ITU Duathlon World Championship 2012, Part 1

"I've never surprised myself in a race where I ran a time I didn't gun for.This isn't luck.If you don't believe you can do something, you aren't going to surprise yourself and do it."--sub-3 marathoner and teammate Bonnie Averbuch during a workout.

Pre-race: The stress involved in getting to France exceeded anything I could have imagined. Between spending a boat load of money for travel and board and the race itself, dealing with hotel confirmation/cancellation, sitting on the tarmac for 5.5 hours before their cancelling the flight, getting on another flight and having the bikes and luggage not make it (an airport agent's telling you 3 "definitely three times" is a guarantee that your luggage won't make it. You need a 4th definitely.), waiting at the airport in France for an additional 5 hours to get the bags that were NOT on the next flight, having a bomb scare to further delay bag pick up, doing a training run by the airport hotel overlooking the runway (back and forth 20 times for 45 minutes), missing the team meeting in Nancy (where they probably explained stuff about your helmet and penalty boxes), and missing the bike course preview, we finally figured out how to get to Nancy from Paris.

Finally aboard the train we could sit and sort of exhale and start the mental preparation for the race. After leaving NYC on Wednesday afternoon, we arrived in Nancy, France on Friday afternoon, about 36 hours after our scheduled arrival. All I thought was, "Is this worth it? So many sacrifices are being made for me to be here. I miss my husband and baby,and I feel unenthused about the race." Plus, I kept hearing how technical and scary the bike course was. In fact, both bike and run courses had a number of hairpin turns.

We had to build up the bikes and were not able to see the course until Saturday. However, there were races going on and the course was closed. Awesome mechanics Jack and Joseph from the Texas bike store Jack and Adams perfectly put my bike together and made sure everything was good. Soon after, Jessica Purcell and I took the bikes out for a 20 min ride and then went for a run. We tried to run some of the bike course to preview and at one point I was running on the median in the road and not paying attention to footing. I hit a piece of elevated concrete and went hurtling into the streets, cutting my elbow and bruising my hip. (Apparently I am superstitious and  like to injure myself before races. It ensures a good race.) A minute later traffic passed, and I was lucky with the timing or I would have been hit by a car. The elbow and hip hurt, but mostly the fall just made me question further whether the trip to France was worth it. "Worth it" was not coming out favorably.

I skyped Jonathan and he reminded me what an incredible opportunity this was. And sure enough, I've hung out with some of the most fantastic people: Steven Zebrak, Jessica Purcell, Laura Kline, Gail and Rick Kattouf, Corrie Kristik, Zuri Wilson, Erica Ruge, Jason Heimink, Tim Yount, Kirsten Chapman, Kristen Villapono, and Mike Johnston. Essentially I was glad to be here, and if I medaled, that would be icing on the cake. I scoped out the competition looking for familiar names. One name stuck out: Juliette Minter. She was World Champ in 2010 and posted a 36:50 10K and 18:15 5k in that race. That's a 5:55 in a 10K with more biking and running to do!!!! Last year, she was 3rd and had faster run splits than this year's winner Laura Kline, whom I knew was a phenomenal runner. Basically, this woman was out of my league. I conceded the race to her (never having met her), and figured that I would take second. Pipe dream, but second or even third would be nice. Done.

I had not brought my aero bottle and was now thinking that it would be problematic on the crazy course to time when to reach for my bottle on the down tube. Paraduathlete silver medalist Mike Johnston was kind enough to lend me his bottle.This was another sign. I told him that I'd get the silver too. While he had a speedy race, he was disappointed to miss the gold by 13 seconds. His bottle would power me to medal.

Race Morning:  I decided to ride the course that morning at 6:30. I'm really glad I did that as I could now get the visuals locked in and prepare mentally for the ride. I racked my bike, spent quality pre-race time with Laura, Erica, and Gail. Then I did my warmup with Mike who was super positive and supportive. I also saw former World Champion Kristen Villapono who said encouraging words to me(she flatted before the race and went on to win. This woman rocks so hard!).Team USA was in full effect, and I was loving the camaraderie. Erica had the poise of someone who had been to the World Champs a number of times; Gail looked strong and ready to defend her title; Laura was as cool as a cucumber--definitely want to hang with this woman before a race. No drama, just good energy. Corrie and Jess were a later wave so I didn't get to see much of them pre-race. And Steven Zebrak was there being his supportive self and taking loads of pics. (I could not have done this without Z. Best sherpa ever!)

Time to race...