October has been a bit of a wing-it and see what happens kind of month. The shortest time I’ve ever had between races before is something like 3-4 weeks and this month I’ve managed to squish three races into three of the four weeks in october all in the name of “fun”. As a result, I came into Rev3 Anderson knowing that it would be an interesting test of my physical and mental toughness just one week after Half Full.
But it would be even tougher mentally than I initially imagined: the day before the race, a few hours before i set off to Anderson, my dad got the call a parent never wants to hear when they have a son serving overseas. My mom and I could hear it over the phone speaker, “I have bad news….” Thankfully, the situation turned out to be much better than the initial phone call seemed to imply and my brother will certainly make a full recovery but Saturday was one of the most terrifying days of my life. I think the only way I got through the day was all of the amazing support from the Rev3 team, from family friends and from random (some not-so-random) people on twitter sending thoughts and prayers my brother’s way. After some back and forth, I decided to hop on the road and head to anderson to race.
What follows (triathlon-wise) is basically a what-no-to-do the day before the race. After a nerve-wracking morning, some crying in the car and a blown/flat tire in the first 5-minutes of the drive, I was still a complete mess by the time I arrived in Anderson. I made it to packet pickup with 30-minutes to spare and was totally lost trying to navigate the two-transition set-up because I hadn’t been able to attend the (mandatory) pre-race meeting – oops.
After finding my hotel, I realized I didn’t want to get back in the car and that I really needed a drink… so with KFC the only restaurant within walking distance, I had the disgusting pre-race meal of macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and a biscuit as I stayed up way too late to watch Pete Jacobs crush the finishand Leanda Cave overtake Caroline Steffan at Kona. I went to bed knowing that I trashed any hope for a good race the following day. Even my mom told me over the phone, “don’t beat yourself up if you don’t have the day the want.”
In the morning, as I took the shuttle from finish to the swim start, I felt calm, like the day before hadn’t happened. But then when Charlie gave me a big bear hug and Sean English asked for thoughts/prayers for my brother at the start and the crowd cheered, I couldn’t help but cry. Not necessarily by what happened, but by just how close it was to being much much worse.
[Side note #1: interestingly, the experience was kind of like racing at Half Full the weekend before - very inspiring because whatever you're going through in a race is absolutely nothing compared to what others have gone through.]
With the later start at Anderson, everyone got to watch the pros and the Half race go off and then still have plenty of time to warm up, get in the water to swim some, etc. More races need a late start like this! For the swim, I lined up directly on the start, which I was surprised by but the women seemed much less agressive than the two college waves and the men that had gone off before us.
We were sent off in the water and for the first time in a race I was able to keep tabs on where I was relative to the rest of the wave. I swum in third, in no-mans-land for much of the way, until we started running up against the waves in front of us. At this point, my lack of swim fitness started to kick in. One of the girls behind me passed and I used her move as an excuse to pull back some on the swim and just follow her feet. My time getting out was U-G-L-Y but given that it was still one of the faster(ish) ones of the whole race, I’m betting that the buoy placement (moved after the half swim) might have led to a slightly long swim—my Garmin said 1.4-miles!
But I got out, trucked up the climb to T1 and then got out on the bike course and the legs just were. not. there. I was playing cat and mouse with two other women for the first few miles until finally they both pulled away. Overall this was a fun course but my speed just wasn’t there, which I found confusing given my watts were right on target. I kept wondering whether a brake was rubbing but was too stubborn to get off my bike to check. Finally, about 45-minutes in, when the rubbing because much more obvious, I got off and just opened up my rear brakes, got back on and…. yup, FLYING. Serious dumb blonde moment aka what I get for not doing my normal S-B-R pre-race shake-out routine to catch mechanicals like that. I probably could have found my way to the podium if my back wheel hadn’t sucked a ton of power… oops. Passed back one of the girls that had passed me earlier and started hunting down more and more of the college kids on the course.
[Side note #2: I really wish my college had a triathlon team when i was there but DANG some of these kids had nice gear – bikes, race wheels, aerohelmets and all! I certainly know I couldn’t have afforded all of that before working 9-to-5!
Biking in, I didn’t feel great. and my legs were toast and I (thought I was) way back in the overall standings so the fire just wasn’t there. But since I knew quitting was the last thing I could do, I slipped on my Pearl Izumi ISOs, grabbed my racebelt/gels/visor and got trucking. And once I got going, the run didn’t seem so bad. Of course, it helped that Rev3 made an interesting course… it felt kind of like cross country on a paved course:
Even with all of the curves, turns and loops, I tried to zone out and move through the run as quick as possible (honestly, mostly just to get it over with), but a few memorables stood out:
- Charlie high fiving me just before the turn-around with some kind/motivating words
- extra loud cheers from Carole and others on the run course
- the military camp set-up near the turn-around, complete with tents and humvees and supply trucks—honestly, it was startling seeing them there. I was torn between wanting to run over there and thank them and just crying as I moved forward on the run.
I came into the finish, happy to be done but mentally and physically drained. I ended up 4th overall and 1st in my age group but honestly could not care less. The race on sunday was more about digging within and making it through and enjoying the entire experience rather than any placement or podiums.
Finally, the support from the Rev3 family was so inspiring and the number of hugs and messages I got from everyone gives me hope that the world truly is a good place despite some of the evil out there. A part of me knows that things truly do happen for a reason and, if anything, events like these are a reminder to everyone—not just those affected—to live everyday to the fullest and to do things that scare/excite/amaze you, because one day you will no longer be able to do them.
Here’s to living life to the fullest.