First off, let me just say that Campeche, Mexico was a beautiful city, full of genuinely kind and helpful people and LOTS of fans who came out to support the race! This little fishing village is slowly transforming into a tourist destination yet still maintains its small town, everyone-knows-everyone feel. The race was so well run and the course was challenging. I recommend you add this one to your list for 2018!
Now onto the race!
My travel companions and I arrived two nights before the race. They all reserved rooms at the Holiday Inn and, of course due to my inability to plan travel far enough in advance, the hotel was fully booked and I was off to stay in my Airbnb (which was still good). We arrived a bit later than expected so I ate some slices of plain bread I had packed and headed straight to bed.
Apparently, no matter how many blogs I write about not being nervous and instead being excited to test myself before a race, I still get scared and start crying the day before. Seriously how do you walk into a pro meeting with the likes of Leanda Cave, Heather Wurtele, Tim Don, and many other big hitters, and not leave terrified?! I went back to my Airbnb after that meeting and called Gunter in tears (that poor guy dealing with my pre-race emotions!!). As usual he told me to calm down and relax, it was all going to be okay.
I went to bed, slept terribly (standard the night before a race), and woke up ready to rock and roll!
Swim: The struggle was real. I mean, I was one of the first into the water! But alas, that counts for naught. The ocean swells swallowed me up and spit me out....five minutes behind the leaders. But thankfully I had a companion in the water to follow and she was great at sighting buoys (thank you!!).
Bike: Everything hurt after the swim. But I wanted to go so hard on the bike. I could see people up the road and all I wanted to do was catch them. I rode as hard as I could with no consideration for the fact that I had a half marathon to run afterward. I was able to move myself up from 9th place to 2nd place going into T2.
Run: I came off of the bike with Cecilia Perez right behind me. I may have had a fast transition but she FLEW by me in the first kilometer of the run. I just kept trotting along running what I could. I had no idea if I would be able to hold off the crazy fast women runners behind me but just kept chugging at my pace and drinking water. Lap one went by and it appeared the gap behind me wasn’t closing too fast. I had a chance to make it into the top 3!!!!
There was nothing like the feeling of running down that blue carpet knowing that I was going to round out the podium in third place. I was so incredibly excited, especially to share the podium with two rock stars: Heather Wurtele (multiple Ironman and 70.3 champion, all around beast) and Cecilia Perez (2016 Olympian for Mexico). We even got to spray champagne (one life goal: complete)!
I still have plenty of work to do and some huge races coming up but I couldn’t ask for a better start to the 2017 season. Thank you all for your support!
Mistake #3: Allowing my mind to sabotage my race
For the final installment of this series, let’s give the mental aspect of training and racing a go.
I have had plenty of races where I get so worked up and nervous before the race that I burn all of my energy before even hitting the start line! My heart starts racing and I put more and more pressure on myself to perform. I end up feeling drained once the gun actually does go off and typically have a terrible race.
The best races I have had were ones where I felt little or no pressure. I just wanted to go out there and see what I could do on that day. I was confident in the work and training I had put in and knew that I would give it my best no matter what happened.
Looking back, it seems that in the races where I crumbled mentally I was expected to accomplish a task that perhaps I was not quite ready for, or I expected myself to finish in a time that would have been a superhuman effort for me on that day. I was so focused on hitting a certain time or making it up a climb with the best climbers in the world without necessarily having the training behind me to back it up.
This is not to say that you should lower your expectations for yourself. Reaching my goals is what gets me out the door every morning to train. Yet, when race day comes around I have found that if I focus less on the time or place I finish in, and more on giving the best effort I can in that moment on that day, then I tend to have better races. Having a solid foundation of training behind me gives me a platform to jump off of in a race. When I can stand on the starting line confident in the work I have put in to get there, then I know when the gun goes off all I need to do it give the race my best effort.
I still have the pre-race jitters and nervousness, but I now focus less on the outcome of the race. I no longer wear a watch or look at a bike computer while racing. Nothing that the devices could tell me about my pace or what mile I am at will change the effort I am exerting in that moment. In the end we have no control over our competitors, the course, or conditions, but what we can control are our minds and bodies. Whether I finish first or last, I will finish knowing that I gave everything I had on that day, and that is all that I can ask of myself!
Professional cyclist turned professional triathlete living in Boulder, CO.