It takes a village to raise a child. Same can be said about an athlete. So many people helped in getting me to the start line.
I don’t remember the last time I’ve entered a race feeling so unsure of my training. I did the best I could in preparing given that my Achilles tendons have been really bad for well over a year now, and particularly bad in the past 6 months. That said, instead of running for the past few months, I deep water ran and then ran at 75% body weight on the alterG this past month. I wanted the reassurance of having a good run to test my legs before race day, but as Coach Cane told me, “You have one bullet in the gun. You can’t shoot before race day just to see if the gun works.”
I went to the AMAZING folks at Finish Line PT and Michael Conlon was incredible in getting me ready. Plus he also gave me access to the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill. I could never have gotten to the start without all his support and expertise. Michael got my legs ready, and Jonathan and a number of stellar athletes got my head ready.
The night before Cane was to drive up, Simon had a fever and we worried that he might not be able to fly. Thankfully everything worked out and I was able to fly up with Sheila Monaghan, Jess Purcell, and Steven Zebrak while Jonathan and Isang Smith drove the bikes to Canada. If nothing else, we were going to have fun.
I felt very stressed running after Simon and trying to manage getting rest while parenting. Thankfully, Sheila and Isang let me sleep in their room the night before the race. This settled my mind. I went into the race understanding that every athlete faces challenges. Mine may be different from the next person’s, but you know what happens when you put on your bib—race and STFU. On my own team Sheila had just raced an Ironman 2 weeks prior, Jess broke her toe the day before we flew to Canada, and Isang was suffering from anemia. Yes, we all face challenges coming to the line. If everything is in order, you thank the race gods and give it your best. And when things aren’t in order, you still give it your best.
It was so nice for me being out there with people I really care for, respect, and love. Team City Coach started a few rows back—enough so we weren’t pulled, but far enough up not to lose valuable time. The gun went off and folks were flying. I am so proud of how my team ran the first leg. We stayed contained. It was tough seeing that our times were so slow but I wasn’t going to let the time dictate the run. I had little turnover in my legs, and while I was flying on the alterG, I felt every ounce of my body weight out there in Canada. I am slight in frame, but 30 lbs heavier than my alterG, alter ego. I had worked hard to average just under 7 mins for the 10k (course was long. I am sure the pace was faster. Either way, other women were running MUCH faster). I came to the bike hoping I could hammer.
My legs felt tired but I reminded myself that if I felt tired, others may have felt more tired. The course was relatively flat but there was a head wind both ways. How was that possible? There was some congestion and I was so nervous about getting a penalty. I was able to pass people ok, but felt annoyed with the poor lines I was taking on the course. Beyond braking on corners ugh!, I had one bad mishap. I hit a pothole and my bottle flew out. Really? I stopped and retrieved it and tried not to focus on the cyclists who were passing me. Oddly enough, this did not unnerve me. I just hoped that I would not lose a spot by seconds. I finished the bike feeling like I had ridden strong, but saving a little for the run. I wasn’t even trying to hunt down folks. I actually rode my race.
On the run, I felt slow and worried that this was going to be like my last race where I fell apart. I had nothing. About ½ mile in , my right quad started cramping. I was in trouble. The day wasn’t particularly hot, and I had taken a salt tablet prior to the race, but I needed a little more. I ran up to a competitor on the course, Paul Finger, and asked if he had anything. He gave me some Clif Blocks. I could barely stomach it, but I managed to eat half of one. It helped and while the quad cramped, it didn’t get worse. I had no idea what place I was in, but continued to move forward, ever so slightly. With 1.5 miles to go, I got into a different place in my head. I am proud of how I had competed up til then, but I had not dug deep, nor had I felt the need to dig deep. The Achilles did not hurt during the race. My turnover was poor and so my running just never felt easy or smooth. Now it was time to dig deep. I was tired and thought of all the stress I felt leading up to the race. For the next however many minutes I just kept repeating to myself, “Simon’s mom doesn’t quit. Simon’s mom doesn’t quit.” I picked up my pace and thought of the relief I would feel at the finish line. It didn’t matter who else was out there. I was going to finish with dignity. I don’t look back in races. It shows defeat. If someone were closing, I would respond. No one closed and I ran through the line. The announcer said, “Here’s your bronze medalist in the Women’s 40-44.” This was my second time at Du Worlds and I am now two-for-two in medaling. I feel very lucky to have come home with hardware. There are spectacular athletes out there getting it done.
The woman who came in first handily beat me and I am inspired by her performance. You never know who is going to show up. That’s not what’s important. Who NEEDS to show up is you.
And when the race ended, Simon kissed me, and Coach Cane told me he was proud. I lifted Simon over the barrier, and like a trained monkey that you read about that steals peoples’ wallets, Simon ran over to the athletes’ table and hoarded a bunch of Clif bars. It was pretty comical. The team represented well and we celebrated with lots of food,drinks, and laughter. I never forget how lucky I am to be able to move my body and do it in such esteemed company. Thank you to all my supporters—friends, family, and sponsors. Thanks particularly to Finish Line PT, Brickwell Cycling, Brooks, Tifosi Optics, Cervelo, and City Coach.