Well 2016 is officially under way much earlier than in seasons past. The past few years I have sat behind my computer and followed these early season races from Boulder and thought to myself “I should have gone to the race”. So, this year I decided I was going to actually do one regardless of my coaches advising me not to. My lead up to the race was pretty good. I would say I was as best prepared as I could have been given the time I took off over the holidays and the training conditions in Colorado.
The start list was full of awesome runners but not many good swimmers. However, the swimmers that were there are the best in the business. I knew it would be vital to get in the main swim group with Lauren Brandon and Sarah Haskins- two women I have never been able to come out of the water with over my entire career. My plan was to sit in on the bike as long as possible and then use my strength on the run and try and win the race. It seemed manageable and I assumed I would be able to run a 1:25 half marathon given the run splits I had in my last 5 races. Panama brought the heat on race day and I for sure suffered. I was able to get out of the water as planned with Lauren and Sarah. I was extremely shocked to be leading out of T1. I rode with them along with another athlete and friend, Heather Lendway. I would not say I was struggling with the effort on the bike but it definitely was not comfortable. The heat and humidity zapped me along with the fact I hadn’t ridden 56 miles yet this year in training at once. The group was riding strong and kept pushing the pace each lap. At ~65km I hit a pothole on a downhill and my back tire started going flat. It did not completely flat so I just kept riding as I only had 20km left (the bike course was 3km short). At this point I lost the group and I rode the rest alone. I was actually okay with this and I just told myself I was resting up for the run. Once I hit T2 I was happy to be off the bike and have total control over the situation. The bike course was 3 loops and very congested with passing age groupers. Many times I thought I was going to crash out. The run was an absolute death march. I felt exactly how I did last year at New Orleans 70.3- miserable. I wouldn’t even say I blew up- I had nothing from 1km. I refused to DNF and just kept shuffling along and getting passed. I ended up finishing 7th and with a 1:33 half marathon. This is the lowest place ever in a 70.3 but I am still proud I hung in there and finished.
Overall, the event was a very humbling experience. I was fortunate to have a very good second half of 2015 and it was a big fat reality slap in the face. Racing well takes hard work and focus. I have so much to work on and learned that I cannot take anything for granted. Some of the women really stepped in up on the run in Panama and they all inspired me to get back to some serious work. Congratulations to Sarah, Lisa, Heather, Kirsty, Linsey, and Lauren B. for some great runs. I hope to be closer to my best in the next one. Thank you all for the support and following! On to the next.