There is just something about race morning. I don’t know what it is. The thrill of racking your bike. When you hear your name called and it’s someone you haven’t seen in person in over a year. You know, those people you only see at races. Sometimes, at these local races, I don’t know whether I am at a race or a family reunion (the kind where you love your family)!
It’s been two years since the Keuka Lake Triathlon has been held, and typically I am the race announcer. This year I decided to toe the line and Lindsey rocked you all morning long. She was great!
As much as I love that side of the mic, it’s this side of it I love most.
I loved the feeling of toeing another starting line with Kim. The days of me catching her on the bike are shrinking, and I love it. It’s the honor of a lifetime to be the target, and one I don’t take lightly. It’s even better when you are the target of classy athletes.
Although we were in seperate races we started together. Kim was racing the intermediate tri and I the aquabike. My injury is coming along really nicely, my days of forcing and building too much too soon are long behind me. With aquabkie now a n event (it is at nationals and worlds even), it has been wonderful to be able to officially compete as my injury heals. I am swimming and cycling well right now and I was hoping today I would be able to feel it.
The swim was a two loop swim that started with immediate chop. I loved it. A bit of a grind until we made the first turn, I just relaxed, took quality strokes and didn’t fight the water. That’s all you can do. When you hit the turn, that’s when you start to work it. Water like that can be a mental game and the trick is to keep your thoughts simple. For me, I count to 8 over and over. It prevents me from going anywhere else.
I came out of the water a minute or so behind Kim, and set off to catch her. I estimated over the 40 K course it’d take me about 30 min. So I went hunting.
Gosh I loved this course. I forgot how much I loved it. Rolling hills, a few turnarounds that allowed me to see some of our athletes and friends, and a long sloping climb in the middle.
I caught Kim around 30 min, and she looked phenomenal. 20 years my junior, 5 years of friendship (and coaching), I love training and training with her. We just work well together. As I passed her Blair came and passed us both, taking the women’s lead.
From there it was just more awesome. I felt strong. It was windy and you know how I love the wind. Just as I did in Texas I treated the wind and the climbs like grief. You can allow grief to knock you over, knock you around, or you can let it help you fly. I chose fly.
Dad’s signature pendant was around my neck and as I descended those hills I thought “Dad won’t let anything happen to you. Full send!”. I felt so much freedom.
Everyone there was amazing. Competitors who support one another, volunteers and race crews who smiled and helped everyone get to their respective finish lines, spectators that brought their A games. It just felt like sunshine.
I was able to come across the finish line first for the women (and men) for the aquabike, and it felt good. It felt even better to be racing with quality human beings. Dad instilled the value of sportsmanship in us and that was always more important than podiums and performances. Everyone had it down that day.
It’s been six months since Dad died. I am doing well … I think. I am in grief therapy. I am moving daily. I am still grief training but it’s starting to take shape. One of the things I did, that’s new, is I established boundaries. Maybe even for the first time in my life. I realize that I can connect with the people who resonate with me, and I don’t have to connect with those who don’t. I don’t have to be everything to everyone all the time.
I used to really pride myself on being the busiest person alive. Working, parenting, coaching, training all almost equally. It bled me dry. If I have learned one thing in the course of this year, it’s the value of time, space and staying close to the people who feel like the brightest lights in the world.
It was a great day, not because of performance or podium. But because of the people.
As I sit back and start to figure out what adventure is next, I am wondering. My injury has taken me out of a fall IMCHOO, and I don’t mind a bit. So what next?
I have broken 11 hours in an Ironman, raced elite, qualified for Kona 3 times, gone to a bunch of 70.3 World Championships. There are so many adventures that await and I don’t feel limited or even pulled towards 140.6 these days. There’s more.
So as I keep moving forward, I am just going to keep moving forward. I am continuing to heal, continuing to cultivate relationships, and just keep figuring this world without Dad, out.
As I have said before, there is deep beauty in grief. There are lessons, there are amazing people here, there is incredible growth, and there is even healing. Thank you for staying this course with me, thank you for listening, and for all the gifts that you continue to bless me with, none of them material.
See you on that start line again soon.