Starting our drive to Hammond, IN this morning it was sunny and 65, but we could see clouds looming over Chicago and further south. Not a shocker as that’s what the forecast called for, only a little cooler. Perfect!
Upon arriving at the race site, I quickly found my clients, a ton of familiar faces, and my teammates as well. (This race has a few different team challenge races and Element Multisport sponsored our 2 teams, one consisting of 5 males and one of 5 females). It was fun catching up with everyone, but I was a little distracted as I kept checking out the dark clouds. I asked Scott several times to check the radar and every time he said it was clear. A few minutes later, lots of strong winds came blowing through and the temperature quickly decreased at least 10 degrees. You should have seen the look on everyones faces! I heard some people talking about leaving, others were worried about riding with their discs, some were complaining about the chop in the water, not many seemed excited to race. I felt all those things for a few minutes too, then let it pass. Weather is something which can’t be controlled and we were all in the same boat so you just have to deal with it. I quickly put on my wetsuit and cap to stay warm, it didn’t work.
Soon after, we were lined up by wave in front of the stage. Some announcements were made including forecast info. They too said the radar was clear. (Can you see where I’m going with this)? ;) Then we were led to the water. Most of us, even those who don’t prefer the swim, were eager to get in as it was much warmer in the water than in the cold air. After jumping in, we had a few minutes until our wave start. I used it to swim a little and get a spot away from the chaos. Mark and Bruce lined up right behind me. With no warning (that I heard), they started us. I’m so glad I stayed far right as most of the action was on the left and I was beat up pretty well a couple years ago in that action.
I didn’t think the chop was bad at all, just enough to have a little fun. I felt relaxed and steady the entire way and was pretty much alone (not that I could see far) until the last 1/4 mile. I knew there would be another woman around my speed in my wave, so I wasn’t surprised to see her on the last turn. She was really busting her butt with a 6 beat kick and all. Yikes! I haven’t kicked like that in a race since my collegiate days doing sprints! There was no way I was going to join her in that endeavor. I stuck to my 2 beat kick, kept my stroke long, and came out a few seconds ahead of her. I had a good transition and hopped on my bike. Brrr, my quads, hands, and feet were mighty cold!
Quickly, I forgot about that when I found a TV camera in my face. (It was held by a guy on a motorcycle. Cameras follow the top 2 men and top 2 women throughout the race). I was happy to see this as I clearly knew I was in the top 2, but at the same time, it made me a little self-conscious as the winds, cold, and light rain were making my nose act like a leaky faucet. Ew! And yes, I said rain, which, um, was not on the radar! Because of my nose, a small part of me was happy when I was passed a few miles later, no more camera. However, I did try to keep that motorcycle close by…to no avail. At least my hands and legs were no longer cold. Regardless of the conditions, I felt pretty good. I just kept chuggin’ and focused on what I could control. Upon dismounting, I checked my watch and was content, a solid ride, finally.
T2, now that was interesting. I didn’t realize until I was trying to take off my helmet and put on my shoes that my hands and toes were numb. I had much difficulty putting my shoes on, and I had on Yankz (elastic laces)! Out of T2, I wasn’t even sure my left heel was in my shoe. I tried to look, but I had rain drops all over my shades and I certainly wasn’t about to stop. I had also grabbed my watch on the way out, but didn’t even bother to attempt to put it on, I just held it, no biggie. However, for one of the first times ever, I took a peek at my pace after a few minutes. Noooooo!!! Too slow! And I actually felt really good! This is why I don’t like wearing/holding a watch! It’s too distracting for me. After that, I vowed not to look at it again, and I didn’t. Since it was an out and back run, I opted to take off my shades and look at faces instead. I tried to guess what everyone was thinking, that was a first and was kind of fun. I also recall thinking that I’d MUCH rather race in this than anything over 80 degrees. I mean really, the light rain and cool temps kept us from over-heating and getting sunburn. It just felt like a nice misting fan while working out hard, sweet! I must have liked it as some friends told me I actually smiled when they saw me, a rarity. I love to smile, but during a race, I just don’t have the energy to change my ‘game’ face.
Around mile 4 , friend and client, Bruce passed me and cheered me on, thanks Bruce! I still felt good and just tried to hang on to the end. I saw many others too, including Kim, Betsy, Anne, Mark, Tom, Jeremy, Marsha, Mike, Drew, Greg, etc so it made the race more fun. Ah, then I could see the finish line, I tried to pick it up the last few hundred yards, but I didn’t have another gear so I just kept my pace, whatever that was. I felt good, and even better when Scott gave me my run split. A personal best! Yes! Finally, everything came together pretty well. I was happy with 4th overall female in this very competitive race.
Honestly, I think what really helped is that I was so positive in the couple weeks beforehand. Several days before, I remember looking at Scott and telling him I was going to PR my run and I really believed it. The mental aspect is huge and unfortunately, most people don’t ‘work’ on it until right before the race, if they do at all. Imagery is HUGE, belief in yourself is HUGE, belief in your plan is HUGE so if you are missing any of those components, you just won’t perform up to your potential. I know all too well that often your biggest opponent is between the ears so ensure you train the brain too.
Back to the team component I mentioned earlier, both of our teams won! Congrats teammates, you rock! And check out these sweet trophies! Yowza!
Thanks Element MultiSport for having me as part of your team! It was a fun race!
Congrats to my clients Betsy, Bruce, Marsha, and Michael, we had some great racing out there! And a big shout out to Scott, our awesome sherpa, photographer, and cheerleader! Thank you to Coach Brian and masseuse Matt as well!