7/29/13

Ironman Lake Placid RR - never give up


It seems logical to write a race report starting with the beginning of the race and then progress to the finish. But I want to do things a little bit different this time around for my 6th Ironman. One thing I have learned throughout the past 7 years since starting endurance racing, is that patience, hard work and commitment can bring an athlete very far in his/her fitness, let alone with reaching personal goals. It doesn't matter if you are an athlete racing for a finishing line or a fitness enthusiast that wants to workout for health and fitness, if you want something in life you have to work for it but most importantly, you can't give up when things get tough. Life is not easy and as an athlete for most of my life, I often use similar tools for getting through life and sports as life brings obstacles, just like sports and if you don't have the right mindset, you get yourself no where. 

I am sore, exhausted and drained. But it was all worth it. Yes, in some crazy type of way, we pay money to do this and then walk extremely funny the next day as we remember the highs and lows of race day. This time around, I am able to share stories with my Trimarni Coaching athlete Laura G who placed 6th age group (25-29) in her first IM (11:02) as well as with Karel (hubby) who placed 13th age group (35-39) in his first IM (10:03) and I can't stop thinking about all the amazing athletes, volunteers and spectators who encouraged each other to move forward to get to the finishing line and I am so grateful that we choose this Ironman for Lake Placid became a village of Ironman athletes and the community was extremely supportive. 

Many times in my racing career I am plagued with a chronic injury that keeps me from running for 8-12 weeks at a time. I have seen many doctors, had tests and I am thankful to my PTs and massage therapists who help me stay injury free when I can put all the pieces together correctly. Although I see this often as a limiter in my training and racing, oh what I would give to just have my mind as my only limiter, I have never let it define me or what I am capable of achieving. I know I can only race and train injury free so since I get hickups along the way when I train for races, I find myself forced with three decisions.
1) give up
2) be stubborn
3) focus on the can's and never give up 

I always choose #3 and this time around, it is important to me that I share with everyone that I often a get the flare-ups in my hips/glutes/back and I absolutely want to quit triathlons when that happens. Yes, I want to quite something that I love so much in life. I tell Karel how much pain I am in and that it is not worth it for I don't want to be disrespectful to my body. I have never had a stress fracture or broken bone and I hope to leave this earth with the same body parts that I entered it with. Therefore, I am often stuck with the decision of #1 and #3 which leads me to my message at the beginning of this blog. 

Life requires hard work, patience and commitment. I gave myself a goal when I signed up for Lake Placid Ironman to try to qualify for Kona. I didn't care about times or places but instead, to race to my full potential and to leave nothing out on the course. There are very few athletes out there who can "race" an Ironman and I acknowledge that I am one of a small group that chooses to put a lot on the line to compete for 140.6 miles instead of just hoping for a finish (which I always remember is the ultimate goal). This group, however, still goes into the race with the same dedication, passion and commitment as those who finish in the top 50% of their age group and as those who finish within the 17 hour time limit. Even though some of us use our bodies to race the Ironman, we are all there to endure the physical feat that is the Ironman. 

Through the highs and lows of life that I encountered throughout my Ironman-in-training journey, I reminded myself that the only thing I can do on race day is to race with my current level of fitness. There is absolutely no reason to dwell on the past that can not be changed, unless it is for a reason that was within your control to bring you to a better tomorrow. Therefore, I wanted to make sure I did not give myself any reasons to wish I would have done things differently. 

I feel the Ironman teaches athletes a lot of lessons. Many times, athletes are numb to these lessons and think beyond what is within their control. I like to have control over situations and I feel this is something that has been learned through my history of endurance racing. I like to know what the course looks like, what type of competition is on the course, what the weather will be like, where the wind is coming from, what paces are reflective of my current level of fitness and most of all, that at the end of the day (on race day), my mind is my most powerful weapon. If I don't stay positive, stay in the moment and love what I am doing (have fun and smile!), I accomplish nothing on race day that I trained myself to do in training. You can give yourself a thousand reasons why something won't work but if you can think of the one reason why it will work, you will find yourself doing what the mind believes...and the body will follow. 

                                                  

On July 28th, 2013, I gave my best effort in an Ironman. I raced smart, paced myself well and never stopped believing in myself. I had many opportunities to think it wasn't possible to achieve what I wanted to achieve back in July 2012 considering the setbacks I was given this year. But I know better than to think like that. 

