On Saturday I raced at the Lifetime fitness race in Minneapolis. This was the race that used to be the big money "battle of the sexes" race, with $250,000 on the line for the first male or female across the line. Last year they changed the format back to the traditional Olympic distance non-drafting race, with men racing men, and women racing women. The organisers have also reduced the prize money, favouring putting more money into the series. Both of these reasons combined I think have left the race without the sparkle that it used to. There used to be a real excitement about the race, from both the athletes and the spectators, but this year everything seemed a bit flat. Maybe it was because it is Olympic year and all...who knows...but regardless it is still a great race to attend, and I wouldn't miss it for the world.
The dynamics of the race seemed a little different this year as well. The race is still invite only, and of those invited this year I think 90% were all fast/typically front pack swimmers. This was good in one respect for me - in that it would make it easier for me to swim with the main group...as there were more feet to draft off, but bad in that I knew it would be harder to get out of sight on the bike - more wheels for the weaker to suck! But it's a non-drafting race I hear you say!!!! Yes my thoughts exactly, and those cheating dirty wheel suckers all know who they are.
As disappointed as I was that drafting was blatantly going on (both in the men's and women's), I also know that unless the officials start doing their job, it is inevitable, and unfortunately part of the sport. It's still frustrating though.
Back to the race, I came out of the swim at the back of the main swim pack, and for some reason faff'ed around in transition. Anyone who looked at the splits will have wondered if I had a cuppa tea in there! Out on to the bike, I put my head down and slowly rode my way through and past all the girls. By about mile 4 I had taken the lead. It was obvious that I was riding faster than most of them, and I was hoping that if I could continue to push on I could get out of sight. I also knew that after dominating on the bike here last year, that there were at least a few girls who were going to try everything to stay with me.
As we passed transition, at about the halfway point, Becky rode up alongside and took the lead for a bit. We then traded the lead for the next 10 or so miles. It was only in the last 5 miles that anyone else had the balls to come up near the front. Becky led into T2 and looked really strong, and I was a few places back having posted the fastest bike split (about 15 sec slower than last year).
Out on the run, Snowy didn't take long to run away into the lead. Sarah Haskins looked comfortable in second, and Becky and JZ were fighting it out for 3rd and 4th. I wasn't far back in 5th, and was at least closing on the first lap. At about halfway on the run Becky changed up a gear, and delighted the home crowd to hold on for 3rd. As she put it, she had the help of the 2 little angles on her shoulders (please check out www.jennyslight.org they are really doing some wonderful things to help mothers suffering with post partum disorders). JZ held on for 4th, and I came in in 5th.
Considering my build up into the race, which has been far from consistent for one reason or another, I was pretty happy with the result. I feel like I am not far away from where I was at this time last year. I just think the other girls have raised their game too.
Next up for me is the NYC tri on Sunday. I really enjoyed my trip to NY last year, and look forward to the 5:53am start. The bonus to starting so early is that you really get to enjoy the whole day afterwards....as we will be done by about 8am.
Check back early next week for results from NY.