One of my first mentors, Dr. Jack Barnathan taught me that strength comes from time under tension. While I know this to be the case, never have I remembered it more than on the Ironman World Championship course in Kona last Saturday. Some time ago I cooked up the idea that doing both Half Ironman World Championship and Ironman World championship in the same season would be a cool thing to do. This year it all came to fruition yet not without plenty of time under tension.
In training, often the benefits of time spent under the tension doesn't show up right away. Such was the case in my life. Last season saw the end of my marriage, my oldest off to college and a bike crash that resulted in my collar bone in many pieces. Emotional, physical and mental tension was the constant at the end of the 2013 season with a bright spot at Austin 70.3 in more ways than one that resulted in a slot to the 2014 70.3 World Championships. Soon after a plan was cooked up by one of my favorite competitors, Sue Aquilla and a HPB team mate Tim Perkin to go to Ironman Texas and see if I could punch my ticket to Ironman Worlds as well. Thanks to excellent coaching by my coach, Hillary Biscay and my sponsors Promotion Physical Therapy and the Alter G we did just that.
Before I knew it, I was landing on the big Island. I was on a new bike - thanks to Dimond Bikes and excited to meet up with my other amazing sponsor the girls at Smashfest Queen and the rest of the Team HPB crew racing.
|These signs are everywhere!|
|Michele the Smashfest Queen herself paced me for my last tune up run!|
|How many of these can I eat in a week? Not nearly enough!|
Before long it is time to get the show on the road and check in all the gear for the next day. For me it always feels the same as when you have stood in line for the roller coaster, the car pulls up and the rail goes down. At that point you are strapped in and are going on this ride regardless of how you are feeling. In Kona it is the time to see all the rock stars and get the lay of the land.
|We are off to check in - So excited to ride her tomorrow! Thank you Dimond Bike|
|She is racked and ready to go!|
Once all the logistics are handled, it is time to eat (this is the point where I feel like I can not put another piece of food in my mouth) and go to bed. I was relaxed and excited which is usually a good sign. I slept well and woke up ready to go with two excellent shepas in tow - Chris Phillips and George Scharmen were the true rock stars just keeping me calm as I headed to body marking. As we walked up I could see the swells. To see swells that big and that early ment that the swim was going to be a bit more of a roller coaster ride. Coachie had told me I was going to have to swim hard and that it was going to be a different animal that past swims so hold on tight... Time under Tension! Yep it was choppy and yep the new swim start was not ideal for most of us age group women but still it was beautiful and it is Worlds. Swimming around the Body Glove boat always make me think about all the years of watching on TV and I am amazed at how early I can hear Mike Reilly and the music. For me, the end of the swim is almost always bittersweet as my day is 1/3 over and still I was really excited to get on the bike. The days leading up to the race had calm winds so I figured a fast bike and HOT run. Madame Pele had an entirely different day planned. Right before Waikoloa the winds picked up. I should know better but I thought "wow - this could mean tail winds on the way home". Like I said - I should know better. The bike was hard. It is always hard in Kona.
|At this point I had just seen that Maik Twelsiek (Coachies Hubby) riding the Dimond bike like mine was leading the race! I was a bit excited.|
Back into town and off the bike and the winds had taken their toll. My back was not allowing me to run at all. As I tried to move through transition everything was locked up. I knew I just needed to get on the course and things would come around. Well they didn't. Still on the course, there are times that the lesson to be learned is just about putting one foot in front of the other as fast as you can in the moment. I resorted to walking 20 steps and then doing a funny little shuffle/run as long as I could. Again - time under tension. This was not about physical strength or conditioning at this point. My mental and emotional conditioning is what I would be using at this point. Every step was about experiencing the mental and emotional strength developed over the last few years.
|Not feeling very strong at all and Allison filling in for Coachie telling me to find my run! For a girl that doesn't race - she sure gets the game.|
|It even looks like I am running!|
This one was not my best - far from it in terms of my ability to race. What I did get to experience is my tenacity even when the chips are low, my love for this sport because I get to meet myself coming and going and my mental fortitude to finish what I started no matter what happens. Life doesn't always go the way we plan. In fact rarely does it - success is defined by how many times it does not go our way and we stay at the journey and get up one more time than when we get knocked down.
The journey is far from over and I couldn't get through it without the support of my sponsors and my coach. A very very special Mahalo to Hillary Biscay, Promotion Physical Therapy, Smashfest Queen, Dimond Bike
A very warm hug of gratitude to Allison, George and Roxanne Scharmen and Chris Phillips for toughing out with me and being the best Iron support out there! And all the love and words of encouragement to all of those at home and all the Tri-Belief athletes, know that is what carried me through!