This was my third time racing at White Lake, but my first time in the fall and my first time doing it as an Aquabike. Since it is only 1.5 hours from the house, I just drive over the morning of the event and have plenty of time to get set up and get my goals posted. Here is what I posted this time:
I posted 3 goals, two that were time goals, because that is what I always do... but I wasn't totally transparent in the post. I was doing this Aquabike race with ONE MISSION and that mission was to WIN!
Earlier this year, I did my first Aquabike at the Crystal Coast Half Booty because a half marathon run was not smart that close to IM70.3 Virginia Blue Ridge, but I really wanted to do the race. While the finish line experience for Aquabike is still not the same as triathlon, it planted a bug in my brain since I am strongest at swimming and biking and I won that race. After chatting with friends that have been to WTC World's and stalking the USAT rankings, I knew that I had to do a 2nd Aquabike event this year to be officially ranked. I also knew that with my ranking points form Crystal Coast a 2nd aquabike win would go a long way towards potential Team USA selection, based on rankings! I have been daydreaming about earning a Team USA kit with my name on it for about 8 years (since my first visit to Nationals in 2014.) Knowing that my best chance is by doing the disciplines that I am strongest at, I checked the local race calendar and set my sights on White Lake International to get that 2nd race AND grab as many USAT ranking points as possible.
So, those time goals were helpful to keep me pushing... but not nearly as helpful as knowing that my rockstar teammate Sara Larson was pushing hard to win too!
Swim: 1500m /29.50 6th female of the day (all divisions tri and aquabike)
This is a 2 loop swim course, where you actually get out of the water and run on the beach before you head back out to the 2nd loop. When I got out between the laps, I noticed that there were only 2 yellow caps in front of me (both men), so I knew I was having a strong swim. There was a bit of a current and some fog, but a very uneventful (in a good way) two loops. I was pleased to see that I did not swim too far off course (based on my GPS reading).
As I got out of the water, Sara was literally 3 feet in front of me, she must have passed me in the second lap or was way ahead at the halfway point - not sure which. Based on stalking her past results, I knew she would outswim me and that I would have to chase her on the bike, so I was pleased to see her getting out of the water only 2 seconds ahead of me.
Transition 1: 2:28 14th female of the day (all divisions tri and aquabike)
The transition includes a longish run to the transition area, where I watched Sara pull away from me. Then while I was taking the bags off of my gear (protection from the rain) she was off! Her transition was a full 35 seconds faster than mine... time to go chase.
Bike: 28 miles/1:18:26 3rd female of the day (all divisions tri and aquabike)
I usually use my cadence and power to focus on during a bike. Today it was all about getting in front and staying there. I had averaged 20.4mph on this route in the spring, so I did watch my speed a little hoping to beat that pace, but that was not what made me ride like my life depended on it.
I found Sara at around mile 4 and we leapfrogged a few times before I was finally able to get in front permanently. I never looked back because I did not want to know if she was still right behind me... I wanted to assume that she was. I pushed my power assuming she was there and assuming she could overtake me at any moment. I had seen her bike splits at previous races. I know she is a rockstar! If I didn't accomplish my mission to win, I wanted to know I had given it every effort!
Overall: 1:50:44 1st place Female, 2nd place overall (by only 34 seconds)
Huge shoutout to Sara for pushing me to be my best this day - if we had to run, you would have smoked me! Also, huge congratulations to 3rd place Beth Andrew who is less than 2 months out from ACL surgery and still landed on the podium - INCREDIBLE!!
Will winning this race guarantee me a spot on Team USA - nope... so now I wait until rankings are finalized in FEBRUARY to find out (tick...tock...tick...tock)