As I checked out the Panama City beach Friday afternoon after my pre-race workouts, I wasn't too optimistic about the swim happening. I visit Panama City frequently. Minus a hurricane that I experienced from evacuating New Orleans, the waves were a little bigger than the usual calm, blue-green gulf that I'm used to. I opted to skip my pre-race swim.
Like I predicted, late the next day we all later learned the swim was cancelled. This being a smaller race and not a qualifier my only really big goal for the year was to break 5 hours in the 70.3 distance. With the cancelled swim and 20mph+ gusts, today was not going to be the day.
I tried to re-focus and just go out there with a positive attitude and enjoy the day. I went out hard on the bike averaging 24-26mph and knowing that I would be fighting a beast coming back. With being the 2nd wave to start, it was nice just having ladies to pass. At the start, I was picking off girls left and right. It was also very easy to see where I stood in my AG. The first half of the course was a breeze mostly because of the killer tail wind. The other half let's just say was demoralizing. After being passed by another Jax girl, I figured I was 2nd in my AG. There were a few other ladies that I went back and forth with from other age groups and towards the end a few guys who passed me. Nutrition was my usual 3 gels, 3 bottle Perform, and 1 bottle water. The last half of the course going back down 79 and then back along the beach along the huge hotels was just plain brutal.
I went onto the run thinking I was top 2-3 peeps. Unlike Haines City, the I cranked out the first few miles in 7:30's with ease. I did pass one girl in my age group. Despite early success, the battle with the wind set in my legs and my pace slowed dramatically. I continued to slow more and more and more. The last mile yet another girl came along that I passed earlier. I had no fight mentally or physically left in me.
In the end, I was 2nd AG after one girl placed OA and the other landed some pretty heavy drafting penalties. Going into the race less than a month after Haines City was probably not the smartest thing either more mentally than physically.
Although no WC slot for me and no sub-5, I know that I'm not in the right place mentally to continue to push through with the long stuff. After Haines City, I came to the realization that I CAN qualify for Worlds. I am finally performing at THAT level. I know I can. I seriously tossed around the idea of giving it one more shot to make it to Canada. In the end, I'm listening to my heart and mind and giving myself a break from the longer stuff for now.