Note: I wrote this blog at the airport leaving Vegas. It’s pretty raw on how I felt following the race. I decided not to change it, but want to add in a few tidbits I have learned since. They’ll be in bold.
Through the unfailing love of the Most High, he will not be shaken
I chose this verse before I started the Super Sprint Tri Grand Prix, scrolling through my Bible app as I warmed up on the bike. No matter what, the word always blankets me in calm. It was just what I needed as I pumped my legs on the trainer, surrounded by other pros doing their pre-race things, huddled under the provided tents. It was 90 and starting to heat up in Vegas.
From the beginning of the trip, Lady Luck was not on my side. The house dog ate my running shoes, my car broke down on the way to the airport, I called 9-1-1 for the first time, my house’s main water line broke, I accidentally booked tickets to California for a week too early which I only realized after receiving a “would you like to check into your flight tomorrow?” email (no.), and I spilled hot coffee all over a business man who had to call his work and apologize that he’d be late until he “figured out his situation”. Oy.
I was obviously still really excited to race. Being at sea level is great and it felt good to move my body and get my heart pumping. My mom was with me, as well as her little pup, and I was just ready to play.
It was my first “big race” all season. Instead of being all “pro” like I tried last year, I decided to be a lot more me. I’m not a serious person. I’d rather stick my tongue out than have a game face. I also like to make friends, so I figured I’d try and do some of that, too.
At the pre-race meeting, I saw some athletes I met before and just smiled and tried to be genuinely me-as opposed to shutting up and sitting alone in the corner. It felt good. They announced that 8 girls had dropped out, so there’d only be one finals heat (as opposed to 2). Prelims would be 6 and 6, and as long as you didn’t lose your heat, you’d make it back to race under the lights! Exciting and daunting. No one likes to DFL. Again I reminded myself that I’m ready to have fun and just do my thing.
Maybe my verse was put there to remind me to hold my ground and have fun, no matter what. Warm ups felt pretty good. Some last minute changes had me moved into a different swim lane (we were to swim in a blow-up pool in the middle of the parking lot). The consequences of this didn’t hit me until later. The pool had no lines on the bottom and was all white, so under the Vegas sun they disappeared into the bottom, making the pool look like it went on forever-it’s similar to swimming laps in a hotel pool. They provided a few mats for the bottom, and I had moved mine in my original lane to where I imagined the T would be in a regular pool, so I’d know when to flip. This idea went out the window when I moved lanes. I missed almost every flip turn, and swam as if the race was a 1000 instead of a 300. When I got to my bike, I took about 2 seconds too long to clip my helmet, and that was virtually the end of the race for me. Off went the girls who later placed 2-4, and it wasn’t long until I was passed by the 6th place girl. Rats.
Even though I stayed positive through the race, and smiled, it seemed so surreal. I lost a race on the swim. That’s a first.
I stayed and cheered for the other athletes, which I may love more than racing. When the day was over, there was a chance I’d have a “wild-card” spot if someone dropped out. Again, no luck, but I am glad. Gwen, who considered not racing, went on to win the race and really deserved it. I grabbed my bike and…oh hey flat tire…rolled on my rim back to the car, head hung.
I can’t pretend it doesn’t stink; that I don’t question all the hard work I put in, just to see competitors I once beat, now schooling me in races. If it wasn’t for the local sprints I’ve done this summer around Denver (I went undefeated in the Underground Race Series), I think I’d be questioning myself even more. You see, I list these things that went wrong in the race-mistakes I’ve made-but maybe it’s not the stupid mistakes that put me out of contention. Maybe I’m just not good enough. I took this summer off of the “big” races, and focused on life changes and getting settled into my new home in the Springs. It was encouraging to race (and win) some events again after last season where I was constantly being rocked by the big names. After another summer of training hard, I figured I would improve. I know I shouldn’t draw conclusions from this one race. I know the only way to get better is to keep stepping up and racing the “big dogs”. It forces me to evolve, grow, and learn every time I step out of my comfort zone. But it hurts my heart, too. I never thought that at 24 I’d be experiencing “growing pains”. I was later provided the overall times from our heats. Even though I placed last, my split was :30 seconds faster than the girl who won the first heat (there was a debate whether or not my heat completed all 7 bike laps, but the race official later confirmed that we had). This means we had a competitive heat. I also happened upon the girl’s blog who caught me on the bike and was happy to hear I “made her work for it”. So maybe my race wasn’t as awful as I originally thought.
I did my best to enjoy the rest of my time in Vegas. It was incredible to watch the finals heats that night. Those guys and girls absolutely ripped it! Since I love cheering, I was all over it :) Then my mom and I went to see the Cirque du Soleil “O” show at the Bellagio. I think our tired eyes made the show even better. (long) Blink (for 4 seconds) and BAM! a piano in the middle of the pool on stage. Magical! After the show we went straight to bed.
A quick visit to Interbike was in order the next morning before heading home. Talk about overwhelming. This time our eyes weren’t playing tricks on us. It was simply bikes on bikes on bikes on bikes! I loved it, but was nonetheless wishing I could’ve at least had some exciting results to share from the night before.
Sometimes I write posts with a purpose, an idea in mind of what I want to say, or at least what I want the reader to take away. Sometimes I want to tell a story. Sometimes I just start writing and let the words guide me. But right now, I think it’s just a mix of everything. Mostly emotions. A lot of confusion.
It’s hard to be steadfast and confused at the same time. I’m doing my best to cling to the verse I opened with and let the chips fall where they may. I’m so thankful to have something to cling to. That unfailing love beats lady luck at every roll of the dice.
Until next time,