March 23rd…first triathlon of the season….USAP Event’s Half Moon Bay Triathlon. About and month prior, I decided that I would race the International distace (.9 mile swim, 27 mile ride, and 6.2 mile run) since I would have completed a half marathon just two weeks before ( I didn’t write a blog about that race because I am lame and forgot). I had great intentions of getting out there and racing the longer distance. I had great intentions to actually train. I had great intentions. I had…..well…..yeah….life happened.
The week leading up to the triathlon, I struggled with life mentally. Stress was high. Emotions were high. Energy was low. I had not trained. Other than running (preparing for the half marathon) I hadn’t trained at all. So the Wednesday before race day, I made the call and dropped to the sprint distance (500yard swim, 11 mile ride, and 3 mile run) I dropped the distance for fear of injury and to save myself more stress. Although I wasn’t real happy about making the decision and feeling like a slacker, I knew it was the right thing to do.
Race weekend was here….headed to the beach…wooooo hooo! I SHOULD have been excited. I SHOULD have been excited to race. I SHOULD have been excited to get out of town. I SHOULD have been excited for girls weekend. But…I wasn’t. Not even close. My head was clouded with negative thoughts. I couldn’t shake it. I tried faking it but didn’t make it. I tried looking for the positives that were swarming around me, but fumbled to find them. I tried breathing exercises to calm my mind. Sadly, nothing helped. I was in a funk.
Race morning quickly approached and I woke up feeling a bit better. Still very unsure about racing and lacking confidence. I don’t think I have EVER headed into a race feeling this way. I got to transition early, set up my things, checked in with friends, and wandered around. I saw the excitement and anticipation on all the athlete’s face. It was a look I knew well, but a look I wasn’t wearing. Focus! Focus! Focus! On repeat in my head. I jumped into my wet suit, grabbed my cap and goggles and headed down to the water.
As the International distance racers took off, I knew it was time to get in the water and start acclimating to the cold Pacific waters. I was paralyzed on the beach. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t get myself into the water. I stared off into the distance and thought to myself ” I could just not start and cheer my friends on instead.” I honestly gave this more thought than I should have. I was so very close to turning around and walking back to transition and calling it quits. BUT…..out of all things, I am NOT a quitter. I packed up my pitty party and got into the water. Luckily it wasn’t as cold as I was anticipating and began to get excited to swim. I found my place among the other green caps and waited for the gun to signal our start. The first triathlon of the season had begun….
The swim went fairly well. I got kicked, brushed shoulders, hit hands, as I made my way around the buoys. I exited the swim feeling good and headed to transition. It was a long way on a paved road and I didn’t bring any shoes for the trek. My feet were ice cold and I ran over more rocks than I ever thought possible. Ahhhhh…transition….crawl out of the wet suit, dirty feet into my cycling shoes, helmet on head, glasses on face. I was off…
The ride took us along highway 1. The wind was present but I didn’t feel it on my face on the way out. That only meant one thing….head wind at the turn around. Recognizing this, I worked hard to keep a strong pace, using the wind at my back to my advantage. My heart rate stayed pretty steady and I managed to stay focused through the first 3 miles. As we hit the turn around, we were slapped in the face with a strong head wind and strong cross winds. I tucked my head and fought to keep a strong pace, but couldn’t keep my head down for long as the cross winds would catch my wheel set and push me farther into the shoulder. Mile after mile, pedal stroke after pedal stroke. As I began to lose focus, I began to lose motivation to work hard. I didn’t want to ride in the winds anymore. I wanted to be DONE. Not just with the bike portion, but in general. Then we made a left hand turn and my wishes were answered….I have never been so happy to feel a tail wind. The roads were smooth and the cross winds were gone. I tucked my head and dropped my shoulders. I felt like I was flying but didn’t feel like was I working all that hard. I managed to look down at my watch and see that I was holding a steady 27mph. Ah yeah!! These are the moments I live for on the bike. I took advantage of every second and rode into transition with a smile on my face.
Helmet off. Glasses off. Cycling shoes off. Running shoes on. Race belt on. Visor on and I was off. Or was I?? I ran out of transition and the smile that was just smeared across my face moments ago, silently disappeared. I ran down to the path along the ocean, but I didn’t even notice how beautiful the run was. I DIDN’T WANT TO RUN. I didn’t want to be out there anymore. The lack of confidence returned along with the lack of motivation. I made the mistake of looking down at my watch and seeing that I was only a half mile into the run and my pace was not impressive. I felt like I was working a million times harder than I had just two weeks prior at the half marathon. It was then that I thought about quitting yet again. I wasn’t going to podium. I wasn’t going to be happy with my performance. What was the point in even finishing? Sad, but true, this is where my thoughts gathered. Ugh….
Somehow, some way, I crossed the finish line. I was not happy. I was not impressed. I grabbed some water and headed back out on the run course. This time walking towards the rocks that lined the waters edge. I sat on those rocks for over an hour.
What if I am not meant to race in triathlons anymore? It was who I was, but maybe I am meant to do something different. I could not find the motivation to train leading up to the race. I did not have fun on the course. I had NEVER felt like this during or after a race before. I use to love doing this. I use to train for hours a day. I just don’t know.
Not all races are going to be pretty. Not all races are going to hold up to my high expectations. Not all races are going to be all rainbows and butterflies. I needed this race. I needed to struggle. I needed to learn that if I was the results, I have to put in the work. I learned that this sport definitely takes a lot of physical effort, but it takes just as much (if not more) mental focus. I learn things the hard way. Always have, probably always will. It is who I am. But one thing remains….I WILL NOT QUIT. I didn’t at this race, when life was stacked up against me. I managed to push through. I crossed the finish line. And for that day, that was all I could I do.
As for what’s next….Morgan Hill triathlon. That’s what is on the schedule. Life is still kicking my arse. I have trained twice since the race. I have great intentions of training more and putting in a better effort in Morgan Hill.
Stay tuned my friends……