Where do I start? What a weekend!
I think I’ve started writing this several times, but it just comes rambling out. Guess there is a lot I want to say.
We arrived in Austin on Friday. The Expo was on Saturday. Elysha and I met up with my other “Tri Diva” friends to pick-up our packets, chips, swag and check-in our bikes. It was great to see and met some of them for the first time.
For me, by the time I started packing to head to the hotel I was getting nervous. I just kept repeating to myself that I couldn’t do anything any better than I have. Over the course of my training I missed a total of running 7 miles and swimming 2000m since April. In the big picture those 7 miles and 2000 m were not going to make me any faster. The rest was only going to come to me during the event.
Elysha and I woke on Sunday and were out the door pretty quickly, after prepping our hairdryer warmed Ezekiel English muffins and low fat cream cheese. We made it swiftly to the grounds and started prepping. Damn… I was nervous. I don’t think anyone really knew just what a mess I was inside.
I didn’t want to fail myself. I only wanted to prove to myself that my training was paying off; that the sacrifices my family was making that allowed me to train weren’t pointless. I needed to do just a little better. I didn’t want to fail my friends who, for some reason, seemed to have this impression that I was some super Triathlete. I’m adequate with a little touch of nuts at best. :)
As the start time drew near we made our way to the dock where the swim launched. For some reason I was confused about what wave I was in. I kept thinking age, but it was going by bib number… I was in wave 7, and in the nick of time realized it. I made my way to the front and started appropriately and pretty much immediately.
As I started to swim, I literally thanked God for something different each time I looked at the sky while taking my breath during the freestyle. I thanked him for the day, the weather, my friends, my body (yes, unbelievably so), my courage, my trust that he would take care of me. He did. My stroke was steady and I was in control of my breathing, which had been somewhat of a challenge in open water for me. I had not struggles. I didn’t have to float on my back at all. My problem was navigating through the other athletes and sighting. Easily something I can work on.
As I came out of the water my legs were just a touch heavy. I ran up to the timing mat and then slowed my pace a bit. I had a pretty good transition, but made a mental note about needing an extra water bottle to spray off my feet – they were kinda dirty and I didn’t think mulch in my cycling show would feel good.
I mounted the bike and just rode in a spinning gear for a mile or two. As I felt my legs back I was feeling more like myself. Back in 2003 I averaged 10.4 mph and got off my bike for nearly every large hill. This year I navigated all the hills on my bike, never getting off. By the end my average speed was 14.4 – I was thrilled with the improvement. By far, the best achievement for me on the bike course was completing the steep descent into the hard right turn, into a steep uphill climb. I had to come out of my seat and found myself breathing like a buffalo, but I made it to the top. I think I started crying a little right then and there! I totally remember how defeated I felt in 2003 when I had to get off my bike.
When I got to the last hill I encountered a plus-sized athlete, who reminded me of me, back in 2003. I slowed down next to her and told her to remember, “as long as you are moving forward you’re still making progress”. Someone said that to me, and it made a difference; it’s easy to forget when you’re challenging yourself beyond anything you’d done before.
I transitioned for the run pretty quickly and was on my way. I started out pretty good until this woman, slightly older than me, started chatting me up. She was telling me how she just did a half IM in Florida last week. She happened to be from the Houston area too, so we got little chatty and started wogging together. Although she was lovely company, I let my own pace slip away. I could have done better had I remained more focused, but it was worth hearing her story. I do believe she was trying to get me to drink the IM kool-aid. Uh, no thanks – need an Oly under my belt before I go to any fraction of an IM! LOL
I finally crossed the line at 2 hours 11 minutes (bawling!) – I didn’t make my sub 2 hour goal, but I had a great time enjoying each recognizable improvement that I made:
In April’s Lonestar, I did 300 m in 26 minutes.
At the Danskin I did 800 m in 29 minutes and had control of my breathing.
In Danskin 2003, I averaged 10.4 mph and got off my bike at all the big hills
At Danskin 2009, I averaged 14.4 and stayed on the bike and in the pedals.
At May’s Y Practice Tri myRun time was 49 minutes.
At the Danskin 2009 my run was 44 minutes, and could have definitely been better had I not been yappin!
(sometime between 2003 and 2009 I moved, married, had a baby, wls and lost my gallbladder!)
This body, the one that I despise on more days than I care to admit, brought me through all this. This is a gift that not everyone has the courage or wherewithal to enjoy and I promise to be kinder to my body (and my mind) because they (me) deserve it.
To my fellow Tri Divas…
Alana and Courtney – We made that promise in 2003 to come back to the Danskin in 2003 and do it as individuals, so really, you guys are the reason I made it back to the Danskin in 2009 and I’m glad to have returned to the event with the two of you, because even though we didn’t get a lot of time together at the event I still knew you all were there. It wouldn’t have been the same had you not been there on the same day, accomplishing the same thing. I’m not sure why you ever drank what I was giving you from that first Ride for the Roses in 2003, but I’m glad you did. Crazy loves company, I guess. Thanks for always reminding me of where I was and where I am.
Leslie – I am so proud you had a change of heart out and did the bike. I hope you take a moment to enjoy the accomplishment and don’t regret seeing the tri through its entirety. Good luck on your future swimming endeavors! I still hope to embrace my “inner fish”.
Lynn – My goodness! I can hardly believe that 4 months ago you hadn’t even had your face in the water. I know this was a challenge for you and by the grace of God and your power of persistence you came, saw and conquered… no matter what the speed, you did it, and the rest of it was “up hill” from there, so to speak! Of course I’ll continue to watch you train, but it was lovely to meet you and I hope to see you around again in “real life” when we have more time.
Drea – You self-proclaimed yourself the “fraudulent triathlete” and my heart hurts that you feel the way you do about your accomplishment. I do understand where you are coming from as you provided your reasoning, but I have to disagree. You may not have trained and made sacrifices in the way you thought or even hoped you might, but the hardest part of this race is showing up to the starting line, and you did. For whatever reason, not participating wasn’t even an option in your mind! That doesn’t happen with someone who fears challenge. You have inner strength you need to tap into a little deeper and learn not to be afraid of accomplishment in it’s finest form. You deserve to feel the grandeur of crossing that finish in its full glory (training perfectly or not). I’m sorry I didn’t have more time to get to know you, because of your strength is any indication of who you are as a person I look forward to getting to know you as well!
Jenn – I know our meeting was brief, but how awesome is it that you made the trek down here to do this tri. You are still aka “Da Fish”, and I hope to continue to watch your training and see you grow!
Angel – I had no idea of your story until the day of the tri! So you might imagine how shocked I was to find out you were a survivor and all you had gone through which brought you to that day. I realize I don’t know you… well, at all, really, but when I heard your name as you crossed the Finish I got chills. I’m glad to have caught the picture of you truly living more than surviving on that special day! Good luck to you and hope to see you again. My prayers are also with you as you continue your journey.
Elysha – How could I forget you? You know how I feel, but I am so lucky that for whatever reason we managed to connect. You are definitely like my sister from another mother. I’m so happy you enjoy an unbelievable zest for life that leads you to living it fully and with fun and laughter. I’m glad to be a part of it now too! It helps that you’re a little crazy and easily persuaded to do these crazy events with me – thanks for being right there with me in the thick of it! And no, YOU Rock. :)
And to the other Tri Divas that I don’t really know all that well: As I hear pieces of each of your stories I’m amazed by each one of you. I only hope I get another opportunity to see you all again!