so the friday after school got out, sunshine and i trekked up to lake placid. i had a plan to swim one loop in mirror lake friday night, do a bike loop saturday and then on sunday compete in the hague olympic. so we travelled up to lake placid. we checked into the hotel and almost immediately i saw “those people”. a group of cyclists all in fancy cycling gear and fancy bikes. “those people” always make me nervous and make me feel “less than”. i know it’s stupid but it’s like seeing the cool kids in the mall and feeling like a geek all over again. but we got the stuff into the room and ate a bit and then we walked down to the lake. being in lake placid is wonderful. i do love it there. the beauty that surrounds the area is breathtaking. so i pulled up my wetsuit and started my watch and went on the hunt for that “line”. for those that don’t know there’s a cable that runs along the bottom of the lake which makes it so you don’t have to rely as heavily on sighting. i’m not positive that i found the cable, but i went along the buoys that were up and those were in a straight line so it helped me not go everywhere in the lake. the swim was wonderful. i felt strong and happy. and it re-lit my fire. i had been struggling with motivation due to the length of this training season but that fire was re-lit and i knew i was going to finish this race. i swam out and then looked at my watch and then returned back to the beach. a solid swim to start my weekend. sunshine met me and we returned to the hotel and i showered and we went to the green goddess – but the cafe inside was closed! ugh! we went into town and found a thai place. it wasn’t fabulous, but wasn’t awful. they definitely had trouble with my order but in the end i ate. while we were in town we found the run course and drove it. i DEFINITELY did not run the correct course back in april but felt good about what the run course looked like. i have run hillier runs and i’m sure it’ll have some bumps along the marathon during the race but it is gorgeous. before i went to bed, i read jess’ race report from syracuse 70.3. she said a few things that would stick out. she talked about not thinking about future hills, but running the hills she was in in that moment. and she talked about where the mind goes, the body follows. those two things would change my ride and training moving forward.
saturday morning i woke up early and my stomach was turning. it wasn’t as awful as it had been. so i began to dump food into my stomach before my brain and stomach figured out what was going to happen. sunshine was driving me to the transition area behind the school to start and was planning on riding the the flats in jay. as she dropped me off and i was attaching the bottles and bento box to my bike i was just not feeling it. i just wanted to enjoy the town and the beauty of the place. little did i know that that is EXACTLY what the day had in store for me. so i headed out. i had no time goal, i wanted to fuel properly, familiarize myself with the entire course and feel good. so i started climbing. the beginning of the course is pretty much uphill. it’s not “timberman uphill” but it’s uphill. it’s steady, it’s consistent. and i used that time to hydrate and fuel. i knew that the downhill in keene i wouldn’t be able to do either and wanted to be prepared. there were lots of other athletes out on the course with camps and with groups and folks were friendly as they passed me. and although many many people passed me, my brain didn’t go there. i just stayed where i was. “where the mind goes, the body follows” then i arrived at the keene descent. i was more nervous the night before about this than any other part of the ride. and then it was there and i took a deep breath and let go. i heard jas say let it go and i did. the beginning of the descent isn’t too steep and i let go of the brakes and actually pedaled. i relaxed and reminded myself that where the mind goes, the body follows, so i didn’t think of the water or falling or slowing down. i just focused on the matter at hand, nothing in the future or the past. and then i got to the bottom. and i hadn’t cried or wasn’t scared. it was mind blowing! i turned the corner to head towards jay. and i began fueling again. and i knew sunshine would be out there somewhere. and i realized that back in april i hadn’t fueled appropriately and had managed to black out a large portion of the ride. the area near jay is so pretty and peaceful. and i just kept fueling. i knew once i got to sunshine i needed some empty bottles. and when i got to her things were empty and she had decided to not ride with me. and i was surprisingly ok about it.
i felt strong and happy. happy? what? on my bike? but yes, i had found that happiness i had been searching for through all my rides. and i headed to the first out and back. i knew that continuing to dump fuel and hydration down my throat was imperative in order to have a successful ride. and i was doing just that. so when i had completed the first out and back i felt strong when i made the turn to start climbing. and somehow that climb had seemed so impossible back in april but i was stronger both mentally and physically. the climb was steady and steeper but i could handle it. i wasn’t fast but i was consistent. and that’s all that matters. and when the road opened up and the beauty, the real breathtaking beauty arrived, i was able to take it in. i contemplated stopping and taking a picture but i need that image in my brain and i will get to see that view twice (TWICE!!) during the race. how lucky am i? and then i hit that last out and back. i fueled and hydrated. i wanted to be ready for that final climb. i kept fueling up until i hit that climb and continued to fuel throughout. again that climb was steady but i could handle it. and during that climb, i actually passed someone! how funny! i’m not gonna mention how many people passed me out there but there was a lot. but it didn’t shake me. as i arrived at the bears i wasn’t angry or upset. i didn’t need to dig into the depths of my core to finish that hill but i know that the core is there if i need it. as i finished the ride i was so happy. not happy that i was done, but happy that i had done it. happy that it was actually enjoyable. and that i didn’t quit or let the course beat me. sunshine and i headed to lunch at the green goddess and i ate and ate. then we headed to lake george for the night. when we arrived at our hotel i was already tired of carrying the junk inside and redoing my bags and such, but i knew that the organization was key. and i was happy to finally lay down for a bit. we headed to a cute little restaurant for dinner and then repacked the car knowing that in the morning it was forecasted to rain, then headed to bed.
