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It’s been a great season. I have loved every race, every finish, and every lesson it’s brought me. I have considered this season a rebuilding season in hopes of a higher performance one next year. I get to be 50, and I truly can’t wait.
In July I found out that I got into Survival of The Shawangunks (SOS). It’s a stage race down in in New Paltz NY and according to the website, “The Survival of the Shawangunks (SOS) was created by Don Davis, a veteran Triathlete and founder of the New York Triathlete Association. The first official running of the SOS was in 1983. The SOS course was previously run by Don and friends as a training course to prepare for Ironman. The SOS is an eight stage triathlon held in New Paltz, NY every September. Consistently ranked among the best adventure triathlons in the world, and among the most scenic, the SOS has become so popular the event sells out in minutes. Fewer than 200 athletes get to compete each year on the scenic highways circling the northern ridge of the Shawangunk Mountain Range and through Minnewaska State Park for a combination run/swim journey through some of America’s most beautiful cross-country trails and spring fed lakes.”
I have been on the waitlist for this race for a million years, and luckily, with two early season 70.3 races under my belt, I was already ready. My coach Jessica quickly pivoted with me to Plan B, we deferred Ironman Chattanooga and I started planning. The biggest challenge was going to be the gear, and figuring out a system that worked good for me.
About ten days ago I thought I strained my soleus, and I thought I would have to withdraw. I switched to the elliptical and got an appointment with my Physical Therapist.
I walked out of that appointment perplexed. There was no injury that she could find. I passed every test: strength, balance, range of motion, and most of all, we could not replicate the pain. So here I was, for the second time in 2 years with a potential injury that had no etiology. My previous injury was attributed to grief and even diagnosed as “Inflammation related to grief”.
Was this happening again?
Last time I backed off, switched to Aquabike for the season and took a year to completely rebuild my run. I am up to 25 miles a week and am starting to finally see some gains. Now this.
I decided that this time I was going to fight for it. Just like I initially backed off the situation surrounding my Dad’s death, but then I decided to fight for it. Jess pointed out that this pain started near the anniversary of when he got sick. She was right.
So I fought for it. I switched to elliptical and I started load bearing slowly. No pain.
I just got a new bike, and I wanted to race it once before SOS, so Curt and I headed to Lake George. I had never raced here before but I have heard so many good things. I decided to race in the olympic aquabike just to save my legs as SOS is one week later.
What. A Venue. What a race. What a course.
I love hilly, hard bike courses. I don’t often preview them either because I know how to read a course as it comes, and that’s one of my strengths. It’s also something I work on developing. My target for this race was to hone my course reading skills on a new bike, climb hard, corner hard, descend hard. And I did.
The swim was gorgeous and I felt pretty good the whole way. I did come into this at the end of a build. I was tired. I have slept terribly this week for a variety of reasons. But for me being tired isn’t an excuse, it’s an opportunity. You don’t have to feel good to execute a race well. Executing a race well sometimes means winning, it sometimes means coming in last. I don’t put much weight on the end result. I put all the weight on the process.
When I am racing it’s my chance to be 100% present. When I race I don’t think about anything. I was that kid in school who was scolded for staring out the window. In swimming I was a distance swimmer, and when you are a distance swimmer you have a counter, you don’t even have to count your lengths! You can just space out.
As a kid I would often attach my self worth to my swim times. If I didn’t hit XX then I was worthless. A loser. Dad nipped that in the bud real quick. He taught me to seperate them. I was the queen of feeling. I don’t need a pace clock to tell you my 100 yard repeat when I touch the wall. If I was doing 10 x 100 I could tell you my time without even looking. I learned how to feel. Often times I allowed data to pull me away from my intuition, but in recent years I have found it again. It is something I treasure.
The Lake George Olympic Bike course was just amazing. I am very picky about bike courses. It’s how I choose a race. My limit is 2 loops. You won’t see me on a bike course that’s 3-4 loops. It’s just too dangerous, even if it’s closed. To have one loop, was a dream. We were spaced out enough that we could race, but drafting wasn’t an issue, and newer cyclists weren’t in danger of veterans hauling by.
It took me a good 10 miles to warm up on the bike. I stayed patient and allowed myself to roll with the course. The new bike handled like a dream. I felt like it was tailor made for me. I shited hard at times just to see. I cornered hard, it responded. It felt perfect.
When I race I love to find that place where I am on the edge of my skis, just about to lose them. For me that has nothing to do with time or pace or placing. It’s a feeling. I love that red line. Sometimes I go way over it and blow all the way up. Sometimes I am too timid. But today I got it just right. I don’t berate myself when that doesn’t happen, and I don’t get too excited when it does. But man I love it and I equally love the lessons I learn when I am searching for it.
I was able to win the aquabike overall for the men and women. For that I was very grateful. That’s always just the icing on the cake. I was more excited that I worked with and through fatigue. I played the cards that I had today and I stayed in the present moment. I gave it my all and I had fun along the way. That’s a bigger success than a win.
This is a must do race. If it were up to me, this course would host Nationals. It’s that good. There was an abundance of race crew, volunteers and every intersection had two police officers. It was so well run.
I will be back!
We are ready to go for SOS. I am in need for a big taper week and it’s on deck. I do really well with a short steep taper.
One of the things I look forward to when I am competing at SOS is, I will be totally off the grid. No race day timing. I won’t even wear a watch. It’s said to be the most beautiful course ever and I can’t wait to be there, and experience this iconic event.
One hundred percent present, sharing the course with people who love this stuff as much as I do. It hasn’t gotten old after 26 years. In fact it gets richer every year.