ANOTHER BREAKTHROUGH! A PODIUM FINISH!!!
I registered for this race at the last minute so I could attend the Acceptance Day Parade at West Point for the New Cadets – particularly “my” new cadets Nia & Kelsey, Class of 2019. I was originally scheduled to do the 10th Annual Columbia Iron Girl, but seeing my cadets was more important. Besides, Nia’s mom, Danielle, AND Nia were racing so – PERFECT!
My faithful Spectathlete, The FireMarshall, drove me up to West Point and we stayed with our classmate & Nia’s Sponsor Mom, KarenW’s place. Let me just say that Karen is badass – she signed up to do the Tri as well for grins and giggles. Just Wow!
We had a full day on Saturday of Parade, Diversity & Inclusion Picnic, Packet Pickup and whatnot.
The whatnot turned out to be allegedly a short easy ride from Karen’s house on post and back – about 8 – 10 miles; however, I didn’t bring my ID with me so we couldn’t get on post. Karen was all like well we will just ride out to Garrison and back. I shrug…okay…sounds good to me (not knowing what that really means). What that meant was riding down 9W, across Bear Mountain Bridge, and up 9D to Garrison. Now, I have ridden on roads with traffic – like an occasional couple of cars on my country roads on the Hills of Howard County – but not like interstate highway kind of traffic. Karen was rolling along, jumping her bike over obstacles & potholes as if there wasn’t a care in the world. I’m trying to keep up with her; shrieking constantly as I tried to not lose control as cars & trucks blew past me and trying so hard not to just break down and cry. Finally, she felt pity for me as we stopped at her friends house. I wanted to kiss the ground when I got off the bike, but I wouldn’t have looked like the badass I thought I was – AT ALL.The FireMarshall was summoned and we went to dinner at a wonderful restaurant called Riverside for our Pre-race dinner. It took two beers to get my nerves settled.
Sunday – Race Day
Here is the race crew with the Superintendent of the United States Military Academy, LTG Robert Caslen (Yes! He raced as well). We got all set up in transition and then waited around for the swim waves to kick off.
SWIM 800m – (28:03) –
I stood on the beach area of the lake looking at all the people in the purple caps of my swim wave and realized that they grouped the Athena’s with the children – like the 18-21 youngsters. All the fluffy chicks – 6 of us – gathered round cause we stood out in this wave like bowling balls next to the pins. It gave me a chance to peruse the Athena’s all at once and I decided right then and there that I was going to stay ahead of 3 of them and that was gonna be that!
The swim itself was uneventful in itself, I felt good and was cruising along but I lost significant time on the return as we were swimming into the sun and even with my tinted goggles, I couldn’t see a damn thing. It was so bright AND the sun was reflecting off the water. Finally, I just decided to follow in the middle of the pack and sight way more often than I usually do. Then there was the lakeweeds…ewwwwaaaahhh. Just keep moving…and I was out!
Now…I screwed up a little and got lost in transition trying to find my bike. See…usually, my bike is like one of the only ones still in transition so – yeah – count the number of racks from swim in and there it is. Ummm…see I rolled into transition and there was a gazillion bikes still there. I found my rack but then ran up and down cause I couldn’t see my bike. I just wasn’t accustomed to having bikes around – UNPREPARED for that I was. Found it and moved out. T1 – a #pathetic 3:23
BIKE – 14 miles (1:01:39) -
I forgot how long the climbs are and how many of them there are on this course…but the downhills though! I knocked 7 mins off my bike time from 2 years ago. WINNING! I knew 2 of the Athena’s were still back in the water or transition and one got out right before me, but I chased her down on the bike. When I passed her, she screamed NOOOOOOOO!!!! I said something encouraging and then it became my mission to put as much distance between me and her on the bike so there was no way that, even if I walked the damn run, she (or the other two still behind me) could catch and pass. I knew that 3rd place was in the bag as long as I didn’t let up.
RUN – 3.1 miles (47:16) -
Tough hilly run, but I was determined. I just kept it moving and I didn’t see the last 3 Athena’s until I had about one mile left and they were just starting out. There is a joy; an elation that I can’t describe when you KNOW, that you are going to get to stand on the podium for the first time in years of racing. I felt empowered…so I ran.
It couldn’t have happened at a better place or a better race for me. At my Alma Mater! I was home and I conquered! Four years of racing – and for those that have followed me all these years – four years of fear, doubt, uncertainty, drama, injury. Still, there was four years of perseverance, dedication and overcoming…then culminated in a perfect day.
Will it always turn out like this for me? A podium finish. Maybe, maybe not. What it will always turn out be is JOY and ACCOMPLISHMENT in a job well done.