It was only in August that I really worked up to being able to move for 6.2 miles without stopping in a motion that could be considered a run (if you are loose with the definition). But I'd only done that a few times.
My coaches were very strict about the taper. I was terrified.
I started off slow with a Clif Shot (I love you, Clif Bar company) and Clif Shot Bloks. I never actually ate the Shot, and only worked through 4 of the Shot Bloks. (That is how I know that I ate well on the bike.) I started slow and easy like I'd been coached. And this is where I must send a huge shout-out to Wendy, my new friend from TNT. She kept telling me to plan the run and run my plan. People were taking off all around me. I was getting left in the dust, losing all the places I had gained on the bike. But my plan was to start off very slow. I had found that I didn't really get my run legs until about a mile in.
So I jogged very slow. I mean, vvveerryy sslloowwllyy. At the first aid station, I grabbed my water, and now I must praise race volunteers. They are awesome people. They offer you what they have as if they are inviting you to experience salvation. "Water! Water!" "Powerade! You want Powerade!" "Gu Chomps! Getcher Gu Chomps!" In other words, "Salvation, honey! Come and worship! I give you the waters of life! Amen!" You may laugh at me, but this is how you know that I have truly adopted Virginia as my home state. The volunteers shouted, "Water! Powerade! Y'all want water!" and I replied, "Thank you, baby!" Once, I yelled, "Thank you, honey babe!" to the volunteer who said, "Here's some water, sugar!" If I'd had a hand fan, I'd have fluttered it. I love Southerners.
If you are doing a first time Olympic distance Tri, or if you are doing a tri for someone else, advertise the fact.
I wrote Ben's name on my jersey, and people all over the route were screaming, "GO TEAM BEN!" I wish Ben could have heard all these people screaming his name like he were some sort of rock star.
I also wrote "1st Tri" on my jersey. That is a genius idea. People would run up behind me and say, "Good job, first timer!" One guy yelled, "Awesome pace! You're great!" Another ran with me for a few minutes and we chatted about doing our first tri and how we felt.
In some places, TNT people were running in two directions at once as we looped an out-and-back section of the run. People held their hands up for high-fives. They'd yell, "GO TEAM!" and more often, "GO TEAM BEN!" "GO, BEN!"
But the best moment? After the last aid station... I'd been holding my slow pace all along, and some people were blowing up on the course- just losing the strength. I found I had a bit more in me. I increased speed a bit. I gained a few places. And soon, there was this awesome cheering section yelling, "ALMOST THERE! ALL DOWNHILL!"
And I rounded a corner, and there it was. "YAY! FINISH LINE!" I yelled. The spectators heard me, and a few people took up a cheer of "FINISH LINE! FINISH LINE!"
And then I was over, and someone was giving me a medal and M was taking pictures.
We called Ben and Sarah, who had braved the rain and the cold and come out, with a fuzzy head (Ben) and on crutches (Sarah).
Runners need to have mantras. I totally borrowed one that my Running Priest friend lent me- "Relax. Power. Glide." as my main mantra. That really works, you should try it. But under my cap's brim was my second mantra for the toughest sections.
"Suck it up for Sarah."
Throughout all of this, Sarah has been an incredible teammate for me, and (duh, of course!) for Ben. I know she was my cheerleader in some tough moments, like the day I achieved my fundraising minimum and she called me screaming with excitement. When I was emotionally drained and physically beaten, she's got the real humanity that keeps the world turning. By that, I don't mean that she's a saint who is cheerfully bearing all the burdens of being the wife of a cancer patient. She is not taking this cancer cheerfully, and she is not letting it get away with anything! She gets mad, frustrated, angry, upset. She's so incredibly REAL with all of this, and the sheer REAL-ness makes her all that much more beloved, to me. So, Sarah... this tri was done in honor of Ben, my honored teammate. But at the end of the day, you were also my teammate- part 2 of Team Ben, in the 2010 Nation's Tri. Without your relentless support, I know I would never have gotten this far... yes, even when you didn't know you were being supportive!
1..2..3.. GO TEAM BEN!
|Finisher's Medal! And my first Team in Training pin.|