Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I don't have all the answers, just one...

So what I've found out is that I do a really great job of writing my blog at about 2:30 in the morning. It's usually between the bathroom and the "back to bed stagger" that I really start to get my groove on if my mind has been working on something while I'm sleeping. Granted, this is NOT by any means the ideal time to be thinking about heavy subjects. However, sometimes I just can't seem to sleep again until I work through a few of the things I have lingering in my mind can be dealt with in a way that makes sense, aka, on paper (or on computer!).

I traveled to Buffalo Springs Lake this past weekend with a great month and a half of training behind me and a hope in my heart to really put things together during a race. To be quite honest, it's been awhile since I've done that, and I was really hoping this weekend might be the one. The travel was fine, and Friday and Saturday were spent getting all the pre-race things done, putting together the bike, race meetings etc. and everything seemed pretty spot on. It was nice to travel to a race with my friend Jason, and to meet my friend Gary from San Diego down there to eat some meals and hang out as well.

Race morning I was excited about what was to come. I subscribed to following my racing / nutrition plan to a T and just seeing where things shook out. Looking out over the most gorgeous sunrise with a thousand or so athletes on the beach waiting to run into the lake, I felt I was right where I was supposed to be on that very day. I wasn't nervous anymore, I was ready to test myself. I picked a great spot to line up with the other 200 women and when the gun sounded I was bounding into the water and making a dive to find open water. Surprisingly, my line was really good and I sighted and made it around every buoy without having too much trouble staying strait or looking too often. At some point, I even found some feet of a girl going just a tad bit faster and I latched on to her side and occasionally her feet! I'll be! I was drafting!! I've always wanted to make it happen and it finally did! Awesome!

Before I knew it (which never happens, the swim always seems so long to me) we were rounding the last turn buoy and headed to shore. As the volunteers pulled me out of me the water I started to pull up down my wetsuit while I looked at my watch.. 29:XX really? No way.. really??!!!!! I had no idea if the swim was short or I just had an amazing day, but either way, I would take it. I was feeling great and couldn't wait to get on that bike. T1 went very well other than when I tried to really pull my helmet on tight the entire inside just unclipped from the strap! I must have had my bun too high and all the extra pressure just caused it to pull from the helmet. Either way, I knew I wasn't going out there without a proper function helmet so I unbuckled it, took it off, looked inside, re-attached the straps by pushing it into the helmet itself, put it back on and headed up. Hence, my T1 being a bit long. Hey, it's always better to be safe than sorry!!

The first hills came rolling in and my legs felt decent but my heart rate was high. I calmed down through the first 20-30 and started my nutrition plan. I aimed for a good cadence and a clean safe race, making sure I always had enough distance between myself and the other riders. The hills weren't bad at all and all in all, this is a great course with a bit of variation. The only difficult part was their were quite a few waves in front of us so I was constantly going around people on some tighter roads or downhills. We wove in and out of canyons, and then made the last turnaround for the 20 miles back to T2. When we turned I hit a pretty hard head wind and it was a grind to get those legs moving and keep pushing forward to the finish. It never let up, and neither did I. I definitely don't think I over-road my bike, and probably could have even rode a bit harder, but I wanted this run so badly to go well!!

T2 was uneventful, and I was off and running. Within the first few miles I noticed my legs weren't feeling as great as I would have hoped, but I ended up next to a women who was in her 40's and a very strong looking runner. We latched on and I decided she would be great for pacing us to a strong half-marathon. My stomach was feeling a bit bloated too.. it wasn't quite as hot as I had prepared for and the extra salt might have been messing with me just a bit. We turned the corner up a huge hill, and I seemed to be loosing ground on staying with my new partner. She turned to me and said "this is where we pick them off" and I nodded yes, but my legs were really saying "please! No!" It seemed way to early for this to be happening in my mind!

Then it happened, I started thinking about all the girls out there in front of me, how bad my legs felt, what I would do if I DIDN'T have an exceptional run, and it all got way to large for me to handle. I let the negative creep in and the hill start beating me down. Everyone around me was walking.. what would it hurt...just for a second... before I knew it, I was one of them too, walking along, feeling nauseous. For the next two miles I tried to talk myself off the ledge, then there went another girl in the 30-34, shoot, I was loosing ground and fast. Somewhere along there I tried to make myself puke, no luck. So instead I took two of those pepto bismol tablets that I keep for emergencies only trying to bring the stomach around. Finally, at one of the aid stations around mile 5 I had a heart to heart with myself.. "what was I so afraid of?" Not getting to Kona? Not being as good as I think I am?? Disappointing my coach? My team? What KIM!!" I had already known in my heart why I was racing all along, not for me, but for all those who couldn't and because I believed that was what God wanted me to do, not for me, but for him. As I walked along, I realized that this is it.. right here, what's it going to can't have both. So I got over myself... best decision I've ever made. Instead I started running mile by mile, not looking once at my pace, only concentrating on the sound of my breath and my feet on the pavement. I stopped worrying about the Kona slot, or the other girls, or if I would let anyone down if I didn't do well, and I looked deep into my heart to see why I was really racing, and I put my money where my mouth was...

