Thursday, June 30, 2016

Aisles of Smiles - Smile Train Triathlon Race Report... And More! (and more... and... more)


Smile Train Triathlon Race Report

Total Time: 01:24:58

OA 184/304
F 60/140
AG 10/24


This past weekend I participated in the Smile Train Triathlon in Wake Forest, NC. It is a sprint triathlon with a shorter pool swim, and my second year to race the event. I was incredibly excited that this was my friend Robin's first triathlon "with boys," and was also happy to race along a few friends - both old and new.

The race day started out like any other, in that I did not sleep very well the night before. It's never going to happen - a good night's sleep before a race. But, I woke up ready to go - mostly because I prepared everything the night before!

I'm going to be pretty honest here. I had been really excited about the race until I tried on my tri top and shorts. As stupid as this sounds, I no longer wanted to race after I saw myself in the mirror. I felt... nonathletic. Not helping the situation, Aunt Flo decided to pay me a visit, and I was particularly bloated. But mostly, I was just soft from lack of "#work."

I also knew that my former coach was going to be there with nearly his entire team of athletes, and that made me feel... like a fake. They are real athletes who actually put in "work," and I was just this lady who kind of worked out now and then. And that's why I was no longer with them. No fakes allowed.

I looked at myself in the mirror again.

"Fake."

"You're not a real triathlete."

I shook my head, told myself to shut up, remembered my goal of wanting to "choose joy," and got into the car. (And promptly forgot my water bottles, turned around for them, and then headed back to the race - which is only about 12 minutes from my house. WHEW.). You know what?

I wasn't out there to look good in a tri-suit. I had other things on my mind.

Joy. And choosing it.


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There are lots of different things I could talk about for the set-up, but let's summarize it quickly by saying, worms on my feet (!!!), and seeing friends new and old. :-)

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The Swim:

00:05:51 (250 yards) 200/304 OA, 74/140 F, 12/24 AG

I started out steady and confident. I knew I seeded myself correctly (I said 5:30 total time, but I hadn't considered running to transition). After about four laps, I felt someone tapping my foot. Ok, just pass me. The nice thing about the swim at Smile Train is it's in a large pool - each lane swims in one direction. People can pass others easily. I decided there was no way in hell I was going to stop in the pool so someone could pass me, so I hugged the lane divider on the right to give them room, and continued swimming. Three people passed me all at once - two men and one woman. Of course, they ended up causing a hold-up at the end. So, I caution you - don't lose your momentum in a swim. Just go with the flow and keep a steady pace. You can make up thirty seconds on the run course, but it's WAY harder to make up time nearly killing yourself while swimming if you push too hard the first 100 yards.

Anyhoo - I felt really strong during my entire swim, and I will have you know my watch said 5:30 when I climbed out of that pool - so there, speedy pants swimmers! 

T1 - 00:01:10

The Bike:

00:41:42 (12 miles) 120/304 OA, 24/140 F, 6/24 AG

This is a non-flat, but non-hilly bike course. It does have head winds, speed bumps, and head winds for the first half. And a steady grade here and there. In other words, it's irritating!

But the bike is what I love. I had one woman pass me on the bike, and two men on tri bikes. I never let the one woman get out of my sight for some reason. I guess because no one had passed me during the Ramblin Rose bike course, so I was now feeling competitive. I couldn't quite catch up to her, but I did back-and-forth pass a man - and the second time I went to pass him, I turned and smiled really big. He smiled and laughed, and said, "Well, go on! Better pass me before traffic gets busy!" We both laughed.

The second half of the bike was very fast - wind at my back and downhill. Felt GREAT, and I tried to remember to take it easy (and spin at a higher cadence) through the neighborhood before T2 so I could actually run.

T2 - 00:01:12 

The Run:

00:35:02 (3.1 miles) 246/304 OA, 101/140 F, 15/24 AG

It's a bit of a hilly course. This past Sunday, it was very sunny, and the weather was NOT as cool as last year. My goal was to run as much as possible, and try not to stare at my watch. Right from the start of the run, I saw the woman who passed me on the bike, and I immediately passed her on the run. It was very clear to me she had pushed too hard on the bike, because I've done that nearly every race!! For some weird reason, it felt nice to pass her, and I decided at that point I wanted to stay ahead of her. Actually, it isn't weird at all - I never pass people on the run, and I really wanted to!

