Professional athlete and 3-time Ironman champion

On the Road Again

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Well, it’d been a while. This past weekend, I was on the road again. As my race would show….it’d been a while and I was a bit rusty, but in all…..I’ll take it.

I left Wednesday morning for Indianapolis. Packed up and ready to go.



DaveyG was on vacation with his family in the Outer Banks (sorry to miss the trip, but as most triathletes know, summer is a tough time to take vacation). So with no DaveyG, I dialed a cab to take me to the airport. It went something like this:

"Taxi."

"Hello, good morning. I need a cab please."

"Obviously."

Wow, I thought, this woman is a bi&ch. Does she really deserve my business?

"Address is 3 Union Park. Going to the airport."

"What?"

Ooooh. Now you’re really starting to piss me off.

"I said, 3 Union Park. South End. Going to the airport."

"Got it. 33 Union Park."

"No. No. I said……." at which point I decided that this conversation reeked of bad karma and it was time to start over.

Click.

"Hello, Metro Cab. What’s your phone number?"

"XXX-XXX-XXXX"

"Dede? We’ll be right there. Going to the airport?"

Now THAT’S customer service.

Once at the airport, I tried the sneaky curb-side check for the bike. Sometimes a $20, a smile, and just a little flirting to a curb-side dude can go a long way in making that bike fee disappear. Not proud…..just sayin’. As a put on my cutest smile and approached the curb-side check in guy, the first thing he said (clearly not looking at my cute smile) was "Is that a bicycle? Cuz if that’s a bicycle, you gotta take that inside."

Crap.

So I went inside, and with pre-printed boarding pass in hand, went to baggage drop and got my wallet out, prepared to bend over and take whatever they were about to dish out to me. The woman checked my ID and my boarding pass and looked up and smiled and said, "And you have 2 bags to check?" I put up the duffel bag first, which was well underweight (trying to suck up early by being a good passenger.) ….then the bike bag.

Now we practice this at home, me and DaveyG. He’ll ask, "So what’s in the bag?" I practice saying, without hesitation, "Sports equipment."

If it’s a light drill day, DaveyG will let me off there. If it’s not, he’ll proceed.

"What kind of sport equipment?"

"Um…..carbon fiber equipment for aerodynamic testing."

"OK," DaveyG will say, "but next time, without the "um"".

So we practice, but inevitably, when I get to the ticket counter my ass starts to sweat and I just can’t go thru with the lie…..I’m worthless.

So I placed the bike bag on the scale. Weighed in at a svelte 37 lbs. She tagged it, and handed me by bag checks, smiled and said, "Enjoy your flight."

I ran as if my hair was on fire.

Already, hanging up on that taxi bitch was starting to pay off. Positive karma abounds. My luck was changing.

And then I was there.



Logistically, Muncie is not the easiest race in the world to do. You fly to Indy, then it’s quite a drive to Muncie. Assuming you can actually get a hotel in Muncie. At first, I did. But then I read some of the reviews on said hotel.

"OMG, if there is a good review on this hotel, the owner wrote it." And, "I did not feel safe in this hotel. It is frequented by drug dealers and prostitutes who kick in the AC units and use the rooms."

That did it for me. Pretty much everyone has to drive to the race site anyway, so I opted for a hotel room in a lovely town about 20’ away called Winchester, IN. Hotel reviews completely void of any mention of crack heads and hookers. Sign me up.

First, however, I had a swim workout to get done and for the small fee of $6, I took a walk down memory lane. IUPUI Natatorium. Site of my first NCAA Championship team win with Stanford. Also site of my missed 1992 Olympic bid, and my disastrous 1994 World Championship Team trial, which ultimately would be my last competitive splash as a swimmer.



As I stepped out on the pool deck, the memories came rushing back like a tidal wave. I know this sounds cheesy, and I am not proud, but I actually welled up a little. I took a look at "the wall", (they hand paint the name of every Olympian swimmer and diver on that wall) at first in self-pity and just a little bit of loathing that my name wasn’t on there. But as I glanced down the list of names, almost every one of which I knew, I got wondering "I wonder what they are doing now?" Then I thought about where I am now and I thought life wasn’t so bad after all and I took to lane 6 and jumped in.

That pool is gorgeous. Nothing else to say about that. 4,000 glorious long course meters later, it was time to move on to Winchester.

Got checked in to my crack-head-free hotel, had a quick run with some short intervals, and felt surprisingly good. It was 90+ degrees. Really humid and a travel day, and I had no problems hitting my pace, and didn’t feel sluggish at all. Karma.

