I never sleep the night before a race. Couple that night before the race with 4 restless children, a pee in the bed accident (not me) and a teething baby nursing all night long – that equals an awful night for everyone.
All week long I had been watching the weather, the chances of rain were steadily increasing and I was preparing for a torrential downpour during my first Triathlon. When we arrived in Kerrville, TX on Friday evening it was raining. I was disheartened as I trudged through the mud and the muck to packet pickup and to check in my bike. I was not begrudging the rain because our parched State needs it so badly. I just was wishing it would hold off for a couple of days.
I fell asleep to the sound of rain falling outside and prayed I wouldn’t fall off my bike in the morning.
5:30 dawned and I was out the door of our room by 6 to go get breakfast. To my utter delight, the rain had stopped. It was cool and humid, but no rain. After a quick breakfast I headed back to the room to get my transition bags and to do the drop off. When i got back to the room, Jeremy showed me the radar – there was an upside down U shape all around Kerrville. There was rain on either side and north of the city, but right where we were – there was nothing. Heavenly Father heard my (and many other’s) pleas and was holding off the rain for us.
I kissed everyone goodbye and headed out the door to go find Candida. She has been my training partner and, while I knew there was no way I could keep up with her during the race, we would be starting together. We went down to the water, talked to other racers, checked out the course and decided the swim was going to be pretty easy.
Famous last words.
I am a strong swimmer – always have been. I am never worried in the water, I feel more comfortable in the water sometimes than I do on land. However, stepping into the green water of the Guadalupe River was an entirely different experience. We got in and there was nowhere to stand. I immediately went under to get acclimated to the temperature before we started, then started treading water.
When they told us to go I tried to get my bearings, but just couldn’t. I couldn’t catch my breath and kept trying to not get hit by someone else and try to see where I am going all at the same time. I was so frustrated. I couldn’t do my normal strokes and ended up alternating the lifeguard stroke (freestyle arms with your head looking forward), breast stroke and even a side stroke. I was mad at myself, and despite yelling at me in my head, I just couldn’t catch my breath.
Finally I reached shore and ran up the hill to the bike transition area. I found my bike, pulled on my bike shorts, shirt, race belt, dried off my feet, put on my socks and shoes, stuffed everything back in my bag, put on my helmet and took off. WHEW! It was a lot to do. Once I was on my bike though, I was feeling good.
As I came out of the transition area, I saw my family. Of course they were cheering for me and Jeremy took one of the most flattering pictures of me EVER.
The bike ride was great. I was anticipating lots of steep hills based on the elevation chart I’d seen prior to the race. However, it was pretty flat and the only hills were very manageable. The bike portion was two loops of the same route. As I came out of the first loop I saw my family again and started yelling at them. They hadn’t seen me coming – Jeremy told me he wasn’t expecting me yet – so I yelled hello and kept going. When I started the second loop I was starting to feel tired. My bum was numb and it was starting to drizzle harder. I actually had water dripping off my helmet. I found if I encouraged those I was passing, it made it easier for me to keep my mind busy. I also was watching people who were passing me. In a triathlon your age is written on your calf. When I was passed by a 64 year old woman, I really got mad at myself and kicked it into high gear. I eventually passed her, and then was playing leap frog with a 51 year old woman. I kept telling myself it was okay because they hadn’t just given birth 17 months ago!
At one point I turned a corner and heard sirens coming up behind me. My heart sunk as I saw an ambulance ahead of me and a long line of cars. My first thought was that someone was hit by a car. However as I rode closer, I saw a group of about 5 racers standing with their bikes looking terrified. An EMT was working on a woman, giving her chest compressions. When I passed her, I knew she was gone. My heart sunk and tears immediately sprang to my eyes. I realized that my time isn’t important, finishing and holding my family – that is what was important. Everyone seemed to slow down a bit right there as we tried to grasp what was going on. Eventually I was able to kick it back into high gear and delightfully finish the bike portion.
In the second transition area, I found my run bag, racked my bike, changed my shoes, grabbed my hat, a drink of water and a GU, then I took off. I am not a fast runner – really not. Candida can run a 9 minute mile pretty easily. I am happy if I can do a 10:30 mile. As I started the run I was going at a pretty good clip. I was feeling good, went down a hill and into a grassy area. This is where I saw Candida for the first time since we started. As I was entering the 1st mile, she was coming out – she was almost done and in true Candida fashion, she looked at me and said, “Soft grass, you can do this, you got this”. Always encouraging me.
I walked a couple of times in the run – my legs were tired and so was my body. I was going on very little sleep and I was feeling it. However as soon as I came out of the trail, I was determined that I would not walk again. I ran and ran, I listened to my breath and found my rhythm – something that usually starts to happen when I hit 2.5 miles. Then I saw my family again. This time they were cheering like crazy and Seth came out to run with me. I told him that when I got closer to the finish line I was going to go fast, but I would see him at the end. I loved running with him, even if it was just for a minute.
I love finish lines. They are such a party, and so great for my ego. To hear the announcer saying my name, and knowing I did this – it is such a rush and I love it.
As soon as I crossed the finish line, they handed me a bike water bottle filled with cold water, gave me my medal and took off my timing chip. Then I went and found Seth. I love the look of pride in the eyes of my family after I do a race. They don’t care what my finish time was, they just are proud of me for doing it.
The rest of the day consisted of lots of good food, the kids doing a 1 mile fun run (pictures to come later!) and celebrating our health.
I am so grateful that my body is strong and that I can do this. While I am not thrilled with my time or my rank, I am so happy I finished in under 2 hours. I am so happy that I did it and know I will do it again.
*After the race I found an officer and asked if they had any information about the woman I saw on the side of the road. The officer told me that last she heard, the woman was “better”. Now what “better” means, she didn’t know, but she knew that she had been transported to the hospital. This woman has been in my heart and on my mind since Saturday and I continue to pray for her and her family.