Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Race That Didn't Happen For Me

There comes a first time for everything I suppose. Not finishing a race has never happened to me and I hoped it never would. Certainly I have considered not finishing a race at times but I've always fought through those thoughts and been able to will myself to stay in it. That was not the case at Rev3 Knoxville last weekend. I do not regret my decision to race or to quit the race. It was a decision that I made based on circumstances at the time. I also think it was a valuable learning experience for me.

The weekend itself was awesome! It was wonderful to see my Rev3 family - staff and teammates! As always the Rev3 crew took good care of us as athletes and of course as team members. My teammates were as fun as ever as well as understanding and supportive. I really don't think I would have gotten  through the situation as well without them and of course my biggest cheerleader and husband Steve. I'd like to say thank you to all of them for the support.

Happy to see Carole Sharpless aka Mama Bear
The rain was falling Saturday afternoon as we arrived at the expo and it never stopped through the weekend. Steve and I headed into the Rev3 expo to pick up our race packets, my new team kit and my new team kit, which is sweet! We bumped into a number of the Rev3 staff including race director Eric, team manager extraordinnaire Carole aka mama bear, The man Charlie himself, Laura, Ashley, etc. In timing we were greeted by Tim, Jordan and we bumped into Holly and Lauren all from Team Rev3. It was great to see so many friendly faces! After attending the athlete meeting we headed to the transition area to check in our bikes and check out the swim start.

The 2013 Team Rev3 Kit
Following that we were starved and headed to get a bite to eat at Calhoun's on the River for some tasty barbecue and a pint of beer. After this late lunch Steve and I checked in at the Holiday Inn, which was the host hotel. We got our transition bags packed up and ready and drove the bike course. I tried on my new team kit and it fit great. We ordered a pizza, had a beer and snuggled up to watch a movie and turned in early for some quality prerace zzz's.

Race Morning:


Some of the Rev3 Girls prerace
We woke up to rainy, cold conditions. The temperature of the river was somewhere between 58-59 degrees and the air 52 degrees (brrr) were not ideal conditions to race in. Steve and I got up around 6am and started getting ready, ate breakfast and headed out for the walk in the rain to transition at 7:15. We cut it a little bit close as we had to be out of transition by 7:45 for the oly but we wanted to stay warm as long as possible. In transition we setup and my rack was shared by teammates Chloe and Heather. A number of other teammates including Kristin and Jill were around too.

Walking over to the swim start was a little bit of a stroll. I had decided to wear my never used new Full wetsuit since it was so cold along with some ear warmers. My feet were freezing as we walked on the paved trail toward the start in front of Calhoun's. Once we got down there time seemed to fly by. Before I knew it I was kissing Steve and telling him goodluck and his wave was off. We were next!

Swim Start:

When I jumped in I really didn't have time to warm up and acclimate to the cold water. I just cannon balled in and we were off as it was a deep water start. Those deep water starts are not my favorite to begin with. I positioned myself in the middle, which I don't normally do. I usually head to one side. We started and after maybe 100 or 200 m I gulped in some water and pulled my head up to see what was going on. I lost my noseplugs!  I am a terrible swimmer sans noseplugs. Shit I thought to myself this is not good! I tried to freestyle a little longer but panicked a little and came up only to be hit in the shoulder pretty hard. This stunned me a little so I backtracked a little to one of the kayaks to hang on for a minute. I tried to swim a little but without the plugs it was not going to happen. The nice lady kayaker tracked down some noseplugs for me and I was off or so I thought. I swam another few hundred meters only to find out I went around the wrong buoy. It just wasn't my day. When I learned I would have to swim back up against the current in that freezing water I just didn't have it in me to do it. I pulled out. It was a tough decision to make. I felt like I just had too much working against me that day. I was pretty upset getting out of the water and was very thankful to see my sweet teammate Holly there. She gave me the biggest hug and I knew it would be alright.

Post Swim:

I walked back to transition and ran into some others who had quit the race including one of my teammates. I was glad to have her company for a while as we both tried to warm up from the cold sitting in her car with the seat warmers on. Once we got out I saw another teammate who had done part of the bike course but did not finish due to the cold. I waited in transition until Steve came in. It took him far longer than usual and I was worried so I was relieved to see he was okay. He looked rough though. His teeth were chattering and he was disoriented. I think he had mild hypothermia. I had him put on a jacket to warm up his body and he asked me to run with him. I ran the 10K with him until just before the finish. It was a soggy, wet run but was nice to be there for him.

Post Race Festivities:

Post race food & beverages with Team Rev3
After showering and getting warmed up we headed out later to meet some teammates at Soccer Taco in Downtown Knoxville for Mexican food and drinks to celebrate Cinco de Maya. It was a blast. I have the best teammates ever. Leaving the restaurant we actually had a short window with no rain so we decided to walk. We found a cute little Craft beer market and stopped in for a few minutes.

Heading back to the hotel we ran into Mirinda "Rinny" Carfrae - one of my favorite female triathletes. She was super nice to talk to and she really lifted my spirits. Later that night we headed out again for a little while to enjoy another beverage with the team. It was really hard to leave because I knew I wouldn't see them again until Williamsburg in late June. Despite the day's challenges and disappointments it was still a good day. I learned that it's okay to fail as long as you try but to never try is not an option. I may have failed the race but there are many more opportunities to race this year and after all I am not getting paid to be an athlete. This is a hobby that I love. I need to keep it in perspective. 
I had to get a picture with Rinny!

Have you ever not finished a race? If so, why and how did it make you feel?