…but happiness and growth occur while you’re climbing it. -Andy Rooney
I am going to roll two races into one report in as short of an amount of time/space as possible. But the end result is exactly what Andy Rooney says, and who would have ever thought I would start anything with a quote from Andy Rooney? I am just as surprised as everyone else here. So to counter that I am also going to disperse some quotes from runners/cyclists here and there in this entry. That is sure to make all of us feel better.
I had a/am having a hard time writing about these races because I have not been entirely well. Not crazy, just not entirely well. I needed these races to get grounded again and that’s what they have done. Mission accomplished. So without further ado and without going into too much detail…race reports…
The White Mountains Triathlon
This race is f**king hard.
That is all.
OK, just kidding, I can probably expand slightly on that 🙂
I honestly rank this race among my new favorite races of all time, right next to IM Wisconsin, IM Mont Tremblant, and basically any race in Bend, OR. The swim. I was freaking out. The swim prior to this..IM Texas..stood still for ten minutes. I continue to hang my head in shame over this. So yeah, not totally optimistic here, but I still was hoping for the overall win. Logically this served to increase my normal level of social anxiety by a factor of pi. So when I overheard girls making fun of people who enter these races to win them, I joined in the laughter and also made fun of said girls. But I am that girl, I did enter to win. Confusion. Clearly self confidence is not my forte.
So the swim. I still hate the water and that’s about that. On the plus side, I did not have a panic attack. I did however swim somewhat by myself, not even remotely in a straight line, and not in proximity to any other humans, which maybe is not optimal for swimming 1.2 miles in the shortest amount of time possible. What can I say, the swim is a work in progress. The swim start is about 500 meters down a gravely road from transition. Most people put running shoes at the bottom to change into. I of course decided I would rather have my feet bleeding than to sacrifice time to putting on shoes. Who needs shoes? So I get out of the water 38 long minutes later and the race for me began. On to the bike!
The bike was amazing and awesome and beautiful and I loved every second of it. My only extra comment on this is that there was a KOM competition. I am still applauding myself for my self restraint on this climb because part of me desperately wanted another polka dot jersey. But I did not jump on the climb, and at the top, I had this very weird moment of deja vu where I felt like I had been in that precise position at the top of that climb before. Apparently, I felt this because I had been in that precise position at the top of that climb before. Go figure. You would think I would have remembered this before the race. Nope. According to Facebook, I rode that exact same road the only other time I stayed for an extended period of time in NH. Awesome. What a fun surprise. So I completed the bike and as always had not even a remote idea where I stood in the race.
Regardless of where I think I am in a race, when it comes to the run I am very much go hard or go home. I heart running 🙂 This is not to say I was not just as miserable as everyone else coming off of a stupid hard bike onto a stupid hard run, but 3 miles into that run I sort of never wanted to stop. I was running, and the world was breaking someone else’s heart. And this is logically when one of the other women shouted at me that I was about to take the lead. I responded in my normal calm and collected manner…by shouting at her “really, that can’t be true, that’s awesome, I should keep going!” Sigh. Still not good with the self confidence thing. And so I ran my heart out…until mile 11 when yelling for water the volunteer instead panicked and tripped. me. That hurt. Blood everywhere. And I responded, classy as ever, by screaming a the volunteer that I was in the lead and she was screwing up my race. I really still have not recovered from losing Rock N Roll USA last year in part because of a volunteer. I must learn to let this go. Mental note.
And so my typical anti climactic finish. In both 2014 and 2015, I was asked to re-create the finish at two races I had won because the volunteers did not see me coming in for the win. Twice. This time was even less climactic than those races. I crossed the line and asked the 15 year old volunteer if I got the win and she responded with “um no, there are tons of people ahead of you.” Hmm. I was initially a bit deflated by this, but turns out, she thought I was finishing the olmpic triathlon in 3 hours and change. Nope. I ended up in 11th overall for the men, first overall woman…by 13 minutes. So see above where I screamed at the volunteer….perhaps that was a wee bit uncalled for. Rock N Roll USA..must learn to let this go 🙂 If I keep repeating this phrase, maybe I will let it go? Who knows.
The White Mountains Triathlon was not only awesome and fun…but the prizes were just badass. I took home a custom Adirondack chair plus cash for the fastest run prime. If anyone out there is looking for something more challenging than Quassy on the East Coast …this is it. Do it.
Ironman Lake Placid
I raced ok 🙂 I have a bad habit of downplaying my accomplishments, this is also a work in progress, sort of like letting go of my anger towards the volunteers that hindered my ability to win Rock N Roll USA, but different. If anyone had seen me before this race, like right before this race, or the day before this race, they would have questioned whether I would even survive the day. I am not overstating this. I really was a train wreck going into this race. And with that I am giving a HUGE shout out to the Jackson clan for providing me with some much needed company and an introduction to some fantastic pizza the day before the race until Jennie and Kristin were able to take over Sherpa duties.
