty and I misheard the current warnings and lined up on the wrong end of the start line (the current was moving pretty strong pushing us to the right for the early waves) but I still had a great swim for myself. I went super, super hard at the beginning and was able to draft off of people I'm typically nowhere near. Of course, they did drop me about half way through and I had a moment of panic when I realized, "Wow, I'm REALLY tired!" but was able to compose myself and still got out of the water in a great position. I actually beat Kate Martin (last year's winner) out who I've never beat in the water. And upon running to my bike, Chris was still there. Kate is a transition specialist and was off ahead of me on the bike (and I'm not even that slow with my wetsuit or anything - she just blew by so fast). I passed her after the causeway, she re-passed me soon after, and then I passed her back quickly for the last time and stayed ahead the rest of the ride. But she was in the back of my mind and it really forced me to go fast! No sleeping this time on the bike! I knew that the bike was going to be important and I pushed a lot harder than I normally do, not even worrying about what my run may feel like because of it. Last year, my bike was pretty crappy, and I ended up biking almost 2 min faster this year. Very happy about that.
I am a little slower in T2 since I put on socks, but once again Kate was a lightening bolt and I swear I barely saw her rack her bike before she was off. Leaving T2, I was in 4th place - Kate was just ahead of me, Chris was in 2nd and Brianne Godwin was in 1st (she crushed us all on the swim).
At the beginning of the out and back early on in the run, I passed Kate and Chris pretty much at the same time. After the turn around I passed the other BG and was now in the lead just before the mile. I felt pretty good - I was definitely working it but thought I could hold the pace and felt like if anyone came up from behind I would be able to put up a good fight. Kate had told me before the race that she had been running a lot so I wasn't going to discount her that fast.
I also caught Marty around the 2 mile mark, but was unable to make any snarky remark because I was too tired at that point and didn't have any extra breath -- just kidding! I would never do anything like that to my love :)
He did tell me that I was clear, which was nice to know. I didn't let up for one second but instead of worrying about what was going on behind me (because I was not going to look back) I could concentrate on my form and cadence.
I rounded the final corner and smiled as the announcer Tom called my name as the first female. This was my first win this year in the NCTS and definitely hard fought! It was a lot of fun to put it all out there and come out with the win.
After the race I was talking to Chris, who I had known was in a car accident a couple of weeks ago. I asked her if she was okay (I have not beaten Chris in a long time and she is now racing pro) -- this is what a class act she is: she said, "You know, I wish I could say that the accident is the reason why I didn't do good today, but I can't. I just didn't feel all that good!" So many people would have used any excuse for having a sub par race, but she was like, nope, just didn't have it. It sounds like she has had some pretty big training weeks so hopefully with a little rest this week she'll be ready to go for Best of the US next weekend.
So all in all, I'm really happy with my last race. I was able to dig deep AND feel good in all 3 sports; something that doesn't happy too often. It's always nice when the hard work pays off.
We met some of the Wilmington locals out that night - fun times! And this morning we did an open water swim clinic at Wrightsville Beach and in the intracoastal. Now it's time to unpack and do some laundry.