Race Report: Florida 70.3
This will not be my typical race report. On Friday, as I was waiting for my flight to leave, I found out that one of my oldest and dearest friends was found dead. I had a short thirty minutes to notify friends/family, sob openly and make a decision. Yes, I was that woman crying in the airport. I learned that if you put your sleeping mask on during the flight you can cry without anyone knowing.
I talked with my wife, and we both agreed that Quigley would have told me to get on the “damn” plane. After I arrived, I continued to make the hard phone calls and process that Quigley was gone. Racing was the last thing on my mind.
I went to bed exhausted and woke up with a foggy brain and a heavy heart. I decided to do my pre-race workouts and make the call. I informed the people closest to me that I wouldn’t be speaking by phone. If I wanted to race, I needed to be crying free on Saturday. Everyone was amazingly supportive.
Quigley was considerably older than me. I know he considered himself a father figure for me. He was one of my first friend’s in Bloomington. I was his date (obviously a safe one) for his son’s wedding.
He was the person that first recognized that KT and I belonged together. His eloquence included profanity and inappropriate sexual references. Just the push I needed. One of his great loves in life was flirting with and embarrassing KT. He excelled at it. On the day of our marriage, he gave us a card to tell us we almost restored his faith in marriage.
Why did I decide to race? Because Quigley liked to talk about his death frequently. He wanted no pomp and circumstance. I believe he knew that it would devastate me and he wanted me to carry on. So I did.
I did not race for Quigley. He loved and supported me but didn’t understand my dedication to the sport. I will never forget the day he sat down with me to tell me it was time to stop triathlon. He wanted me to use my energy to change the world. And he wanted me to run for Mayor. I explained that I was doing good and I had no interest in ever going back to a standard job!
When I decided to race, my coach Marilyn Chychota supported that decision. And she gave me a mantra too; brave and strong. My friend, Sara Gross advised me to race 100% and grieve afterwards.
And I did.
Florida 70.3 is a legit race. The swim has more turns than some bike courses. It is slow but it is slow for everyone. My goal was to do work but do no harm on the bike. I was 6th out of the water in my age group. KT pointed out I was 10’ back from the first woman out. She asked if I backstroked the whole swim. Welcome to my world.
The bike course is not flat. We were fortunate that there was some overcast and fog. It did warm up considerably but would have been much worse in full sun. The course itself had very good road conditions. Surprisingly good.
I can’t say enough about my Dimond bike. It is the fastest bike I have ever been on and it shows on the race course. Especially down hill. After a winter of roller rides I am feeling dialed in to the bike and comfortable with its speed. I moved up from 6th to 2nd place. I kept repeating brave and strong. And a few verses from a Sam Smith song (I can, can, can). For you geeks at home I finished with a VI of 1.02.
I had no idea what was awaiting me on the run course. ‘What About Bob’ was racing too and he mentioned that it was hilly. He was not kidding. Some of the biggest running race climbs I have ever experienced. And it was roasting with full sun and humidity.
I let the first lap get under my legs. I have been working on tweaking my run nutrition. I found out in this race that it worked great for me as my times improved each of the three laps.
I have been on the podium at 70.3 races but never managed to pull out the win. I am grateful to everyone that has helped and supported my journey.
I am very happy with my race but my heart remains heavy. And now I grieve.