Race Report- 70.3 Pula, Croatia. AKA the swim/swim/swim

This race weekend was simply amazing. I traveled with 2 cars full of friends to race the half distance race in Pula Croatia. Friend-cations are the best, especially when mixed with triathlons!

The weather forecast was garbage for the whole weekend and our drive over was miserable. We arrived on Friday evening with enough time to pick up our packets before checking in to the hotel. We rented apartments in the resort, which was awesome because having a kitchen and more space is essential when traveling for a race.

The day before the race was relaxing. JG, MS, LB and I went for a swim. The sea was rolling, but in a nice, fun, friendly way. Floating around in our wetsuits and splashing around might have been the most fun athletic activity I partook in that weekend. Later that afternoon, the girls and I took our bikes out for a little spin, then checked everything in to transition.

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A couple of friends from the 173rd came over for the race, and we all met up for dinner. Having a group to share pre race dinner with is the best!! Those poor guys worked all day then drove over, and they all had to leave Sunday right after the race because they had a jump scheduled for first thing Monday. Not fun!!

Race day- windy, cloudy, forecast 100% chance of rain and storms. Sweet.

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Before the suck.

The swim- rough seas. Strong currents. Slow. I passed a ton of people which always makes me feel like a badass of course. I had a hard time staying on course.  If you check out Strava, you will see everyone going way off course on the way back in.  I checked my watch after I rounded the last buoy and realized there was no way I was going to make my goal time of sub 30 minutes, so just put my head down and tried to get the heck out of the water.

The run up to transition was uphill and sucked, but I saw my friends ReW and HV, who informed me that I was the first one of our friends out of the water. High five, me! I also had a race staffer with a go pro running backwards filming me coming out of the water up to T1, so I tried to look cool while struggling really hard to breathe and make it up that stupid hill. I never saw that footage anywhere so I guess they decided I did not look cool enough.

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Onto the bike… Where is poured down rain for most of my 3 hour and a few minute ride. It was cold. I couldn’t see. The road was covered in water in several places. The only good news is that everyone else was also cold, wet, and miserable. Three highlights of the ride exist. The first was when I successfully exchanged a water bottle in the pouring rain without running over the volunteers, dropping it, or crashing into a porta potty. The second highlight was as I shoved a wet, sticky mass of Honey Stinger waffles into my mouth, a rider passing me yells “Bon Appetit!”  

A couple hours into my ride, I actively tried hard to be positive about it. My recent goal, thanks to JG, was to focus on cadence. Trying to keep cadence at 90 or higher kept me busy enough, in between cursing the sky every time it opened up and dumped on us again. As I was plugging along thinking about the seam that was rubbing my thigh and getting nervous because I wasn’t thirsty enough to drink all of my Skratch, I hear a familiar voice coming up behind me… “You better stop feeling sorry for yourself, get down in your drops, and ride that bike.” It was my buddy JV!! He came by just at the right time and really helped me quit being a baby and get after it. Thank you, friend.

Coming in to transition, I saw ReW and HV again. Having support on course is the best. Readers, do not ever underestimate the impact you have when you are cheering and supporting people out on a course. My friend MH was there cheering, and even ran with me a little bit trying to take pictures. Seeing her face really brought me joy. 

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The sign did not make it onto the course due to weather.

Made it off the bike, had a decent T2, and off on the run. It was dry for about ten minutes. Then the skies opened up again, surely with the intent to make us swim for the third leg of the race. The roads were flooded with ankle deep mud and water. I debated taking off my shoes because they were full of mud and so heavy. The rain was blinding, cold, and stinging my face. And then there were some hills. I knew the course had changed since the previous year, but I did not think the new hills were actually hills. Funnily enough, any incline can seem like a mountain once you have swam and biked for hours before you have to run up said “small hill.” I sucked on the run. I got into a bad head space, spent a lot of time feeling whiny and sorry for myself, and I walked a lot, mostly just because I was mad.  Thunder started rolling and then I got excited that maybe they would pause the race for a bit if there was lightening. Or maybe, alternatively, that I would get struck by said lightening and then could stop running on the awful muddy disgusting mess of a road.. No such luck. After about 10K I got over it, found a groove, and finished that damn race. Fifteen seconds over my goal time. Which I think about basically at least once a day since race day.  It is my own fault for being mentally weak and letting that happen. I was walking because I was irritated, not because I was tired or couldn’t have been running. So, every day, that fifteen seconds will be my reminder that I need to work on my mental fortitude.

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Happy to see MH!

Seeing friends at the finish was THE. BEST. Commiserating with everyone was also fun. Adventures are the most awesome when shared with friends. I am grateful for the chance to share this experience with friends old and new, and cannot wait to peer pressure some of you into doing the next one with me!

PS- the beer and food at the finish were free this year. HOLLA.

PPS- I think I can get much faster if I actually try. So that will probably be my next goal.

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MH and me celebrating her awesomeness
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PortaPotties in a 2000 year old Roman arena… Weird
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Some cool kids

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To go beers are my fave
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Day after fun at the Safari bar
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Sea caves and cliff jumping.
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