"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
Given the historical grounds for which the REV3 Wiliamsburg happened it only seems right to start with a quote from Theodore Roosevelt, US President from 1901-1909 for this race report.
This season has not been easy. Challenges have mounted and after Eagleman two weeks ago I really wondered if I would ever see a break where my hard work, sweat and maybe even a few tears would be rewarded. A few incredible people helped me get to the start line in Virginia. After listening to my concerns Rob Orange provided the wise council to get on with it, race, stop thinking and just get the job done. Mark Cathcart was another reaffirming support. And Dan - he had no idea but watching Brene Brown TED talk on YouTube with him, listening to this quote, listening to her talk about shame gave me the resolve to dare greatly and put myself out there again to either fail or succeed. I would rather be in the Arena.
The course is ideal for a first time half ironman person that is comfortable in the water. The swim is in the James River and one has to work against a tide which can be hard and favours those that understand how to "feel the water". The bike is beautiful, rolling along small local roads that are mostly in impeccable condition. The run is two loops, one short but steepish hill with lots of opportunity to see your fans and support team.
The swim is tough for the reason that running out for at least 1 minute, doing dolphin dives again and again before you hit a place where you can swim faster than dive is really anaerobic. It reminded me of a full-on ITU race start. They hurt. I managed though and sat behind Lauren until the first buoy where I made a break and did not look back. I remember thinking as I passed the marker buoys that it took a REALLY long time to actually pass it. I had to even employ my kick for the swim! The result was a not so fast 30:39.
The bike was relatively smooth and I found my own rhythm and went with it. Lauren Goss took off much faster than I wanted to go and knew I could sustain in the heat. Margaret Shapiro passed me at mile 18 and I never got close to her again. I eventually passed Lauren again gaining a little time on her into T2. I completed the course in 2:24:29. I was in second.
Then the run. Oh the RUN! That small 13.1 miles at the end of EVERY triathlon! Imagine that. At Eagleman I suffered from asthma so I started to take Singular again to help me before this race. I also took an anti-histimine to prevent any possible allergic reaction to the pollen. The run still proved to be hard for me. I felt ok in the first loop but after passing the transition and onto the second loop I apparently went into another world where I ignore all things including huge arrows to turn left. I think I had closed my eyes even. So YES I added extra to the course! How dumb I know. That is exactly what I thought. So there I was asking the police where everyone went... he kindly told me to turn around and get back on course. Uggh. So I ran back, turned where I was supposed to and then proceeded to tell myself that if I lost a placing to that error I was going to be REALLY mad at me. I didn't want to be mad so I tried harder. I employed all my mental strategies of counting, race mottos, phrases... they got me to the end. Heat/humidity, tripping and falling (yes I also did that), going off course, - I made it. Fourth overall despite a less than stellar run. 1:37:57 That is almost a record for me in the wrong direction! Doh.
Brene Brown also said in her TED talk to not wait to kick ass when we are bullet proof and perfect. It's not going to happen. I am in the Arena fighting because yes I belong there. I am honoured to be on the start line with such incredible women, to be part of a race like REV3 where people are daring greatly to be better. I would have it no other way. Onto the next one!
Special thanks to my homestay Tricia and the family that made preparing for my race SOO much fun. And of course thanks to the REV3 family - you know I am a HUGE fan! See you in Maine!
10. Race is accessible to two airports (Norfolk and Richmond) and only a 2.5 hour drive from Washington D.C. It took me a full day and a half but I had to take numerous drives, a ferry, a plane and include an over night stay - I saved over $500 that way though so not complaining!
9. College of William and Mary. I have learnt that here in the USA that people are very connected to their college. Here in Williamsburg the College of William and Mary as prestigious as it is beautiful. T2 is right in the middle of the college and we run through it - very cool.
8. Good Shopping. Ok this may be a little high on the rankings but when I saw that Williamsburg, a town of only 15,000 had a Trader Joes, I, like any foodie Canadian would, got excited. Who wouldn't when you can get dark chocolate nutty bits to consume while preparing to race!
7. Williamsburg is steeped in history. For anyone even remotely interested in America's history, Colonial Williamsburg is a place to see. You can visit the reconstructed colonial town or head out to Jamestown (the swim start!). We also ride the roads that have memorial plaques of places or people.
6. Pinto Chiropractor Care. Another one that may be specific to me but let me tell you that I was VERY grateful to Dr. Pinto who fixed my back. It was just a wee bit out of alignment and he got me sorted! So it in Williamsburg and you need to access great care - they have it! See Dr. Pinto in New Town.
5. Recovery Boots. When you are preparing for or completing a race you got to get into recovery boots that happen to be at the Rev3 Expo. They are the bomb for starting back on the road to recovery. And no I am not sponsored by Normatec or Recovery Pump. Yet.
