The day started with nerves and rain. Honestly, the nerves started the day before. I expect a lot out of myself. I admit to putting pressure on myself. But you see, I have been racing in one way or another since I was 8. I compete every time I go out there. I pay attention to who is around me. I do the best that I can do, and I am not unrealistic about my abilities, but I expect a lot. I have big goals. Why not! It keeps me fired up year after year and I enjoy it.
That said, I was particularly nervous this time.
I had to dust off all the racing gear to prep for yesterday. My race number from Worlds was still on my racing belt. That brought back memories of course. That was a huge race with Pros and all the fanfare. And you know what, I was just as nervous yesterday as I was that day in Florida. Goals. I have goals. I have dreams. In each race. I visualize each part of the race. I visualize the finish. I visualize the outcome.
The rain dried up but the nerves did not.
I set up transition like a rookie. It took me way too long to lay out a very simple mat of bike shoes, sneakers, helmet, hat and race belt. If not for my brother talking nearby about which lenses to use in his glasses, I absolutey would have forgotten to lay mine out. I need my bike glasses. Thanks bro.
I warmed up my run. I felt loose. Fast. Ready.
From there I was off to the pool for another warm up. Again, felt great. I learned at that time that we had to pick our own lanes. They didn't tell us where to go....we did it ourselves. This was good. I wanted a deep lane. I wanted to see my girls. I am good about getting places on time so I knew I could be successful and not get stuck in a crummy spot.
Before the race started, I was SO happy to see my boys. Mark and the kids arrived just in time to give me hugs before I headed to the deck. Remarkably, my 3 boys had a calming effect on me. (note: 3 boys don't typically do this to a Mom. ) I had nice hugs from the little ones and it made me feel great. I was off.
After swearing at my new 1 piece tri suit because I had to wiggle in and out of the thing ~8 times pre-start to run the ladies' room....I was finally ready. Man, that was a pain! Note to self: that suit is Only good for sprints!!
I was literally shaking. Unable to hold a conversation. I was really really nervous. I was excited. Ready. Feeling Strong. But yet very very nervous. I had these big goals.
So what did I do to settle myself? I put myself in the Same lane as my main competitor! Was I crazy? Or smart? I wasn't sure then. I'm still not sure.
I was in the middle of the pool. I was next to my girl. She and I have a friendly relationship. I honestly really admire her. She dominates. She is tough! She donned her stoic game face with about 3 minutes to go before the send off. She knew I was after her I think.
This was not the first time she and I have gone at it. Well, I have gone after her at least. She just dominates so I dont' think she's all that concerned about me.
A little background. I have been 2nd to her 6 or 7 times. Nuff said.
Off we went. Faaaaaaaaaast! But, stroke for stroke. However, it was the kind of stroke for stroke that I could feel she had the edge on me. Still, I was hopeful.
And then....OH MY GOSH!!!!!!!!!! She TOOK OFF!!!!!!! Like a friggin rocket! Amazing. She literally just seemed to have a 3 and 4th gear! Gone. Faster and faster! I pushed and pushed and pushed but geez, she just kept getting more and more distance on me. Damn. I didn't give up. I remembered last year....she beat me out of the water but about the same amount and I caught her on the bike! So I held on. My mind was in the right place. I was fighting back. So out of the pool...she was about 25 yards ahead of me....there was hope. I was fast in transition. 40 seconds I hit the bike course and just went for it. Within a few minutes I was passed by some faaaaaaaaaaast men. Wow. They make me look like I have the brakes on when I'm actually flying along at 26 mph. (slight downhill) They fly. Amazing. So, I never caught up here. I never gave up hope either. I just pushed harder and harder on the pedals. It's such a short ride. Every few miles there is a corner so it's hard to keep a solid pace. Into T2. Ok, more background. Last year was rainy and cold. Last year I was ahead after the bike. And then in T2, I pulled my typical really cool Ange move. I wiped out getting off the bike. In my defense, it was wet and sandy. I ran into T2 with blood flowing down my legs. Go me. That was last year. THIS year I was determined to be even cooler. No falling allowed. Instead, I would take my feet out of my shoes and run in barefoot. Remember, I am fairly new to this sport. I have not yet mastered the art of keeping the bike shoes on the bike to mount in T1 or dismount in T2. ( I know Jen, this is bad. I'm very clutsy you see.......) Ok, so I take my left foot out and that is good to go. NOw, the right foot. At this point, I panic and unclip!!! NO! That is NOT what I meant to do! Now, I am at the corner getting off my bike. One shoe ON the bike and one shoe Off. I am SO cool! Can you stand it!? I attempt to take that 2nd shoe off now so I didn't have to run into T1 with one shoe on and one shoe off. God I'm pathetic. But that shoe flies off and I have to stop and pick it up. I think I did it all fairly fast. Mark was rigth there (praying I didn't fall) and Jeff my brother was coming in right behind me, watching the whole thing, shaking his head and laughing. See....I'm known for this type of thing. But hey! T2 in 38 seconds!!! Not bad for all that nonsense huh!
I'm in and out of there and as I run off across the field, I see her. Mark is running beside me with the 3 boys in tow. 50 seconds hun!!!!!!!!!! GO!
Ahhhh....so close and yet.....I have 3 miles. that's not far enough. Not enough time. You know what? the old me would have said, "ok she got you again. Just run hard." Not this time. And this is my biggest success of the race. I did NOT give up !!! HOnestly, in my head I kept the mindset that maybe I could run her down. This run is 90% off road. Through the woods on a soft surface with lots of tree roots. It's hard to see anyone else unlesss they are right there with you. But a few times I got a glimpse. I saw my family and of course, they gave me the stats. I was losing real estate. The finish line was coming.
I ran hard. I suffered. I never ever gave up. And for that, I am proud.
Final: 2nd woman 1st age group 13th overall 400 racers
Noteworthy: The top 4 women were EXACTLY the same as last year. Same order. Same. Again. Unreal.
Congrats to everyone yesterday. My friends all had Great races. It was blast to get out there and move fast. A blast to experience the nerves and adrenaline and remember why I love this sport. Congrats to Catherine. She is truly amazing. A machine. A force. I am honored to even be able to think I can hold my own against her.