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Weekend Race Report

June 4, 2012

It’s funny how a weekend can change so many things.

Friday night I went to bed in Edinboro PA, returning to the place triathlon began for me 15 years ago. My heart was filled with excitement, I was ready for race day. With all of the distance racing I have done over the past 10 years a sprint race has almost become something of a lost art to me and I was ready to take it on all over again.

The day was perfect for me. A bit cold, a bit windy. I rolled into transition feeling peppy, ready to go, ready to snap. The race still felt old school, the only thing that really changed were the timing chips.

AS I stood on the beach a young woman in her 20’s stood next to me, she in her bathing suit, I in my wetsuit. She asked me what I thought of my wetsuit and whether i thought it was restrictive in the shoulders. She was a swimmer after all…. and this was her first triathlon. It was like looking at myself 15 years ago (I am only 38 for the record).

It crossed my mind how much has happened in those 15 years. I met my husband, had our son, did 6 …. or is it 7…. Ironmans. I’ve won races, lost races. I wanted to tell her that if she stuck with it, was consistent and surrounded herself with good people …. good things would happen. She caused me to look back on these 15 years with more gratitude than ever.

The gun went off and I settled in behind some of the younger kids. The water was great, the effort felt awesome. It was a “swim around the third boat” (not buoy) kind of a race. I liked the hard effort again, I was fired up. felt ready to race. Cadence was high and I was smiling.

Great swim….

The air was cool as I exited the water, again perfect race conditions for me. I hopped out of the water, made my way through transition, and grabbed my bike. As I came out of T1 one of my athletes Dan was there! He and wis wife were cheering  ( both won the Keuka sprint on Sunday. Check that out here) and snapping some pictures for the Erie Tri Club.

I hopped on my bike, took two pedal strokes and the back wheel locked up. I stopped dead in my tracks. I quickly hopped off and assessed the problem, Dan came running over to see what he could do. Nothing. Massive mechanical. Huge bummer.

Here is as far as I got, this includes the run in from the beach.

I looked at Dan and I began to laugh. What else could I do. I realized this wasn’t a fix and go type of issue.

Was I disappointed? Good lord I was. You bet. 100% disappointed. I walked back into transition and packed up my gear, handed in my chip and headed home.

Things like this happen. I got in touch with Jeremy from Bike Loft East who as always moves heaven and earth to get things resolved. I got in touch with the point person for the bike manufacturer who was horrified about the mechanical. I swear this man would have walked to my house from wherever he lives to fix the issue right then and there had I asked him to. He was so upset. You want good customer service and a company that stands behind their product? These are your guys.

The frustrating part was that I had traveled, got a hotel, and was ready for a very good effort that day. At the same time in this and any sport that is the chance we take. Not every race is going to go as planned and what really matters is how we choose to deal with it. Was I a bit hot? Absolutely. Did I cool off? Completely. The big picture came back to me.

I was lucky I wasn’t hurt. I was lucky I was where I was and that it was the back wheel and I didn’t fly over the handlebars. I had traveled alone and I was hours from home, I would have been screwed. In the grand scheme of races this was not a big deal. It meant a lot to me because this is where it all began for me, at this very race. It would have been a good race, I am getting fitter by the day and there were some talented ladies there. I wanted the chance to mix it up a bit. At the end of the day….. it’s just a race, and that’s what we need to remember. I lost a few hundred bucks. If that’s really the worst thing that happens to me in a weekend, then it’s a good day. My A race is Vegas, and although it would have sucked for it to happen there….. it’s still just a race.

I packed up my things and began the four-hour trek over to Keuka Lake, where I was giving some triathlon clinics later that afternoon and announcing the next day. I drove through the southern tier of New York State and …… sometimes you just need to shut off the radio….. look around at the majestic beauty around you …. and things fall back into perspective again.

A bike company reached out to me and provided me with an offer….. I have never seen the likes of.

And then another one called.

As I said of course my current bike company…. again offered to spin the earth in the opposite direction. I have to say I adore my current bike. I adore the company, I adore the bike, I adore what they do for our sport.  I think what they make is excellent. And I want to continue to respect what they do….. because they do good work and are good people.

But all of a sudden I found myself in a position as an athlete that I had never been in before. I felt overwhelmed, undeserving, and completely caught off guard. I kept thinking to myself….. are they calling the right girl? I am not even on my game right now.

I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t cry. Not in sadness, not quite in happiness, but ….. have you ever had people believe in you so much when you are not at the top of your game…. that you cry? Because you are that overwhelmed. Because you know in your heart that the work you are doing is leading you in the right direction. In race results it might not show yet but you know…… you know that if you are patient and you keep chipping away your day will come.

It was like….. someone else recognizes that. Someone else sees that (besides my coach who believes in me more than I ever think I could even if I was back on my game!). It was like someone reached out and said….. we want to give you a chance.

Honored…… isn’t a big enough word.

Floored….. doesn’t capture the feeling.

Gratitude…… doesn’t seem big enough.

An opportunity I don’t deserve…. this one is close.

I went straight to my husband. What do I do? What does this mean? As always he’s the voice of reassurance.

