Thursday, October 31, 2013

Beach to Battleship: We've Only Just Begun

It's 5 days post-race and the reality of racing 140.6 miles is still sinking in. I keep saying "It's crazy!" which at once does not do justice to the event, but also sums it up fairly accurately. Since the beginning of this year Beach To Battleship 140.6 mile iron distance triathlon has been a top goal.
the actual battleship

Spring training started out strong, although in retrospect, a bit early. If I ever take on this distance again I will train in a 6 month span- a realistic time frame for an athlete already used to working out 12-13 hours a week. I feel limiting the length of time spent training would combat burn out and over use injuries. Obviously, I can't say that would be best for everyone but it's what I would do for myself.
Anywho, who knows if I'll ever compete in an iron distance race again. What I want right now is to recount what THIS journey has meant. It has involved tremendous joy, pain, support, sacrifice, sweat, tears, adventure, sense of community and more.

"The more I run, the more I love my body. Not because it is perfect, far from it-but because with every mile it is proving to me that I am capable of far more than I ever thought possible."

Those words really get to the heart of why I chose to tackle the 140.6 mile triathlon challenge. The older I get the more actively I seek to shed the self doubt/hatred that claimed so much of my spirit during my teens and 20's. I believe that God gave me one life to live and that it is meant to be lived to the fullest. Anything less would be a waste. When people say "Running is bad for your knees" or "Endurance sports are bad for your heart" or "Riding a bike is dangerous" I cannot help but think "Are you not scared of early onset diabetes/ heart disease?" and "Are you aware of the obesity epidemic happening right now, in this country?" and "Are you happy living your life in fear?". I mean come on. The limits we set on this life are all too often self-imposed.
Countless early morning workouts and beautiful views like this on the Trace
I don't know that anyone, myself included, is dying to recount the year's worth of training that went into this so I'll skip ahead to recent months. End of summer marked the beginning of very rough couple months leading up to the race. One, after spending a year juggling freelance and many part-time gigs in addition to training for an ironman (a part time job in it's own right)- I was spread too thin. Two, our much anticipated "vacation" to the gulf shore resulted in me having an extreme allergic reaction- cutting the trip short and accruing plenty of bills from the Dr. Three, the glute pain I had been trying to keep at bay became unavoidably painful. This resulted in months of physical therapy, anxiety at potentially having to drop out of the race, and of course more $ spent on my health issues. Four, in succession the "things" in my life started breaking down, i.e: dishwasher, Jon's car, my car. The timing of it all was ridiculous. Sometimes I feel the motto for my life should be "When it rains, it pours".
Got in a little exploring at the Gulf Coast before allergy rashes covered my skin.

All these events led to my physical, financial & mental depletion by the beginning of October. The folks who see me regularly got to witness multiple breakdowns; for Jon, he had to deal with it almost every day. But, in keeping with my motto, even while I felt like life was continually beating me down  I was showered with kindness from all sides. From co-workers past and present, from new friends and old friends, from people who owe me nothing at all- I was offered SO many helping hands. I thank God every day for putting people like that on the face of this earth, and for letting our paths cross. It pushed me through this month and allowed me to see this journey through to the very finish line I lept across on Saturday night on a gorgeous cobblestone street in Wilmington, NC.
Training with good friends who are great people is what kept me sane!

Needless to say, it was a struggle to focus on training those final two months. I cut out running completely in the final month as a last ditch attempt to heal in time to stay in the game- SO glad I did that. It's a hard fact for any athlete to accept but sometimes rest is the best possible cure. I diligently did strength exercises for my back, hips, glutes and whatnot while going through physical therapy. Perry at Pro Motion physical therapy was excellent. I also added regular deep tissue massage into routine and it worked wonders! Dianna and Robin at Franklin Massage Center  played a pretty big role in getting me to that starting line. Several months prior to the race I was at the point where being forced to drop out of the race became very real; my "push through the pain" strategy was obviously failing miserably, but this team of talented professionals turned things around and helped make completing this race a reality.
The right card, at the right moment.
The week leading up to the race was hectic work- wise. I focused on hydrating, but unfortunately wasn't able to rest much at all. I knew it was basically the opposite of the ideal way to go into race weekend-so I had a panic attack Wednesday evening. This is where I circle back to saying: I am blessed beyond belief to be surrounded by loving people. A friend surprised me with this card and a sweet note and it couldn't have come at a more crucial time. Other friends brought me "good luck charms"; I was pretty pumped to be able to keep them with me on the bike!
A little love, along for the ride.

 Also that evening friends shared the Facebook group they had created almost a month before called "Sarah & Meg's secret support group"- pages full of well wishes, hilarious pictures and encouraging words. How can you go fall apart when you have people that good lifting you up? Needless to say I did my best to get my frazzled self together, get the house in order for the dog sitter (Hannah Mazzaferro is a rock star sis-in-law for taking care of the furry fam!),  pack 4,000 + triathlon related items, throw some "normal" clothes in a bag and roll out first thing Thursday morning.
Peace out, Nashville.

Next stop: Wilmington, North Carolina.

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