Thursday, June 2, 2016

A Couple of Concessions and Successes in Texas

Photo: Scott Flathouse

I've been down to Texas twice this year to race. I kicked my racing off at the Texas 70.3 in Galveston. The short version was my swim was off--way off--like "what-was-I-doing-out-there?" off. All I can come up with is was the first race of the year, I really don't excel at swimming in a wetsuit, and I don't think I was prepared to hurt in the water that day. The bike was a solid day for me, although a tad lonely, picking off a few girls. The highlight of the day was I felt great running and pulled off a pretty good run and managed to pick off a few more girls, landing in 8th. It was kind of a bummer to not have my "normal" swim as I just wasn't in the race all day. Personally, I just find it hard to focus in those circumstance but the good news from the day is I knew my fitness was tracking for my priority race, Ironman Texas. The bad news of the day was Mark was hit by a car (he's fine now) and that's really all I'll think about when I think of the race.

I was able to get in some really solid swim and bike training between Galveston and IMTX. Unfortunately about 2 weeks before Galveston I got a little niggle in my knee from the pesky ITBS. Unfortunately this knocked me out for half of 2013 so I walked a tight rope of not making it worse but still trying to run enough to maintain enough fitness that I could just make the marathon in IMTX. I had a major panic about 10 days before the race. Basically it was the "I have not been running nearly enough to be competitive, I'm not ready, what if it starts to hurt, etc etc." While my run preparation was not ideal, it was incredibly solid up until 2 weeks before Galveston. I knew all I could do was go give it my best shot. As I was coming to terms with that, I got knocked out with a stomach bug from Gwyn the week before the race. Honestly it was a blessing and a curse. While getting sick is never great, I think the extra rest to my knee allowed me to go into the race completely pain free, something I hadn't been for over 8 weeks. 

My swim in Texas was good (for me.) I came out with solid women around me or just in front of me. Again, I find I don't seem to get so "lost" and unfocused in the back of the race. The bike was solid and I actually didn't find the course to bother me too much. If I had one complaint it would be that the age group men should have been more than 10 minutes behind us. While I know they don't mean to be, I find them to be a bit disruptive to the women's race and everyone I was around seemed to want to stay out of their way but this course can get contested, especially with all the turns.  Regardless I think a cleaner race is achievable with a bigger gap between both the pro men and the age group men behind us.

The run was the great unknown. I told myself that if I ever had knee pain for more than 15 minutes I would stop. I honestly didn't know if that would come at 30 minutes 90 or at 245. I began the run very conservatively and just hoped that women up ahead were over extending themselves. I'm a Texas girl, born and raised in Houston. I know this heat and humidity enough to realize it can chew up and spit out the fittest and fastest of athletes and my goal for the day was to just not be one of them. Surprisingly my knee only ached for a few minutes the whole run, but it was overshadowed that my whole body hurt really feeling the lack of running. I had so many friends and family on the course I would just try to stay focused on the next time I would see them. Each time I would get an update I was surprised I was moving up because I only passed a few women. Luckily my conservative plan was working out and while I certainly wasn't moving as fast as I would have liked, I was still moving forward. When I got to the finish line I heard them announce 7th and I was shocked, somehow I moved up 2 places the last 10k without ever seeing that I was making a pass. 

Ironman Texas wasn't my fastest Ironman. It wasn't even my fastest Ironman Texas. But it's certainly my proudest because I never gave up on myself, it was the scariest as far as not knowing how that run would pan out, it was executed in a way that would most maximize what I could do that day, and I honestly didn't care about anyone else...I focused on me and trusted that if I played it smart I would be in the top 10. I'm recovering faster and better than I ever have after an Ironman. That's probably also because I'm still not running, trying to truly rest my knee. So as far as my next race...wish I could tell you. I know to be on a podium at these races I need to be 100% and that's my focus now.

Thank you to all of my sponsors, my family and friends and coach. The people in my corner that witness my hard work and remind me to stay in the battle are often the unsung heroes going into my races. Those are the people that remind me to believe because they do...and their support and sacrifices I thought of every step of the way. 

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