When I wrote up the weekend's race report, I didn't touch upon one significant point. This was my first Olympic Distance. I completed it which is what I set out to do. The win really was gravy.
Last year, I spent the first 2/3 of the year pulling myself out of a deep fitness and injury hole that I had dug the previous year. I did not see my first triathlon of the season until August and within 6 weeks, I had completely unraveled. I completed the first race (a sprint) as planned, downgraded the second race from Olympic to sprint, then DNS my next three races. Two sprints, one TT, and two 5Ks were all I managed for the year.
Going into this race, I had the recollection of downgrading or DNSing the last four Olympic Distance races I entered (and one other DNS from 2010). I had been trying to do this distance for so long and each time, I had failed to make it to the starting line. Each failure built up a stigma in my mind, making this distance (and all longer distances) seem absolutely impossible.
Shoehorning a race into the middle of a braiding week is always tricky. I have never attempted a major race while braiding and only attempted a few minor races over the years (a 5K in 2009- my first, a 5K in 2010, a 4mi TT and a 5K in 2011). Doing this meant that the day before the race I would go for 29 hours with nothing but a 2 hour nap and the day of the race would be a 24 hour event, with only one chance at sleep between the two. As the race got closer, the little details like hotel reservations, wet suit rentals, shifting action on the bike all started to unravel. I was genuinely worried that I would have another failed attempt at this distance.
The last few days before the race, all I was doing was running like mad to put out all the little fires that were cropping up. This trend continued right into the race and all the way to the finish.... and beyond. In retrospect, it may have helped. By the time I got to the race, I felt like I was so far from prepared that there was nothing left to do but put my head down and push through. So I did.
And guess what? The finish line showed up right on schedule.
All the stigma surrounding the distance is now gone AND I proved to myself that I can get it done even when it seems like every detail has fallen apart. Going forward, racing can be a more natural element of my crazy life. That's good because as fast as my situation changes, survival and success are ultimately dependent on one critical quality.... Adaptability.