Thankfully I didn't let it get to me. I hopped on my bike and started to hammer. My goal was SUB 2:40 which I have never done. 2 years ago I biked 2:40 last year (with some mechanicals) I biked 2:44. I had the time of my life on the bike on Sunday. I got stronger on the second loop, and after a teammate (who I'd been waiting to come by) passed me on the 3rd loop, I actually gained more confidence as I was able to stay (legally) with her and actually drop my effort a bit to get some calories in.
On the bike I realized a couple of things. While I've thought I've been racing hard, I haven't. I don't remember working THAT hard (at least for the first 2 loops) in a very long time. It was good to remind myself what it felt like. I did struggle to get my normal solid foods down and had to really bulk up in the last loop. If there is one thing I'm good at, it's nailing my nutrition and I know the consequences on the run if I don't.
I hit the dismount line in about 2:36:30. HUGE bike PR.
As I headed out of T2 I had teammates screaming to relax and find my groove and make the mistake of telling me I was in 3rd place. I was all worked up and tense and just tried to chill. Phew, it worked. I quickly realized that my legs were fine, even after the hard bike effort and the rest was up to me. Within a couple of minutes my teammate that had passed me on the bike caught up. PERFECT. Just what I was hoping for. I figured we could help each other on the run! This is exactly what we did. For about 7 miles we took ~2 min "pulls" trying to keep as close to an 8 min pace as possible. I notice my energy levels a bit lower than normal, but as soon as I would get some gel or cola in me it was like a huge boost! I actually stopped and walked through 2 aid stations to drink FULL cups of cola. I missed about 100 calories on the bike and the harder effort was definitely showing energy wise so I just needed sugar and caffeine.
In the last 2 miles I was tired, but my body felt FINE. I was told the person I was worried might come pass me was 4 minutes behind. I dug. I gave it what I had and I finished the race with an 8 minute distance and course PR finishing in 5:01:48.
For a bit I thought I had landed 3rd OA, but there were 2 gals pretty far ahead that no one saw. 1st overall finished in 4:36 blasting everyone else! She was in my AG, so I was moved up to 1st place AG, 5th OA.
I couldn't be more happy with how the day went. I've spent the last 2 days focusing on my recovery to get my body back for one last super long weekend of training!
I can't believe after all this hard work, the big show is in 3.5 weeks. I can't WAIT.