Many times I sit down to write post-race, it is positive; describing a result I worked hard for, how it all went down, and walk through a race experience I’m proud of; even if it wasn’t the perfect race. Well it isn’t all roses, the human body is not a machine, and this blog is not the former. It’s just the facts; and this past weekend in San Juan, my body was shit.
I envisioned the three weeks between Philippines and San Juan a perfect time to put in around 10 very solid days of training. Suffice to say things don’t always go according to plan. I came down with what seemed to be a minor cold upon the return; almost worse in that it was minor enough I ‘could’ train, I didn’t feel the need to see a doctor, but the workouts were up and down (one day I nailed it, the next day crummy). I pinned it on allergies but I’m fairly certain it was allergies turned cold. The week of San Juan, it seemed to ease up; but the final few days, even with a good load of recovery, my legs felt heavy; right into race day. I tried to stay optimistic; we’ve all had times that our bodies surprise us. But the gun sounded, and it felt like I had a lead weight on me. I pushed on, feeling a bit better in the swim as I went, but onto the bike, it was a struggle from the start. It felt as if my body was working against me. As we rounded the first loop about Mile 30, I debated going straight and coming back in. But I went to that usual place of ‘no, keep going; the legs may come around’. Into the final half of the ride, and they never did. I was uncomfortable in the way that you don’t seek to be in a race; not because I was pushing the envelope, but because my body wasn’t letting me even get close. I then felt something go down my top; reached down, pulled out a bee and got stung right in the center of my chest. When I realized I had gotten stung, I proceeded to wish I would have an allergic reaction and be taken off course. (I later removed the stinger about 2 hours later; looked like a splinter!). The final few miles we hit a couple of overpasses, which felt like mountains. I knew this was not good. The worst part was coming into T2 and having the debate with myself to run or not. I dismounted, slowly put my running shoes on, and exited. Seeing Derick about ¼ mile into the run, I lost it. He told me to step off course.
I don’t take these things lightly. Simply put, it fucking sucks. It’s frustrating as hell. But I know my body well and I knew it was not working for me on the day. Could I have run 13 miles? Of course, we can do a lot of things. Was it the smartest call at the time? I just didn’t feel it was. We all have to make these decisions at times. There is the whole debate “Pros who drop out of races; good or bad?” You know what I’ve learned over the years? We can never judge from afar what another person is going through. We also cannot worry about what people think; it isn’t healthy, and it isn’t fair to ourselves. The whole “never quit” philosophy? It sounds great; quite inspiring; but in reality, these are our bodies; they are not machines, and we must know our limits. In 2009 I was attempting my first Ironman in Canada. I had what seemed a mild flu going into it but I toed the line, albeit feeling weak. Halfway into the bike, I was brought to a halt with stabbing pain in my abdomen. I soldiered on, started the run, belly protruding; I made it 6 miles in 1.5 hours. I heard people cheering “Keep going! One foot in front of the other! You can do it! KEEP RUNNING!” I finally stopped, laid down alongside the road, and was taken to medical. We later found out, I was likely having a gallbladder attack. I’m glad I stopped the race that day. ‘Death before DNF?’…as catchy as this is, I think I prefer ‘Life to fight another day’.
It is easy to analyze, over-analyze; question your decisions. But it isn’t necessarily healthy. Accept it, learn from it, and move forward. Look at things in context. We are our own harshest critic. The way I see it, this was a blip in a very big picture. There are more opportunities ahead. And that is a the great thing about life; it keeps on moving, and it is up to us if we want to move with it or dwell on the past.
I want to thank those who have stood by me and continue to do so, through the ups and the downs. Memorial Hermann, Zoot, Hops & Grain, Road ID, Profile Design, Felt, Recovery Pump, Rudy Project, ISM, Jack & Adams, Nulo, Endurance Shield, Durata Training, and most recently SRAM, Zipp, Quarq and JSM Rodan & Fields. Your support is appreciated in countless ways.
My husband Derick sent me this quote awhile back and I keep it on hand, and read it often.
I have always struggled to achieve excellence.
One thing that cycling has taught me is that if you can achieve
something without a struggle
it’s not going to be satisfying. (Greg Lemond)
Amen, brother. I’ve found in the past, after some of the most frustrating struggles, have come some of my greatest achievements. Head up, eyes forward, and down the road we go.