Well race day came and went. I am happy to report I finished! And thanks to the very small race and age group I got some hardware! It has been almost a week since the race and I’ve had some time to settle in from the day and receive a lot of feedback about the result. So on to my recap.
Sunday at 4:00 am my alarm started blaring. I was very happy when I realized it had jolted me awake since I had been counting bicycle spokes since around 1am when I just. could. not. get back to sleep! By 4:50 I was packed up, fueled up and on the road to Naples for packet pick up and transition set up. I realized upon arrival that this would be a very small race as there were only 8 bike racks and I was instantly OK with that. Every race I have completed since starting this crazy sport of triathlon has been what I would consider to be large with the smallest being 800 people. I had been looking forward to this smaller and local race. Hoping, it would give me a chance to meet people, connect with some new training partners, and have a good time. At 6:30, I realized the race was going to be even smaller than I thought. None of the bike racks were full and only a handful of triathletes were standing by the water’s edge. The remaining bikes belonged to the duathletes and that made me even more excited.
At this point, I had made some friends and as we stood at the water’s edge we were all wondering, where exactly was the swim course? The race was held at Sudgen Park which has a large lake in the middle. From the race website, we were supposed to do one loop around the edge of the lake for 1600 meters. But the sun was up and there were no buoys to be seen. Turns out there was some kind of problem anchoring them so we were just going to swim from one side of the lake and back. Twice. Under the permanent swim zone buoys. WTF was the only phrase that ran through my head. Planning things is my day job – that part of my personality is obsessive compulsive and doesn’t deal well with change. Upon hearing the news about the swim, my planner side took over and immediately threw a fit. Thankfully, one of my acquaintances, Michael Krisher saw I was having a mental freak out and started asking me random questions to distract me. Looking back it was quite comical and ridiculous on my part. The swim is my most comfortable event and I’m capable of swimming across a 25yd pool and back in one breath, surely I could swim under the buoys that marked the swim zone. The gun went off shortly after and I took off. I hung with the initial group of guys for quite awhile. It wasn’t until I had trouble siting that I started to lag behind – zig zagging really doesn’t help keep your time down. Thankfully it was the last lap of the swim so I just muscled through it. I was in and out of transition relatively quickly and off on the bike.
The bike course had only been posted for a week before the race. Once I noticed it had 4 u turns in it I got so focused on my sub-par handling skills I didn’t notice the roads we would be traveling on. Sudgen Park is in an area of Naples/Collier County that is under development, there are lot of Master Planned Communities witnessing a second construction boom. The race director had worked it out so that we would be riding through many of these communities. When I realized this I got excited as two of the projects we went through had landscape designs by my husband. Then I got grumpy – it also meant we were riding through active constructions zones. Guess who has two thumbs and got a flat? This girl! Immediately a number of explicates ran through my head, but I got off the bike and got to work changing it. Looking back I am very glad Coach Pat spent an entire Summer drilling tire changing into our heads. I didn’t complete the task quickly but I got it done and was off again. I rode my heart out in the hopes that I would catch somebody but it was tough. I felt like someone was standing over me with a leaf blower in my face. Oh. My. God. The wind! I hated every moment of it but I kept saying Jodi’s mantra over and over again: The wind makes me strong, the wind is my friend. Finally the course exited Lely and made it back to US 41 where the course crossed 41 – to finish the ride on the grass and sidewalk adjacent to 41 back toward the park. Another WTF moment. I have no idea what anybody was thinking there…another group of explicatives ran through my mind. But it was out of my control so I tried to let it go. I headed off through transition as fast as my legs would carry me and I was off on the run.
As you know from my last post, I had been dreading the run. I spent the entire run remembering a comment I received on my last post (Thank you Erin!) and I made a deal with myself – to believe that I could do this and to keep moving forward. It was slow and MF’ing hot but I did it. The run course was two loops so the first loop went by rather quick, I recognized a lot people so there were high fives, smiles, etc to keep me moving. The second loop was just lonely and MF’ing hot – have I mentioned that? So in addition to repeating my mantras outloud I decided to see how much wildlife I could spot. A squirrel, a German shepherd mix, and a Belgian malinois later I needed a new plan. So I just starting signing out loud. The guys at the water station probably thought I needed a Med tent but I didn’t care. It got me through.
Thank you body for carrying me through this journey
Three and a half hours later I was finally finished. I was happy and frustrated at the same time. I had completed the race and I was uninjured! I wasn’t even limping slightly from the run! But I had gotten a flat and my finishing time wasn’t where I wanted it to be. Krisher was already at the finish line cheering and with a supportive word, which almost brought me to tears since this was my first race completely on my own. After seeing the time on the clock, I just went to transition to pack up. I figured even with such a small race there was no way I would get an award. I would just go to the award ceremony after to congratulate everyone. Then I heard my name over the loudspeaker. My immediate thought was Holy Sh!t and then the confusion set in. I ran over to pick up my award, turned around and saw a lot of familiar faces. Other triathletes I had met at club events, group trainings, etc came out to support the race and many of us in it. It was from their support and responses that I realize, while everything may not have gone as I planned, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t celebrate my accomplishments.
Beer Steins for the win!
I felt a lot of emotions at once but mostly I was excited, this was just the boost I needed. Like most athletes, I sent messages after the race, posted to social media, and called the family after the race. This race was extremely difficult for me, not just because of the training and conditions but also because my entire support team was some place else. My Tri Sistas were racing on Captiva Island, my parents were in Orlando with family, and my husband was in Colorado. When I contacted all of them, they were overly supportive and excited for me. Then the word got around others, people that I would describe as friends and some fellow triathletes. That’s where the doubt crept in. It seems that there are some people out there that don’t think awards should be given if the finishing time isn’t competitive. Basically, my time wasn’t good enough for an award despite the size of the race. Admittedly, this hurt. A lot. I’m blonde, not stupid kids. I am fully aware that in a larger race I would not have a received an award. I am also aware that I can’t change a flat fast enough and my bike skills need work if I want an award in a large race. But what happened to supporting each other? What happened to celebrating accomplishments? I looked back at my training logs for the last year and half, I have come a long damn way since last year. Regardless of my time I have spent the past week celebrating this award, it was just the boost I needed to keep going and getting stronger everyday. So, to my naysayers out there – stay out of my way and watch me go, I am only just beginning.