From Saturday’s SUP (stand up paddle board) race we headed to Dunkirk, with a stop off at my parents’ so Luc could spend some quality Grandparent time! Unfortunately for me, I felt sicker as the evening went on and found myself in bed most of the evening.
Curt knows better then to ask me if I really should be racing. As I said yesterday…. I am not an advocate of racing sick but ….. well…. I said it yesterday. You know where I stand and why I was here. Additionally…. we were honoring the 2nd anniversary of our friend Gary Grant’s passing. He died following injuries sustained in a bike crash at Dunkirk 2 years ago and I wanted to be out on that bike course. Honoring him. Honoring his family and his son that I have come to know and adore.
Sometimes racing is as much about healing as it is about hurting.
Word came late that due to e coli levels in the lake, the swim would be cancelled. If there is one thing I can always count on with Score This !!! it’s that they will ALWAYS put on a SAFE race. There is no other race organization I trust… not even WTC…. to put athlete safety first as Score This !!! does. No one. Period. I have been privy to their safety plans and how they go about developing them. You, the athlete don’t even know they exist. Neither did I until I was shown. So if they say the swim is cancelled, the swim is cancelled. Period.
I haven’t gotten to race JUST my bike in 10 years. A time trial! How fun would that be? Since I began my swimming focus I haven’t put in a lot of miles on the bike. My last long ride was 2 hours in June (Placid camp) and I have been consistently riding 3-4 times per week from 30-45 minutes. My rides are all on Trainer Road and Garmin Connect if we are connected there. So I was eager to see what would happen with that lower volume. I knew I wouldn’t be racing my bike or a triathlon until next May…. so I wanted this chance.
I woke up in the middle of the night and found myself staring at the ceiling. Congested, coughing, and crying.
Someone close to me, someone I love very much is traveling through a crisis of heath, we could say. It’s not Curt or Luc, everyone is fine. I don’t want to not write about it because I am hiding something, I don’t want to write about it because it’s not my story to tell. I am helping them navigate, and should this not go the way I pray it does it will completely shatter me. I willingly share my life and am very open about my struggles here, but not someone else’s.
I mention it at all because….. while reading this blog you are easily led to assume I am an athlete and that it is a big focus of my life. That is true. But I….. just like you…… have things that we have to carry. Hearts that we help heal, hands that we hold. This has nothing to do with me, Curt or Luc and I apologize for being evasive. I mention it because on race eve… I was awake processing it. That’s the time that I often can, when no one is watching. I was coming up with plan A, B, C and D, and making deals with God.
I am a rock for many people. I am the hand holder. The problem solver. The deal maker and deal breaker. I am the shoulder to cry on. I am the advisor. The coach. The teacher. The nurse. I am the person people come to. I love that, don’t get me wrong. I am good at it, I am all those things because I can do all those things. But I don’t put my head on others’ shoulders. I will carry your world and mine. That’s just the way I am. It’s something I work on. “I am fine” I will always always tell you. I am working on it.
As I laid there in the silent of the night, just listening to Curt breathing next to me, I felt that urge to let it all out on that bike course. THAT is where I unleash. THAT is my head on someone’s proverbial shoulder. THAT is where the pain of unknowing is matched by absolutely and completely burying myself. Bike volume or no bike volume it was my goal to finish that bike course SHELLED.
Because then I’d feel better.
So many of our Valor Triathlon Project athletes were racing, and ALL OF THEM hit the podium. There is nothing more exciting than seeing our athletes achieve. It’s honestly better than our own finish lines.
I lined up with the aqua bikers at the start. The format had us running from the swim exit to transition and then heading out on the bike. I popped on my helmet, and started with my friend Gary. It was the giggliest of starts, and it was so awesome to start the race with him. He beat me into T1, where we grabbed our bikes and hit the bike course.
My main competition was Brian. He beat me at a Tri In the Buff at the VERY last moment. I knew he’d employ a similar strategy. I knew I would win the overall female title, but what I wanted was the overall male title as well. Ready or not, I was going for it.
In triathlon I am often the hunted and I like to race that way. Being a strong swimmer I usually race off the front, even here with no swim I was racing off the front. I knew I was being hunted and I get off on that.
The course was rolling hills, contrary to the flat course my husband had described! I embraced the rollers, and kept an eye on my heart rate. During rides like this you just have to go. I have power but I look at it after the race. I know where my heart rate should be and I use that as the target. It keeps me much more focused.
Strong, smooth, fast, strong became my mantra as I headed out to the turnaround, at mile 12.5. Once I hit the turnaround I noticed Brian was less than 30 seconds behind me. He was the only one I cared about. I could feel my inadequate cycling volume but I didn’t care. I was riding well and I was going to do my damnedest to see if I could beat him.
I love to race. Prepared, unprepared, I love it. I love the feeling of going so hard snot runs down my face, my legs burn and I can’t hear anything. I crave it. That is my drug. Win, lose, doesn’t matter. I love the green room.
Mile 23.7 I heard a noise. Was it Brian? Sneaking up on me again? I looked over my left shoulder, I saw nothing. I shook it off. Mile 24. Brian comes by me like the hunter he freaking is. I scream!!! “AHHHHH!” And I try to respond. Knowing he started 30 seconds behind me (time trial start) I know he is now actually thirty seconds ahead of me, and we STILL have 1/2 mile to go.
RIDE EGGERS RIDE!
I ride. As best I can and I just can’t bridge the damn gap. I hit the dismount line and get into transition. As I ran through the finish line he was there holding his water and smiling. He got me again. Nothing is more fun than having a good rivalry. Going hard against one another and then laughing about it when it’s over. I was again close.
I ended up first overall female and second overall to Brian, a worthy competitor.
I must also add that my amazing husband won the sprint race! That’s our athlete Steve next to him in third. Curt could be Steve’s DAD! I am so proud. Curt’s longevity in this sport is inspiring and amazing.
What a great weekend. I am sun kissed, exhausted, and fried. Monday we are back on campus preparing for our nursing students to arrive. The swim focus is full on. Our first swim meet is in 6 weeks and we have work to get done.
Racing is a gift. It’s a privilege. It’s never a right or an expectation. The opportunity to even BE out there beats the alternative, not being out there. And riding in honor of a man we all miss so much….. makes it sweeter.
Thank you so very much to those who have continued to love and support me through this season, TYR, Towpath Bikes, Rudy Project, Valor Triathlon Project, Victor Masters and of course….. my family. Curt, Luc and my Mom and Dad too. We got to hang with them at Canalside in Buffalo, which quite honestly was the icing on the cake of one hell of a good weekend.