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M2M Race Report - my first cancelled race

I just love writing my post race race report. It gives me an opportunity to immediately collect my post race thoughts, walk myself through the race experience and express my thoughts/feelings about my performance, so that I can look back and learn from the race.

Well, sadly there is no race report to write about M2M. 

Let me take you back a few days.

On Friday evening, we had our typical pre-race team pizza party after packet pick-up at Carolina Triathlon. For all of our Trimarni key races, we provide pizza and a course discussion/execution talk to our athletes. We sat outside and stayed relatively comfortable since the sun was setting around 6:30pm.

Although we knew there was a great chance for rain on Sunday, we provided our athletes with practical course execution information to ensure a great performance by everyone who was racing.

Earlier that day (Friday), Julie, Justine and I (a few of our out-of-towners) did a tune-up swim (~2200) followed by a 20 mile EZ spin covering the run course (13 miles + extra miles to get back home).

Happy smiles post swim workout.

About to ride the run course. 

Both days were absolutely beautiful and very, very warm. PERFECT summer training. 

On Saturday morning, Justine and I went for a 90 minute spin and covered a lot of hills while opening up our legs with a few intervals and testing out our race bike set-ups. I followed the bike with a 10 min run on the treadmill.

After a typical pre-race day of fueling, resting and getting mentally ready for our race, it was early to bed around 8:45pm for a 4:30am wake-up call.

I first woke up around 3am to pouring rain and some thunder and lightening. Then, when the alarm went off, it was raining lightly. By 5:15am, it was pouring rain again.

After loading up the car in the pouring rain, it was time to head off to the race start.

At 5:30am, we headed out to Seneca with our race gear (swim and bike - our run gear was at T2 in Traveler's Rest) and hoped for the rain to stop. While we all wanted to race, I knew that the difficulty of the bike course would make it an easy call to cancel the race in the case of bad weather. The radar did not give us hope that we would have a rain free morning but we hoped it would clear up enough to proceed with the race.

After we racked our bikes and set up our transition area (with plastic bags holding our gear), we huddled under the pavilion to stay dry as the rain slowly let up. Although any break in the rain was quickly followed by another opening of the clouds in the sky.

By 7:15am, after the final radar was checked, the race director cancelled the race due to the unsafe riding conditions. While this was a smart call at the time, due to the weather, it kinda felt like we all were trapped inside a cage, ready to explode with energy.  As the triathlon community came together to keep everyone in good spirits, Karel and I huddled with our athletes and discussed plan B.

No race, no problem. We will still train!

Since all of our run gear was at T2 (in a large plastic bag), we all drove to T2 (after a quick stop at our house to drop off bikes) for a run workout. We had our athletes run the first 6 miles of the run course. After the 1.5 mile loop around Furman, we ran back to T2 for a total of about 10 miles. We didn't give our athletes a cap on intensity and I'd say that everyone ran a bit harder than they would for a conversational run. But still, everyone was talking and laughing.  It was a great way to burn off some unused, built-up energy and to allow our athletes an opportunity to work on mental strength, as a group. While we were all so bummed to not race this weekend, running together was a great way to remind us that we all do this for fun and sometimes, things don't go as planned. Racing is unpredictable. 

Lesson learned: When you can't change a situation, change how you react to the situation. 


As the saying goes, life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it. For athletes, this is oh-so-true.

For the athlete who loves to plan out details, a cancelled race is something that you just can't plan for. With so many frustrations and mixed feelings, it's easy to complain about what could have been or what you would have done differently.

Hearing the news of a cancelled race can be difficult and some athletes handle it better than others. Shock, denial, pain, guilt, anger, bargaining. Yes, these are all things that happen when you are grieving but dealing with a cancelled race can bring on the same emotions. While the initial period of feeling letdown is completely normal (and you can justify your feelings of not getting to do what you trained to do with your body), you eventually have to deal with the situation and move on. Accept what happened, regardless of how emotionally attached you were to the race and take action to change your feelings. Be proud of the work that you put in and see the achievement of getting yourself to the start line as the real success.

While we all know that life isn't fair, consider all of the races that you have had a great performance when the weather was perfect or when you had a great performance and the weather was horrible. In the moment, it's easy to assume that you would have raced a certain way or the results would have been a certain way but that is what could have been. 

Would of, should have, could can never predict the future. If you were able to get yourself ready for the race that was cancelled, there is a great chance that you will be able to get yourself ready for another race. There's always something to learn from these "bummer" situations. 

Perhaps a cancelled race allowed you to go through the nerves and emotions of racing without having to actually race. Or, perhaps you had a chance to work on your pre-race rituals, like eating, sleeping and warming up. Or, maybe you had the opportunity to work on patience and the what-if scenarios that may happen on race day. Or, we hope you can use the cancelled race scenario to help another athlete, friend or child overcome his/her own personal setback.

The neat thing about racing is that there is always something to learn - cancelled race or a race that you started and finished. Whenever something unfortunate happens in life, think back to the lessons that you learned from your race experiences and apply to your life events to help you cope and move on.

For example, when I was training for my first marathon, I waited to register and the race closed. So, I selected a race 4 weeks later. I ended up qualifying for the Boston Marathon at my first marathon. Maybe that 4 extra weeks helped me accumulate a few more workouts to prepare for the race. Another story features my athlete Justine (who traveled here from Delaware to race M2M) and she was suppose to do IM Maryland in 2015. The race was cancelled and postponed for 2 weeks later. She maintained a positive attitude and stayed healthy during those 2 weeks and went on to qualify for Kona. Sometimes, a cancelled race puts life into perspective. I mean, at the end of the day, it was only a race and there will always be another race. The current situation may not always be as horrible as it appears to be in the moment or right after the fact.

Regardless of how you feel immediately after the race, it's important to not get distracted from where you want to be in x-months or what you want to accomplish with your body. Sure, you may have been super attached to your race or you were looking forward to the experience of racing but a setback, like a cancelled race, should not destroy your short and long term goals. Hang in there. Life will keep moving forward and you should keep moving with it. 

Here are a few of my tips to help you move on from a bad race: Let it Go: Moving on from a bad race