Morgan Hill Triathlon technically gets called a Sprint, since it doesn’t fall into any other category, but at .75 mile / 16 mile / 5 mile, it’s a pretty long sprint, and when you prefer to wrap things up in about an hour, a 90+ effort can be a bit demoralizing.
I easily tricked my brain by re-labeling the race a “Short Olympic,” instead of a “Long Sprint.” Mile 5 of the Olympic distance run is usually where I’d most desperately like to see the finish line come into view, so when I rounded the corner at mile 5 of Morgan Hill, the finish chute presented itself just in time. It was like a gift. I even showed it my best full throttle sprint, the one I normally don’t seem to have left by mile 6!
Actually, the part I struggled the most with was the fear that I might not be able to get my game face on this time around.
I had spent the past week dealing with personal loss and sleepless nights, and though race day is mostly just a product of the work you’ve already done, I wondered what might happen if my heart didn’t show up on race morning.
There are great athletes out there who can fully focus, compartmentalizing the various tasks and areas of their life in order to perform with perfection, even though inside they’re coming apart at the seams. But was I one of them?
It turns out: Absolutely.
Despite only three hours of restless sleep, I actually felt alright in the morning, soothed by my pre-race rituals. How many times have I done this? Almost 60? I did my run warm-up in the pre-dawn darkness, the streets quiet and peaceful. We got out to Morgan Hill with plenty of time, and with only 570 participants, the crowd was a nice, manageable size.
There were only four starting waves, and I was in the second. The water was warm enough to wear a sleeveless wetsuit, and the course was a fun loop around a peninsula. It was an overcast morning and with no sunlight glare on the water, sighting was easy. I stayed right on course and turned in a swim time 2 minutes faster than I’d predicted. Once the swim was underway, I only had to corral my wandering mind a few times. “Be here now,” was the firm and simple reminder.
After the swim I hit my stride, and stayed laser focused on my race without any trouble.
No one passed me on the bike, except for Mike, fellow Team Sheeper athlete, and the only reason he ended up behind me in the first place was because I kept blowing past him on the downhills, only to be easily overtaken again…apparently I pedal faster than he coasts.
No one passed me at all on the run, which was an easy 5 mile PR for me. (To be fair, I’ve only raced 5 milers a handful of times so there isn’t much to compare it to).
I ended up with the fastest female overall finish, by a margin of almost 6 minutes. My other victory for the day was a shiny new T2 PR: a smoking fast 23 seconds! Only one other athlete (Blake, also Team Sheeper) tied me for 1st place in T2.
Afterwards, the sun came out and the day warmed up beautifully for the awards ceremony, the legendary Harriet Anderson received a standing ovation for extreme badassery in the 80-84 division, and I ended up winning another raffle prize: a new helmet… to replace the one I won at Napa that just got stolen from me.
This race was definitely the highlight of my week!