We are often limited in life by thinking of our past instead of staying in the moment. For in the Ironman, we do the opposite as well - we think about what we didn't accomplish that may have made a positive impact on race day and we can easily think about what's to come and worrying how we will deal with it. I admit I did a little of both while I was racing but Gloria (my mental coach/sport psychologist) always reminds me to stay in the moment so I had to constantly get myself to that place over and over for 140.6 miles. 

As athletes, we often compare ourselves to others, wishing for better, more or something different. I did not do that this time around for this Ironman. I knew what I wanted to achieve on race day and I kept within my own box but with a peephole to keep an eye on what others were doing on race day. I did not deviate from my plan or worry about something that was not happening at that point. Why worry about what's to come if you have to be in control of the present moment? 

My 6th Ironman performance landed me in 5th place. Only three Kona Ironman world championship spots were available for my age group (30-34) and I knew I had stiff competition - but amazing, nice and supportive athletes. 

                      
(first and second amateur females which also happened to be in my age group. Katie and Kendra - amazing people and fast, strong, talented athletes!)


                                          
But as usual, I strive to better myself as an athlete and the only way I can do that is by being pushed by those who are better than me. I do not wish to be at the front more than once for then I stop growing as an athlete. I am constantly seeking ways to challenge myself as an athlete and I find I do that best on hard, difficult courses with strong competition.


Before the award ceremony today, I heard there was a chance that there would be a rolldown slot for Kona. That means the 2nd, 3rd and 4th place girls would receive spots because the 1st place girl (Katie T.) already qualified for Kona by winning her age group at Eagleman. But if there was another person to not take her slot, that would mean the slot would roll down to me. Roll downs do not happen that often but that is why you should never give up or count yourself out. 




As always, I did not celebrate until the time would come that I was actually hear my name from Mike Riley, telling me that the slot rolled down to me. 

After waiting and waiting, 11:05am came and it was time for roll down. 



I chatted with Karel about me qualifying for Kona and he was supportive of the decision that if I qualified, he would want me to go as we make all our athletic decisions together for the IM is no easy distance to train and prepare for, not to mention my second Ironman within 3 months and I have a busy August with speaking engagements. 

I couldn't help but think about the possibility of qualifying for Kona for it was something that motivated me every day when I trained and kept me balanced when I questioned if I should do more with training or rush the journey. But then I thought about race day which I will explain more in my race report. I thought about how hard I dug during the race and battled every demon in my body that wanted to give up. All that training, focus, time, money and prep to make excuses and give up? Absolutely not. I raced injury free, with a clear mind and with my hubby for the first time. Nothing was in my way on race day and all I needed was patience, commitment and hard work and I was willing to execute on race day in the same way that I do in training. Have fun and don't give up out until the body gives every reason possible to give up.

What if I would have counted myself out in Feb, in March and in April. Seriously - 3 months of no running and I expect myself to run a marathon after biking 112 miles, let alone race against athletes who have no limiters with their body? 

On July 28th, 2013, I earned my Kona slot which I received July 29th via roll down. I will be heading to Hawaii for the 2013 Ironman World Championships, which will be my 3rd time racing in Kona. Luck was not needed for a Kona slot. On race day I didn't need luck on my side. The answer was simple for Placid. I didn't give up for the past 12 months, I never counted myself out. Believe me - this is never easy, especially when you can't step without pain or you wish things would be different in that moment. But there is always something inside me that believes I can get myself to a place that I feel is not possible at the present moment. Sometimes it doesn't work as planned but I try to do everything within my capability to dream big and work hard for my goals.  

I did all I could on race day and if I would not have given everything I had on that course, I would not have gotten the opportunity for the slot to roll down to me. The entire race came together with my best Ironman racing performance and Kona is just the icing on the cake. Race results are not told by a piece of paper or on the internet but by the athlete herself for what she had to overcome before and during race day.

As I finish the beginning of a series of race reports, I hope today's blog post always motivates you to never give up, to never count yourself out and to always work hard for what you want in life. 



And onto even more exciting things.....YAY - real food from the Lake Placid brewery!!!! Veggie burger for me, real burger and local IPA beer for Karel. We both joined the clean plates club after today's lunch. Looking forward to recovering from this Ironman for the next two weeks and thanking my body for all it went through on race day. Race reports to come.......