I LOVE trail running (the muddier the better). It brings me great joy to let my inner child free and just have fun. The hills, the woods, I relish every moment. Because I love the trails so much, my friend Claire asked if I would like to take the trail run leg of a triathlon relay team. Obviously my answer was a resound YES! The team was set; Becca would do the swim, Claire would do the bike and I would do the run.
Packing for this race was really bizarre. I'm so used to packing a full tri bag that it felt like I was forgetting something by not taking more than just my running gear. The trip up to Lake Geneva was quick and rather uneventful. I believe I slept through almost all of it. We got there and went straight to packet pickup. The gear tents were inside the race area, I could already feel my excitement growing. (plus, the swag was sweeet! we got a tri bag instead of a tshirt)
Denise and her family used to vacation at Lake Geneva so she was our tour guide extraordinaire. It was their tradition to eat at a local restaurant right on the lakefront so after dropping our things off at the hotel that's where we went. We were told there would be a bit of a wait so I took the opportunity to walk across to the gorgeous Lake Geneva and take a snap a few photos. It was so beautiful, I made a mental note to add this to my list of places to return to. Denise joined me and with a sense of pride beaming from her smile explained that her dad loved going there because it was the closest thing he felt like Cuba. I can understand that. Also being the child of immigrants I appreciate the sacrifices our families make to ensure a better future for us. I'll always be thankful for what I'm provided because of what my family has had to sacrifice.
After dinner we meandered around the dock, checked a few gift shops and winded down from the day. Its sort of funny, this is one of the few races that I didn't really feel those pre race jitters. I guess maybe I could say that I just felt that confident, but a part of me knows better. There was something about that place that had this calming effect on me. I wasn't worried or anxious, I was looking forward to racing. The next morning, per my ritual, I got up early and started making coffee for us. This small part of my preparation helps me focus and block out everything else going on around me. I'm not used to having quite so many people around as I prepare so this was definitely a first.
We got to the race site no problem and each headed to our transition area. There were a few other friends of Denise & Claire that we made sure to find. As transition closed and we made our way down to the water it felt strange not prepping myself for the swim. With each wave that entered the water my desire to swim grew stronger. Once we knew Becca was in the water, Claire and I went back to transition to get her ready for the bike leg and discuss timing chip exchange strategy. Waiting for a team member before starting a leg takes a serious degree of patience. That's when it really hit me that I would be there awhile as everyone else was off doing some other portion of the race. I started to wish I had registered for the whole thing instead of a relay. But then I remembered this bike course has a ton of hills and that squashed any sentiments I was having about a solo race.
|oh hey swim start! I'm just here visiting|
I'm chatting it up with one of the other relay teams when I glance up and notice Claire coming down the lane through transition. What? Its way too early, what's going on? She looked so disappointed. She had a tire blow out that couldn't be repaired. Super bummer. I wanted to stay and cheer her up, but I also wanted to finish out our race. I grabbed the chip and went out for the run. Right after you exit transition there is a grass stretch then a bridge before entering the woods. This is home. I feel relaxed and energized. There are a few small rolling hills and I'm loving the feel of my shoes digging into the ground. This is freedom.
As I get to the last quarter mile there is the steepest hill of the course, but I can hear the finish line. I channeled my inner Steve "charge the hill". So there I went, bounding up towards victory. I reached the top and gave it all I had left to the finish line. I'm not sure where it came from but I had this super charge of energy and I blew through that finish line feeling stronger than I ever have at the end of a race. This is glory. I collected my medal and snacks before heading over to find the rest of my team. Jeremy, Denise's coach and the founder of our team Crush, was doing the olympic so we tracked him down to offers cheers along the running course.
|but do you see that speed? pony tail on fleek|
We stayed around to cheer on as many folks as we could and also to wait for the awards ceremony. Did I tell you that Denise is a beast? because she totally is. This bad ass mujer took third in her age group, earning her a spot on the podium. As a member of her quasi adopted family it felt like I was watching a parent head up there to claim that bronze. I am surrounded by a legion of bad asses. Can't wait to see what she continues to accomplish as she embarks on her first half ironman and marathon later this year. Talk about some serious awesomeness!
|Jeremy, Denise, Claire and I|
|obligatory bling shot!|
|Me, Claire and Becca|