Health by Heidi
|Posted on July 6, 2015 at 9:30 PM|
Yesterday, Sunday, July 5th, was the fourth annual Madison Duathlon. This race takes place in Ennis, MT, and consists of a 14 mile bike ride and a 7 mile run. The ride is 8 miles of pavement and 6 miles of grueling dirt, with an elevation gain of 3000 feet in the 6 miles of dirt. Then the run goes up one mile before going downhill for six miles, again on dirt, and finishing with a short uphill run to the finish line.
I have competed in this race for the past three years, including yesterday. I was the women's champion in 2013 and 2014 and set course records both years. My goal this year was to win again and break the course record again. I have been training for months for this race, putting all my energy and focus into this particular race. It was center stage on my race calender for the summer. With a potential 3-peat, I was planning on retiring from the race after this year. But as they say, the best laid plans...
The race started out perfectly. I jumped right out of the gate and, boosted by a phenomenal tail wind, had a wide lead almost immediately. I rode by myself for most of the road section. The Winner Guy (WG) caught up to me shortly before the turn onto the dirt road, and so we made the turn together and started climbing together. We climbed up and up and up. We had such a large lead that we could not see anyone behind us on the climb. Up and up and up we went. Until suddenly...WG turned around in front of me. "I think we missed a turn," he said. "WHAT????" I asked. I was thinking no way. This can't be happening. We didn't miss a turn. No way. I am on par to SHATTER my course record, not by just a few minutes but by tens of mintues. We did NOT miss a turn.
There were two older fellas chatting in the middle of the road so we rode up to them and asked if they knew where the road was that we were looking for. "It's a coupla miles back that way. But if you take this road here it will intersect with the road that you want," is what one of them told us. WHAT????? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! I could almost see the shattered remnants of my goals crumbling around me. How did we miss the sign? Neither one of us saw it. We saw the other signs. How did we BOTH miss that one???
Grumbling with a mix of frustration, anger, and disbelief, we made our way to the intersection of the race road. We popped out right at the base of a miserable climb and immediately dropped the hammer. We were passing people right and left. They all had surprised looks on their faces, wondering how we had ended up behind them when we had such a commanding lead at the start. Frustration, anger, and disbelief fueled me as I made my way up the climb. WG eventually dropped me, and when I got to the transition he was already starting up the hill on his run. Four miles out of our way we had ridden. At this point, I could feel my resolve start to crumble. All of my goals, all of my training, all of my hard work, seemed on the verge of destruction. Part of me wanted to quit. Part of me wanted to punch someone. Part of me wanted to run until my legs fell off. As I changed into my running gear, I did all I could to keep my emotions in check.
As I started up the hill, it was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other. My emotions were flying wildly all over the place, and I needed to get them centered and focused. Quietly, a voice of reason in my head said, "You didn't meet your goal cycling time. You won't meet your goal overall time. But you could still meet your goal running time." So that is where my emotion went. I ran and ran and ran. I tripped and fell, taking the skin off of my hip and knee. I got back up and kept running. Down and down and down, on rough, uneven dirt. The entire time I was thinking, "I can't believe it. I can't believe it. I can't believe it. I CAN'T BELIEVE IT."
As I rounded the corner to the final uphill to the finish, my emotions came boiling out. Hot tears ran down my cheeks as I sobbed and panted my way to the finish line. I crossed the finish line and kept going up the street, away from the small crowd, away from the spectators, and cried like I haven't cried in years. All the frustration and anger came pouring out. Eventually a good friend came and stood by me. Then my brother came. Then my mom. Then WG. And the women's winner. And even the race director. And they all said the same thing: You rode four miles farther than the rest of the racers. And you still finished second in women's.
So I started to look at my times. After riding four miles extra, I finished second in women's, only FOUR minutes behind the winner. I was fifth overall. I was only seven minutes off of my goal ride time, even with the four extra miles. I came in two minutes UNDER my goal run time. I was only five minutes off of my overall goal time, and only two minutes slower than my overall record setting time from last year. WITH FOUR EXTRA MILES. Basically, I killed it.
I am not happy. Not yet. I will be though. I know my training was spot on. I found resolve and heart that I didn't know I had. I pushed to the finish even though a large part of me wondered what was even the point. Retirement from this race? Not a chance. Not now. Next time I will be back stronger and faster. Next time I will have the route memorized so no sign snafu can throw me off course. Next time I will have loftier goals. And next time I will meet them.