There I am standing on top of the podium wearing my oversized and over-used “Weekend” shorts, (I know, I need to buy at least one pair of slightly attractive shorts for life in general, but also for magical moments like this. Stand by). It turns out this was a mistake, and not at all how the day was meant to pan out.
Triathlon is my passion; it is what I am willing to suffer for. I learn and grow from it because it constantly shines a light at the core of my personality; strong, kind, encouraging, hard-working, organized, humble, powerful, and playful.
Still, a lot goes into these races. I took off a day of work, I paid for a hotel, Marion was able to come, which was great, but it meant that we needed to book our dog/house sitter for the night, but this win made it all feel worth it. I felt like the 4th place monkey from IM St. George 70.3 and Alaskaman was finally off my back, but the universe had other plans.
About five hours after I finished the race, after the awards, after I drove the two hours home, ate some food, uploaded photos and clever sayings to various social media outlets, the results were posted to the race website, and I found my name not standing tall at the top of the 35-39 women’s age group, but sitting just below that spot in second place.
My stomach hit the floor.
Of course, I was bummed to see my name in 2nd place, it was a punch to the gut, but more than anything else I was embarrassed of my, “Hey, look at me posts,” and upset that the rightful winner did not receive her proper recognition. I emailed the race director right away, but assumed I would not hear back anytime soon because they still had all of the other races to run on Sunday, and were probably not checking emails. Next, a cloud of shame overwhelmed me because I felt like a fraud. Then again, they did give me the award, so maybe it was a mistake on their part? Maybe her time was wrong? For the next forty-eight hours I was trapped in a stomach spinning purgatory unable to truly relish the results one way or the other, but what I could celebrate and what I appreciated above all else, was that I had the time of my life during the swim, bike, and run, and executed a great race.
I swam hard and was aggressive during the swim, not allowing anyone to pass me on our initial entry into the water; instead I was the one pummeling anyone who got in my way. I swam over people and then kept swimming hard. So hard, in fact, my arms felt detached from my body and I could barely move my legs. Still, I kept going. It didn’t matter that I was startled and exasperated, I refused to stop and collect myself, (like I usually do in every other swim,) nope, I just kept chopping through the water with severe focus and belief that the work and training I have endured is in me, and it was simply up to me to get it out.
For the first time ever it felt like I was racing the swim.
I would not be the first out of the water, I knew that, but I was reaching and passing buoys quicker than I ever have before, which secured my belief that I was in a solid position to start the bike.
Then I started to fly.
I had ridden sections of the beautiful bike course that weaved through Santa Barbara, Montecito, and Carpenteria several times. One such occasion was the previous weekend during the Cool Breeze century ride, and the others were during the four times I raced in the Carpenteria triathlon. I expected it to be technical; there were many sharp turns, short hills, long hills, uneven road surfaces, and gorgeous flat straight-a-ways. I was prepared for all of it. I was careful when needed, especially when I rolled through my crash site from years ago, but more often than not, Simone and I flew.
That bike is so fast. She always wants to go fast, and like a patient parent whose child has just completed all of her weekly chores, I let her have her fun. She earned it. I think we made many men weep as we swooped by them in a flash, it was awesome.
Up next was the run, which was a ten mile out and back along the coast. The way out started on a false flat bike path, which then lead to a respectable climb that leveled off at the four mile mark. I have been tapping into some legit speed during recent training sessions, which I was excited to explore and exploit right from the start. Hillary laid out some ambitious paces to hit, but if she believed I could hit them, I did, too.
I love running, (a fact I probably don’t have to point out anymore to you, my faithful reader,) but what I love most is not running long, but running fast.
I have had to so much fun testing myself during recent jaw-dropping interval workouts that elicited the following response from a local, top high school running coach, “Damn, girl.” However, it was unfamiliar territory to run the speeds Hillary prescribed off the bike for a ten mile stretch. I’ve cranked out some quick half marathon results this year, but those were run on fresh legs, not legs that had been soaked in the ocean and pedaled up and over mountains for hours before starting to run, but I was up for the challenge.
I started the run at around a 7:05 – 7:10min. mile pace, and held on tight for as long as I could.
The hill around the half-way point slowed me down, but my long legs churned through every inch of the course and rewarded me with a quick plunge down the other side of the hill on the way home to the finish. I was hoping to have enough juice left for the last mile to drop below 7min. pace, but I hovered just above it, and then cracked it the last 100 yards or so for the final sprint to the line. Overall, my avg. was around 7:16mi. pace, which I am happy with. Actually, I am ecstatic about how the run played out. After having such a devastating experience at Alaskaman with my cramped up calf, the ability to fully utilize my legs was the true win of the day.
After hustling across the street to clean up and then check out of our hotel, we made it back to the awards just after they handed out the tiles to the pros, but before they started to for the age groupers. I assumed that I placed, but I never checked the results, so I wasn’t positive. Then they called my name for first place, sweet.
Thankfully, while waiting to hear back from the race director to have the proper placing resolved, my ego relaxed, and completely accepted the fact that another competitor was faster on the day. I never saw her during the race, which meant that she was faster in the swim and ahead of me all day, but never passed me, which was an improvement from previous races. Plus, her time was amazing! She would have placed 3rd overall, including the pros, so really, good for her!
Indeed, the timing folks said they caught a mistake after the awards ceremony, and that I had placed 2nd, Laura McDonald was the rightful winner.
I can live with the fact that I don’t need to be the best; I just need to be my best.
Most importantly, I spent the weekend doing exactly what I love, alongside the person that I love, and learned a valuable lesson, one should observe patience before blasting out photos to social media.:)
I LOVE Pink! Enjoy.:)