What an amazing experience! Honestly, I first have to thank Jerianne Davis for talking me into going! I almost backed out because my husband couldn’t join me, and I really didn’t want to go to a fancy resort by myself…anyway, she graciously offered transportation and companionship in Tucson, so I booked my flight for the same time and dates as Jerianne and her boyfriend, and became their third wheel. They were both wonderful, supportive travel companions!
Tucson weather was great, of course. We arrived on Thursday, and attended a lunch in honor of a Duathlon Legend, along with many other duathlete’s all of whom have attended multiple National and World Championships, so I was in good company! After lunch we hung out at the El Conquistador Hilton Resort, Host Hotel. It was beautiful. We unpacked and reassembled our bikes, and took a short ride to the event venue, then back for dinner.
On Friday we attended the expo, had our bikes tweaked, and basically relaxed, drank lots of fluids, and ate healthy food! Okay, I did eat one plate of French fries! Jerianne already ratted me out on FB! We hung out in the shade at the pool, ate some nice Italian food for dinner, then back to our rooms. Put stickers on bike and helmet before bed, then tried to get a good nights sleep…we were supposed to take our bikes to transition Friday night, but the high winds (40mph+) caused the RD’s to cancel bike check in, so we had to get up earlier…
Up around 4:30am to eat, rested, put on tattoo numbers, and left for bike check in around 6:00am. The winds had died down to 5-6mph, the sun was rising, it was a gorgeous day!! The race started in waves, based on age groups, so basically the master’s women (40 and over) went off at 8:40am. I had plenty of time to warm up and then watch the younger competitors finish their run and go through transition. This was my first time to rubber band my shoes to my bike, so I wanted to watch the other competitors mount their bikes…much to my surprise, not many had their shoes on their bikes (this made me a little nervous, had I made a mistake? I did practice this new mount…but still, why did everyone run with their bike shoes on their feet?).
Finally time to line up with the master’s women…at the line I see Ann Davidson (2010 Duathlete of the Year) and decide I will just keep her in my sites, with a goal of getting a podium spot, top 5 would be nice! Then the announcer introduces Susanne Davis, a former Pro Triathlete who is training for Kona. She says, as we all moan, “don’t worry, this is a short race, I’m training for an IM”…still, she’s a PRO! So now I decide I will keep her in my sites too. Top 5, right!?
The first 5K went pretty well. In spite of a half mile uphill finish, about 6.5% grade, I can still see the 4 leaders as we head into transition, about 100m in front of me. I decide since I am only about 15-30 seconds behind them, I am going for it. I had one of the fasted T1’s of the master women, and jumped on my bike about the same time as Ann Davidson. She was the first one I passed. I settled into a rhythm, and decided to start trying to pass the other 3 women in front of me. Keep in mind the 39 and under women started 15 minutes before us, so passing any of them was a mental bonus, and I passed a lot of them. I passed another master female around 5 miles into the bike, then another at the first turnaround, and finally the young Pro on the way back toward the finish of the first loop (we did 2 loops on the bike course). It was a 180 degree tight turn around, and I blasted through it (all those Overholser tt’s make for good practice). Now I can see the women chasing me, and they were chasing! I put my head down and for the second loop kept telling myself, “it’s just a time trial, it’s just a time trial”, body completely still, focused! I went into transition first female master. Now the hard part.
The second 5K was like any second 5K in a Duathlon, hard! I started passing 20 and 30 year olds which helped mentally, but at the first turning point on the run, about 1k in, I can see the pro, Ann Davidson, and the other 2 master’s women I had passed on the bike. I had 30 seconds+ on them, not a lot with 4K to go…I kept telling myself they should be as tired as I am, but I was being chased. One more turn around where I could see these ladies and thank goodness they looked tired, then about a kilometer to go and that half mile hill climb! I kept pushing knowing they weren’t be far behind me…as I headed into the finish area, I gave all I had, and crossed the finish line without being overtaken…did I just win the Master’s title? Against these strong experienced athletes? We were given a print out of our current standing at the finish line, pretty cool. I knew I won the 45-49 AG, and was pretty sure I won the master’s title, it was quite emotional. When I saw the rest of the women I had passed start coming across the line, I knew I had accomplished a personal best.
The awards ceremony was first rate, over 300 competitors, friends, volunteers, and USAT staff attended. They introduced all the USAT duathlete’s of 2010, then I got to stand on the top of the Podium, twice, first for the Master’s title, then for my AG gold medal and championship jersey. I will never forget the experience!