Sunday, July 2, 2017

Ironman Coeur d'Alene 70.3 Breakthrough

I struggle to convey the emotions that finishing the CDA 70.3 last weekend inspired. When I finally found the finish line at the bottom of Sherman Avenue, I reminded myself to turn to the spectators for inspiration. Pumping my arms, gesturing with my hands to suggest the sidelines sounded too quiet, and signing "thank you" with a smile on my face, I entered the finisher's chute to the announcer's voice.

His exclamation clear and loud, I heard I crossed the line as first amateur woman. Suddenly, it seemed the heavy feet I'd worked hard to carry swiftly over the pavement through Coeur d'Alene subtly left the carpet. While this moment did not quite fulfill the vision I have longed to act out (of me grabbing the tape and holding it overhead), it certainly stands out as a significant step in my quest to race to my utmost potential.

Looking back on my race performance, not much stands out in the swim worth wasting too much time explaining. I am thankful I have nothing to divulge in the way of haphazard kicks or goggles flooding with water. Because race volunteers directed us into the lake single file, plenty of time existed to orient ourselves without having to fight our way into position.

I exited the water and ran up toward transition, pleasantly surprised by the row of volunteers who had open arms in anticipation of grabbing hold of my wetsuit and stripping it from me. The long run to my bike positioned two racks from the exit did not discourage me, as it seemed I had mounted my bike and pedaled off toward the city center within seconds. I focused primarily on keUIKeyInputDownArroweping my cadence high and power slightly higher than at what I'm normally comfortable. It worked for the better part of the ride out to Higgins Point and back into town. I remember thinking after passing the last spectators on Northwest Boulevard before exiting onto Highway 95, here's where the real race begins. 

Thank you, James Richman, for your stellar photography!
It began, and then it went. I have very little to share, as it seems I'd shut my mind off and allowed only thoughts of pushing myself past my comfort level to maintain a new effort of riding. The concentration I needed to get up the Cougar Gulch climb gave way to guarded exhilaration on my way back down. Last year, I don't remember seeing signs to stay out of aero position, but I thought I'd heed the advice this year and pulled myself out onto my bullhorns. Mentally preparing to hop off and transition into my running shoes, I think now about how fortunate the circumstances to have Ken Collins to jog back and forth with as we crossed the last bridge and rode ourselves back into town. Staying in the moment seems to be the greatest lesson I'm learning this year.

I set out on the run at what felt like a comfortably uncomfortable clip, consciously aware of my left quadricep that seemed angry by the sudden change in movement. I noticed a nice gentleman who had settled in behind me. It seemed easier to run when I engaged with him, and I responded well to his encouragement to hold my pace. He insisted he would follow me, and the sounds of our footfalls did more to keep me on pace than my watch ever did. Like in all races this past year, I never looked at it for my run splits.

Photos by James Richman.
Within the first four miles, I caught up with the two lead ladies in my age group. Despite overtaking them, it did not occur to me at the time that I'd propelled myself into first place in my age division. I knew not my placing overall, so perhaps my legs kept churning knowing I had a loftier goal of finding the overall amateur position. My body must have worked on autopilot because I missed the arrow that directed me to the second loop of the run. An alarm seemed to go off, however, because I instantly knew something didn't feel right, and thankfully, I corrected my mistake quickly to get back on course. This second loop hurt more than the first, but despite losing my shadow of a running partner, I managed to continue with mildly blistered feet toward that home stretch on Sherman Avenue.

Morgan of Mojo Cyclery aiding me the day before the race by
Making a few adjustments and applying some "magic" to my chain. 
While I feel this race served as a significant breakthrough, of sorts, I still feel incredibly vulnerable and amateur. You wouldn't believe me when I tell you that up until two weeks ago, I still smeared Vaseline in my shorts to prevent saddle sores. I learned the subject of Vaseline comes up as early as in the course Triathlon 101: Don't ever use it. Also, the past month has had me reeling with significant anxiety over not feeling comfortable on my bike. More specifically, I'm pedaling very sloppily. Changing my cleats, getting new shoes, and greasing my pedals have all helped a little, but I propose I'm the biggest problem. These next few weeks leading up to IM Canada 70.3 will definitely have me relearning how to ride my bike.

In this stage of my training and racing, I am learning to acknowledge and appreciate the amount of support required to keep pursuing my goals at this level. In fact, after this weekend, all I really care to do is thank everyone and express gratitude for the opportunity to race and push myself on a day when sponsors, friends, coworkers, and family cheered from the sidelines, from home, and via the internet. I know not where this journey will take me; I know not what my circumstances will look like two or five years from now. Part of me feels irresponsible putting this much time, money, and effort into something I once considered an extracurricular endeavor. So, I continue to seek the advice of other more experienced athletes and friends in an effort to mitigate the anxiety I often feel with trying to balance this pursuit with my time and finances. I trust there exists a definite purpose in my efforts.

Thank you, all, for making last Sunday such a memorable day.

1 comment:

  1. You are a good writer, making me sense I am there in the race


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