Before any of you take your minds to the gutter….the dirty double is what Matt Dixon and the squad call back to back racing, one week apart.
My first dirty double just happened…Vineman 70.3 backed up one week later with Racine 70.3. The only other time I raced one week apart was backing up Ironman 70.3 World Champs in Vegas with London ITU World Champs, which was an Olympic distance. Those 8 days last September were incredible, but this was a different game, two 70.3 races against some stella women professionals.
I feel so lucky to be able to race all these iconic races. Vineman 70.3 is just over an hour out of San Francisco and located in the wine regions – yep no surprise there with the name!
It was going to be the biggest field I’d raced in so far in the USA, and I was looking forward to it, particularly as it was a big race for Purplepatch with Emma-Kate Lidbury up from LA and Anna Ross over from NZ, as well as Meredith Kessler and Sarah Cameto (amateur soon to be kick ass Pro), racing. On the boys side, Jesse Thomas and Tim Reed were there too, so a big Purplepatch presence.
I’d had chance to ride the bike course the weekend prior and it was stunning, rolling hills through vineyards and countryside. Race morning came and I was for some reason pretty nervous (more so than normal) and couldn’t really ‘get up’ for the race. The swim was up and down a river, which was in places narrow and shallow. It pretty much took me half the swim to get going and so I excited the water a fair way down, but set out to ride my bike and love the bike course. I did love the bike course, it was fab, but maybe ‘took it all in’ a little too much as my bike split was a bit off the pace but I had moved up the field into 8th.
Onto the run and I felt pretty horrific for the first couple of miles, but soon the legs came and I focused in on the racers ahead, a couple of AG men who’d passed me in the later stages on the bike and then the other women Pros came into sight. The run much like the bike was a series of rolling hills and then a loop around a vineyard before heading back to the finish. I loved it and felt really good throughout (after those first few miles), passing one of the other Pro and then chasing down the guys. Yet I had lost too much time on the swim and bike to really make inroads into the front of the race. However I was happy to put down another decent run split, and again took away a huge amount of learning with it.
It was a pretty good day for the Purplepatch team, Meredith Kessler winning the women’s race and Tim Reed the men. Emma-Kate had a great return to racing after a few months of injury and illness with a 5th, and Sarah Cameto once again crushed the Amateur race. With Vineman being so close to San Fran it meant that there was so many new friends out on the course supporting, volunteering at the aid station (thanks mile 6 ladies), or competing themselves. It always gives you an extra buzz seeing friendly faces and hearing your name, so thank you to all of your for getting out around the bike and run course.
After the race, there was not much time to relax though as my mind was now already looking ahead to the next weekend where I was racing again, in Racine 70.3. I’m certainly getting to learn my US geography as I’m racing in different states, and flying through different airports. I’d made sure I did not think about Racine prior to Vineman, almost ignoring the fact or just in denial that I was racing a week later and just focusing on Vineman. Even in the days between the races I was still in denial. I was told this was the best approach to not really worry about the race. “Don’t worry about how the body feels, just go with the flow, and when you hear the American National Anthem just before the gun goes for the race start (yes this is played before every race over here and in Canada (obviously the Canadian National Anthem there), you’ll suddenly feel ok.” (Thanks Eccles for the tip.)
I actually felt ok during the week between. I had great support from the Foundry Performance team (www.foundryperformance.com) and San Francisco Sports Massage (www.sfsportsmassage.com) to help my body recover in the first few days, as well as tailored training sessions to keep me ticking over. This certainly helped and reinforced how key recovery and conditioning is.
So the geography lesson: Racine is situated on Lake Michigan in the state of Wisconsin. Lake Michigan, is one of the 5 Great Lakes of North America and it’s enormous! It’s the only one of the Great Lakes that is solely in America. It is 190km at it’s widest and 494km at it’s longest! And yes I called it an Ocean a few times over the weekend, well you can’t see the other side!
Again I think I landed on my feet with my homestay, Jean and Rob Jacobsen. Jean is in her second year of triathlon at the young age of 55-59 (that’s how we talk ages right in triathlon). Racine 2014 would be her second 70.3, her first being the prior year. They really made me feel like one of the family. Just digressing a little. I arrived on Thursday, and that evening went with Jean and Rob to a fundraising event at Racine Zoo. It was a cigar dinner, but managed to avoid most of the smoke, and even managed to wander around some of the enclosures and see the animals. On Friday Jean arranged for me to ride with one of her cycling buddies, so I was able to get out on the course. Big thank you to Chris for this.
