You know how sometimes someone says something that you have always known without knowing it? They put into words what you have felt to be true but never really expressed. This has happened to me twice in the past month or so; both times regarding the topic of curiosity. Two athletes that I admire, both runners, mentioned something very nonchalantly about their motivation to compete. Both spoke with simple terms that conveyed a message my heart had always known. Both spoke of a deep curiosity–a deep yearning to know what might happen if ____. What might happen if I give my best? What might happen if I dare to lay it all on the line? What is possible for me? I am recognizing that at the root of my sporting endeavors is this same curiosity. I am curious about where my God-given limits are. I wonder what potential lies within me. I think that inquisitiveness can spur me on in all areas of my life. Some areas are just better at provoking my curiosity–and those areas are the ones that I will pursue with the most passion. Maybe I need a spark of curiosity regarding bathroom cleaning techniques…
In other news, I finished my last triathlon of the 2017 season at Austin, TX. Brice and I stayed with some good friends (Thanks, Lauren, Vincent, & Mona pup!). We had a nice sampling of Texas food (tacos, coffee, baked goods, Italian, and Tex Mex). We checked out Lance Armstrong’s bike shop/cafe, and swam in the Barton Springs pool. We even got to see our Aussie/Kiwi friends, Emma & Sean, who are currently living in Houston.
Here’s my recap of race day:
I woke up race morning and felt that with each piece of race preparation–the brushing of teeth, the eating of breakfast, the drinking of coffee, the putting on of socks– I was getting ready for battle. That feeling can be scary and intense. It can make you feel so alone. But then I remembered that I don’t have to feel that way because the Lord is with me in every moment. I don’t have to do any of it alone. He is with me (Psalm 118:6). He is for me (Romans 8:31). He is my helper, so I will not be afraid (Hebrews 13:6). Remembering these truths gave me so much relief. I can’t do it, but He can. All my confidence is in Him (Jeremiah 17:7).
Austin was uncharacteristically cold for the day- just under 40 degrees at the start. But, the water was warm (and just barely wetsuit legal), so the swim felt comfortable. I was able to get out quick and then settled into my own pace for the 1.9km. It was my fastest 70.3 swim split to date–win! The transition was fine. I still felt pretty warm and decided not to put on any extra clothing for the 56 mile ride, assuming I’d warm up and be fine. I was wrong.
I now know that low 40s is too cold to ride my bike for almost three hours in nothing but a wet bathing suit. I could not feel my legs or hands. When I picked up my snacks/bottles I did so very slowly and carefully because I couldn’t feel whether or not I was actually gripping them. My power meter worked for about 5 minutes of the race. I am not sure what went wrong–it was fine the day before the race, and it’s fine now. Hmm…so this combination of not feeling my legs, getting limited food/drink in my mouth, and having no power meter made for an interesting bike. Also, my chain fell off halfway up a hill so I put it back on and then walked my bike to the top. I remember thinking to myself that these moments when things aren’t going “our way” are so important; We can choose to give up, get negative about it, or we can trust that God is in control. We can give our best to Him and trust that He knows what we need. Even though I felt like my race was going downhill, I could have a little laugh about the situation and then do my best to move my legs and warm my body up. Once things thawed out, I felt strong again and was surprised to have a bike split not too far off my fastest 70.3 bike split–Hooray!
T2 was smooth and I was finally feeling warmed up. By the time I hit the run course I could even feel my feet! At the start of the run I was happy to see that my legs were moving faster than they felt, as had been the case at both of my previous 70.3 races this season. It wasn’t as hard as usual to settle down into my goal race pace (usually I start too fast and have to control myself for the first few miles). After about 3 miles, I knew I was drifting off of my pace and felt that I was slowing (it was hard to tell with the rolling hills on the course), so I ignored my watch and tried to go by feel. I even started mentally checking out and thinking about what I was going to say to my loved ones after my “bad race”. I had to remind myself that it wasn’t over yet and that I needed to stay present. The inner conversation went something like: “Don’t write yourself off yet! (10 points if you just started singing Jimmy Eat World) Just because you might not hit your “A” goal doesn’t mean you default to ‘just get it over with mode’. Stay in it! Focus on the opportunities still in front of you rather than what is behind you.”
Then, a male age grouper going the same pace as me ran with me for the middle 4-5 miles and was super encouraging–thank you, friend! At mile 9 I had to stop to use the porta potty for the first time in a triathlon, ever. After the stop, I felt great and starting speeding back up, only to slow back down for the last couple of miles. Those were probably the most mentally tough miles of the whole year for me–I felt so slow. Thankfully, I had Brice, Emma, and Sean to cheer me on and greet me at the finish.
Overall, I was happy to come away with a 70.3 PR. I don’t typically worry much about times since every course is different, and I don’t believe that times tel much of the story, but PRs are hard to come by so I celebrate that. Thanks to Coach Gareth for preparing me for the pain. Thanks to Metal Mountain Cycling for keeping me confident in my rocket ship. Thanks to Dr. Romeo for the top-notch treatment. Thanks to our Austin hosts, Lauren, Vincent & Mona, and to our “Juan in a Million” friends, Emma and Sean for making the trip out to Austin so we could see you. Finally, heaps of thanks to my handsome photographer-sherpa-husband, Brice <3