There are so many things to say about such an eventful race! I will try my best to keep it short and sweet.
Last year the Tribike Transport Team decided it would be fun if we picked a team race for the year. We decided on sunny Puerto Rico in March (mostly for our East Coast friends who were suffering through a brutal winter). After tearing my hamstring in Kona in Oct. I knew this race would be more social for me than anything else but what better place for a fun race? One of my goals for this year is to have more fun at races so I was excited to be meeting up with 20 of my teammates at the fabulous Caribe Hilton.
|View from our room|
I arrived in Puerto Rico feeling relatively healthy (just lingering hamstring pain that I thought was due to tendonitis). The week leading up to the race I had undergone an ultrasound and an MRI. I was still waiting for the results so in my mind that meant I was healthy because no one had told me otherwise!! I hadn’t been on my bike much since October but I still had grand expectations of possibly pulling off an early-season win (yes, I know that’s silly considering my first run off the bike was the week previous).
The days leading up to the race were jammed packed with team events and race prep and we were all having a blast getting to know each other. I lucked out in having an awesome roommate, Jennifer Hienton, who was up for exploring the city, drinking wine, and indulging in local Puerto Rican food. I mean we were on vacation, right??
|Local cuisine, mofongo|
Race morning we navigated the logistics of a split transition that was over a mile apart and pretty soon Jennifer and I were in the corrals waiting for the gun to go off (I should mention she was eating a snickers bar like 4 mins before we got in the water). Knowing this was a warm, non-wetsuit swim I had NO expectations of a having a good swim. I have learned I will come out far behind and I am ok with that, for now. The water was clear and pretty and I had a rather uneventful swim. I exited in 10th place, which is nothing to brag about but also right in line with my previous swim performances.
Can we talk about the fact T1 is over a quarter of a mile away and you have to run on asphalt through the streets? Like most of the athletes, I didn’t realize this when packing for the trip so I didn’t have an extra pair of shoes for the run. I did my best to try to avoid stepping on debris or slipping when I got to the slick sidewalk.
I came out of T1 and figured I had a hand full of girls to chase down. However, within the first mile I had a flurry of volunteers come running towards me waving their arms and yelling, “Stop! Get off your bike.” This was definitely unnerving, and I was a little unsure what to do. I assumed there was a bike crash ahead but the panic in the volunteers seemed overboard for just a typical bike crash. As I came to a stop at the base of an overpass, I could see lots of bikes and bodies down to my right. Little did I know that one of my teammates, Tomasz was on the ground (sorry Tomasz, I swear I didn’t see you!)
I quickly looked away, not wanting to freak myself out. There were no cops or medics on the scene yet- just lots of chaos. I sat there for a minute or so and then just slowly started to pedal again. Nobody tried to stop me so I took off. A few minutes up the road I saw 2 more little crashes so I started to get nervous. The roads were full of potholes and I really didn’t want to end up in a pile up. I tried to shake off the nerves and just focus on the road. While the route for the bike course is somewhat scenic, the crappy road surface really took away from any of the beauty. Plus there was a ridiculous amount of road kill (and blood). Ugh. I was feeling pretty good until about mile 30 when my hamstring and back started to really hurt. It was the same feeling I had in Kona and I knew that wasn’t a good sign. By this point in the race, the course was crowded and drafting was in full force. I saw a ton of marshals but they were just giving out “warnings”, while the penalty tents sat empty. It was really frustrating being in that much pain and seeing girls cruise by in a group of 5-6 guys. I still don’t understand how adults cheat in a sport that they are doing purely for fun.
By mile 40 the pain was so bad that I could only pedal for a minute or two in an easy gear and then I would stand up out of the saddle and coast. I was having the same mental battle I did in Kona- trying to figure out if I finish or just get off my bike and call it a day. Needless to say, it took me an eternity to finish those last 16 miles. With less than a mile to go I heard someone on my left yell, “Dude, what the f*ck are you doing here?” It was Jennifer!!! Her joke all week was that I was fast and she claimed not to be (which is a lie) so she didn’t expect to see me until the end of the race. I told her that I was in a ton of pain but that she was having a great race! She politely let me stay in front of her and dismount first (that gesture was not lost on me)!
Jennifer and I came into transition together and racked our bikes right across from each other. She asked me if I was going to try to run and I said yes and with that we were on our way to a hot and hilly run course.