4. Sean English - Announcer extraordinaire. If you look in a dictionary for energy - it's Sean's face you see. He loves his job, loves Rev3 and the team and when you cross the line I think Sean is just as happy as you are. It is a wonderful welcome after a long day racing! He definitely is a guy that will bring a smile to your face.
3. The People of Williamsburg. My homestay rocks - creme brulee french toast this morning with fresh strawberries, blueberries and bananas. Really? Ok so not all of you can stay at Tricia's house, my homestay, but I think that she is probably pretty representative of the awesome people who make up this town. From the triathletes I have met at the pool to those at the expo and around town, there is always a super nice hello and friendly smile.
2. Amazing route choice and perfect signage. I have done A LOT of races across North America and beyond and I can honestly say that this is a beautiful course with perfect small rural roads and at times super fast but still scenic two lane highway. And you can't get lost with the infamous coloured taping job that Rev3 does. By far the BEST signing around!
The top reason to race in Williamsburg is because it is put on by REV3. I am a huge fan of Rev3 ever since Rev3 Anderson and my experiences there. They put on races that mean something to the community and are about community. I asked my homestay what was special about this race in comparison to others they have done and they said - it's so PRO! From the organization, the expo, the things to do around the race, the finish line, the placard with YOUR name, they have thought of it all.... and who else does this!
Looking forward to racing tomorrow! See you on the other side!
Originally this race report was rather depressing to read. It started “This is a hard one to write. It is hard because I wanted the story to have a different ending. I didn't want to have to say at the end – getting back up on my feet, sure I will learn something from this or that I am stronger for this experience. The truth is that I am just not sure I am.”
Two days later, talking to good, wise friends I have been able to put the race in perspective. This race was not indicative of where I am at. It was a bad day. They happen. You can't take the highs to high and lows to low. I will not over-think this race and start re-evaluating everything I do. I will move on to the next one in my schedule and prepare like I know how and put myself on the start line with commitment to performance. That is what I do. That is my job.
I did everything right for this race. Was prepared, didn't over-train into it, got a brilliant massage before I left, ate well, didn't work too hard on other “stuff” and stayed relaxed. Race day was perfect. We made it through flash floods and tornado warnings only days earlier to clear blue sky and hot, humid temperatures.
The swim (27:29): Other than absolutely cooking in my wetsuit in the balmy 75F water (just wetsuit legal) I had a pretty straight forward effort. I came out of the water in fourth. I was on my own after I lost the feet ahead of me. Easy sighting, went from buoy to buoy and ran easily into transition.
The bike (2:22:18) : I knew I had the power to manage this course. It is flat and fast and I have the mental tenacity to never let up. That is exactly what I did. I pushed a steady power, managed to keep an easy rhythm of breathing, ate right, drank lots. This race I got rid of the second aero bottle as in the past two races it just annoyed me how it rattled around despite doing some serious securing with velcro and elastic bands. I was not going to loose a place or 20 seconds to stupid things or distractions in this race. Nothing was going to keep me from my game. The fact is you simply can't do better than an internal bladder in the Shiv. That simple. Mentally I broke the race up into chunks – 20 minute efforts or to catch the person ahead. I reeled in first Parker, then Bennett. I focused on a full pedal stroke and cadence. Felt strong and fast!
At 50 miles I was shocked to see Meredith Kessler on the ground. She was unconscious. There were several people around her so I kept going but it was a battle to push on. It is shocking and puts things into perspective in a big way.
I came into transition second with Parker and Bennett on my tail. Solid and with a smile.
Photos of the Very FLAT and FAST course.
The run: From the first mile I felt like something was not right. I immediately had to slow to keep my breath somewhere near normal and in control. In come my positive thinking, reminding myself to keep my turn-over up, that I was doing well. I did the Peter Reid check and problem solve scenario – nutrition all good, electrolytes, water, keep cool and do not panic- understand the physiological needs and do not get emotional. The fact is that I sometimes struggle to breathe. I know exactly what an asthma reaction is. And that is simply what happened. High pollen and humidity were the unfortunate triggers. When I run the problem is accentuated 10-fold.
I stopped twice in the last few miles. I actually walked backwards off the course but age-groupers kept telling me not to quit. One fellow said – you can do anything for two miles, another said – just finish. This is as they were just starting their run. So I turned around, thought again about Meredith, all the age-group athletes accomplishing their goals, their race and to honor them I finished the race.
This lifestyle is so rewarding and yet so cruel at times. We hope, we dream, we strive for excellence but sometimes we fall short of the goal. I will get back up. I was reminded this morning how rewarding patience is. Everything really does happen in the way and in the time it should. Trust it. That is what I will do. Back to work I go.
Welcome to my blog where I share my perspective as coach and experiences as an athlete. Enjoy!