I haven’t done a race write up in a while…I guess partly because I have felt sheepish about the fact that we “eased off” and decided to only do three triathlons this summer, and the sprint distance, at that.
I finished off the school year feeling overweight and slow, and completely out of shape. I craved exercise, and felt a little bit of resentment about the fact that I finish each school day too exhausted and brain dead to do much of anything. Summer has been very enjoyable so far, but I haven’t seen the results I had hoped for in my races. Big picture time.
Yesterday, I didn’t feel very well. I wondered, “Is my body going to get its act together?” I did feel a little better this morning, but still not great. I wore my “Stand Up To Cancer” tri top, with the dedication on the back to my mother-in-law Carol, and my dear friend Dianne Sherrer. Whenever I start to feel whimpy and whiny, I try to remember that there are people who are facing or who have faced much bigger challenges—with admirable bravery, to boot.
So, I headed to the race with modest goals: finish the race, be safe, do your best.
On race day, it’s kind of like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get. Today it (the lake) was wavy. I knew this would make my swim more challenging, but waves don’t bother me much. I worried about Scott and Victoria: waves tend to bother them more. Nothing you can really do about it, but wish them well! I changed my breathing pattern so I wouldn’t get cascaded in the face by incoming white caps. Out on the swim course, I looked for Louise Adie. I happily spotted her on the return part of the course. I waved to her, and it looked like she was taking my picture! (yes!) I was thankful for Louise’s cheerful support, and grateful for the inland pull I sensed from the waves.
Getting out of the water, I went into transition and headed out on the bike, thinking all the while the Queen song, “I Want to Ride My Bicycle”! I have been dreading the notorious hill heading out of the park. My breath, as predicted, was heavy and labored, but I just kept chipping away, and somehow (miraculously!) it wasn’t as awful as I had been rehearsing it in my mind. People passed me pretty regularly, including cheerful Amy Dawson. I knew that with her great training and fitness, she was going to have a great race!
I kept a lookout for Victoria and Peter. I knew Scott would be behind me, and would likely see him after the turn around. I missed spotting Peter, but when I saw Victoria, she taunted, “Catch up to me, Mom!” Trust me—I tried! Since I saw her just a few minutes before the turnaround, I figured that I had made up some time in the swim and/or the bike.
Eventually, I earned my downhill into the park, and I flew down the hill and never used the brakes until dismount.
I headed out for the run, and yeah—although I entered the world of triathlons as a runner who learned to bike and swim, it’s the run that I am especially slow-going. I seem to have developed into a two-pace runner: Gosh-awful slow and sprint. So, I used the first gear for most of the race. As I trudged along, I passed by my volunteering family out on the run course. It was great to hear their encouragement, and as I went up the teeny hill that sets you on course for the Gorge Trail, I thought of how hard my mother-in-law has fought against thyroid cancer over and over, and I powered up the hill. As I entered the trail, Karen Ingall told me “I just saw your daughter a few minutes ago!” I figured it would be a while before we would see each other on the out and back course.
When I DID see her, she greeted with me with another playful taunt: “You can’t catch me!”
I blew her a raspberry! And no—I knew I wouldn’t be able to catch her, but it did inspire me to keep trying!
I love Taughannock Falls trails. I know them like close friends. As I continued on, I tried to get into a more “personal groove” and I thought of the song “On Top of The World” by Imagine Dragons. I love the one lyric that goes, “I’ve been payin’ my dues to the dirt.” I feel like I HAVE been payin’ my dues—it just hasn’t been long enough. But…I got to go out and do something I love today. I know people who can’t….like my son who is recovering from a broken bone, or my friend Dianne who bravely fought cancer and died a few years ago.
She would have said, “Cowgirl up, Laura! Bust an ovary!”
So I stopped the complaining and tried to change my form a little, and changed my mental sound track to “Don’t Stop Me Now” (Queen) –with the poignant line “I’m havin’ a good time, I don’t want to stop at all!” I saw my husband Scott, and we quickly exchanged a greeting and an encouraging hand slap.
Soon, I had the finish line almost in sight. There’s that moment close to the finish where I start to gather myself, and assess what kind of energy I have left, and when I might be able to put on a finish line sprint. I turned the corner, and I had about a 50m dash ready. I heard the announcer say, “and here she comes, well known for her finish line sprints, Laura Voorhees!”
I finished, gratefully took a cold water bottle and waited just a few minutes for Scott to finish.
A lady named Ellen came up to me shortly afterwards and said, “I was behind you for most of the race, and you were inspiring to me! I have done relays the past few years, but this is the first time I did the sprint in like, 6 years!” I warmly congratulated her and introduced myself. Then I wondered why I inspired her?
Had I turned into one of those overweight athletes that people look at and think, “Good for you! Good for getting out and getting some exercise!”
Whatever it is, I am happy to have raced. I am grateful to family and friends for being there as volunteers and athletes, and sharing your joyfulness out on the course.