With a few days to consider the 2012 edition of REV3 Quassy from the rear view mirror, I've realized that I basically recreated a mirror image performance to what I did at this event last year. The funny thing is that the events of the past year have completely altered my perspective. In 2011, I was over the moon with coming off the bike in second place---it was at the time "hands-down the most thrilling moment of my triathlon career"---and landing in 8th place at the end of the day in a race that has been informally dubbed the "June World Championships". This time around I took 9th place in an almost identical time, with remarkably similar splits, and quite frankly I'm not too pleased with the result. On one hand, it's reassuring to know I'm on track compared to last year because I was able to achieve some pretty big mid- and late-season breakthroughs in 2011; it's an indication of good things to come in the long run. However, with greater success comes a higher level of expectation. I do not want an exact repeat of last season, I'm looking for an improvement upon it. Armed with a little more experience and confidence this season, along with some improvements to my training, I simply expect better of myself. I came into Quassy prepared to be competitive but I simply didn't execute. The good news is that I can learn from the mental and tactical errors that I made. The even better news is that I have a shot at redemption very soon---this weekend in fact! Yep, that's right. I'm performing my own personal science experiment on racing and recovery by doing two half-iron events 6 days apart. Wish me luck! But first, a quick breakdown of what happened at Quassy:
It was a non-wetsuit swim in Lake Quassapaug for the pro field which suits me just fine. I figure that as a "bigger" girl a colder swim in cool air temperatures is better for me because it bothers me less than some of the smaller ladies. I got off well in my Blueseventy swim skin with some quick dolphin dives, but then found myself stuck in a stalemate with another swimmer which essentially blocked me from catching the feet of the leaders. We were swimming side-by-side at the same pace which doesn't do either swimmer any favors and try as I might I just could not break out of this vortex. We continued in this maddening fashion until finally the other swimmer must have gotten tired of it too and she cut behind me. From then on it was clear water but the lead pack was gone. I exited the water in 5th place about 1 minute down from the leaders. Not insurmountable by any means, but definitely not the smartest swim I've ever done.
My mission once out of the water was to get to the lead of the race as soon as possible. In retrospect this was probably a mistake but I just couldn't help myself, I was having so much FUN. I flew through the transition, mounted my Fezzari T5 and strapped my feet into my Pearl Izumi shoes, then settled down to work. The first pack came back to me pretty quickly and by Mile 3 I had overtaken them. However, my lead was short-lived as Heather Wurtele came motoring by soon after. I tried to key off her for as long as I could but she just kept inching away. Somewhere (Mile 30 perhaps?) bad news came zooming by in the form of Angela Naeth. Last year Naeth did not catch me until about 4 miles into the run so the sight of her Pearl Izumi kit this early in the ride was not especially welcome. Either I was stinking it up out there or she was having an unbelievable ride! At the single out-and-back section of the course I realized that Mirinda Carfrae was right on my tail. I tried to shake her but she was determined and we ended up arriving at T2 within seconds of each other.
A much as I love the bike course at Quassy, it was the run that I was most looking forward to this time around. I've put a lot of work into my running this spring and I was excited to have a second stab at conquering the legendary hills. The first three miles felt GREAT (as is evidenced by the goofy photo of me smiling with my thumb up and tongue sticking out) and I was able to find a good rhythm. Then the hills started coming and the doubts crept in. A little out-and-back section around Mile 5 gave me a good look at who was coming up behind me and it was at this point that my focus shifted from up the road to down the road. Not good! I could say that the hills kicked my butt, but really it was my own brain that did me in. It was some consolation that I was able to pull it together at Mile 9 and run well over the last four miles but the damage was done.
Despite being disappointed in my performance, the thing to do is to learn from it and move on. I've had time to process what went well and what could be improved, and I'm determined to be stronger next time around. One of these years I will conquer that course! I had a great time, I love racing, and REV3 always puts on a good show. I was lucky to have good friends and family cheering and supporting me throughout the weekend. And it was nice to have a couple days afterwards to decompress and spend with my relatives who I don't get to see very often. Overall it was a successful trip and I'm looking forward to the next one! Special thanks to Aunt Candy for whooping, Kim & Sheri for hosting, Rudy & Lucy for making the trip up from NYC; as well as REV3, Powerbar, Pearl Izumi, Recovery Pump, Blueseventy, Fezzari, Rudy Project, Maxxis, and The Bike Shoppe for the continued support.