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Rookie Move #2: IM 70.3 Santa Rosa

Photo courtesy of Higgybaby Photography
My ass has sufficiently healed, so I thought it prime time to divulge a few thoughts from IM 70.3 Santa Rosa nearly 2 weeks ago. No, the use of my fingers really does not depend on the status of my saddle sores, but they do type what my brain chooses to think, so here we go.

I may have taped down every possible part of my bike I thought might fly off on account of rough roads. I even considered using double-sided tape on my saddle to keep me from getting bumped off my seat. (True story. The effective "stick" of Gorilla brand tape made it quite nearly impossible to pull myself off the seat, however, so I opted against its use on race day.) Though I did not lose any physical components of my bike or myself out there on Santa Rosa's heinous roads, I definitely lost a bit of my sanity. That was crap, Ironman/WTC/Wanda Sports. Complete. Crap.

To make excuses, though, would be an insult to the stellar ladies who rode ahead of me, crushing the course that so badly tossed me around and messed with my head. It completely exposed the incredible amount of growing I have yet to do. Perhaps, however, something can be said for the glaringly obvious issue regarding the safety of participants in these IM branded events. While I had the benefit of racing in the front end of that race, many age groupers did not. When the course is open to traffic, athletes should not be expected to watch out for their lives when they signed up to race.

Nevertheless, the swim in Lake Sonoma left me disappointed, but thoroughly educated afterward. Unlike at IM 70.3 CDA, I successfully stayed on someone's feet. However, said someone did not stay with the group. Therefore, said someone and yours truly swam alone for three quarters of the swim, and I swam about as slow as I did in CDA. I could remind myself that here, I swam with just a swimskin, whereas in CDA, I had the added benefit of wearing extra neoprene. No. More swimming, especially that in open water, fills my menu of training.

Photo courtesy of Justin Luau Photography
I'd tell you more about the bike ride, but I think I've said enough. Riding into town, my head had sunk so low I had to drag it into the second transition area. Looking back, I might have benefited from just a few more calories, but my complete attention on that ride revolved around hanging on for fear of falling off. So I ran out of transition (thankfully with the correct footwear and my head back on my shoulders) in the direction volunteers pointed me, thinking I would only last about 5k into the run before I'd turn off my engine.

Rumble rumble, put put. Rumble rumble, put put. If you ever hear that sound, you know a rookie pro triathlete is approaching.

Legs churning, gravel grinding, arms beating. When I made the turn from the sidewalk onto the gravel path, I started to notice the little things: the creek alongside the trail and the way it encouraged green foliage to envelop it, the lack of other athletes as I ran nearly by myself, and the passersby of questionable intentions considering they dragged heaping garbage bags full of unknown contents but smelled surprisingly clean anyway.

Photo courtesy of Justin Luau Photography
My plan to push myself as hard as I could for as long as I could started to unravel around mile 7. Thankfully, I had reached the turn around by this point, and combined with the fact I was still 6 miles out of town, I chided myself for even considering I stop and quit. Somehow, I even managed to push myself past an Ironman support vehicle that sat parked off to the side of the trail. The driver looked so bored when I passed her that I figured she would have appreciated me giving her something to do. I did not. In fact, by this point I had just come back from the short out and back section, which allowed me to better gauge my position relative to the other ladies (the ones that hadn't already finished, of course.) I thank Kelly O'mara in front of me and Sierra Snyder behind me. They pushed me to fend for myself and challenged me to keep my shit together.

I slowed drastically, though. If anyone had been paying any attention to the back half of the women's race, I venture to suggest we might have provided a mild form of entertaining racing. Since no one did, I'll simply say these ladies held me accountable to the very end, until I made the final turn onto the red carpet and hobbled across the finish line. One day, I'll finish with the strength and stature of the leading ladies in this sport. For now, I continue to embrace the hurt, the growth, the suck. It will be worth it. I know.

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