There are many times when free advice is worth exactly what you pay for it. And there are other times when free advice is invaluable.
Angela said: Just give it all you have. There’s nothing out there to worry about. You’ll see the turns ahead of you.
Deirdre said: Go out hard, you can’t make it up on the back side of the course, so go off like a rocket. Always pedal the downhills.
Megan said: You’ve got this. Just remember, when you get to the last hill, and you see the turn, that’s the end of it. Just make the turn and you’re done.
Erin said: It’s going to be stair steps, don’t think it’s all downhill. Be ready for it. It’s going to step up. Also, you can do what you want, but I don’t take a water bottle. It’s a half hour effort. (Advice is also awesome in not-so-subtle-hint form.)
Kaitlyn said: Make sure you’re in an easy enough gear when you start, and definitely take the hold.
Tom said: Watch the corners, with the rain it’s going to be slick out there. Mark said: Go hard, you know how hard is too hard. You know yourself, you've been doing this [in cx], so don't blow yourself up. (Advice is particularly helpful from people who know you better than you know yourself on a bike!) Two words: Thank. You.
That morning I was fueled by nerves, more water than I needed (again), and donuts. It was cold, which was great for me, and wet which I certainly don’t mind. I like conditions that are less than optimal. Don’t get me wrong, I love riding in the sunshine, but I embrace the suck when it comes time to pin on a number and race. I also do much better when I don’t have to battle the heat along with the terrain.
My warm up started with a jog up the hill to the port-a-johns, where the officials warned there would be no triathloning today, and we announced we would be winning at exercising. Then, in advance of coffee from Deirdre, Megan, and Angela delivering coffee and bringing more water (I can’t thank you all enough, again), to make sure I was fully awake, Mimi and Nikki give me a shake while I was locked in the middle ‘stall’, while Erin was being awesome and making me laugh so hard I was crying. I was lucky not to give my skinsuit sleeve The Blue Dip while I was in there.
I then hopped on the trainer briefly, but my right knee was barking with my bike in the trainer, so after some high cadence effort, I popped off the trainer, pinned on a number, and rolled up the hill to the start line.
When I got to the line, I remembered Kaitlyn’s advice, took the hold, and shifted into a gear so I could spin up immediately.
And despite being fairly sure I was going to fall over as I tried to get into my pedals, I clipped in, and when I got the signal to go, I went!
I spun up, shifted immediately, and was off downhill. I remembered what Deirdre said: go hard, go fast, and pedal.
And I had only one thought going down that first hill:
And I was off. Tiffany was my 30 second woman. And I could see her ahead of me. I had no idea what I was doing, or how hard I should push. I was going by feel. So I tried to just stay aware of if/when I would blow myself up. I focused on maintaining a high cadence, and not exploding on the hills, while trying to maintain my efforts on the downhills so that I was constantly pushing, constantly pedaling. I was thinking about what Erin said, that I needed to be aware not to have expectations of the course that were too simplistic, and so I stayed aware of my efforts. I didn’t want to blow myself up.
I passed Tiffany about 2/3rds into the lap on my way out.
I also saw cows, and it was gorgeous. And a little chilly, but I was pedaling hard enough that I no longer noticed how desperately uncomfortable my legwarmers were. This was certainly helpful. And my knee was doing alright. I silently thanked Jose.
The turn-around! I braked slightly to slow, remembering what Tom said about slick corners, stood up out of the turn and kept going.
I passed my one-minute woman and another rider shortly after the turn around. My rabbit was ahead of me on a TT bike. I was gaining ground on her on the uphills, and she kept me working through the flats where I would find I wanted to take a rest.
And all the while, it was awesome to shout out to ladies who were on their way out, and to catch a glimpse of several of the 1-2-3 men on their way out, if only to hear for a moment that sound of carbon disc wheels: whoosh whoosh whoosh.
I caught the woman on the TT bike about halfway on my return.
I was passed by two riders, Clio and Amy, who were going for it. But knowing that so much of time-trialing is mental, I didn’t get discouraged, I kept going, and within moments of Amy passing me, I looked up to see a hill that disappeared around a turn. I remembered what Megan said: after that turn I would be done! I tried to catch Amy back on the final hill. The 200 meter sign, after wondering just how long I would be out there when I was about to make the turn-around, I had remembered what Mark said and listened to myself. I had more than survived. I stood up, remembering what Angela said, and gave it everything I had to stand and charge the final hill.
25:44 gun time. Within 30 seconds of 2nd and 3rd place. A 4th place finish, and far enough ahead that even with bonuses, I had moved up in GC.