I’m home (in Austin) and we are settling back into our routine.
I can’t believe it has already been 3 days since racing California. Time just seems to slip by…

ML and I had a great time in San Diego, staying with Roch and Heather (and Nadine), seeing all of our friends, visiting with sponsors, and of course…racing in our first big race of the season. There is something really special about San Diego for us. I’m not sure if it’s our friends, the gorgeous weather, or the beach. In any case, we had a great time.

Race morning seemed almost perfect. We arrived early at 5:15am to transition, racked our bikes, and prepared ourselves for the day. We were excited to be here. It was our first BIG test to see how all of this hard work was paying off.

ML lined up with the pro men and he was “off”. Now it was my turn…
The pro women lined up three minutes after the men. My whole body was shaking from being cold (yes, I have gotten even softer being in Austin. 48 degrees is now cold for me). However, once I got into the water with a minute or so to go, the shaking stopped and it was time to focus. My Blueseventy wetsuit felt amazing. I was used to it after my Barton Springs swims with the boys. I lined up with the rest of the women and almost felt a calm come over me. I felt GREAT! As soon as the gun went off, I was off. It was probably the best swim start that I have ever had. For once, I didn’t get left behind! (I have to compliment Siri for my swim start! Last year, we did lots of open water swims at the REZ). I went out aggressive and I was in the middle of the main pack….until just after the first left buoy…lol! Yes, I blew up a bit. I just swam easy for a bit to gather myself.(I had to swim a bit easy as my arms were numb from swimming so hard for 300 meters!…lol!). I was a bit bummed that I got dropped, but that feeling soon went away as soon as I saw a yellow cap right behind me. That yellow cap was Erica C. YAHOO…good news. Erica has really brought her swim up in the last year, and I though she would be the perfect person for me to swim with now. We came out of the water together and our bikes were racked right next to each other. As I entered T-1, I heard all of the “go Amanda’s!”. Thank you so much! The cheers were so energizing! As Erica and I raced to our bikes and started our transition to the bikes, my transition plan went flying out the window. I suddenly found myself doing everything Erica was doing so that I wouldn’t lose her…lol! My arm warmers went flying to the side, my gloves got left behind…I felt like “stormin’ norman”. I just didn’t want to lose her.
As we left transition, and we climbed the first hill together, I realized quickly that I wouldn’t be able to ride with her. She was riding really hard and really fast. So after about 5 miles, I said good bye :0). And now, thanks to my crazy transition, I was freezing…LOL! Thankfully, my being cold only lasted for about 45′.

The one thing that I really like about California 70.3 is how fair the bike course is. It really separates the great bikers from the good bikers. Not only is it mountainous and scenic, but it can be extremely windy as well.
All of the pro women were really spread out. I really feel like it is a fair race. Throughout the bike, I saw (maybe) 3 age group men. And when I passed someone, there was nobody “jumping on a wheel”. I felt good about that.

The entire time, I was assessing how I was feeling, hydrating, going over my nutrition. It was all good. I rode awesome for about 35 miles and held on pretty ok for the last 20. Being really sick two weeks prior, and recovering took a lot out of ML and me. We missed a lot of key sessions. My legs never gave out on me during the bike portion, but I felt like I was missing that back end strength that you need in a half. My bike fitness is good. And while, as athletes, you always want to go fast or do better, it was what I had on that day.

As I entered transition 2, I realized that I was having a pretty good race. My legs felt fresh and I felt ready to pop off a good run. My running has come around quite well the past few months and I felt confident!
After racking my bike, putting socks on (YES!…no blisters!), and taking a hit of my inhaler, I started the run portion. The first half was good. I was getting my legs under me and my heart rate was good…around 150.

After hitting the Strand, I grabbed a swig of coke and a swig of gatorade. All of the sudden my heart rate soared to 200. With the spike in heart rate, my pace plummeted to 8 minute miles. This has happened before in a race (St. Croix), so I didn’t panic. I thought to myself: “ok, after a few minutes, it will settle down and I will be able to run again”. A few minutes turned into about 6 miles. I told myself that if my heart rate didn’t settle down by the turn around that I would start to walk. I knew that I had to get it under control or else my heart might beat out of my chest. There was a slight down hill just before the turn around. And for some reason, my heart rate dropped to 150. My entire body felt loose and I felt fresh. All of the sudden I could run again. I came back from the “dead”! It goes to show, anything can happen in a longer race. Sometimes you just have to wait it out and let it work itself out.

After the race, I had lots of questions of why this “spike” would happen. It never happens in training…only in a race. Well, I learned something. Apparently mixing the albuterol with the amount of caffeine that I had that morning, while trying to work my body at a hard effort, coupled with the sugar and caffeine from the coke and gatorade caused the spike. I use my inhaler 3-4 times a week in Austin. (In Boulder, I hardly ever use it). Lately I have been using it all of the time with the oak and cedar allergies here in Austin. I took it in California, not because I needed it, but because I was trying to be cautious. I took about 3 hits during a 6 hour period…which was apparently too much for my very sensitive body when combined with the caffeine. My being overly cautious actually caused the problem…well, you live and learn…

I was pretty bummed to make a stupid ill-calculated mistake. But the reality is that even if I was able to run what I know I can run, I wouldn’t have been any better than 11th or 12th. California was STACKED. These girls are NO JOKE. In fact, a few years back I went 3 minutes faster, placing 6th.

On a positive side, even after struggling and suffering for 6 miles, I was able to turn it around and I was able to finish strong. That is something that I am extremely proud of!

A huge thank you to Cliff who was there to support us and the rest of the troops. Thanks to Canari, Brand Betty, and Splish for making me look HOT in my new race kit. Big thanks to Boulder Running Company, Blueseventy, SCOTT, First Endurance, Jack and Adams, FSA, TRAKKERS, and Marc at Race Day Wheels! You guys ROCK. Thanks for all of your support!

Last thing: A big thank you to Shawn Frack…Shawn didn’t know what was going on with me, but he seemed to say all of the right things when I was struggling. I gained so much energy from his words and he gave me a bit of hope that my situation could turn around.

The next race on the Lovato schedule is St. Croix, May 3rd. Stay tuned for more…