If you ever have the opportunity to race in Maine, I highly recommend it! This past weekend, that’s exactly what I did. It was my third REV3 event and just like the other two, it did not disappoint. These guys put on outstanding races that make everyone feel like a rock star!
What made me feel like an even bigger rock star was all of the help and support provided by my good friend Colleen. She made the trip out to the Northeast, tacking on a few other stops along her way to Old Orchard Beach, Maine. We had a grand old time and she provided top notch support, complete with meal preparation, bike help, and smiles. Colleen and I met in college while both studying accounting but now she lives in Denver so I don’t get to see her very often; I’m so glad we made a girls trip out of the weekend!
I flew in on Friday (my first flight left at 7am so it made for quite an early morning!) and we were settled at the cute little beach resort by 3pm or so. Of course I immediately began to tackle the reassembly of the bike. We recently switched out stems on the Alchemy so it made for a little tighter fit in the box that requires a few extra steps. I was a bit nervous about it (per usual) but all seemed to go well. That is until I discovered a slightly bent skewer that was stuck in the wheel. Using my handy dandy mallet (which also doubles as hotel security) that I brought along to help prevent any seat post issues like in NYC, we tapped it back into alignment as much as possible. It was just enough to get that skewer out of there and replace it with a good one. I put the wheels on and everything seemed good to go until I realized the front brake was rubbing without even being closed. Not to worry, with Colleen’s help, we were able to loosen those babies back up and into place. Now, I’m totally not mechanical at all but over these past 5 or so months of traveling with bikes, I’ve been forced to relinquish my fear of breaking something and just get after it. I’m very proud of that accomplishment! I seem to be able to handle most of the minor flare-ups, which is crucial when traveling with a bike so much. I’m certainly not claiming to be a pro at bike repair/maintenance and I definitely won’t be opening up a bike shop anytime soon BUT I’m getting better for sure.
With the bike seemingly good to go, we set out to grocery shop and grab a bite to eat. First we had to make a tiny pit stop across the street to check out the mighty (read – freezing) Atlantic. My goodness, I’m so glad we did – it was beautiful and revved me up for the weekend ahead.
The next day was full of the normal “day before race” preparation with warmup workouts, exploring the course, and a race meeting. Notice I said the word “seemingly” above in regards to my bike being good to go; well, I realized while warming up that I had forgotten to tighten the bolts on the side of the stem that holds it in place – WHOOPS! I’m so glad I discovered that before the race I still have a ton of room to improve in the mechanical area! After all of that was taken care of, we went and explored. Colleen doubled (or tripled?) as a travel agent too! Look at this beauty she took us to see…
It looks like it’s straight out of a painting, huh? I was blown away. How quintessentially Maine! There was a wedding going on too so that made for some awesome people watching. We relaxed for a bit, enjoying the scenery while reading. Needless to say, we didn’t get much read with views like this:
We had to pull ourselves away though so we could get to Mass. I’ve said this before – one of the cool things about traveling to new places is exploring different churches and seeing how different (or similar) they all are. Well, this one provided us with quite a unique experience. Due to my lack of navigational skills (and perhaps also to the distraction provided by the above beautiful scenery), we got there about 10 minutes late. Usually this wouldn’t be a big deal except that apparently at this church, they are rather quick with everything. So by the time we got there, the homily was already winding down. I have no clue how they got there so fast. Nonetheless, we made it and experienced a record setting Mass – a mere 37 minutes! That might be one for the books, wow.
Dinner was up next at a place we had stumbled upon earlier in the afternoon by the name of “David’s.” Boy am I glad we did! It was in a cute little part of downtown Portland (Portland, ME that is – no, we did not drive all across the country just for food….although, I guess that wouldn’t be unheard of for such a yummy place!). We did a great job filling our bellies and then headed back to relax in the hotel for the evening.
Race morning came early, as it always does, and the pre-race rituals began. Time seems to pass so quickly and I soon found myself waiting to start with this lovely view to enjoy:
After all of the 1/2 ironman distance folks went off, we had a bit of a break and then got to go. It was a wetsuit swim with a beach start which makes for a fun and sloppy water entrance! I had a bit of a delayed reaction to the gun but dove in as quickly as I could, doing the strange dolphin/stand up/dive back in maneuver that is pretty common for ocean swims. It was definitely an aggressive start and I tried to just stay with it, “just go Sarah, it will settle down soon enough.” I tried hard to keep up with the very front gals but my goodness, they are just darn quick! So once again, I found myself in a sort of “no man’s land” out there between 2 packs, just swimming along as hard as I could. I had to restructure my thinking and remember to race my own race; don’t worry about everyone else, just keep pushing. I turned that last buoy and noticed some other girls coming up alongside my right so I guess a mini pack had broken out and caught up. I exited the water with 3 or 4 others and headed into transition. There was a decently long run from the water and my feet certainly appreciated the change from the rough concrete to the carpet into T1. I quickly grabbed all my loot and was out. The course started with a decent climb but once I crested that, I was ready to just hammer down. I turned my focus onto my HRM to try to get it started and going but I would have no such luck. The Garmin told me it was reading but it wouldn’t give me any data! I tried several times before settling on the fact that I was just going to have to go off of feel. I’m sure I threw away some seconds focusing on that too much but my goodness, it was irritating. With a change of mental plan, I just tried to stay strong and steady. I passed 3 or so girls in the first few miles and then after that, there wasn’t a change in position. I could see the gal in front of me but it appeared we were going similar speeds so I wasn’t able to bridge the gap. It was such a beautiful, rolling, and shaded course! With this type of scenery around, it’s tough to keep focused:
Somehow I managed to though and despite a few traffic/course direction hiccups, made it back to T2, dismounted, and fumbled to put my shoes on. My hands just don’t work well after a hard bike effort! I grabbed my watch and belt and headed out. I really didn’t know what place I stood in at this point but I could see a girl not too far ahead so I decided I needed to make a move quickly. I tried to get my run Garmin started but again, this one wasn’t reading the data correctly either. It was giving me read outs of low 50s which I knew was definitely not accurate! I rounded the first corner and spotted Colleen, grinning and hollering her heart out. “What place?” I asked and she let me know that I was in 5th. Just after mile 1, I was able to overtake the 4th place gal and claim that spot. The course didn’t provide many flat open stretches but it did give us quite a few rolling hills and a ton of shade. It was an out and back so you knew exactly where you stood.
After the turn around, my legs were definitely feeling all the hills from the day but I just tried to take it mile by mile. At mile 5, I tried to kick it in and pick up the pace a bit to finish strong. I ended up 4th place behind Goss, Lavelle, and Kelleher. It’s always fun to be racing alongside (or behind at least) such talented and well experienced athletes!
We spent the rest of Sunday having fun and relaxing; a winery visit and delicious dinner along the water down in New Hampshire topped off the evening. It was a fabulous girls trip and having a good race was just icing on the cake. It was in no way a “perfect” race and certainly presented its challenges but again, I learned a lot. You have to be able to change gears mid-race and come up with “Plan B” if all doesn’t go as predicted. When my HRM wasn’t working, that definitely threw me for a loop but there was nothing I could do about it but move forward. Not having that data definitely messed with my confidence but I had to prove to myself that I could listen to my body and just go. So now that I’m on the other side, I’ve gained a whole different confidence in that I can reach back and pull on this race experience in the future. With that, I’m off to test that darn strap in preparation for next weekend.