Once upon a time I was merely a “mid-distance” runner as my high school jacket boasted. I never dreamed I’d run in double digits.
Quite frankly, I had no idea people really did that.
Then, my runner friend coaxed me to the finish, puking and dry heaving, but crossing 13.1. Then I wondered if I could go further, faster? And I did.
26.2 done, did.
I had a baby.
I qualified for Boston.
I won a 50 miler
None of these things I knew how to do before I did them. I just did it. The first time I went 12 miles I did it more than 10 years after High School, in shoes and grey cotton sweatpants, from High School.
So, it didn’t really phase me when I started getting an email chain of bantering started by my friend, Marcus, who was trying to gear people up for an upcoming tri-Athlon sprint series. I don’t have a bike, my gym doesn’t have a pool, but I can run, so I signed up.
I had more than enough time to figure the whole thing out…..but like many people, life got in the way and it was the week before and I still hadn’t even figured out the bike thing. Both literally and figuratively, I needed to get in gear.
The day of the event had me excited and nervous. It had been a long time since I had done something so out of the realm of my knowledge and when I pulled up to the event I became even more uncertain. I totally didn’t belong. These people talked the talk as well as walked the walk and most had the gear to stand beside their words.
I, on the other hand, had a borrowed bike, shorts that are used to running through mud so I thought they could double as swim bottoms, and a sports bra also doubling as a swim top. My mid was exposed and as I stood looking at the sea of competitors who actually had air in their tires, I really was questioning being there.
It was at this time that my long time friend and one of the persons who I want to “be when I grow up” approached me, “Kacey, I didn’t know you did tris?” Oh, the sweet sound of honesty! “Ohhhhh Amy, it’s so good to see you.” Clearly my face said it all. She took the bag off my shoulder, said she was already set up, and proceeded to walk me through the set up steps AKA the transition spot. Quite literally, until I was standing on the beach waiting to begin, she didn’t leave me. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have even done as well as I did had it not been for her. She gave me just enough information to muscle through this thing, yet not too much thus making me too aware of knowing what I didn’t know.
This, was about to be one of the longest hours of my life….
My race actually began by another tr-athlete tapping me on the shoulder and pointing that the other ‘violet color’ caps were in the water ready to go. It’s here where I must add my own insert because these caps were in no way where I was suppose to be. I had the swim cap color of the elite racers. I, quite frankly have no idea what this means but when I get into the water and look around at the who’s who of the Metro Detroit Tri World, I’m pretty sure the girl who has never open water swam belongs in a different color group.
I will say, the nice part about this was that I, once again, found myself the last of the elite. I can think of worse places. In fact, since I couldn’t keep up with any of them, it was really like I had a private lake with none of the elbowing or getting kicked in the face which I thought I was going to have to contend with. I just merely was allowed to peacefully swim in my zig zag way (which really was my strategy so that my friends would surely be able to pick out where I was in the water for safety purposes)!
This completely inefficient swimming pattern also made it quite easy for the safety kayaks to hone in on me as the swimmer most likely to need assistance. They politely followed closely enough so as to not make any waves, but yet could get a head start on what they probably saw as a sure deal life saving opportunity.
And so, as I stumbled my way out of the water, completely ready to take the towel I wasn’t getting wrapped in, and figuratively ‘throw it in’ I was met with a great ‘poster’. My Marcus was wearing a Montana t-shirt, with the biggest grin, standing clapping, and shaking his head at how I’d gotten myself into the ‘elite’ group. To go big or go home was apparently in full swing and so I stumbled my way to my borrowed bike, air now in tires thanks to my friend Jeremy, and shoved my feet, toes first, into the ‘rolled like a condom’ socks that Amy had perfectly set out for me. In my cloudy and dizzy haze I heard another familiar voice of encouragement shout “Kacey hurry up and get going!” Great, another friend Joe was also there to witness my debut…..apparently my water to bike transition was a little sloggy and so I put some pep in my step, as my daughter has been taught to say from my sister, allowing my nightmare to truly begin.
