A race that wasn't on my radar and approached as a good training opportunity, I never once felt nervous, stressed or out of my comfort zone; thereby, it was one of the most enjoyable races I've experienced in my career as I grabbed a 3rd place podium spot and an 8:57 time. Major takeaway lesson of this race: stop trying to control and organize everything and just race with what you've got!!
I'm kicking myself for not having put this race on my schedule before! I was quite a late entry and very grateful for Challenge in accepting and allowing me to race. (Being an uber-planner, I rarely like to ask others for things on short notice, but I did, assuming they'd say no.) But, I got in. And got a race number larger than I've raced with in a long time! (#3457)
If you've followed my endless stream of Instagram pics of mountains and lakes recently, you'll see I'm not roasting in the Arizona desert right now. I've been training in St Moritz, made the 5 hour drive to Roth and stayed with the best of homestays who offered to show me everything I needed to know. So did Thorsten Radde of Trirating.com. Their knowledge certainly helped me get my bearings, since I didn't have the time to study the course or surroundings. Being off my usual pre-race prep, the late entry, helpful friends and the overall relaxed, celebratory mood at Challenge Roth kept me from ever feeling nervous or pressured. If I were to guess, this is exactly why I was told to come and race here. To prove the point that the preparation doesn't need to be perfect to have a good day.
You can get a variety of race recaps here and here and here to see how it all went down, most of it talks about Daniela going for a world record, but notable (and necessary) for me was a quick run split of 2:56. This was an absolute to get me under the important sub 9 hour mark that day, a career goal. I knew it was possible on this course but never made it an expectation. And judging by the messages I was sending to my coaches and some close friends, you'd have known my legs were non-existent in the days leading up.
It's discussed a lot with this race, the frenzied and massive crowds, but I'll need to restate it: this race takes the cake for crowd enthusiasm. Solar Hill? Absolutely bonkers with people. You approach the base of the hill to see a mass of people covering the entire road ahead. Still gives me chills to talk about it. The multiple run loops through town? A party atmosphere like none other. They played "Born in The USA" as I can through for the last time. The finish line and expo? Like a non-stop party, carnival and celebration.
It's probably more dramatic to say that I "really had to dig deep" or "go to the well" or "bang on the hurt locker" to perform that day, but I honestly didn't. I was thoroughly relaxed and calm and present every minute and simply executed on race day what I've been practicing day after day in training. The extra boost of having fellow competitors like Ruth Brennan Morrey (who had to DNS due to hamstring issues) makes me grateful that I'm healthy enough to be there, especially after a winter/spring of healing a stress fracture of my own and having a longest run of 25k going into the race. It was no small feat to have to run down a significant time deficit to superstars like Yvonne Van Vlerken, Laura Siddall and Daniela Ryf. In the end I only managed to get by Yvonne, a course favorite having won this race several times.
I advise you to get this race on your calendar at some point. And if I can leave you with some nuggets of experience: stop trying so hard, planning everything to the nth degree and setting expectations of a particular outcome. Just do your thing, trust your training, 'race with the legs you've got' and for goodness sake, don't be so serious!
Many thanks to Challenge Family, Stef at Witsup.com, Thorsten at Trirating.com, Ruth Brennan-Morrey, my homestay, my coaches (Doc & MBE) and training partners at Trisutto.com, and of course Timex Multisport Team, Castelli, Compressport, Trek, Shimano, blueseventy, PowerBar, Kask, TriSports.com, Klean Athlete, On Running, Cobb saddles, my husband, friends and family who support me and this sport!