On December 31st I had made the decision to not race Pucon. I had been sick for 5 weeks. I had the flu, which turned into a cold, which had turned into a sinus infection. I had been lying in bed more than I had been training. My confidence was low and Cliff and I agreed that I didn’t need to punish myself with a lot of travel with the possibility of a bad race, after taking some time off from racing the past four months. I left for Casa Fred in Austin on January 1st, antibiotics in hand, and a small bit of hope in the back of my mind. But I promised myself that if my 2 week push did not go well, that I would stay home.

I knew from previous experience that I could race well if I built my training right into race day. For ten days, I worked and trained really, really hard…I trained so hard that by the end of the push I was crying and could not possibly imagine training another day…I couldn’t bring myself to call Cliff. I was too burnt up and exhausted and knew that if I talked to him, I would cry even more…lol! In the back of my head, however, I knew that I was in a good spot and the training I had done in that ten days was sufficient. So the decision was made…I rested enough to not feel like crying, and got on the plane to Pucon on Tuesday before the race. I rested a few more days (always respect the travel), then rode 40 miles two days out at 3/4 effort.

Michael and I had spent a lot of time enjoying Pucon during race week, absorbing the culture, and eating enormous quantities of food. PNF had suggested that we enjoy Chile and to think of the race as a hard workout within a vacation. We took her advice to heart and really did think of Pucon that way. We settled right into the Latin lifestyle of eating late and going to bed late. And race night was no different. While I did eat dinner at my normal “race dinner” time of 4pm, I could not help myself with a late night dessert.

Race morning came. Our alarms went off at 5am. The race start was 8am. ML and I overslept by an hour…finally waking up at 6am. We ate our breakfast and were able to get to transition just after 7am. We were both just laisez fair about the whole “race thing”. I’m not sure that we have ever been so laid back before a race…lol. I missed my opportunity to do a race warm-up, but we did make it to the swim start on time. I wasn’t nervous. I was excited. I had no expectations. After all, everything that I planned on doing for this race was different than anything thing that I had ever done in a race before:

My plan was to try out some new ideas suggested by my GI doctor. One of these suggestions was to ditch my jetstream. I have never ever raced, in the past 12 years, without my jetstream. Apparently I suck down huge amounts of air through the straw which accelerates my upper GI problems.
I have a new bike (my sweet little Kestrel Airfoil). The fit that I have now, suggested by the RAPPSTAR :)) is the most aggressive fit that I have ever had in the past 12 years of me racing triathlons. Zane, my bike fitter, has been fighting with me for years to change my fit, but I would not have it. However, after some gentle nudging by Jordan, I finally agreed to try a different fit.
I am riding the ISM ADAMO saddle. I have always ridden a flight or a SLR. However, again, with gentle nudging from Jordan and ZANE, I have been riding this saddle for a few weeks and I love it.
I can not remember the last time that I raced without socks…Olympic distance races…maybe?? However, I am now racing in Saucony A3′s. I decided that since everything else I was trying was a roll of the dice that I should toughen up (as Rinny and Richie would say) and race without socks. (My feet look like raw meat…I may not try that again for a half…yes I am a wimp…LOL) .

The Swim:
This was the first year that the pros did not have to start with the age groupers. Pedro, Pucon’s race director, is trying to help the race grow. And he wanted to see how full the roads would be with a wave start. For the first time ever, in the races history, there were wave starts. I was pretty stoked as I though the wave starts were set smartly. The 45 plus ladies started 5 minutes after us. And I believe the 35 plus men started about 15 minutes after us. It was a CLEAN race for us girls!

As we lined up for the swim, I positioned myself behind Christian Bustos. After all, we used to swim together when he was in Boulder training. And I thought that I could at least sit on his feet. The gun went off, we started… and it was as if I had forgotten how to swim or had never swum before. I was able to swim on Christian’s feet for exactly 475 meters (the first buoy). I then felt my swim fitness and promptly got dropped. I swam all by myself for the rest of the swim and finished last place pro.

