Battered, Bruised, and Bit Up at Nationals in Alabama- Race Report
September 25th, 2010-Tuscalusa, Alabama. National Age Group Championships-Olympic Distance.
I was looking to do well in this race, really well. After all, my pace seemed to be constantly improving. But there was only one problem; two and a half weeks before Nationals my right leg gave out. It was a running injury leaving me with no other option than to back off running completely until the day of my race. Oh well. My hopes were still high thinking it may just do my body some good taking a bit of rest before the race.
We arrived in Alabama and instantly felt the heavy (humid) southern heat. Different than the heat I’m used to, but tolerable. As we scoped out the run course I was quick to realize I had some unexpected hills to deal with in the race. “Interesting,” I thought. I pondered these thoughts over some good southern collard greens and some grits.
After a few hectic adjustments to be made on my bike the day before, I arrived to transition area (starting area) morning of the race pumped and ready to go. Go time! Or wait, “Ouch!! My feet!!! Something is attacking my feet!?” Fifteen minutes before my race was to go I went fleeing over to the medical tent for care for red ant bites. Apparently, I stepped on their farm headquarters while I was chatting on the grass by the start area. Red ants were not going to prevent me from doing well at this race. From the medical tent, I went running back to the start area with plenty of time before the start whistle blew.
The water was a warm 83/84 degrees and gave us a murky swim. It looked like alligators could have been inhabiting the river!
From the water was a smooth transition and I was feeling good that the bike leg of the race was about to begin. The excitement only lasted a half mile. Mile one-half, I felt a hard thump into the ground and my body skidding across the asphalt. My helmet saved my head. My first crash ever. My water bottle and oxygen can went flying across the road. Devastated, I knew every second counted. I realized I went down hard, and I made the (easy) decision; pick up the pieces, go chase down those girls, and give it my all trying. Giving up was no option. I had come too far and worked too hard not to go on. So I hobbled up, reassembled my bike, put the chain back on and was handed back my water bottle. Rider down but not out; or was I? I was doing my best to focus back on the race but my thoughts kept wandering.
Another smooth transition and I was on the run. I had no idea what to expect on this one; the 2.5 weeks off running, the bites covering my feet, the injuries from the crash. The heat factor was kicking in now. I wanted my O2 can I lost on the bike. At about mile three and a half on the run, the major hill climbs were almost over. The energy I had left was beginning to fade and the adrenaline was wearing off. I began feeling everything my body endured leading up to that point. I grabbed a “water” cup to throw over my head to cool off, but it was a little too late when I realized it had been Gatorade. It went pouring down the left side of my body; the side my road rashes covered me from the crash. Intense stinging, burning. A couple girls had passed me again. At this point, all I wanted to do was finish. “Think, Finish Line,” I kept telling myself.
I did finally cross that finish line. Battered, bruised, and bit up? Yes. It never hurt so good in my life. And then the obvious finally sunk in - this race was not meant to be. I crossed 12th in my age group and 35th overall female against the top age group triathletes in the Nation. Somehow in the process, I still managed to qualify for Worlds. It was a relief to see my excited parents, once again, at the finish line, proud despite the results.
It was an experience to say the least but just fires me up even more for next time.
“You have to find something that you love enough to be able to take risks, jump over the hurdles and break through the brick walls that are always going to be placed in front of you. If you don’t have that kind of feeling for what it is you are doing, you’ll stop at the first giant hurdle.” – George Lucas.