Two weeks ago I raced Armed Forces Championships at Naval Base Ventura County in California. The venue, hospitality, and competition were on point, but I unfortunately was not.
While most of my teammates flew out Wednesday morning/afternoon, I could not leave until Thursday evening due to mandatory training for residency. No problem. I planned to catch the 7pm flight out of Fayetteville to DC, and get into LA just after midnight Thursday evening. But DC was having awful weather and my flight was cancelled. So I went home, slept, and caught a flight out of Raleigh Friday morning.
Friday, the day before the race, went well. I got my race packet, biked and ran the course, and had some time to relax with teammates. I stayed on east coast time so I went to bed early, woke up rested, and had plenty of time to warm up for the race.
I only swam for about two minutes for my warm up because the water was so cold – just long enough to get over the shock but not get numb. Having Raynaud’s, my hands had started to go numb before the gun went off. I had never raced in water that cold (about 60F), and had no idea how much it would affect me. The timing of the gun meant that we had to dive through a wave right as it was breaking. My start was horrible, but I caught up to the group ahead of me after the first lap. Running on the sand around the buoy was tough with numb feet and I lost some time, but I started to gain it back throughout the loop. I came out of the water about 20 seconds behind my teammate and 10 seconds ahead of the next girl. I lost time in transition because I couldn’t buckle my helmet – I ended up using my palms. Knowing that my fingers were useless, I rode the first few miles with my feet on top of my shoes until I got some feeling back and could do the velcro on my shoes.
My group of three worked well together on the bike. We passed all but the top 3, and even had a Navy girl join us around lap 3 or 4 (out of 5). Unfortunately we took hardly any time out of the top 3. Coming off the bike, I knew I needed the run of my life to defend my title. I took off, going through the first mile in 6:10, but things just went downhill after mile 2 or 3. I lost all the time I had gained on the top 2 as I battled dehydration. The last two miles were survival mode and all I wanted to do was hold 3rd, which I did.
Immediately after crossing the finish line I was sick, and remained sick for most of the day. I had never experienced dehydration like that. Coming from North Carolina, the weather in California was dry and moderate and I thought I would have a great run. I’m guessing I got dehydrated on the five hour flight despite efforts to drink lots of fluid, and the less than 24 hour turn around did not give me enough time to compensate.
I am still very happy with my race. I had a strong swim given the circumstances, did a lot of work on the bike, and laid it out on the run. I left knowing that I could not have done anything else. To top it off, Army won the Men’s and Women’s team titles. The men had not won for 11 years, and both teams had not won at the same time in a long time. A write-up on the race can be found here.
Up next I have a two month block of training, adjusting to life as an intern, and studying for Step 3 boards!