Tuesday morning of last week, I woke up at 4am nervous and excited, ready to race and that feeling didn’t stop all week…until the warm-up swim Friday at the race site. I was extra nervous because I had been diagnosed with acute bronchitis the week prior. My doctor worried it might be pneumonia it was so bad. I’d been super-tired and unable to taper properly. Talk about bad timing!
Anyway, afterward my swim warm up I was cool as a cucumber, and my breathing was feeling better. As many of you know, I always get nervous before every race, no matter what the size or importance. It’s been that way since I was a kid so it would be foreign to me not to have those butterflies. To me, it means I’m ready to go.
I had some welcome distractions this time too as it was Sarah and Courtney’s first trip to Nationals and our friend and neighbor, Jenny Zapler, drove up behind us. It only took us about 75 minutes up to Milwaukee Friday morning and upon arrival, we immediately picked up our packets, biked, and ran. By the time we headed over to Lake Michigan to swim, our friends, Betsy & Bruce Noxon and Tom Chisholm, had arrived so it was fun to swim with all of them.
That evening we had a Bradbury Fitness team dinner with most of our athletes so that was fun and, it was another good distraction. Plus we are fortunate as most of our athletes have become good friends so it’s always a pleasure to be able to hang out with them, especially without workout clothes on.
I was up at 5:45am and at the race site by 6:15am, perfect. I wasn’t rushed at all after pumping my tires, jogging, and setting up all my stuff. There is nothing worse than feeling panicked if rushed for time as it’s easy to overlook something or not have time to use the rest room or warm-up. I do everything I can to pad my time just in case and I’ve certainly needed that extra time, plus more, on a few occasions.
Friends and clients Amy O and Betsy were in my wave as well as some other friends like Chris Wickard, Jennifer Takata, and Amy Dukstein. It’s certainly not enough time to catch up with them, but it’s always nice to see friendly faces and have people with whom to have a little banter with moments before the start.
Off we went and I felt great. Starting in the 2nd wave, and 7 minutes after the first, it was all clear water, awesome! And, I was in the lead the entire way! Now that is a good feeling! I’ve had the “2nd place out of the water” curse for years at Nationals and Worlds so this made it extra special. I just kept it long and smooth, very comfortable. The best part was going under a pedestrian bridge as I could hear my awesome entourage (Scott, S&C, Sandy, Dick, and Kathy) all cheering for me. Scott got some video of my wave consisting of about 160+ athletes with me leading the way under the bridge:
My awesome entourage was cheering as I exited the water too!
Out of T1, I knew there was a woman hot on my tail and yep, she passed me very soon. The ride was harder (not as flat) as some anticipated. I drove the course the day prior so I knew what to expect. Anyway, a few more women passed me throughout the ride. Chris was great and cheered me on as she did so. I cheered Michael G as I passed him, as he passed me, as I passed him, and as he passed me, again! Then I had one more cheer for him as I ran by him in T2.
My legs felt awesome during my warm-up run so I was eager to see what I could do. Within the first mile, I was passed by 2 ladies, grrr. At this point I was in 7th place, not where I wanted to be so I tried to hang onto my race plan and hoped that they would fade towards the end of the race and I would catch them then. The good news is I stayed in that position for most of the run. Around mile 4, I was really really really starting to hurt. Breathing was quite labored and my legs were dead. One more passed. Since it was an out and back course, I knew where the other women in my age group were so I was calculating in my head what position I might end up in if I dared to walk at all. (The top 18 in each age group qualify for the World Championships and that was my main goal and at this point, I knew my other goal was not to be achieved). Ah, walking, it sounded so nice. Thankfully, I’m not wired to do so in a race, let alone at Nationals. With 1.5 miles to go 2 more passed me, crap! I had nothing in the tank to respond. Finally, finalllllllly, I saw the finish chute. Now most athletes find a little extra and are able to sprint the last 25-100 yards. Me? I had not one drop of anything left in this tank, no sprinting, no pace increase at all and at this point, I was fine with it. I knew my run was really slow, a few minutes slower than what I normally do. I also knew I had placed 10th, but after finishing, I wasn’t yet able to be proud of it. Once I crossed the finish line, I sought out the med tent as I could barely get in any oxygen. I’m accustomed to my asthma acting up and wheezing for a few minutes after most races, but this was different. I was actually a little scared. The bronchitis hit me hard and coupled with asthma, it made for a very unpleasant run and even more unpleasant post race. They sat me down and gave me a few inhalers. That didn’t seem to help much which made me anxious and led me to shed a few tears. I was messed up for about 20 minutes, but came away ok. Regardless, it was not the finish I’d hoped for, nor was the med tent episode.
Don’t get me wrong, I am VERY grateful I qualified for Worlds, I just look at it differently. Had it been the same race without the title of ‘Nationals’, I still would have been disappointed. At the same time, I am realistic and know that battling illness the last couple weeks didn’t help. At least my 2nd place curse has been lifted so I am pretty darn happy about that. And since Scott is adamant about me posting my times, here they are: swim 21:16, bike 1:06.49, run 47.34, total of 2:18.
What I am totally stoked about is how my clients performed. They all rocked!!! Bruce Noxon and Tim Glinski both qualified for the World Championships in the sprint distance and they did so after racing in the olympic distance the day before! Saaaaweeeet!
So in the scheme of things, all is good: I love my job and clients, I am thrilled I am able to participate in this awesome sport, my support system is great, and my coach Brian and masseuse Matt keep me in check and functioning properly. Thank you all! I am a lucky girl!