Back 'home' again now in Lawrence Kansas after a long drive last night - from Memphis, Tennessee through Arkansas, Missouri and finally into Kansas - about 8.5 hours all up. And that was just one way - so really in three days we drove about 17 hours and raced on the day in between. But it was a weekend and a race certainly worth the trip. Our car load of athletes came away with a win (myself) as well as 2nd and 5th in the pro men - my training partners Clayton and Joey - and I guess Justin can also lay claim to all three results as coach! So a good trip for everyone which made the 8.5 hour journey home more bearable I think. I had heard about Memphis in May for years - as one of the older and more established triathlons around and the race organisers certainly do a fantastic job there and also really look after the pros. In fact the pros started at 10.30am after all the age groupers had finished so we had a good crowd for our start and every time we came through transition. It also meant that it was a little warmer when we started! I am not sure this is usually a problem in May in Memphis but it was pretty cool for the race and really windy which made the bike quite a challenge at times but super fast at others. Thankfully the water was warm (non-wetsuit swim even).
The race takes on a different format - we are lined up in race number order and started off at 10 second intervals, men and women mixed in together. I had one of the higher race numbers so started towards the back of the race - Michellie Jones was two numbers higher than me so had a 20 second lead starting the swim. MJ is a true legend of the sport - she has been dominating since before I had even heard of the sport and she is someone I have alot of respect for and would never discount in any race. I had a good swim - felt strong and managed to overtake quite a number of starters ahead of me including MJ. This meant that basically I was running scared from her for the rest of the race!! I felt strong on the bike - although I did sit up a couple of times in the cross winds and didn't feel quite so great when there was the block headwind - and also passed a couple more girls towards the beginning of the bike. I still had no idea where I was placed - I could see one of two riders ahead of me but couldn't tell at that distance whether they were men or women so just kept trying to push as hard as I could. As I came into transition I was announced as first woman off the bike and a quick glance behind I couldn't see anyone else yet so I decided I had some time to settle in and find my run legs. I have to admit I was a bit cautious after Wildflower even though my achilles has been great since then I knew there were a few hills on the run and wanted to play things a bit safe. So the first three miles I took pretty easy - just getting comfortable and finding my own rhythm. At the turn around I could see the gap back to 2nd and 3rd but was also starting to feel like I had finally found my run legs and settled into race place rather than cruise pace for the final three miles. I also knew I was still being chased and those girls would not let up!!
It was great to come away with a win (and a very cool trophy) and I think the training benefits of racing will really help in this next block. Plus it was a really fun race - great course, lots of really cool friendly people, really well run and organised and a different and challenging format - I hope to be back there in 2010.
Next up is the 'home-town' race of Kansas 70.3.