I was only gone for 48 hours, but it felt like a week.
The trip to Valle was painless, but quite long. I arrived in Mexico City at about 5:30am on Friday. From there, I was escorted by van to the home of one of the race organizers. She then drove me, and a bunch of the volunteers, by van, to Valle. It was a long trip because traffic leaving Mexico City on Friday is a lot like traffic on a Friday in L.A. It is bumper to bumper, stop and go, and essentially added an extra hour on to the trip.
I arrived in Valle around 11am. This was after navigating one lane roads, passing cars, driving through small towns, big towns and no towns at all. Mexican triathlete Arturo Garza, one of my very good friends, came to pick me up. He took me back to his good friend Jorge's house. I met Jorge last year while racing in Ixtapa and he offered to put me up at his home in Valle for the race.
His house is incredible. It sits up on one of the mountain sides and looks out over the lake where we raced. It has some of the most spectacular views I think I have ever seen. It was also good fun because we got to take a little dingy across the lake to get to the transition area on race morning. I've never arrived to a race via boat before.
We had quite the time trying to fit 8 people and 8 bikes into the minivan the day before the race. We all needed to go to transition to ride the course and do our pre-race prep. But with 1 car and a cobblestone and very hilly drive down to the main road the only option was to pack everyone and all of our stuff into the car. I give a lot of credit to those who packed the car because it was a real testament to our intelligence. I don't know that most people would have been able to tackle the task with such ease.
Notice the 3 bikes on the roof. So that made for 5 bikes and 13 wheels in the back of the car!!
So, now on to the race report...
It was a warm day. Sun high in the sky. Light winds. A great day for racing.
We lined up on the dock and prepared for the command to start. I chose the far right start position because of the direction of the wind and the light current it created in the water. At the "go" I took off. Swimming my own direction, disregarding the first two buoys, I headed for the 450 meter turn buoy. I was fine until I got about 300m in and couldn't see the buoy. I had to stop, tread water, and locate it. Still, with all of that, I got to buoy 1 first. Made the turn and felt light taps on my feet. I was leading the swim. I continued to lead and to try to keep the pace high. I exited the water in first with 2 girls behind me.
Heading out of transition, I was first on to my bike. It was an amazing feeling leading the race and knowing that I was the target that everyone was chasing. On the bike, my legs were not very fresh, but I kept my head down and pushed hard. I was passed by one girl pretty early on but remained about 15 seconds behind her for the rest of the 20k until I was caught by a small chase group of 4. We worked together to pull the last remaining athlete back. Coming into T2 I was in third. I had a quick transition and headed out on to the run in 2nd. I was pushing along, legs still feeling a bit heavy (maybe from the altitude?) but mentally really jazzed to be in such a great position. Everything was great until I hit the 1250meter mark and the first turn around. My right side cramped up. I tried to push on, used every trick I knew to get rid of it, but it just continued to get worse and to spread down my side. After 2.5 laps of run walking in excruciating pain, I decided to call it a day.
The outcome is extremely disappointing because I feel like it was such a missed opportunity. But, I also feel like I went for it and I gave it everything I had from the start which I have never been ready or able to do in the past. All I can do is "turn the page", learn from this and work harder in preparation for my next race. Side cramps are not something you can really prepare for, so here is to hoping that I never get another one and that my time is just around the corner.
And, on other note...
Is it really necessary for the police to carry around guns that big? Mind you, they have hand guns too. Also, note the choice of positioning of the guns in relationship to my head (?!). I was a little unsure of it while standing there waiting on the photo. I thought it was like running with scissors... you always point them down... unless aiming to use them!!