The Bike:
As I hoped on my fast Kestrel Airfoil, I had two things come to mind:
#1. I hoped that I could ride like I did during my ten day training block.
#2. I hoped that my ISM Adamo saddle would not cause a Splish suit malfunction during my ride.
The first hour I struggled a bit. My quads were achy and I didn’t feel spritely. However, I remembered why I was there…. I was in CHILE! I was in Pucon racing! I was doing what I love the most. AND…I wasn’t having GI issues.
And then something really awesome happened at about mile 20… my legs came around!
All of the sudden, I felt really, really good. And I started passing the South American girls!
I reveled in the fact that I was in PUCON! I was smiling, cheering for the other girls, and giving good fist pumps. I was finally riding like I did when I was in Austin, I wasn’t having GI issues for the first time in 5 years, and lastly while riding in my new aggressive bike position, my saddle wasn’t trying to cause a costume malfunction… all was good in the world!
The run:
I came into transition 2 in third position. I hoped off my speed machine, and I immediately knew that I had definitely used my legs on the bike ride. My legs were a bit tight. I started the run, which goes straight uphill through the “peninsula”. I felt like I was going SO SLOW. I saw my friend, Renata, and exclaimed “OMG…this is HARD”!!! She cheered me on and I could not believe how badly I felt. I thought to myself that this run could not end soon enough for me. Again, I started to think about why I was there…And as I crested the mountain, I saw the famous Pucon Volcano. And I could not stop smiling…

At a little out and back on the first loop, I saw Heather Gollnick and cheered for her. At the end of the out and back I realized how close I was to her… I could not believe it. I had just started to settle into a nice rhythm. I had just started feeling good. Sometime after the first loop of the three loop course, I passed her. After passing Heather, we got a 3:40 split from Tereza. I thought to myself that 3:40 was too much time to make up. I didn’t really know how many more miles I had left, but I just kept running my pace. Somewhere in the second loop, I passed Tereza. I though to myself…OMG…I am winning!!
Immediately, I stopped thinking about it…”winning”. Again, I reminded myself why Michael and I were in Pucon. I reminded myself how beautiful this race was. I realized that I had not had one GI episode during this race. I was exstatic! I cheered for my competitors and for the age groupers. I gave big fist pumps through the crowds as they enabled me to run even faster…I talked to the junior triathlete, Andrea, who was my lead biker. I reveled in the fact that I was in Pucon, racing, doing what I love the most. And when I finished, I won. I bested two great competitors with incredible resumes. While I have won other half ironmans, I have never won a 70.3. However, again, I reminded myself why I was in Pucon. I took in a deep breath to soak in the beauty of this race, the generosity of the race director, the memories that ML and I had made at this event. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.

A special thank you to Pedro, the race director of Pucon. Pedro and Guillermo took special care that we professional were well taken care of and made sure that our experience was amazing…it was. Thank you TRAKKERS! You guys are awesome. With your help, I plan on making 2010 the best year of my career (so far;)). Thank you Steven of Kestrel for your belief in me and for the fastest bike on the planet. Thank you Robert and First Endurance for helping me with my nutrition, and for providing me with the best products on the market! Thank you Saucony for my fast A3′s…I plan on wearing socks next time ;)! Thank you Splish for my hot new suit. Thank you Brand Betty for helping me ditch the pink, but still make me look girly! Thank you Boulder Running Company for all of your support…you guys are like family to me! Thank you Blue 70. I promise to swim faster next time…:) Thank you Jack and Adam’s Triathlon headquaters…YOU GUYS ROCK!!! Thank you Norma Tech for helping me recover during those 10 days of training hard. Thank you T3 recovery for helping me recover with a good nights sleep. Thank you Coach Cliff for nearly killing me, but making me fast …
…And last, but not least, thank you to my sweet husband who encouraged me every day to eat at the dessert buffet…I think it really worked!