Sunday, July 29, 2007
Shue Racing for the US NAVY!
Mid-A Bella Nikki Shue was selected as a member of the Navy Women's team to race in the Armed Forces Triathlon championship!
Each branch of service has 6 men and 4 women on their team. Well, turns out that Andy Baldwin "The Bachelor" was on the Navy team! Yikes! He's as hot and hard-bodied as he was on TV, and a very nice guy, and actually a pretty good triathlete to boot! And I can neither confirm nor deny if I had anything to do with his recent breakup with Tessa.....
Friday dawned, and after another fantastic swim (sans wetsuit) in the Pacific Ocean, we headed to get our uniforms issued. Oh the schwag we got! Race kit, extra bib shorts, running shoes, polo shirts that were WAY TOO BIG, backpacks, arm-warmers, socks, on and on and on! It finally hit me; this was the big time!
Saturday arrived much too quickly and I was filled with more angst than I've ever had pre-race! there were only 75 racers; just 23 women. How the hell was I going to save face!?! I decided I only had three goals for the race: not be last, Beat Army!, and revel in the fact that I was racing with Elite athletes! While it wasn't my best performance, I can happily report that I met all three goals (but just barely!).
THE SWIM (31:01)
The thing about ITU/draft-legal racing is that it basically negates the bike leg of the race; if you aren't out of the water with the rest of the pack, you are screwed. I had a great first loop, and when I jumped back into the water for loop #2, I was right in the middle of the pack, well on my way to a PR. Unfortunately, I somehow failed to make the turn around the last bouy to shore, and I continued down the coast heading to San Diego....by the time I realized my mistake I was a good 300m off the back. Pathetically, I was 72/75 on the swim.
Fortunately, teammate Kristen was still in transition when I stumbled to my bike, and we were able to work together to close the gap. Horay for Kristen!
THE BIKE (1:07:05)
As I said before, the importance of the bike is significantly reduced in a draft-legal race; unless that is, you need to crush the bike to catch up to the pack. Kristen and I hammered like I've never hammered before. We had a headwind coming off the ocean for half the course, and it was a 4 loop course! We did two loops ourselves, then caught a USMC gal who tagged along in our pace line, and on the back end we picked up fellow Navy teammate Lindsay. Unfortuately, neither the Marine nor Lindsay were experienced riders and they tapped wheels. Luckily, noone went down, but Kristen and I decided it was time to make a break. So, on the final lap we charged ahead and ended up passing 3 or 4 other riders right before coming into T2. I moved up significantly in ranking to 59th place in the bike (14th Female).
T2 (1:00)I got off the bike to run to my rack and nearly fell to the ground. My legs were toast. No, they were jelly. I knew I had absolutely nothing left, and this was going to be the worst run/race of my life!!
THE RUN (do I have to tell you? 58:34)
The Run. The--long, straight, into the headwind, up the sanddunes, down the sanddunes, back around the sanddunes, and up the sanddunes over and over again--Run. Thank God I had my friend Catherine there to cheer me on, and make me smile 5 times as I slowly turtled my way back and forth, back and forth, back and forth across that course. It was brutal.
THE END 2:39:18
I was being passed left and right, and there was nothing I could do about it. The brain wasn't computing with the muscles. It just wasn't happening. All I had going for me was that there was one Army chick behind me. And that's where she stayed!
I finished second to last, within one minute of my teammate Lindsay and 3 other girls, but a good 6 minutes ahead of the Army girl. And, technically, it was a PR. However, considering it was draft-legal and pancake flat, I should have been in the 2:25 range.
Overall, the Navy Men's team took the Gold, with Elite triathlete Tim O'Donnell taking first overall (1:49:32), followed by Tommy Brown in second place (1:56:12). The fastest female was former Navy-turned Marine Justine Whipple (2:05:45). The Bachelor beat that with a 2:05:05, so he is definitely legit! The Navy Women's team was last, but we did get Rachel Beckmann on the podium with a 4th place finish (2:15:55) and a spot at the CISM World Championships in India in October!
I had a fantastic time, and was lucky enough to race with some very elite athletes--look for Tim O'Donnell and Justine Whipple to be in the Olympics in Bejing next year!