The miles from then on just came and went. My legs didn't feel great, but they didn't hurt like they did in those first miles, not even remotely close. I let it all go, and I finally came out of my funk to encourage other athletes and thank the volunteers. It was the better version of me that prevailed, the one I actually like most of the time!

When I saw the finish, I gave it one final little kick, but I knew my run was wasn't nearly where I needed to be to have a chance at the big dance. Then again, I knew a lot more about myself than I did when I started.

It's really easy to be positive and upbeat when things are going our way. Sometimes, we don't get what we want, but it's exactly what we actually need. I've been humbled over the last two years in my life like I couldn't have ever imagined if someone would have read it to me aloud prior. I came off the biggest and best race of my career, only to encounter emotional stress in my relationships that made the rest of my trials looks like child's play. I tried again and again to put a race together last year, only to end with a broken collarbone and no sense of if I should keep racing, or if I did, why would I. Then I met Ty & Ryan Ballou (and their family) and I had a renewed sense of purpose and meaning in this sport. I wanted to get better in the sport, but it became less about me, and more about helping. The question still remained, how would I react when I wasn't having the day that I hoped for in my heart, that I felt I was capable of having if the mental and physical were firing on all cylinders and giving me the edge...that my friends.. wasn't known... until now.

We all have demons, that's a given. We all have fears to face, and things we may only get to deal with when we are stripped down to our very core. Don't you see, that's one of the reasons why we race. Courage isn't the absence of these fears, it's the ability to counter them when they do arise with a faith that the outcome doesn't define who we are as people. Not only that, that in the end, win or loose, we will learn the lessons that are to be taught and maybe even share those lessons with others.

So what do I want more.. to stand on the first place of the podium, or to impact lives, to reach my potential as a person, to become a better coach, to stand up against my fears, to help Ryan and boys like him, to enjoy racing not for the "Kona" factor, but because I love everything it brings with it.. good or bad..

It's most definitely the second one. Some might have think I failed this weekend. That I didn't bring it home, and that I'm less because of it. I have something to say to those people, I'm more.. I'm more me.. I'm happier and I'm more thankful.. for all of it, than I was on June 26th.

News flash.. no one will remember what place or time you came in, they will not remember if you went to Kona, or if you had your personal record in 2010 at Buffalo Springs Lake 70.3.. They will however, remember how your life looked, what you did with it, who you touched..I'm not saying I ever do that.. but I'll be danged if I let my place on the podium define who I am. So I have a little work to do on my mental game..and I'm looking forward to the day when both of those things come together.. sometimes pressure is a good thing and sometimes we crumble under it for a little bit, we're only human you know :)

So, while I don't know why things happen the way they do sometimes.. I still trust in the plan and that will never ever change. I might not have all the answers, but I certainly do have that one.. today, tomorrow and forever, I'll still have it.

I was sad for about 24 hours, and then I got over it. Now, it's on to other things.. like not training so much for a bit and deciding what the rest of the year might look like! I can't wait for the fourth of July and some time to just relax and be thankful for my health, family and friends..Congrats to all who raced. It was a hot and hard day out there, and I had some special moments with a few of the athletes that really renewed my hope and made me fall in love with the people in this sport all over again. I can't say them here, they are so personal, but trust me, we have some of the best people out there to race alongside.. it's a pretty special thing.

Thanks for your support..and love, and never giving up on me. Thank you Kyle, my Mom, my family, my friends, The Ballou Skies team, and the Ballou family.. My sponsors, Top Gear, Super Donut, and Powerbar. I wouldn't be half the person or athlete I am without you..

A few pictures below for your viewing pleasure...

The car had a nuun holder.. how convenient!
This is my "don't mess with Texas" look in Target
Jason found his own deli
Texas had a lot of flat lands.. and more.. um flat lands..
Transition race morning.. getting set up!
After the race I hung out with these guys who had their championship race. Pretty amazing athletes if you ask me.. they were there to qualify for Hawaii! Really awesome to meet them and I couldn't be more impressed with their abilities.. way to go!!
Jason made a special shirt and I'm about 99% sure we both "got on the pain train" that day..
Then.. we ate this.. all of this..
Then we went to the awards dinner and I got to hang out with Gary and his friends!

The women pros got there awards too, and it was wonderful to see so many hard working women reap some rewards! I know Amanda Lavato and Charisa pretty well, and both are really nice people and had some impressive races! Way to go ladies! I was rooting for you the whole time!

Charisa and I
Ian, also a pro (10th place) and a very nice person. It was good to finally meet him in person.
Amanda and I
Gary getting his award (3rd place!) He's already got his Kona spot, so that was nice to hear.
There I am, the last one they called on stage in 6th place.
Only in Texas can you get a truck this big!!

Have a great and safe Holiday weekend everyone!

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