There was a moment on Saturday when I was running out of the water into transition. Usually, transitions are my specialty. Usually, I move quickly and make up time on other athletes. But Saturday morning, I was running flat-out, going as hard as I could down the cement along the edge of the water, past all the people still lined up to start, and I could not close on the two girls in front of me. And I thought, ‘This is a different race.’
Then, I basically kept thinking that for the next four hours. The pro race is a different race.
Here are some things I learned in my first professional race (minus those elite races I did back in the day when I was super unprepared):
- When you can’t find the right bike rack, it’s not a great idea to start freaking out and running in circles around transition at 5:45 a.m.
- Apparently, there is a different pro entrance to the start and getting stuck in the age-group corral and being forced to climb under the fence isn’t actually what the world champions do.
- Probably don’t throw up a little in the water at the start next time.
- What I think is 12 meters is really more like 30m.
- Rolling starts mean a concentration of would-be male hot shots near the front of the age group field. You get to meet them all when they start swarming the middle of the women’s pro race on the bike. Also, it’d be nice if we got more than six minutes on them.
- My bike fitness isn’t there yet.
- That comes back and hits you on the run.
- Don’t grab Coke, thinking it’s water, and throw it in your face. It probably won’t keep you cool.
- Still, I definitely belonged.
It wasn’t my best race ever. It wasn’t even in the top five probably. But it was solid and it was what I needed. I needed to know I could be in the mix, that I remember how to do this, that I just have to keep chiseling away and I’ll get better.
And I needed it to be fun. And it was. Except for the last 20 minutes when I got passed by two women. I got to hang out with the Smash-Dimond girls, see friends, meet tons of people I only internet-know, and drink bowls of margaritas (after).
I could see the finish when I got passed. It was just a few minutes away, but my legs were giving out, wobbling, knees buckling. I was so worried I’d lose more in that final stretch. What the hell. I was trying to sprint, pumping my arms, and looking over my shoulder at every man catching me. I stumbled across the line, weaved, leaned on the barricade, realized I might not have crossed the timing mats yet, weaved across them, leaned on a volunteer, and then Kimberly, who had just passed me, stopped to tell me she reads the blog. And I don’t know what I said to her. I have no recollection. Hopefully, it was coherent. So, hi, Kimberly, I hope you had fun too.