This past Saturday I competed in my first race of the 2012 season: an Olympic Distance triathlon called Rumpus in Bumpass. It’s not that big of a deal because it’s my “warm up” race – also known as a “B” race. (Hawaii 70.3 and National’s are my A races.) My main goal was to remind myself of everything I need to do before, during and after a race; focus on going through the motions. I was not looking to PR. Therefore I wouldn’t go all out.
On our way over MLH asked if I was nervous about this race. I thought about it and I wasn’t at all. I felt a little odd about this because I believe at the very least a few butterflies should be in my stomach for every race. After all there’s always the big element of the unknown such as: Will I finish? Will I have a flat? Will I cramp? Did I fuel my body with the right nutrients? What will be my splits? Will I PR? How well will I perform? Did I forget to pack something? And so on, and so on. But I wasn’t worried about any of this. Obviously the main reason is Rumpus is a warm up for me.
I think there’s another reason though – my confidence and state of mind and heart. After Noah passed away, I tried to return to triathlons. During the 2011 season, I wasn’t sure if I would be successful with training for and actually completing them, especially given how fresh my grief was. With my relatively strong performance at Nation’s which is an olympic distance, I decided I have successfully returned to triathlons. And with the season, already my training has my weekly mileage well above that of an olympic distance (which usually consists of a 1.5 km swim, 40 km bike and 10 km run). Barring any major accidents, I knew I would finish Rumpus.
Mentally I was more than ready as well. Before heading out to Bumpass I visualized this race. From previous experience I knew exactly when I’d need to fuel and how much I’d need to hydrate. I knew how I’d keep myself in check so I don’t push too hard – keep the heart rate within a certain low range the entire time. Also I was very comfortable staying focused on racing MY race and nobody else’s – not the 45-year-old who passes me on his much nicer, more sophisticated Felt bike, not the young 24-year-old woman who leaves me in the dust on the run.
And my heart for this race was ready because I knew Noah was with me, and I found tremendous comfort from this. I very strongly felt his presence during different times on the course. I thought of him as I looked up from the 63 degree water during the swim and saw a beautiful blue sky. I felt a sense of peace as I swam by each buoy. I kept thinking of him and his time in the hospital as I began cramping on the bike and yearning to stop for the bathroom. (With the race starting at 10 am, much later than usual, I think I over hydrated in the morning.) I smiled big time as I thought of him during the run. I felt really strong and genuinely happy again. Perhaps he was running right next to me!
As I passed one gentlemen in particular, he yelled out, “good job,” and I responded, “just livin’ the dream.” Yes, I fully admit that’s a cheesy thing to say but it’s true, isn’t it? I mean life isn’t fair, and tragedies knock us down hard. I’ve yet to feel like I can fully stand back up after losing Noah. But I’m very grateful that I can connect with him through my triathlons and honor him by training and racing. I think I’m beginning to realize, as twisted as it is, how blessed I am to be able to compete in such races and dedicate all of this to Noah.
My times and rankings for Rumpus are very average. The competitive side of me is actually ok with this except for the swim. I admit I wanted to see a little improvement in the water given how much I’ve focused on my stroke this year already but I barely shaved off a minute. Oh well.
I did identify some areas I can improve on in terms of logistics and transitions, and I want to experiment with some of my gear and nutrition between now and Hawaii. With that, I’ll consider this B race a success.
Thank you, Noah, for racing with me on Saturday.