I have a love/hate relationship with Wildflower but decided to suck it up this year and just sign up and do it. I love the race environment but the run part of the course always seems to destroy an ankle, foot, leg, or some other random body part.
I woke up at 4am to work part day on Friday before rolling down to Wildflower. Apparently the powers that be at work have not received my memo on coordinating heavy work weeks with my race schedule, but what can I say...nothing like rolling out a new product the weekend of Wildflower! We finally made it down to the house we stay at every year on Lake Nacimiento with 3-5 families and other rogue invidividuals. By "familes" I mean SUPER FAMILIES, including at least 3 awesome and crazy kids per family. Last year we christened this group "Team Chaos," and believe me, I am not using the term "chaos" lightly! Matt even has a hard time making his voice heard around this bunch. After a brief ride and testing of the new wetsuit I headed back to the Team Chaos HQ for some dinner, chaos, and sleep time. Before bed, I had a small pep talk with the Neal and Johnson kids about how to kill it on the mtn bike tri course. I should have also included myself in this pep talk.
On race morning, I got to use the super awesome elite parking pass to roll right down to transition in the car. This in itself is worth me getting my pro card. I lined up next to my favorite pro triathlete Alexis "the tiger??" Smith and got on with the swim. My goal for this race was to stay with a pack that is faster than me. I accomplished that....for about 600-800 yds... and then I saw them slowly slip away as I flailed around trying to swim straight. I managed to keep the second pack in sight (and yes, i must have really good sight) to some extent for the rest of the swim but knew I had my work cut out for me on the bike. As I approached the swim exit, I heard Matt and other Chaos members yelling for me...once again something about being "only" 6 minutes back. I thought about telling him to shut up, but remembering advice from the last race, I kept my thoughts to myself.
The bike was uneventful. I spent lots of time worrying about the stagger rule, especially when some AG men passed me. I eventually passed maybe 6 girls after what seemed like 300 hours of riding. I did manage to ingest all of my gels...accomplishment number 2 of the day. After the bike, I heard Matt yelling at me once again that I was in 12th or 13th. The ironic thing about super sherpa Matt and his mad timing and counting skills is that between the time i finished my swim and started the run, he had raced the mtn bike triathlon and had ended up finishing 7th. Go Matt!
The run was the death trot into the inner realm of the deep part of hell for me.
My foot had been bothering me going into this race but I decided to just not think about it. For the first couple of non singletrack miles, I managed to keep 2 girls ahead of me in sight. I was excited. I would run down these girls for once in my life. Plans changed, however, when I was graced with the presence of 7 miles of uneven single track. My foot started protesting and decided not to cooperate, despite my attempts to channel Jens Voigt. It was all I could do to just not quit and fill the reservoir next to me "with my tears" as Matt would say. Matt rode down and tried to encourage me at one of the aid stations, but there was nothing he could do. Even the aid station volunteers handing off water were running too hard for me to catch them. I knew at this point I was not busting out my dream minutes per mile splits. I finally was able to pick up the pace when I hit the pavement again, but it was too late. My run split was shot to hell. I ran it in and finished in 12th place with a quite disappointing split and overall time.
After my normal post race yell at Matt, I headed back to Team Chaos Lake San Antonio Park HQ and was happy to learn that all the kids podiumed. It was a HUGE day for Team Chaos! Afterwards, we managed to jam 9 bikes, 12 people, 8 transition bags, 5 Trical plaques, and 6 balloon figures that were all quite phallic in nature into Matt's car (yes this is true) and drove off into the sunset...another pro race behind me....another lesson learned.
Note: I don't have time to upload photos right now, but stay tuned.