I ran as much as I could until I hit the very. long. hill. Where I eventually started walking and basically didn't stop walking until I came to the top of it, which has an immediate downhill, then the turn around. The run is an out and back, and when I turned around...

I saw her.

I saw the woman who passed me on the bike course, who I then passed at the start of the run... and she was coming for me.

Ugh.

So, I ran as much as I could. Definitely took the time to say hello to friends, encourage a few kiddos who were racing ("you can run up this hill, sweetpea!! Don't you let your Daddy beat you up that hill!" And she did run up the hill. :D 11-years-old, and beat me!).

Then I hit the final part of the run. It's a short uphill run through the Heritage neighborhood near the pool. Suddenly, I heard this huffing and puffing in my ear. A woman was breathing really hard right behind me. Was it her? Someone else? I didn't know, I didn't turn to look - I just kicked it up and ran as hard as I could!

No one did pass me during that last part, but I then I saw and remembered how narrow the finish line chute was, so I couldn't do the Blazeman Roll. That bummed me out.


Result:


01:24:58 184/304 OA, 60/140 F, 10/24 AG


Side notes:


I will continue to work hard, and I will happily accept each and every race result - from DNF to DNS to DFL. I am doing this to have fun, to take care of my body, to show my children to work hard and do YOUR best.

I am doing this to raise awareness for ALS.

I AM THANKFUL TO DO THIS AT ALL.

It definitely messed with my head on Sunday - to be at a race with my former coach and a lot of his athletes. Especially when every single one had a podium finish. I was genuinely happy for him, and very happy for all of them, especially my friends who podiumed. But I also knew, in my heart of hearts - it would have been extremely unlikely for me to podium-finish that race this year. That's not me being down, that's me being real when I look at stats.

And you know what?

That's ok.

I don't want that right now. Does that mean I am giving up on trying? HELL no.

It means I am putting my effort somewhere else. And that elsewhere is finding the joy. The joy for me isn't in trying to podium. For me, that joy is being a little competitive, it's putting forth effort and it's being thankful for this sport, the people, and appreciating what my body can do.


Do you really laugh?
Do you really care?
Do you really smile
When you smile?
You criticize and you flatter
You imitate the best
And the rest you memorize
You know the times you impress me most
Are the times when you don't try
When you don't even try

-Joni Mitchell "Woman of Heart and Mind"

Thursday, June 16, 2016

I Know

Two weeks ago, my family volunteered for the Raleigh Ironman 70.3 race. It wasn't the plan for the whole family to help, but I sure didn't mind when this happened. :-)


I had wondered how I would feel being at this race, although I had never really intended to race it this year, but still - would I feel "jealous" that I wasn't racing? Would I miss being one of the athletes?

I won't beat around the bush. Two words. Heck. No.
I helped out at the Base Salt tent for a bit on Saturday, was able to see my friends Laura and Erin, and I bought new socks and a helmet at the expo. Ooooooops. ;-) Anyway - I loved talking to athletes about Base Performance products, hearing the pros talk a bit, and just taking in all the energy. I also talked to a few people who are training for IMNC, or B2B, also known as "the full I transferred into when I changed my mind about the original full but then eventually decided not to it, either."

One of the women was using the 20-week training plan, written by Dave Scott - the same plan many other people are also using for their full Iron training.

Funny thing. I was about to start it, too.

Except then the woman at the expo told me, no - you should have already finished Week 1, and then I already felt like a failure... again .... but I took a deep breath, reminded myself it didn't matter. I would just make it work. Somehow. Because I'm not done.

So, you've probably been thinking for a few seconds, "wait. Wait. Wait, what? So you ARE doing this, John Kerry? You ARE going to try to do this race after all, Le'go my Egg'o?"

I am. I am going to try, and I don't know that I will finish, but I am going to start. No matter what. No matter if I don't make the swim cut-off, or the bike, or I miraculously make it through both of those and DNF on the run - I am going to start. I'm smart enough to know when to *really* stop. But my heart knows that I need to start.

