Yep, I just threw some Mariah Carey at you. You’re welcome.
A lot of people have asked as the start list never got updated, but I’m not racing Eagleman this weekend. Truth be told I had scratched that off the list when I was going to Taiwan – adding another full was my brilliant excuse to not have to race back to back half distances 🙂 It would be a bit sweeter if either Taiwan or Raleigh went more according to plan, but, such is life. And I didn’t want to get into the (not helpful) habit of just adding race after race when they aren’t going well. Instead, I planned a bit of a reset here and am heading out to the West Coast for a few days to celebrate turning the big 3-2.
My poor race in Raleigh certainly wasn’t due to the pre-race setup. I was lucky because this is about as “hometown” a race as I’ll ever get, in fact. Only a 3.5 hour drive, I could take Ramona and we stayed with my old training partner, Adam, and his wife, Jamie, just a few miles away from the race site. Adam and Jamie went out of their way to make me (and Ramona!) comfortable, and I was 1000% taken care of in the days before the race. With a point to point setup, it would have been easy to find stress in the pre-race happenings, but it was all seamless with their help.
Including up to race morning. With the weather showing its typical east coast hot and humid self, we were set up to swim in a toasty 82 degree lake. Before the race, I told Hillary that I thought Liz Lyles was a good point person for my swim as she’s typically ~2 minutes ahead of me in a full distance swim. I set up myself up accordingly, and after a balls-out sprint for what felt like forever, I looked up and was pleased to say I was in fact, with Liz. Okay, by “with” her I mean that every now and then I caught a small bubble – she was a few yards ahead and I couldn’t seem to close the last bit of the gap. But coming out only 10 seconds behind her is a marked improvement, and I knew that as I exited the water. I was finally coming out into the race in a position I wanted to be in!
And then, I got onto the bike. The great part about racing and training with power is that you have a good sense of how your day is going at all times. The bad part of it, is that you have a good sense of how your day is going at all times. The numbers simply don’t lie. And as I watched Liz and the others pull away from me over the first 5 miles of the ride, and stared hopelessly as the numbers on the bike computer went lower and lower, reality was setting in: this wasn’t going to be my day!
I had to pull out all the mental tricks to get myself through this one. On one hand, I was well aware that with a point to point course the fastest way home at this point was to ride, so I may as well just get there as fast as I could. I also reminded myself of Taiwan where I saw some pretty magnificent implosions on the run, allowing those with the slower bikes to run into contention. The temps were rising, but that was actually a constant reminder of the fact that anything could happen. And so I held on tight to that, and just kept pedaling.
And then, I got a flat. I suppose I would rather get a flat out of the way on a day when I was already taking much longer than I’d have liked to ride, rather than lose time on a good day. And really, the flat took me 4 minutes to change – it was most certainly not the cause of my slow bike time for the day. We have the legs to thank for that. I’d also like to point out again I changed the flat in 4 minutes. That time also included 2 pretty solid jokes I told to the kind police officer who stopped behind me to direct traffic and make sure I didn’t get run over by a car. Much appreciated!
The run was everything the run in Raleigh rumors to be: hot, hilly, still, oh, and hot! I definitely think this race carnage rivals what I’ve seen at Eagleman. The course itself though is awesome, and honestly the entire race reminded me a little bit of Wisconsin – just the feel from the community, the run course, and the finish line area — very similar vibe to Madison. Being my first race in the US in a while, I was able to experience having friends AND family at the finish line – and that was pretty cool. I’m super grateful to the people who came out (and even more grateful my sub-par day didn’t happen during a full so you’d have had to wait extra long!).
So, what now? Well, I move on. It was a bad day. I’ll go through the normal checklist to make sure it’s nothing other than just that. But I’ve raced enough to know that racing is hard. There are great days and there are bad days. And the great days are enough to carry you through seasons of the bad ones if it comes to that. In fact, enduring the bad days for those fleeting great ones – that’s a huge part of why I enjoy racing so much in the first place……The chase of something that’s never guaranteed, never given to you freely. It’s only given after a boatload of hard work and putting yourself in position to be there when the door opens….over and over again. That, my friend, is racing. And if you love to race then you have to embrace the bad days as much as the good ones. Because it’s okay that sometimes racing will break your heart.
There have been plenty of days when racing does just that: it simply breaks my heart. Raleigh was one of them. Shoot… sometimes I just watch a race and my heart breaks because I can feel the pain of someone who’s shoes I have been in all too many times. But as long as it doesn’t break my spirit, my day will come. And my spirit has sights set on July 30 …. Whistler is calling 🙂