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An ambulance, a jet ski, and some rage

Last weekend I had my first race of the season, it was Olympic distance: 1750m swim, 26 mile bike, 6.2 mile run. I love racing. Even thinking about it gives me butterflies. It’s always good to have an early race as a reminder why you’ve been training hard for so long. I told myself it was a ‘shake out race’ to make sure I was training well, to discover any weaknesses that were hiding, to test my transition speeds. I told myself not to think about placing, just focus on my performance…..I should take this moment to say I’m very competitive. For example, it seems to be common protocol to cheer for others while racing. Say I run past someone, they’ll say “nice work, way to go, keep it up.” I never respond. In fact, I want to reach over and smack the back of their head and say, “don’t you realize you’re cheering for your opponent, you knucklehead?” I know. Not very kind. I do think a certain amount of mental grit is required to compete; perhaps I take it too far.

My race strategy is rather basic. I like to target one person ahead of me, and pick them off. I go one at a time, inching my way forward to the front. If I can’t catch someone on the bike, I shrug it off and say, “I’ll get you on the run.” I usually do.

During the run portion an ambulance went by, sirens blaring. I thought to myself, “whoever they’re out to help, I hope it’s a female, ahead of me, doing the Olympic distance.”

I KNOW! So cruel. But if someone has to be hurt…..

We recently took a trip to Great Wolf Lodge with the kids. There are huge slides, a wave pool, and a baby pool. This has little jet skis that spray water jets, smaller slides, a showering umbrella. I spent a lot of time in the baby pool with L while J popped in and out. One time, J was floating her way through the water and a boy on a jet ski aimed the nozzle directly at her head. He was about ten years old. She was laughing, because it is kind of funny to get sprayed, but then it went on and on. She gave me this look, help me lady, get up and parent. I reserve my “mama bear” instincts for situations of true peril, not obnoxious kids in a baby pool. So after about a minute of this she stood up and moved behind him so he couldn’t spray her anymore. Problem solved. Then she got on the jet ski beside his. I was curious what her plan was.

I saw something in her eyes that I recognized. She was out for blood. She grabbed those handles and whipped that nozzle toward the kid as hard as she could. YES. That’s my girl. But the jet skis are designed such that you can’t spray another jet ski, it’s too far sideways.

So she puts her hand in front of the nozzle and redirects the stream to hit him.

Full facial blast.

I. Was. So. Proud.

I mean, not only to grasp the physics of it at that age – well done, child. But the rage channeled into cool strategy and execution. Yes, if there are any doubts what traits I have passed on, that one comes from me.

That’s how I feel during a race.

I came in 7th female overall. This is pretty good, but I truly thought I would get on the podium so I felt a little disappointed. There were a few factors out of my control that were detrimental to my performance.

The swim was cold. It was wetsuit legal, which is good and bad. The wetsuit makes you more buoyant but it also restricts your movement. I practiced with my wetsuit in our pool, one time, for about 4 seconds.

The swim start is frustrating; you’re supposed to line up in your pace zones. But everyone lies, overestimates, jockeys to get a better position. I’m a reasonably quick swimmer so I was towards the front. Within the first 200m I passed a woman doing breaststroke. Listen honey, if you have to breaststroke within sight of the start, you should not be near the front.

Swims are an all out brawl, too. I swam on top of someone, just crawled my way right over. I struggled in this swim because my goggles fogged up so badly I couldn’t spot the buoys. I had to rely on whoever was next to me and hope they were heading in the right direction. Most of the time they weren’t which meant I wasted a lot of time zig-zagging. Eventually I stopped, cleared my goggles and then went on but that was a huge waste of time.

If you think that wetsuit looks incredibly tight around my neck, you would be correct. And if you think that might cause some anxiety for me, you would also be correct.

My transition was on point. I peeled my wetsuit off while I ran, grabbed my bike, and sprinted out. I didn’t bother with socks because to me a few blisters during the race won’t slow me down. I had my shoes clipped into the pedals and held up parallel with rubber bands so I could do the flying squirrel start.

The bike was FRUSTRATING. So many first timers out there, on their mountain bikes they dug out of the attic. It’s hard to pass people like that because they swerve around. I was nearly rammed twice. Because I am a quick swimmer I end up riding and running with mostly men. Breaking news: men don’t like getting passed by a girl. Often after I pass a guy he’ll kick into higher gear and twenty seconds later come blitzing by – only to burn out in the next minute and I pass him again. Dudes, when will you learn.

This was a two loop bike course which meant I really ripped on the first loop because I was one of the first ones out of the water. But then the second loop all the slow swimmers were getting started on their bike and I had to dodge them. Towards the end of the course I got stuck behind a truck trying to pass a string of bikers. I literally screamed out loud because he was going about 7 mph and I had been rolling an average of 21 mph. All the newbies I had worked so hard to pass piled up behind me and all the people I had been targeting up front pulled away. I was behind him for about 5 minutes and if I could blame anything besides my own performance for my loss it would be that incident.

The run was okay but I was not able to push as hard as I wanted due to eating an energy gel on the bike that did NOT sit well. Newbie mistake, never eat something new on race day.

The awards ceremony was cancelled when a thunderstorm came through. But as the race director said, we weren’t really racing each other, we were racing the weather and this time we won.

I’m really looking forward to my next race and I’ve been playing with some recipes for home made gels and rice bars specifically for endurance biking. Stay tuned for some of those once I’ve perfected them! I am very competitive and love the race atmosphere but remind myself that the purpose of racing is to be a witness. Getting on the podium feels great, but is also a great way for other people to see my Fellowship of Christian Athletes gear. During one race I had a woman cheer as I ran past that she had joined FCA the night before, it’s so cool to use something I love for God’s glory. (That’s why I keep my ambulance wishes and name-calling inside, nobody’s perfect folks)

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