When I say at this point that I don’t know how to shift, I’m unfortunately not doing it for dramatic effect, I really don’t. I didn’t make time to practice and it wasn’t until the last 2 miles that when I accidentally hit the right “shifter-thing” and something moved into what seemed more like a “right gear,” I got some tension and some speed, that I realized at what a disadvantage I’d put myself.
It was a frustrating situation more than anything that I found myself in without being able to shift. I was getting passed by EvErYoNe and that’s not really what I’m used to. My little legs couldn’t go any faster and at one point I broke out into laughter because I must have looked like a cartoon character whose legs were spinning so fast that they turn into a race-car-wheel and peel off leaving a black rubber burn mark on the road. I cracked myself up with that visual and then went back to pedaling like a mad woman.
I only got scolded by three cyclists who told me to “stay over, “slower bikers to the right.” I didn’t mind trying to stay to the right except that I was so flustered by this point that every time I tried to stay right, I ended up in the grass. I’m pretty sure no one winning is pedaling through the weeds. Well, on second thought, I’m pretty sure NO ONE is pedaling in the weeds.
And then, the WORST part, was when I realized I was going to have to figure out a way to get off of the bike. So I come, trying, but failing, to not come barreling into the “exchange zone” while being yelled at to “get off- get off the bike.” “I don’t know how” was all I could muster as I scanned for a tree to try and ride next to, so I could lean up on it for dismounting balance. I was in no way trying to gain seconds or an advantage, I was just trying to make sure I didn’t crash my brother-in-laws bike or crash any part of my body!
At this point in the race, I knew I wasn’t going to win anything, regardless I was finally about to do something I knew how to do……RUN, and run I did. I crushed the 5k portion of this Event. My legs didn’t feel like my own to start, but there were a couple of boys ahead of me and so I set out to do what I do…..chase fast boys.
Once I got the, whose legs are these, feeling out and settled into a pace, I just ran. I felt hot, but strong, and I picked off a couple of boys who had passed me on the bike.
I forget how quickly 5k runs go and before I knew it I was coming back up to the finish line. I crossed unceremoniously, finally drawing no attention to myself. I took a moment to catch my breath, have a volunteer actually put my medal on (something I don’t normally do but in this case I had really earned it!) and took some water being handed to me by Marcus at the finish line, wearing his poster for me “Montana!”. His “true” tri friends had already crossed and so we made our way over to them and the adventure that took less than 50 minutes to unfold was now going to go down in history and would be told, complete with making fun of self comments and laughing, more than 50 times.
(In fact at a conference I was to attend later I actually over-heard a group of people who had been at this race talking about “some girl” who bla-bla-bla…….yah, they were talking about me.)
And so, we can all over-think the millions of reasons why we shouldn’t do something. Most of the time we probably maybe even really shouldn’t. But if we never go out and try another gear, we may just miss out on life’s next great speed!
So now, after gutting out three different bike events, its probably time for me to figure this whole shifting thing out….I’ve found the perfect place: Detroit Endurance Lab…And we are TAKING THE PLACE OVER for our first ever GroovyGirlsGo outing!
Join us for a private 1 and 1/2 hour session at Tuesday February 26th at 6pm where we can bring, with no embarrassment, our questions, fears, and goals to an expert and get pedaling in the right gear! There might even be some mini racing at the end (like we told you about here!) All are welcome regardless of fitness level or cycling experience (there really is something for everyone here!) and we will even let boys in! 😉 Cost is $10, if you have a bike you are welcome to bring it but otherwise our friend Landall will provide bikes for the computrainers. Sign up online here….and do it RIGHT now cos there are only 18 spots available and you don’t want to miss out.
If you are interested in training for a Triathlon, Detroit Endurance Lab is offering an info session on Monday February 25th at 6pm! RSVP here to let them know that you are coming to the information meeting and don’t forget to use the coupon code to save $50 if you decide to sign up for the training package!
Go With What You Know, Go When You Don’t Have a Clue, Just Go……….And Go Groovy,