2nd - 4:14:13
Swim 27:24 (11th)
Bike 2:21:37 (3rd)
Run 1:21:31 (1st)
I moved into 7th place soon after mounting my bike as I took advantage of running my bike to the top of the steep hill instead of mounting at the bottom. My new bike was in tip top shape thanks to Alex at SRAM who came to see me as soon as I arrived in the States from Australia. He went over the bike with a fine-toothed comb and provided me with a selection of shiny new Zipp wheels with custom World Champ decals. With my bike firing I hoped my body would too after the travel half way round the globe from Australia.
As I was approaching T2 I was warned there was a sharp turn before a quick dismount but I guess I underestimated how quick it would be after the turn. Before I knew it the dismount line was right in front of me and I was still in my bike shoes, I hadn't even loosened them so I had to jump off with my shoes still on. Not a big deal usually but the run to rack my bike was quite long and all on concrete. I looked like a waddling amateur trying to quickly run into T2.
I started the run in 4th place, and with a rather slow transition I was told I was now 3:30 behind Meredith but Rachel and Melanie were in sight. A couple of km in I moved into 2nd place, slowly making up time on the leader but by 7km I was in pain. Not a usual racing pain, I could feel the balls of my feet pounding and ripping to pieces. They were starting to feel like I was running bare feet on the hot bitumen. By 10km it felt like I was running on knives so when I got into the nice gravel loop around the Vineyard I stopped and had a bit of a look to see if I could find out why and maybe fix the problem. Everything appeared normal, the tread was still on the bottom of the shoes and there were no big rocks stuck in my shoes. So I continued on and pleaded with my feet to wait another 11k or so and then I'll stop and pamper you as much as you like.
I've seen several triathletes heel strike when landing - It can't be that hard I thought! So I tried it (along with all sorts of running gaits to try land anywhere other than my forefoot)...without success. There must be some trick to heel striking because I was running on the spot. And still in pain.
There were many times in the last 10k when I was so close to pulling the pin and tearing my shoes off under a shady tree somewhere. It was a constant battle inside my head trying to decide which would be more painful - running on knives or getting a DNF. While the battle continued in my head, the mile markers thankfully continued to tick over.
The biggest thank you goes to Pat and Barbara for their hospitality during our stay in Santa Rosa. They've been my home stay there 3 times now and it feels like returning to family when we visit. Travelling to Santa Rosa in July has come to be just as much about catching up and spending time with Pat and Barb as it is to be racing Vineman 70.3 on Sunday morning. Can't wait to see you guys next time!