And here's why: I signed up for it. I paid money for the entry fee. When I signed up for the full, I will be honest. 98% of the reasoning behind it was because I had something to prove to the world.

"You think Heather Scott is some out-of-shape woman who can't do things like this? Well, watch me!"

That's why I signed up for Ironman Raleigh 70.3. When I hit the "register" button for IM70.3 Raleigh, back in July of 2014, I still couldn't really swim 25 yards very well. I could run 13.1 miles, and I definitely could ride 56. But I couldn't really swim. Not like, I couldn't swim fast - I. COULD. NOT. SWIM.

I had something to prove to myself, to the world. I had a chest to puff out. I had fur to stand on end. Muscles to flex. Then Team Drea came along and completely rocked my world, and changed my life.

So, while signing up for the full, I didn't have the exact same motivations as my first half, but it was kind of close. I still had to prove something.

Meanwhile, my family was falling apart before my eyes. Both of my children were struggling in ways I had never imagined, I'd been spiraling into a depression since August, worries about family, then skin cancer, then more serious issues with my one of my kids, and the proverbial poo hit the fan. I scratched and clawed my way back out of the depression (or so I thought), only to find myself on my bike one day in mid-April. Crying.

Just riding along the Neuse River greenway on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, missing my family. Seeing families and missing mine. I cried and cried and blamed myself for every single thing that was happening to us. "If I hadn't....started doing outdoor exercises - I wouldn't have skin cancer. The kids would be well-adjusted and well-behaved. My marriage would be sunshine and rainbows. My house would be clean" (well, that one is true. :D ).

A few days later, I told my coach I didn't want to do Ironman North Carolina and we had a conversation that didn't go remarkably well, but we parted ways in our professional relationship and that was that.

So. How did I end up at the IM70.3 Raleigh expo, discussing my new training plan with a fellow racer?

This. (Just actually watch it. It's less than one minute.)



I will never, not ever, forget this. (You can read more about Sarah here.) I watched the video several weeks after my coach and I split, and this was just a punch to the gut.

I sobbed on my couch after watching it.

I sobbed into my husband's chest and said, "I have to do this. I have to do that race."

He wiped my tears and said, "I know."

I reached out to my friend Erin, "Erin, I can't not try. I can't not try this race."

She forwarded me the plan. I looked at it and said, I can do these things. I can manage this with my life, with my kids. I can do this. I kept my plan a secret, though - perhaps, even to myself.

Of course, we are two three weeks in and I've already missed two runs - one because of chest pains /anxiety gone awry and the other because Mads spiked a fever today of 103.7, and I ended up at the doctor's office for nearly three hours with her, during the one window I had to run.

But you know what? Oh well. Is an Ironman something you blow off? No. Not at all. This isn't an "oh, I think I'll try that Pilates class at the gym tomorrow" sort of thing. It's one of the toughest athletic competitions in the world.

But "I'm not done."

Shortly after officially announcing that I had quit Ironman training, and believing I had, I decided to change my focus for the year on enjoying myself. Having a good time. Being thankful. Those are actually really important goals in our crazy world today. And we DO live in a crazy world, one where people seem to spend so much time being angry, being paranoid, filled with hate, pointing fingers. By GOD, we NEED to remember to enjoy. Enjoy the tiniest thing - but please, do find the joy. "Choose Joy" - Erin L.

I found a lot of joy while racing Raleigh Ramblin' Rose with Andrea and many Team Drea ladies - including Erin's daughter, who raced her first "big girl" tri that day.

But Sarah's words... they would not stop echoing in my ears.

So, I am in week 2/3-ish right now, and other than the two missed workouts - I am LOVING it all. I truly love them. I can do this. Well, I can at least start. There isn't a guarantee that I will finish. I suppose there never was... But this training? I can do it. Starting the race? I can do that.

Andrea? I'M. NOT. DONE.

I made a promise to never give up on finding a cure for ALS, and while quitting was never an option - more than ever, right now, I need to at least start this race. For the pALS. Their families. Their friends. For a cure.

One day more!
Another day, another destiny.
Indeed.
#WarOnALS