The run course in PR is no joke. When looking up the results from last year, only 2 girls broke 2 hours! TWO HOURS for a half marathon! I was excited though when I saw the profile because a hilly run is totally my jam. Of course, that’s provided I am healthy. I had no idea if I would be able to run or if I would be stuck shuffling along in 95-degree weather hating every second of the run. Thankfully the pain was a lot less once I got upright and I found my running legs pretty easily. The pain was primarily just in my hamstring and I had gotten used to the feeling so I was able to put it out of my mind for the most part. The run course is 2 loops with a ton of hills out and back. It’s incredibly scenic as we run past historic forts on old cobblestone roads.
I would say my only complaint about the run was regarding the lack of aid stations and the difficulty in getting aid from those stations. There is a part of the course nicknamed the “microwave” because it’s down at sea level with a huge fort wall trapping in the heat. Temps get up to 115 degrees down there. It was a little over a mile out and back and there were no aid stations. It’s a two- loop course and by the second loop I felt like I was getting cooked in the microwave. There was also an issue of local Tri Clubs setting up their own aid stations and refusing to give aid to athletes who weren’t on their team. Apparently officials were supposed to be cracking down on this but it was blatantly happening and it was frustrating!
|"The Microwave" looks pretty but it's hot!|
On a positive note, it was AMAZING to see all of the TBT athletes on the course. It felt like every few minutes there was a familiar face cheering me on. It really made a huge difference. I also felt like I was getting into a groove on the 2nd loop. I knew I was out of the race, but I thought maybe I could at least have a decent run. My goal was to break 2 hours and I realized I was going to easily meet that goal. I ended up running from 14th to 6th place with a time of 1:46:02.
After the race, I met up with a bunch of the team and learned the reason I was stopped on the bike was due to a shooting that affected 2 athletes and in turn caused a bike crash that took out my teammate Tomasz. Luckily Tomasz’s injuries were minor and we were all thankful that everyone was ok! I have to admit, I am a little surprised the race was not stopped until police were able to secure the venue and make sure the race itself was not a target. I am not sure if there is a protocol in place for such a thing, but it seems risky to keep a race going amidst gunfire!
Post race fun:
One of the best parts of racing as a team is celebrating after the race as a team! The owners of TBT, Marc and Angela, were kind enough to put on a post race happy hour for us at the hotel so that we could all exchange race stories over cocktails and food. We also got a chance to congratulate Angela who raced PR 70.3 as her first triathlon ever! I can’t imagine picking such a tough race as the first one, but I think they will all be easier from here on out! The festivities continued that night in Old San Juan over tapas and wine!
|More wine, please!|
Now about that broken butt and torn hamstring…
Monday night while on a layover in Miami I had 3 urgent messages regarding my MRI results. The last message said that they would be setting me up with a surgeon and to please call them immediately. I knew that couldn’t be good, and my flight was about to take off so I did what anyone would do… bought a pizza and a bottle of wine and tried not to think about the horrible news that was coming my way when I landed in LA!
After a few opinions and doctor appointments, it’s been determined that I still have a torn hamstring but I also have a huge edema to my ischia tuberosity that is a pre-cursor to a stress fracture. Basically I broke my butt. No wonder it hurt so much to sit on the bike! Duh! Right now I am looking at 4-6 weeks of no activity (other than swimming with a buoy) and I have to use my nifty donut (or ass cushion as we affectionately call it at the office). Apparently the edema is more concerning than the hamstring. Wonderful! I am on day 7 of no activity and I am going stir crazy. I have so much free time I don’t know what to do. I am also struggling to cut down on my food intake to match my decreased activity level. Acting like a “normal” person is hard!! L
In the end, had I not been in Puerto Rico with my team I think I would have sulked about my bad race and injuries; but I had so much fun and got to make so many new friends that I can’t be disappointed! I am still hoping to salvage the year and be able to race in a few months (IM Japan with Keish and Jason sounds too good to pass up) but I also know I can’t rush the rehab process so I am trying not to get ahead of myself.
In the meantime, I will be at Oceanside 70.3 this weekend cheering on friends and teammates. If you are out there look for me- I will be the girl sitting on the butt cushion!
Lastly, I have to give a shout out to the sponsors who make all of this fun possible...