Race morning started at 4am Sunday.

I had my normal breakfast of rice cereal and watered down coffee. I felt well rested. I felt nervous. I felt ready to race! I had a plan. And I intended to follow it!

Michael and I took our easy walk to the swim start from the Caribe Hilton. I had a energy bar, topping off my glycogen levels. My nutrition for this race was perfect. I was topped off and ready to go.

I had a nice little swim warm up. I was SO NERVOUS! I picked the perfect start spot for the swim. I was not going to be left behind this time. The gun went off…I had the PERFECT start position…and the perfect start! . I didn’t feel great, but I felt ok. I lost a group after a few minutes…but then someone from my right passed me. I thought to myself that this was a GIFT from God. I tried to jump on her feet, but I had nothing. While my arms were working well, I had no kick. That sometimes happens to me in a non wetsuit swim. I seem have “lazy” legs. I tried to kick, but it made me feel numb. I ended up swimming with my Brazilian friend Ariane for the remainder of the swim. Swimming with her felt effortless. I tried to go ahead of her a few times, but the ease and effort of sitting on her feet won me over.  We ran through transition together and I would not see her again until the run.

For the first time in over a year, I wore a hear rate monitor on the bike. I wanted to keep my heart rate in my 70.3 range, never going too hard. My legs tend to lie to me for the first 30′ of riding, but my heart rate does not. My goal was to stay “even” for the entire ride. My goal was to ride at 191 watts, which is what I had done in training over and over again. I hit my interval button every 30 minutes. I achieved my goal…I averaged 192 watts. While my time did not reflect it, I rode 10 watts higher than last year . I was pretty happy with that.

It was 80 degrees on the bike and I tried to stay on top of my hydration. Coming from Colorado where the temps have been moderate to cold, I knew that my body was not acclimated to the anticipated 88 degree weather with high humidity. After all, my body is still in Nordic mode. During the final 20′-30′ of the bike, I could feel my quads working a little more. However, every time that I slugged water and took a sip of EFS liquid shot, my legs would feel great again.  It became evident to me that I needed every bit of  the 70 oz of EFS and water that I had taken in.

I came into transition 2, feeling ok. I dropped off my bike, grabbed my Pure Connects and TYR visor and took off for the run. I felt a little tight and a little stiff the first mile…but this is normal. I tried to not force it as I knew that my body would come around. Besides the initial bridge climb and challenging hill out of the park, the first few miles of the “out” of the out and back course is mostly downhill. I wanted to stay controlled and I wanted to stay even for the run. I wanted to pace myself just like I had done on the bike. More than anything, I wanted to have a run that is typical for me. I had a pace in mind that was very doable and not overly aggressive. Again, it something that I do in training over and over again. I usually do not like to eat or drink anything on the run. I typically take tiny sips of water during a half and maybe a few sips of on course gel. At mile two, I felt all of the power leave my body, just like it had done in Pucon six weeks prior to this race. I felt that I was well fueled for this race, but I grabbed a gel at the next aid station. It didn’t help. I kept on going over my checklist in my head…At this point my pace has slowed to 7:50, my breathing is erratic, and  I am starting to feel dizzy. I slowed even more to try to get control. Everytime that I would try to push, I would have erratic breathing and dizziness. I slowed even more and I started making deals with myself: “Ok, I will do one loop and if I don’t feel better, I will stop.” I asked myself questions like: “Am I hurting myself?” I saw Michael at a few of the out and backs. He tried to yell encouraging words, but my body just would not go. Finally I saw him during his final mile and my 7th mile of the run. He said, “Amanda! You need to drink!” Right then, it clicked. I need to start slugging water, not taking tiny sips…At the next aid station, I took two full cups of water and a coke. All of the sudden my labored breathing started to go away. I felt a little power in my body. I needed another aid station…bad! I wasn’t running fast, but I wasn’t running 9 minute pace any more. I felt encouraged. I had figured out how to get myself out of this hole! At the next aid station, I grabbed two more waters and another coke…and again, I felt a little more power in my body. I thought to myself…YES! After a few more aid stations, I was running 8′ pace. Finally with two miles to go, I was back running 6:40-7:10 pace. The power had returned to my body and I figured out some pieces to a puzzle! I was thrilled!

It’s always nice to win races or to achieve all of my goals. While I did not win, while I did not place top 5, and while I did not run 6:40 pace for the run portion, I fit the pieces of a puzzle together that have alluded me while racing. To me this is “winning”.

Thank you to all of my amazing sponsors that have stuck by me through my years of racing, including Boulder Running Company, Splish, Brooks Running, TYR, Kestrel, First Endurance, FSA, ZIPP, Recovery Pump, REV3, Louis Garneau, Oakley, ISM and CycleOPS. Without my sponsors and my husband Michael I could not do what I love! THANK YOU!