The next 2 days passed in an awful hurry. A bit of training. Drove the course. It was flat. And full of a whole lot of corn. What does the world do with all that corn? I was quickly reminded by a friend of the obesity problem in our country and its origin in 4 simple words: high fructose corn syrup. (Well, that and maybe a fair amount of laziness, too few gym memberships and way too many McDonalds) Yep. That’s where it all goes; to 30% of America’s ass. But it is awful pretty. I do have to give it that.



So enough banter. The race.

I had some nerves going into the race. 1) I hadn’t raced for a while. 2) I’d been working with a new coach who had changed some things about my training and I had no idea what to expect and 3) my last race experience left me questioning my place in the sport. Let’s be honest…..all that work to walk a 4:40 marathon? 3 times?? Any thinking person would wonder, "What are you doing here?"

So I was nervous. Coach’s orders though, "No negative thoughts tomorrow. From the time you wake up to the end of the race every thought is positive." No negative thoughts? Wow. He might as well have told me to not take a breath during the whole race. I get thru most days with a heavy dose of sarcastic humor. How’s a girl supposed to function if I can’t throw out a self-deprecating jab once in a while? This would be very difficult. Very difficult indeed.

There were a lot of good swimmers in the field, and for once in my life? I was a smart one. I let someone else do the work. Usually I am the mule who goes to the front and gives everyone else a ride. Not this time, sisters. Find someone else to make wake. I settled in and took a nice ride in the swim. It felt easy and while I found myself impatient at times, I know that going to the front in a group of swimmers that strong does me no good. So I sat tight and tried to tell myself how smart I was being (See coach? Positive thoughts.)

On the bike, I’d realized I left 1/3 of my nutrition in my car in a parking lot a mile away. Like I said…..rusty. It dawned on me that this was only my 3rd race of the year. Some unfortunate events, coupled with some more unfortunate events, and the year’s been off to a rough start. Clearly, I was a little rusty. Trying not to dwell in the negative. I called myself a Jack-Wagon just once (a normal day would have been 6 or 7 times, but in an effort to pretend to be positive, I left it at 1), and moved on.

My legs were a bit cranky at the start of the bike. But I convinced myself that it was a long day and that there was lots of time for them to come around. Thankfully, they did.

I spent the entire bike ride alone. There were some pro men amongst us at the front of the women’s race. A few went by me at the start of the bike. I re-passed 3 of them in the second half. With nothing on the horizon except corn, it was hard to stay engaged and motivated. I’d lost sight of the race leader up the road, so I just used my SRM to keep me honest.

Off the bike in 2nd place, I set out the run. Coach’s instructions, "The first mile, super steady. Find your rhythm. Get your legs. Should feel super comfy." Minus the comfy part, I think I nailed it. Though the first mile is a touch hilly, I was feeling OK. At mile 1, the race winner ran by looking like she was running 5:40 pace. I couldn’t even think of keeping pace. No sense lamenting over that which you can’t physically do. So I settled in.

It was hot. Super hot. So I set about to manage my pace and to run my race. Miles 2-7 felt good. Steady. Nutrition was solid. Coach had warned; miles 10-13 will feel like you’re holding on for dear life. In an effort to over-achieve, I got to "dear life" status around mile 8. Triage. Ice, sponges, water, coke, technique, technique, technique. One mile at a time.

By mile 11, I had to affix my line of sight on a stationary point on the horizon to make sure I was still, in fact, moving forward. The last 3 miles felt like 86. But finally; the finishline.

In all, not a perfect race, but a steady, solid race. AND, my first paycheck of the season with a 5th place finish. I’d joked with Smyers that after Texas, I’d adopted a new season goal, "Let me see if I can get thru this year without earning a single paycheck." So far, I’d been off to a good start. But I wrecked it on Saturday. Guess I’ll have to set some new goals.

I’ve gotten a lot of congratulations for my race on Saturday and I appreciate that. I rather think I have gotten more congratulations than I deserve. It wasn’t that great a day. In fact, there is a lot that left a lot to be desired. But it was OK. I can do more, I think. But it was a good, solid, safe day and that beats a crappy day and I think I’d become so accustom to crappy days, that a good day honestly does feel pretty great. Maybe my luck is changing….just a little bit.

2 hours later, I was at the airport. Packed and heading home. No shower, unfortunately. But a new land speed record for time between finish line and airport! Gotta be fast at something……..

Thanks to my sponsors; Saucony, Kestrel, TYR, The University Club of Boston, Fuel Belt, Shimano, Infinit, Cobb Cycling, Oakley, Rev3/Trakkers, Vineyard Vines and all the rest for your patience with me as I’ve gone thru this mid-season transition. And to my most patient husband and BFF, DaveyG; our luck is changing (I hope).

Onward.

Persistence. Determination. Love. The Journey!

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