Wildflower 70.3 (swim, run, bike, run)

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As I type this race report, or whatever you’d like to call it, I’m on a plane back to North Carolina so I can get back to work tomorrow. The difference about this trip is I get to go back to work to begin the process of moving to Colorado. The Air Force has given me the golden opportunity to live there and train under the military’s world class athlete program to see how far I can go in the triathlon world, and have a shot at recovery, healthy cooking, and strength training. All of which fall to the wayside with my 7-5 job as a Public Affairs Officer. I cannot wait to get started. But first, I’d like to recap the past two months that I have not had time to blog, and then tell my Wildflower half-ironman story. After our huge military cycling camp in March in Tucson, I decided to make the jump into Team HPB under the coaching of the one and only Hillary Biscay. I had the opportunity of getting dinner with her in Tucson that week, and we clicked. She not only intimidates me enough to where I want to impress her in training, but we also just click as people. She cares about my daily life, not just triathlon. She is the first person who I’ve seen continually try to learn about my military lifestyle even though I know I can ramble at times. A week after camp,I did the Clermont challenge in Florida. Saturday was a half-ironman, and Sunday was an Olympic. Let’s just say–never again. Talk about some leg work. All in all it was a great training weekend, and we put some hard work in da bank. Throughout April, Hillary had me cranking wattage on my new Quarq power meter. It was the first month I’ve been on power, and it has made all the difference. I’ve never felt as shot as I do after her workouts. Literally…like someone shot me. However, at the end of April on the way to San Francisco for the hilly wildflower course, I realized that all the low cadence high wattage workouts were for a reason. We arrived in Sanfran on Wednesday and started prepping for our Saturday race. I’ll save you the boring details of the three days of swimming, biking, and running leading up to that day, but let’s just say there was a lot of freezing water and the biggest hills I’ve ever attempted to run/bike up. The best part about the trip was our house on the lake!Image I have never stayed somewhere more beautiful. We got to be coffee snobs and sit on the porch with views like this: ImageRace day came quick. I was here with my elite team, all of which are pros, so I went with them for their 8am race start, and waited for my 9:15am start patiently. I cannot wait to someday be in the mix with all these elite athletes, get that early start, and some amazing competition. Just spotting 3x Wildflower champion heather Jackson with her blonde Mohawk getting ready to race pumped me up.

Well, 9:15 finally came. Not without the temperature raising another 10 degrees. I knew it was going to be a hot one, 90+ degrees! but I decided to take the day as it came. Here comes the fun part! As hundreds of girls 29 and under tried to cram onto the edge of a dock, I tried to find a place on the corner so I wouldn’t get smashed. I ended up being right next to a 6ft tall girl who looked like someone who just got done being a distance swimmer for some NCAA school. Got that Michael phelps body type. I decided I should try to keep up with her, if I could.

Gun goes off…things don’t go as planned. It was a complete madhouse trying to find some water to pull that was free of limbs. This race start ended up being rougher than it was last year at Kona! Girls are vicious hahaha!! The tall girl and I had a little tiff at the beginning trying to pull ahead. Not to mention, the sun at that point in the day was directly on top of the first sighting buoy, so no one could see it. I learned a lot from this swim-ALWAYS have a backup place to search for to keep you in line with the swim course. Buoys aren’t always reliable. I realized this when some paddle boarder started yelling at me that I was headed to the wrong buoy, whoops!

The rest of the swim I had a little fire lit under my butt to make up for lost time. Luckily, coach has been having me swim more than I had been doing, so the swim didn’t take too much out of me. Oh yeah, with all the men’s heats leaving before us, it was kind of awkward dodging older men and trying not to completely seem as if I was rubbing all over them trying to get through packs. The great thing about the swim is no one can tell who you are. We all have our nerd caps, and black wetsuits. Bunch of baby seals out there.

Alright…swim was over, now for the interesting part. The triathlon had to be moved for this race because of water levels. Therefore, we had a quarter mile of boat ramp to run up, grab our shoes, and take off for a 2-mile run towards our bikes, It gave me a little taste of the dirt hills that were to come later in the day on the 11-mile run after the bike portion. But I felt so good! Maybe I should enter duathlons. Running fast after a fast swim is so much fun because your legs aren’t dead yet. Once again, we were dodging all the men who had started earlier. I might have been wasting time but I thought it was so fun zig zagging through people and hopping all over the place dodging rocks and sand on the run-course. We got to our bikes a couple miles later, and I was prepared for some big climbs, and the infamous “nasty grade” that everyone talks about around mile 40. As I was getting on my bike, some referee was snapping pics of me. I yelled at him and told him I swear I hadn’t been drafting, I hadn’t even started the bike. He laughed and just told me I was first female at that point . That motivated me.

