This season was very different for me. The team that I joined has basically dissolved and everyone has moved on. Some are with new coaches, some are taking a break from triathlon, and others are doing their own thing. I have fallen into the last category. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of these women and continue to work out with most of them. It was just different not having our team together. I loved getting together with everyone two days a week for our workouts. However, life is ever changing and we all must adapt.
It was difficult for me to adapt this season. I felt pretty alone, even though I wasn’t. It’s difficult for me to put into words. My training continued despite the changes and I did the workouts. My negative self-talk took over a lot though. My weakest sport of the three is running. I’ve never been fast and I know I’ll never be running 8 minute miles, but I was moving. That’s what I tried to tell myself, but after being so hard on myself throughout my training, it showed in my race.
Three of the ladies I met on Team PhysioFit were also participating in St. Anthony’s. We arrived Saturday afternoon, picked up our race packets, checked our bikes in, and went for a short swim to practice the exit, which was a metal staircase… Yeah. I was nervous about that, so very glad that we practiced that small portion. Later that evening, we all reconvened for dinner at the Hollander Hotel and that was lovely. Another teammate and her husband made the trek up north and we dined together, along with all of our male counterparts. I would like to point out that all the women were racing and the men were the cheerleaders 😉
After a sleepless night, it was time to race. I didn’t really have any feelings, which was strange for me. I wasn’t able to eat my normal pre-race breakfast, so I knew I was really nervous. I got my transition all set up and went down to swim start. The water was cold enough for wetsuits and we all took advantage of that option. I had an hour to wait in anticipation before the cannon was shot off for my swim wave. Luckily Kenny was there to calm me down and feed me words of encouragement. Before I knew it, it was time for me to go down into the pit and walk out into the bay for our in-water swim start.
As soon as I started swimming, I regretted wearing my wetsuit. It felt so tight around my neck and I was only getting half breaths. I wanted to rip it off mid-swim, but I knew that wouldn’t accomplish anything. I finally calmed myself down and got into my rhythm. Despite my mini freak out, I actually shaved some time off of my swim from my last Olympic race. I made up that time with a disgusting 4:00 transition. There were no wetsuit strippers, unfortunately, and my bike was in a pile of dirt, which turned into mud with all the water from my wetsuit. So, yes, it was disgusting for a couple of reasons 😉
I gained some ground on the bike course though. Even shaved a little of time off of that as well! The 25 miles were awesome. We biked by Tropicana Field (where the Tampa Bay Rays play baseball), golf courses, mansions, the bay, the Salvador Dali museum, and back through downtown St. Petersburg. I felt great on the bike and I was thrilled that I didn’t crash or have to repair a flat, but was definitely ready to get off of it by the end!
And then there was the dreadful run: 6.2 miles of sun, heat, and concrete. Oh the fun! Oh the joy! Let me reiterate: IT WAS HOT!! However dreadful the conditions were, the volunteers and random cheerleaders were amazing. It was by far the most spectator-packed run I have done in a race. There were tons of people out at the end of their driveways offering water, Gatorade, orange slices, gels, even beer shots! HA! There were also several people offering to spray you down with a hose if desired. By that time of the day, the hose down was welcomed with open arms.
I struggled through that run. It wasn’t easy or pretty, but I finished. My friend and fellow finisher Cheryl loves this photo:
I was completely puzzled as to why. But where I see defeat and failure, she sees an accomplishment and all of the emotions that go into this sport.
That’s my aim from here on out: look at things in a more positive light. Clear my mind of “can’t”. This race wasn’t my best. I didn’t feel good about it till the next day. I was disappointed that I finished with the exact same time as my first Olympic race. But as I was reminded by my teammates, friends, and boyfriend, I still finished. Kenny put it perfectly, “You did a lot more this morning than a lot of other people did sitting on their couch drinking coffee.”
This sport isn’t only a physical challenge, but an emotional and mental challenge as well. I didn’t drown in the swim, I didn’t crash on the bike, and I didn’t break my ankle on the run. I finished an Olympic triathlon. Something that I never ever thought I would say. I can do this. I will do this.
I can’t thank my family and friends (near and far), and boyfriend enough for being my constant support system. It means the world to me to have their love and encouragement. They’re always there for me and I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them. Knowing that they’re in my corner cheering me on and pushing me to new heights is a great feeling. I can’t let these people down. If they believe in me, I need to believe in me too.