woke up early for the race. rain was coming down. ugh. i wasn’t nervous in the least so eating was not a problem. i figured out that the thought of swimming never makes me nervous but the thought of biking makes me nervous. so i just need to focus on the swimming on race morning. so we ate and then put the bikes on the car and finished packing the car. we drove in the rain to hague. the hills (or mountains!) we were driving definitely made my brain go ugh the bike! but i just focused on getting there safely. once there the rain was coming down. i checked in and went back to the car to eat a bit more. then finally i figured i needed to go set up my transition area. the transition area was different than i had seen before and i liked it. the bikes had little notches in these wood setups and there was a bench and little cubby for all my junk. if it hadn’t been pouring i would’ve taken a picture. but everything was set up and under the bucket to limit the amount of wet was in everything. and then i returned to the car. as the start time was getting closer, i went and put my wetsuit on and went towards the water. i listened to a few folks talking about the set up of the swim. it was a triangle swim, twice. the sprint race went first and it looked shallow. eventually we started. and it WAS shallow. and cold as ice. as i turned to the first buoy, the water temperature took my breath away and froze my brain. my heart was panicked. and i breaststroked to calm myself down. i put my face back in and tried again but the water was so cold. i thought to myself i might actually have to quit IN THE SWIM. which would be absolutely devastating. so i just pushed myself through it. i figured the water couldn’t be cold everywhere. and it wasn’t. but instead it was mucky. there were leaves and pine needles on the surface and it was gross and i hated it. and i figured i couldn’t stop because of some muck. and i kept swimming. i hit the turn buoy and headed back. and the water was awful. it was choppy as hell and making me feel a bit nauseous. so i slowed by brain down while trying to keep my stroke consistent. i focused on what i could focus on – my breath and my stroke. and i finally hit the turnaround. and shit! it was still cold. it took my breath away and i kicked it in so i could out of that area. i knew i was headed for the muck but i knew there was clearing after that. the swim basically repeated itself without the nausea on the second loop and i knew i would go back through the ice water towards the swim finish. i swam as far in as possible but the water was shallow and i ended up having the struggle moving in through the water. and there were strippers – a volunteer that is helping take the wetsuit off. so laid down in a puddle in the grass (gross) and he ripped the wet suit off. and i moved towards my transition area. it was raining and i was wet from the swim. so i struggled getting my bike shirt on, compression sleeves on, my socks on, my arm sleeves on – like it was next to impossible to get them all on. (note to self to figure out how to do this quickly) and i decided in the last minute to leave my sunglasses because the rain was coming down and i figured the glasses would make it harder to see. i made my way onto my bike and headed out. the course was rolling hills and the rain was coming down for the first loop (it was an out and back, twice). i struggled very hard with being able to see at all during the ride. at one point i was riding with my eyes closed telling myself to “trust yourself”. which seems absolutely laughable thinking about how uneasy i have been on the bike. but it worked. and after a relatively uneventful (minus the blindness from the rain) bike ride, i arrived back in transition and changed shoes. i saw sunshine which was such a happy moment. and headed out to the mountainous feeling hills of the run. my plan was to power walk up the hills to save my IT band and then run as much as i could. again having no time goal. so i began my work for my run. and fueled and hydrated. and moved forward. i felt decent. then i arrived next to a woman and we started running together. she kept talking, i wasn’t really talking. we hit a dirt path (yes a dirt path which was actually more like a mud path due to the rain) and stayed together. the dirt path was actually a bit of relief to my knees. i saw a steep hill to return to the road and she pushed me to stay running. which was definitely a mistake – my heart rate went through the roof and my knee started bugging me. but i hit the turnaround (again an out and back) and started counting the folks behind me. there were 7 people behind me. i definitely didn’t want to be dead last. the woman i was running with stopped at the porta potty and i kept going. she caught up to me and then past me. so now there were 6. this was definitely on my mind which seems silly. another girl past me. my brain was running rampant beginning to yell at me. and i slowed it down. focused on my breath. i can only control what is happening right now. nothing before, nothing after. and no one else. so i kept going. then i heard this person coming. her feet were pounding, her breath was so loud and as she came up next me i saw that she was the person i wanted to pass and stay ahead of in the beginning of the run. so i put my legs aside and ran. i wasn’t going to let her beat me. i dug deep and ran until the finish line which was actually just a giant puddle in the grass. and i finished. i felt good. and also wet and chafed. i knew that i could dig deep even in tough moments and push through. i knew i could trust myself even when logic didn’t match up. all the training leading up until this point had strengthened me in ways that i could never have predicted or expected.