Jennie and Kristin. I cannot overstate my love for them. Jennie, I know how hard it was for her to be there and not be racing with the pros. Kristin, she would rather be at a beach…and in a location with cell phone service. I know that both of them had to sacrifice a bit of something to be there for me and so when race day came I knew I had to find a way to pull myself together for me and for them. And it still blows my mind that these two incredible people are my closest friends. And so to go from crying and thinking I belong doing color runs 5 min before the race to division winner, that was one of the best journeys I have ever had and a memory I will never forget. Here are the race highlights from each leg.
Swim: I was not going to announce this publicly, but f**k it, I enjoyed the swim. I may never say that again. Ever. I have been swimming at Walden Pond with my Boston friends all summer and when I rolled into the water I just pretended I was in my normal position behind my friend Steve just trying to hang on. And hang on I did. And it was awesome. I am not pretending I swam fast with this. But I swam exactly what I told people I needed to swim to qualify for Kona. This never happens. I also sort of set a half swim PR and an Ironman swim PR. Frankly I was so excited by this alone that I wanted to give everyone a high five when I got out of the water. I found out after the fact that Kristin sent out a text that read “Becky is moving her arms, she’s having a good swim!” Yes, that’s the low bar my friends and I have set for my swim success and I nailed it!! 🙂
Bike: The trouble with not eating and being an emotional mess the day before a race of this length is that on the bike…this can get the best of you. I had to up my calorie intake rate to every 15 minutes. This may sound appealing to some, for someone who struggle buses to eat on a regular basis daily, not so fun. But I was on a mission. I took Gatorade every other station, I grabbed extra cliff shot bloks, I did whatever was necessary and just kept hammering away. I still felt a little deficient the last 20 miles, but then again, the last 20 miles are almost always not pleasant, so I just did my best to minimize the damage. So aside from the food, I as always had technology completely fail me. I did remember the bike computer this time..only to discover the power meter batteries were dying…sigh. Some day I wil do a bike with power and it will be awesome!! Thankfully, the bike still rides without a power meter, and I wrapped up the bike with the 3rd fastest split in the division and a move to 9th place (from 41 out of the water, yes, that is a “good” swim for me :)).
Run: I got off the bike and ran into the transition tent and honestly almost cried. Everything just hurt. And then I heard Jennie telling me to stop being as asshole and start running. This, at the time, was only in my head, not in person. But I know my favorite person well enough to know this is what she would say. Those first 10 miles off of the bike I really thought I was barely moving and in my head I thought my race was over. The calorie defecit from the day before was kicking in, I knew I would need my special needs bag for extra salt sticks, I was super dizzy, and I was starting to have an asthma attack. And then I saw Jennie. She yelled at me that I was running faster than anyone in my division..by a lot. I tried to tell her I felt terrible and she promptly cut me off and yelled “you are at mile 13 of Ironman, you should feel terrible!!” Love between friends. Because this is me and Jennie, there were probably some swear words in there between the two of us, but I shall not put them in writing. I ran around the corner from her and someone was playing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” That is basically the Jennie and Becky theme song. And then I saw Kristin who also screamed her head off at me to keep running. And so run I did. I put down the hammer going up the rest of the false flat to the turn around and somehow managed a couple of splits in the lower 7s around miles 15 and 16. By the time I came back around again, I apparently was doing well because Dave runs into the road and screamed in my face “Becky, you are going to win your divison , you need to run now!” Well, you don’t need to tell me twice. I finished the run in 3:31, although I love this time, I admit that I want to be under 3:30 and I am probably going to obsess over this until Kona.
This was my favorite Ironman finish ever. I felt awful those last 2 miles and just kept thinking I need to get the win, for Jennie, for Kristin, for me. And that was all that was in my head. And when I went into the Oval, I somehow knew I had it. Pure happiness. …and then this was followed by me collapsing into a wheelchair and some blank spots in my memory. But when I started to regain airflow to my lungs I kept yelling at the docs that I needed to go because I belonged with Kristin and Jennie. Seeing them waiting for me at the fence near the finish…I honestly think that was my favorite moment of the whole day 🙂 And ladies, I promised you I would dance the Carlton if I won division and I sadly forgot to do this from the confines of my wheelchair. But Kona, the Carlton is a go! Jennie, have the camera ready!
OK so that is pretty much the race re-cap. Minus special thanks to some people who were left out of the race report in and of itself. Mary Eggers deserves huge props for helping me with my swim at training camp and keeping me motivated up to race day. Tina Caldwell showed me how to run fast off of a bike. Chris Boudreaux convinced me that even I can handle 4-6 minutes of panicked swimming…and I am thanking him in advance for putting up with me up until (and past) Kona. Leslie gets a virtual hug because she is just so inherently awesome that I can’t help but smile every time I see her (even if it did not show on my face during the race). Team Hatfield gave me some much needed pre-race love. And last but not least, I am thankful for my team and my awesome teammates. I have stated this repeatedly on fb, but sharing the podium with Meg Pennington-unforgettable. I will always cherish that memory.
And so to go back to Andy Rooney and his growth in the mountains. I have come out of these two races not so unwell anymore. I am happy and healthy and totally pumped to be traveling to paradise with my two favorite people…