Friday, March 29, 2013

Bringing back the FEELING

I know, I have been remiss in my blogging.  See, you didn't even notice did you.  But something happened to bring back the "feeling".  You know what feeling, that competitive, let's do this feeling!  Even the feeling that makes me want to write about it.

Saturday was the HITS series 70.3 race in Ocala.  Walking into the race site, and seeing transition, I just got that familiar feeling.  The "let's do this" feeling!  I wasn't racing, but love being around it.  You can feel the energy in the area.  We got there, on Friday, for packet pick up, and the pre-race meeting. We met up with our friends, and checked out the grounds.  The tension is building.

Now if you have never done a 70.3 or "Half-Iron" distance, it can be daunting, getting to the start line.  The hours and hours of training, fighting illness, and injury, it takes a toll, on the body and the mind.  Doubts creep in.  In almost all 70.3 training plans, you never do all three distances on the same day.  In other words, you haven't done it all yet, and guess what, its kind of scary, especially if you have been fighting injuries.

As a coach with Team In Training, getting ready for the Nation's Tri, I remember feeling incredible anxiety race weekend.  I got to ask Dave Scott, about coaching versus racing.  He basically said the same thing, that it was harder watching and coaching than racing.  Watching my team of athletes get ready, my heart raced.  I helped them stretch, taped their knees and ankles, gave them all a pep talk, and watched them head for the starting areas.  It was a very tense three hours of racing and watching.

Saturday was different.  One, this was a 70.3 and not an Olympic distance race. Two, I wasn't the coach.  I was the boyfriend, the Sherpa and photographer.  (for the record I'm a terrible photographer)  Yes, this was different.  Oh sure, I could give her some technical advice, and a few tips and try to be her coach, but my heart was pounding as we frantically got her into her wet-suit in the pouring rain.  A kiss for good luck, and I watched her walk into the dark, 65 degree water.  I watched the mass of bodies start swimming, and there's no differentiating who's who anymore.  Now, the hard part, wait!  I pegged her swim time, and when she got out, I was allowed to help her get out of her wet-suit.  I snap a few photos of her in transition, much to her chagrin, another quick pep talk, a kiss, and send her on her way on the 56 mile bike ride.  Time to WAIT, again.

I've been on those 56 mile bike legs.  Alone with your bike and the asphalt.  A lot can happen, and its a long time on the bike.  Valerie and I are waiting, trying to figure out when our friends will be in off the bike.  I turn the car's heater on and trying to dry my soaking wet clothes, and we talk and snack on whatever I have in the car.

13.1 Miles to go... NO PROBLEM
The riders are coming back into transition and we are looking for our friends.  We see Margie come back in and Val takes off to chase her down on the run.  When I see Kari pulling up, I finally start to breathe again.  She's well within the cut offs, and has plenty of time to finish.  Another few transition photos and she's off on the final leg her 70.3 mile adventure.  I see her and Megan, catch up to each other, and they are now going to make sure they finish this together!

Mile 7, Kari tells, me:  "It hurts!"  I look at her, and see real pain on her face, but I also see a look of shear determination.  She's doing it!

Its awesome seeing athletes like this.  Pushing themselves beyond what they thought were their limits.

Dave, Mike, Rob, Kari, Margie
The finish line is a sacred place.  Being there watching everyone cross it you can't help but be excited.  I'm proud to have been there with everyone.

Words cannot describe how I felt seeing Kari come across that line. I'm especially grateful to her for letting me be a part her big day.

Oh yes I have got that feeling, and I am SO ready to get back into race shape!

Wearing an ice pack but also a finishers medal!