Right now I haven’t made any decisions. I am absolutely taking my time. I want to make sure I respect everyone in the situation. The outpouring of kindness from these three companies has been incredible. I don’t even feel like all this is deserved, so I have to make sure I do it right, respectfully and for the right reasons.

I tucked that all away for a bit and made it to Keuka on time. If you have never been to this race it’s stunning. Location is perfect.

I switched from athlete to being part of the Score This!!! race crew. I am the series announcer for their races. These guys…. are my family’s…. family.

We’ve grown up together in this sport. Rich is the brother I never had, and our son’s godfather. Every time I come to one of our events I feel like I walk into a big family reunion. We get to be together at all of our series races, which is what 8?

So coming to Keuka was like walking into a big family get together. Our first race of the season, everyone home for the summer, we are all back together again. I dont’ think people realize how big this Score This!!! family is and how close we all really are.

We stayed together in the dorms, which was better than being in college.

The race was beautiful. I do the announcing for the races…. so it’s my voice that you hear from 5am until noon. As the announcer I get to watch so many beautiful things happen. Athletes who completes their first races. Athletes who hit their best performances. Athletes who don’t. I know how it feels, I have been there.

My favorite part of the race was finally meeting Sam. Sam is a longtime Buffalo runner who is a member of the new Ionraic triathlon club. Sam is hard of hearing and has cochlear implants. He sent me a message on friday that said…. “I look forward to hearing you this weekend”…… which to the average person sounds like a normal thing to say.

No….. he meant it. He looked forward to hearing me.

He was recently fitted with the first ever waterproof hearing device. I know there is an exact name for it, but I don’t know it!!! While he doesn’t swim with it he did cycle and run with it and was able to hear me on the microphone.

That was so cool I can’t even describe it. Suddenly my silly bike issues fell to the side. This is what it’s about. This is why we do what we do. Because people of all ages and abilities are out here chasing dreams. As they should be.  Do you know how many people in each race that I go to… compete with disabilities that you and I don’t even know about?

Somewhere a doctor told them no. Someone told them no.

Sometimes being told no is all you need. And then you go and do something that inspires your race announcer, who has been around long enough to know inspiration when she sees it.

It was a weekend of awesome. For our QT2 Systems team we had 10 in Keuka, 30+ at Mooseman, and more at Rev 3. I was proud of our athletes, . So many lessons were learned out there. My husband race fantastically and our son not only worked alongside the race crew at Keuka, he did the kid’s race.

With Luc we are careful when it comes to kid’s races. He was 9 before he could even ride a bike. Due to his disabilities he rode an adaptive bike for years. We went through a program (that is coming to Rochester again this summer) through UNYFEAT called Lose the Training Wheels, which changed our lives forever. Luc has always done the kids races with us to assist him on the bike. He’s on his second year of competing and watching him ride away always….. always makes me cry.

We let him do his thing. He is a cautious and careful athlete. He’s not a bust your gut and go go go kind of kid. He takes his time and has fun with it. He chooses if he even races. We use it as a….. it’s here if you want to do it. He had been working with the race crew, and it had been raining so when he came over ready to race I was proud of him

I think we have to be very careful with our kids. Expose them to the sport rather than hammer them down. I have seen parents shouting at their kids to hurry…. get your shoes on…. get your socks on…… let them be. Let them be. It will be okay. Consider their long-term development. Is screaming at them in a kids race helping them in five years? Or allowing them to do their thing and have fun with it the better option? I have to say that this weekend was the best I have ever seen parents. They were great.

We must remember…. are we racing for them, or racing for ourselves?

I am a big picture thinker. I am a long-term progress thinker. I think if you can see the forest through the trees you can be successful. Get hung up on individual race times at separate times of the season on separate courses and fall into the trap of short-term thinking…… is the kiss of death. Look at the execution rather than the final result. The cards fall where they fall.

From Keuka I drove to Syracuse to bring the bike in. What I love about Bike Loft East is that they are also big picture thinkers not short term solutioners. They all discussed with me the options, the pros, the cons……. it’s a decision I need some guidance with for sure, and I am appreciative beyond words that anyone is willing to take the time to help me with it. I am surrounded by very good people on all fronts.

After announcing for 7 hours people ask me what I listen to on the way home. Nothing. It’s silent in the car. I love that. It allows me to recollect, decompress and refocus. It’s just what I need.

What a weekend. I got to see the best of people on so many different levels and in so many situations. I came home with hope for a lot of reasons. And I came home invigorated. After all I swam for ten minutes, and I am nice and recovered from a good solid recovery week.

There are big weeks ahead.

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3 comments

  1. Mary, I read everything you blog and now I know why! It’s positive, affirmative, even if it really “stunk” for a minute! This is a world of “shrill negative” and yet from the upper reaches of the cold New York state, it feels warm and sunny! Have a great week, mine is almost done 3 twelves in the ICU! Happy Monday. Dlj


  2. Life is often about “What can this moment teach me?” Thanks for sharing some of those moments with all of us.


  3. HUGE bummer about your bike, Mary…but then someone else reaches out to help – see, good deeds are returned!!!



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