Du it, Did it, Done! No Whining Allowed

I am behind on my last two race reports, but the Maryland Du put on by Rip It Events is fresh in my mind and I am too excited for the recap. Event: Maryland Women's Sprint Duathlon on August 5th: 2 mile run--13 mile ride--2 mile run

Course: run 1: good amount of downhills for mile 1 with equal uphills for mile 2.  ride: rolling hills with a bunch of false flats and a good number of sharp turns, somewhat technical. (beautiful scenery). run: repeat part of the course from the first run with fewer downhills. Overall a challenging but doable course.

We drove down from NY on Saturday morning, Coach Cane, Simon, Isang, and I for the race on Sunday. Traffic was bad in spots and we weren't able to get to packet pickup before they closed. Packet pickup for me would have been race registration as I *thought* I had registered for the race, only to learn that it didn't go through. I was panicked about the flub, and e-mailed the race directors, Danny and Suzy Serpico, to let them know of the mishap. As if they had nothing better to do, they calmed me, gave me their personal contact info, and took care of everything. Suzy is a pro triathlete, having just kicked butt in Lake Placid in the pro field, and here she was sending me her cell number and reassuring me. This was just one of many times in knowing these two that I realized how incredibly nice and generous they are.

We got a suite at the Hilton, and Isang politely declined my offer when I patted the king size bed and said, "It comfortably fits 3 adults." Okay, it wasn't that kind of party, but that was the tenor the entire trip--joking and laughing. I love racing and traveling with friends/teammates. We drove the course ( I am so glad we did), and it looked technical. That was a good thing as we both were mountain bikers. The hills didn't look daunting, but we didn't realize there were as many false flats. Overall, it looked like a challenging course but nothing scary.

On Sunday, we got to the race an hour before the start and were able to drive right up to the start line. Also, there were a number of port-a-potties. When last have you been to a race with no line for the bathroom? These directors are proud of the highest ratio of toilets:athletes. This race is so athlete-friendly it's rdiculous. I entered the transition area and Brendan Hoover did my body marking--E (elite) on the leg and 5 on the arm. When I left, I overheard him say to the other volunteer. "My pick is #5 for the win. That's it, I have 5." I would later learn that the bet was for lunch. I carried his belief in me through the race!

I warmed up and looked at the rest of the elite field. I  have been racing long enough to know that it's stupid to judge an athlete based on look; I was not going to be psyched out. There was one woman who had on a race kit from Worlds, and my thought was, "Doesn't matter. I , too, have qualified for Worlds." That woman was Yvonne Carter and she flew from the starting line. I passed mile 1 at 5:58 and she had a good lead on me. I closed the gap a little on the hilly 2nd mile. Coming into T1, I was about 15 seconds down but we ended up leaving at around the same time.  I had trouble clicking into my pedals and saw her speed away on the bike.

I was able to catch her in the first mile and thought I'd send her a message by dropping her hard. Well, Yvonne responded by coming right back. What? I was not expecting that. We went back and forth with the lead in the first 4 miles. At one point, I passed her and said, "What the hell, you can run and ride?" It was a friendly banter, but it was clear that each of us wanted to win. At one point a motorcycle rode between us and I thought, "Oh, that's an official" or "Hey, there's a race going on, why are you all up on me?" (I wasn't worried about the official since I wasn't doing anything wrong.) By mile 4, there was a bit of an uphill and I felt that I had finally pulled away from Yvonne. I don't look back in races, but when I had turned the corner, I could sense that she wasn't close. The rest of the ride, I just marveled at how great this was. I had done so many runs in Central Park pretending to be Tegla Laroupe with the cops escorting me to the finish. This really was happening (without my being an 80 lb African woman with a sick amount of talent part). There were 2 officers with lights on and the Muscle Milk van leading the way for me, the leader of the race. Me, Nicole Sin Quee, riding as an elite. It felt good, but I also knew the race wasn't over. I had to concentrate and focus.

