I worked full time in Reston, roughly 18 miles from my house. Once a week I met friends along the trail to bike into work on my Schwinn. They were riding awesome looking road bikes and looking back now, probably cursing me for coming along as my mountain bike was SOOOO slow. I thank them for being patient..for letting me tag along...for never saying no.
|First Training Plan|
For a girl that grew up on the Jersey shore in the summer and not in a pool, I did not know how to swim. I held my nose when I went under waves, swam all day but never did a stroke. My first sprint triathlon I swam it backstroke. In the final lap I ended up in a cutout stairwell of the pool. I was embarrassed and just doing whatever it took to get it done.
So here we were Saturday morning September 10, 2016, about 8 years after my first triathlon. I have a new to me tri bike instead of a Schwinn, I have run thousands of miles since my first race, and have swam in open water on many occasions and made it out of the water to tell the story. I have met so many people over this journey with stories of them just starting, of this being just another race in their long list, and stories of days were race day did not go as planned. They all have amazing support systems to see them make it to the finish line. A new bike, sneaks and fancy goggles do not make the race possible...it starts with a small belief in something scary within you that sparks and grows into an amazing feeling of anything is possible and love and support coming from your people and strangers you have just met.
|bike rack for #409|
|walking to the swim|
We headed to the water, Ben was dealing with the fact that he had people with him at the start of the race, probably messing with his mind as he hasn't had a support crew for any of his recent races. Mike was ready to get this thing started, and I just wanted the swim over. As one of the announcers said yesterday...I do the swim so I can get on the bike...and that is all. It was a beautiful morning, the heat did not feel horrible and once we stood in the water I was actually cold. Ben was the first one of us to head out, followed by Mike, then me. Laura was an amazing sherpa there in her orange visor and orange Stride t-shirt...makes for easy spotting! She documented the whole day and cheered from start to finish...all while she was mentally preparing for her own race on Sunday.
|swim is done|
|finished on the bike|
I never thought biking would be my thing but I guess strong big thighs can pay off. I managed to bike just over 20 miles per hour for the 40k bike ride. I felt strong and not labored. I pushed when I could, I slowed down when there was traffic of either bikes or cars, and loved the fast down hill coming off the bridge. It was a safe course and police and volunteer presence were very visible. I didn't drink enough water, I am a bit of a scaredy cat with reaching for my water bottle. I drank some in my transition before getting on the bike...and never felt thirsty on the ride...I took a gu at mile 10 and made myself drink some water afterwards. I took that final turn into the cattle gate entrance...slowed down...was happy with my pace and my tush was happy to get off the bike.
Transition to run was fine. I had seen Mike on the bike and figured Ben was still out there biking away. I went to get my run stuff together...grab my orange visor and head out. It was really humid and my legs were not feeling that fresh. Mile one went by very quickly and a bit too fast...I ran 8:20 and was excited but then I started to be tired. I had another gu with me and now think I probably should of had it...but that day I didn't...I kept on trucking along, taking water at every aid station...my pace was slowing but I felt like I was going as fast as my legs on this day were going to let me. The course was interesting...Ben had told me it was wooded but I didn't take that as trail...trail is not my thing but I kept on going...it was very pretty and still very hot. The sun had yet to break through the clouds and I just kept on plugging away. On the final two water stops I grabbed ice and tucked them in my sports bra...it felt great and now my feet were sloshing in my shoes...water was just dripping all the way down to my toes and I was wanting this to be over. The final turn out of the woods had me back on the path that headed towards the finish line. I saw Mike with his orange visor on and he said I would see Ben in just three minutes. I was happy to see Mike running as it was so humid and a long day I wasn't sure if his legs were going to be there for him. I was mad at myself for the slow pace but at the same time was just hoping everyone else was having a tough time with the heat and humidity.
Sure enough 3 minutes later I saw a guy running at a fast clip coming towards me in an orange visor. He screamed, "Go Orange Visor!" and we said our I love yous and high fived. I had under a mile to go. I knew it was not going to be my fastest run but it was almost done. I was excited to finish!! I passed a 72 year old man that I spoke with at packet pick up. He was from Reston, and has been doing tris his whole life. I told him great job...he said he had wanted to stop many times but had yet to do it. I said slow is always better than stopped. 72 years old...just awesome!
I finished my second olympic triathlon in 2 hours 54 minutes and 49 seconds. I improved on my first olympic time by 12 minutes. Granted my first was very hilly bike, all my time was improved on the bike here at Patriots. I ran and swam slower on Saturday then in my last race but my legs were ready to ride that day. The girl that started on a Schwinn dropped 12 minutes...I can't even wrap my head around that. I loved it...I loved every minute...even the ones I hated. That day made me want to do it again and again and again. This sport is not about speed or where you finish at the end of the day, it's about you putting your mind to something and seeing it through. It's about early morning commitments and crazy training plans. It's about time management and ensuring you are ready to tackle something that at first feels bigger than you.
So how do I feel today...I feel like I wish I committed a little more of me to this training..in the moment I was happy with all that I did but now that the results are in and the competitive Julie takes charge...I wish I was just a little bit stronger. I am so excited to sit down and plan out my race calendar for this spring and next fall. I am excited for the two events I am racing this weekend and next. I am over the moon to go to Kona to see the best of the best compete in the biggest race of their lives. I am excited to see my husband's hard work make his dream a reality. I know today that I am capable of hard things. I am stronger than I thought I would ever want to be. I have days that are not good, I have days that I am great and super focused, and in the end they all balance out. I will never stop trying or running. Running is what started this whole thing and I will be sure to never let it end.
Embrace the Suck...Choose You...Never stop trying!
Total time Patriots Olympic Triathlon 2016
3rd in Age Group 35-39