It was the first race I have been on power as well, so my goal was to push the wattage the whole time. If I died on the run,I would just have to suck it up. I have never worked the downhills like I did at this race, in order to keep my wattage output high. I realized earlier that this race was going to be me racing against my power meter and the clock,because I couldn’t find anyone to compare myself to or chase. I kept waiting to blowup on the bike because I knew I was pushing my limits, but luckily it never happened. I think i was also distracted from the pain because I was worried about dodging men riding their bikes 3-wide and chatting. There were some huge hills for sure, but nothing I hadn’t seen in Colorado when I lived there.

It was the run I was not expecting. I knew I had pushed a little too hard on the bike and was going to have to suck it up on the run but that was okay. What was not okay was the HILLS!!!! Gosh, I had no idea hills this steep existed. The first couple miles were just rediculous. I realized that the goal for this run was quickly turning into just to “not walk” instead of “run fast.” At one point I decided to trust my quads and knees to hold out on a very steep downhill while I sprinted, bad idea. Haha there was an aid station and a turn at the bottom of the hill, and I could not slow down in time to make the turn. I ended up flying off course into the brush. The volunteers got a good laugh out of me.

I got the next laugh, though. Around mile 7 the men around me started chatting about “nude aid station” and that they “should run faster to get to the boobies.” I could not stop laughing even though we were all hurting pretty bad. The rumors were true; at the very top of the next huge hill we all saw the topless women! I told the guys they better hurry up the hill. After that, I definitely was playing big mental games with myself. Make it to the next mile marker. Make it to the next group of people cheering. Sing to myself. Think of ice cold water. At each aid station there were college kids with water hoses and cold water buckets. I made sure to challenge them to see how soaked they could get me at each one. Fun for them—great for me, especially with the 90+ degree sun beating down on us out there. Eventually, I made it to the last mile.

You would think that a mile all downhill would be amazing, but at that point all of our quads and knees were so done-zo that a steep downhill was the last thing we wanted. I told my knees to shush for a little while longer so we could go get some food and fluids and finally be done with this crazy day.

The finish line was incredible, Tri-Cal put on an amazing event and finish line setup, grandstands and all!! I sprinted in for a 5:01 finish time and overall amateur female. Pretty excited about that.

10 minutes after the race, Kevin (one of my great friends from college who came to race) wanted to walk everywhere to get slushies and massages and blah blah blah and I am pretty sure a 10 meter walk seemed like 5 miles to me, so I just sat on a curb and refused to do anything. Hahahahah…sorry Kev!

The rest of the weekend was relaxing and amazing. I got to meet Heather Jackson, the pro-female winner for the 3rd year in a row. This was so cool, I have idolized her for FOREVER.Image Then on Sunday we had a nice ice-bath swim in Lake Naciemento by our house we were staying in, and got to watch our USMES teammate Nicholas race the olympic race on Sunday. I love cheering on the sidelines! Now I am back at work after a full day of flying from west coast to east coast, and preparing for my big move to Colorado. More to come on that…but expect an epic blog from my new roommate, Olympic track hopeful Morgan, and our 2 dogs, on our lives for the next 2 years. Peace out A-town.Image

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2 thoughts on “Wildflower 70.3 (swim, run, bike, run)

  1. Hi Samantha…Congrats on another great win! Soo proud of you and wish you the very best with your future! I can definitely see you in the not so distant future being that Triathlete that all others idolize and hope they can meet one day…You are an inspiration even to an old guy like myself. I really enjoy reading your Blog. I am sorry we never got to do that ride together, but if you’re ever in the area and interested I’m always up for a ride…Good Luck my friend 😉

  2. Sam, that is so awesome that the Air Force is letting you go back to Colorado! Wow! You are blessed. I am sure you will do amazing feats in your future Triathlons! Sweet! That is great news! 😊😊😊

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