Both their sons were in golfing tournaments this weekend, yet I was also treated like a daughter and their support and the support from all their friends and Jean’s club “sTRIve” was incredible. Waking up on race morning to find the driveway have been chalked in the night was pretty cool. Jean’s friends had also been out on the bike and run course and there were chalking everywhere. It was awesome. Post race we managed to make it to their youngest son’s golf tournament to see him play the final hole to finish second.
So the race. Whilst ignoring all my feelings in the days leading up to the race, I was conscious that I having felt ok all week on Saturday and race morning I was feeling pretty sluggish. However I pushed this to the back of my mind remembering the advice I’d been given from Matt and the other Purplepatch athletes who’d completed DDD’s previously.
Race morning and I gave myself plenty of time to warm up. There was an incredible sunrise over Lake Michigan, and this helped to get me back in a good mood and head space for the race. Water temps in Lake Michigan was a balmy 60deg F (I’m pretty sure it was actually sub 60deg F, more like 58deg F (14degC) It was definitely ice cream face for a minute or so when you first got in, so I made sure again I had plenty of time to warm up prior to the start and acclimatize and my Huub aXena wetsuit was definitely welcomed.
The last 20m of the swim was in knee deep water, so I was thanking my Bondifit days and practicing running in and out of the ocean in Sydney! It was then a longish run up the beach and around T1. The roads in Racine are well, in places a little sketchy. They have seams across them at 5m intervals,which on several occasions convinced me I had a flat back tire, with the thumping noise it generated. Having excited the water in 7th I moved up into 4th on the bike passing the 3 girls ahead of me at about half way. The bike was pretty flat, with a few rollers but nothing too big, although quite a few twists and turns, and as mentioned a few bumps and deep crevices! However it went pretty quickly and I enjoyed riding out there. I wasn’t feeling too bad at all considering Vineman the week before, so just kept pushing and thinking about riding well. What was all the fuss about with this back to back racing!
Then I hit the run, or rather the run hit me, straight in the face (no I didn’t fall over) but it was here that I started to curse Matt Dixon and what a stupid idea this was. My legs just felt heavy and did not want to move at all. The first lap was horrific, I felt terrible but just kept trying to focus on form and thinking each step was closer to the finish. I could see the three girls ahead of me, Mel Hauschildt, Helle Frederiksen and Lauren Barnett all pulling away from me, but today my legs had no response. It was a case of survival and get round. The second lap felt better and I started to feel stronger again, but too little too late to make any impact. I finished 4th and was pleased to be back up nearer the front of the race, albeit still a long way behind the leaders. Work in progress 🙂
I’m writing this sat on my flight back to San Francisco (Monday after the race), feeling every muscle in my body and looking forward to a massage and some rehab this week with the Foundry Performance team.
At the time it was certainly not as bad as I’d expected completing Dixon’s Dirty Double and certainly won’t be afraid to do it again. In fact for a brief moment (possibly delusional) I thought about finding a race for next week too, but maybe that’s pushing it! I’m loving racing and learning so much each time. Yes I’m still frustrated with parts of my performances and races, and constantly critiquing and pulling apart my race, wanting faster times, better placing or just better execution and all that. But that’s why we strive to the goals that we have set and believe in. We all have high expectations and demands on ourselves, that’s why we do this sport, that’s why I want to challenge my body and see how good I can be. However it also means that it’s sometimes hard to stay patient and true to the process. Being super critical or disappointed with races or elements of races and training, isn’t wrong, but just means there’s a bigger concerted effort required to keep things in perspective and balanced and to draw on the positives and the learning to be taken away and improved on. Being aware of this and these elements is just as important. I’m lucky to be in an awesome group, who have so much experience and are incredibly generous with their support and advice. It’s great to be able to learn from them and process races so that you can move onwards and upwards to the next. It’s definitely great to learn and I’m just hungry for more. When do we race again?
As always a huge thanks to my support: Jaggad, Huub, Shotz Nutrition, Oakley, Kask, Cycology and Inov8, as well as the awesome team at Foundry Performance and San Francisco Sports Massage The importance of having a great recovery routine was highlighted this last week so thank you. Thank you of course to my coach Matt Dixon. I’m very much enjoying this journey.