I left T2 knowing that I had a good lead and saw Suzy on her bike waiting to lead me for the run. She had a big smile and said, "You got this." She also cheered on the other cyclists as they passed. By the time I got to the one mile turnaround, I was feeling pretty tired. I mean more tired. One very sweet young volunteer looked at me and said, "You're winning." (I kind of knew that since the leader gets the escort, but I smiled and gave him a thumbs up.) I saw Yvonne chasing and even though I sensed the lead was good, I wasn't sure if she could catch me. I had to keep pushing ahead. Suzy siad, "Okay, this is your last big hill." and I just put one foot in front of the other. The finishers' arch was up ahead and I just needed to get there. I didn't make it look pretty, but I got it done. I crossed the line with my arms held high. I wasn't going to mess up the photo by stopping my watch--I learned that I won by 1:35. And Brandon greeted me with a big smile. He thanked me for winning him a free lunch. Jonathan, Lesley Younge (love her!), and Simon were there to cheer me in, and I was so happy. Shortly after, Isang would head in and win the Age Group race. She was fantastic. The entire race was fun and everyone cheered on the other. The ambiance was so wonderful. Women's only races have such a great vibe, and this was no exception.

I wish the post ended there, but it doesn't. Remember when Lolo Jones hit the hurdle after leading in the 2008 Olympics and was devastated to see her dreams of a gold fade? Remember when Jenebah Tarmoh did her victory lap at Olympic Trials and thought she had secured the 3rd spot for the 100? Well, it was nothing like that. But disappointment was soon to set in. I learned from the official (the one on the motorcycle I alluded to earlier) that I had been slapped (more like punched in the gut) with a 6 minute penalty. In fact, there were 2 penalties (2 minutes for the first infraction and 4 for the second--no warning was given). Both Yvonne and I were penalized for illegal passing. Here are the rules: when a rider passes, you have 15 seconds to get out of the draft box before passing back. The draft box is the entire width of the lane. It doesn't matter if you are not sucking the wheel of the rider in front of you. You have 15 seconds to drop back 3 bike lengths before passing. I am sure I knew this rule at one time, but just dismissed it since neither one of us was sucking the other's wheel and gaining any kind of advantage. The yo-yoing for the lead would be our undoing. A first place win with a course record (always a course record for an inaugural race!) 1:07:56 became 1:13:56 placing me 2nd in the elite field and 3rd if you combined the times with the AG . Isang passed a number of the elites and finished with a  solid 1:10:23. There is every reason to believe that she will be shaving time off that debut.

I congratulated the new winner, Lisa Williamson Farris, who felt bad but was incredibly gracious. I told her to stand on the podium and put her arms up. She won. Rules are rules. It's my job to know them and abide. While I was disappointed, there was too much to be happy about: I got Suzy's number, I got to see Lesley, I got to hang with Isang the entire weekend, I got a great goody bag for racing--a pair of Saucony sneakers, a cool head band, a coupon for a massage, a muscle milk towel, visor, and bag, I got a case of Izze juices (had nothing to do with racing), and I got to meet really vibrant and wonderful people. So, this race was a win. I am so glad we did the race, and I came home with a smile on my face, a crooked smile, but a smile nonetheless. I have done a number of races and this is in the top 2 of races I highly recommend and love.

**The world's best and funniest race announcer told me I should be disappointed only if I just missed winning the new car (if I came in under an hour). "But you didn't have a shot at it, so no need to be disappointed." Uhm, there was no new car to win, and he made that all up.

**I asked the other volunteer why she bet against me. She said she thought the other woman had a nicer bike. My response with a smile, "You're dead to me." My Cervelo P3 from Brickwell Multisports is a speedy beauty and had the fastest bike split. I asked Brendon why he picked me and in addition to other things, he said, "I saw the HED wheels and thought, "This girl knows."