Leanda Cave wins Wildflower
Only 8 seconds off course record
Leanda Cave added another significant feather to her cap last weekend by capturing the 2011 Wildflower long course title. Wildflower has long been one of Cave’s favorite races but up until last week she had only garnered a career best 2nd place. This year would be different. Cave used her usual fast/steady swim, race-best bike split of 2:34:20 and a gutsy run to grab the victory with an overall time of 4:27:58 – just 8 seconds off the course record and just 7 seconds off of the hard-charging Mary Beth Ellis. Cave returned to the finish line a few minutes after her win to roll herself across the finish line in honor of John “Blazeman” Blais and the families and individuals suffering from ALS.
In her own words…
Fastest bike split. 8 seconds off the course record. Bike prime. Run prime. Not a bad day at the office!
It’s not every day that I surprise myself with a great race result. It’s normally the other way around where I feel I have trained harder than anyone and l left no stone unturned, yet I fall short of achieving my goals.
But the story is a little more complicated. This year has gone anything but planned. Two weeks prior to racing in Abu Dhabi I came down with a pretty bad cold, which was reflected in my average result of 6th place. I came back disappointed and I went on a training camp to hit it hard. But on day one of the training camp I broke a couple of ribs while taking a pool cover off. I’m a believer in fate, and I knew there was a reason for this happening but just couldn’t see what it could be. The broken ribs put me out of action for some time and I missed one of my “A” races for the year, the 70.3 U.S. Championship event in Gavleston.
Swimming and running had been rather painful and I couldn’t do either very well for weeks. But I still knew there had to be a reason why. I had to change my race schedule and I decided to include Wildflower. I have raced it two times before and it is one of my favorite events. Training up to this event had been far from ideal. I had only 2 weeks of what I would call quality training. The rest was simply long, slow distance. Race day came all too quickly. The workouts I did the week leading up to the race left me feeling flat, sore and tired. This didn’t help with my lack of confidence. Even the day before the race I felt like crap. However, I love racing and I didn’t care because I couldn’t wait to race the next day.
I started the swim, and right away I amazed myself that I was holding on the feet of Mary Beth Ellis. Jodie Swallow was already out there in the lead on her own. I came out the water in 3rd, but I had a lot of trouble getting my wetsuit off because I was really dizzy and falling all over the place. Finally I pulled my legs out jumped on my bike over 30 seconds behind the other girls. As I arrived at the first long climb about 2 miles out of transition I had already caught them all and I took charge and rode up side by side with Ellis and Swallow. From there I kept pushing the pace and by half way, I was on my own, passing the odd male pro on the way, and scoring the bike prime at the top of “Nasty Grade”, a really long climb 40 miles in to the race.
I led out on the run with a good minute lead over Ellis, however I didn’t know this at the time. All I was trying to focus on was running as hard as I can. I didn’t think I was going that fast because of the lack of fast run training I’d done. But I was getting more confident as I started to catch and pass some of the men. Then came the 10 mile mark, and I scored the run prime. There was also an out and back, and it was there I managed to see that Ellis was all but 30 or 40 seconds back. That’s where the switch turned on and I gave it everything I had. I sprinted in to the finish and Ellis finished 7 seconds behind. Phew!!
I totally shocked myself with this win and ultimately this was the fate of the broken rib. What surprised me the most was how close I was to the course record. I missed it by 8 seconds! That only place I could have found 8 seconds was getting my wetsuit off quicker, but the dizziness was out of my control.
While this year has had its ups and downs, the one constant is the support of my amazing sponsors. I could not do this without their support and their brilliant products. A huge thank you to K-Swiss, Pinarello, Pacific Health Lab (makers of Accelerade and Endurox R4), Tri Bike Transport, NUUN, Easton, Giro, Computrainer, Blue Seventy, SKINS, Powercranks, Oakley, Shimano and Katalyst Multisport.
Next up is Rev3 in Knoxville next weekend. Please follow me on Facebook and Twitter!
race recap video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=817Pfo3hfks&feature=player_embedded