What was your best (or worst) ever race?
I have a lot of great race memories that stand out for different reasons. I don’t know if I could pick a best (or even a worst race) out of all of them. For me, a sign of a good race was whether or not I hyperventilated as I approached the finish line because I was choking back tears of joy. Seriously. I seem to do it in all the milestone races. My first marathon. The Goofy Challenge. Augusta 70.3. Finishing the bike leg going into T2 at my first triathlon.
My first triathlon ranks up there as one of my best race memories because it was something that was a stretch for me at that point. I had been swimming with a masters group for several years and always admired the triathlon contingent on the team. I thought they were a little nuts because they would dry off and then head out for a run after the morning practice. There were even people in the group that would run to the pool from home, do the swim workout and then run home. Things that now seem perfectly normal or a good use of time seemed entirely too hard core for me to process back then. These ladies looked like triathletes too. The kind of people you might see in an advertisement. All that added up to things that I believed to be way out of reach for me. At the time, I wasn’t running at all. I was swimming for exercise and that was it. After running entered my world in 2008, I began to think that maybe a triathlon was possible.
Fast forward to June 2008. I was a little nervous but not too out of control. There were two waves to the swim, those who were comfortable swimming and those who were not. I went with the first group. My first open water swim and my first experience with a mass start all rolled into one. All I remember from that swim was in the very beginning some guy pushed me down and swam right over the top of me. A little unnerving. In no time, the swim was over and I was making my way to the bike.
I don’t remember much of anything about the bike leg other than the finish. I do know I had hardly ridden the bike at all before the race and by ‘hardly’ I mean maybe 5 miles TOTAL. I knew how to change the gears for the most part but that was it. To say I was nervous about this ride would not even begin to describe it. I remember hyperventiliating BIG TIME coming into the bike finish. I was so excited that I had done it. I didn’t even care what happened on the run at that point. To finish the bike leg was the big win of the day.
At the finish of the run I remember seeing CR at the top of the last hill shouting at me to run faster. (He apparently had not gotten the memo that I was simply trying to finish and did not have any designs on winning this thing). A short distance later, I was crossing the line of my first triathlon. I ended up coming in 2nd in my age group which was why CR was trying to get me to run faster I suppose. At the time, I had no idea where I stood nor did I really care all that much. I truly just wanted to finish.
Even with that feeling of accomplishment, I didn’t really feel bitten by the tri bug back then because the bike intimidated me (perhaps if I had ridden it once in a while that wouldn't have been an issue...). I did one more tri a few weeks later in 2008 and then took a break of several years before diving head first into the sport in 2011. Once I got over the nervousness on the bike, it was game on!
I am still nowhere near the league of those ladies from my masters group who are nothing short of bad a@@ but I have had my own form of success I suppose. I caught up with one of them in a half marathon a few months ago and she congratulated me on the ironman. I thanked her and told her it was still surreal for me and I was surprised I finished it. She said, “I’m not surprised at all”. I can’t even tell you how much that meant to me.
Your turn... What was your best (or worst) race experience?