Well, I’m sitting on the plane headed to one of my biggest races yet. The Oceanside 70.3. On Sat I will be a part of a group of 5 disabled athletes, and 1000’s of able-bodied athletes that will attempt this 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run with the goal of making it to the finish line. No time goals are needed here; making it to the finish line will be an accomplishment in itself.
I am representing the Challenged Athletes Foundation and their subset called Operation Rebound. It is a group of athletes that were wounded either in Iraq or Afghanistan or as a police officer of fire fighter. I have done a number of races with them throughout the year, but I am usually part of a relay team, and most often the swimmer. I’ve felt for a while now that I needed to step up and do the entire race, being my own team. Just doing the swim is great, but while I sit around and wait for my teammates to complete the race, I always wish I was doing more. So one day last summer, when I was no doubt in a great mood, wondering what my next big challenge could be, this race came up, and I jumped on it. And here I am, 7 months later, wondering what on earth I was thinking. At the time I wasn’t thinking of the dreaded Chicago winter and that much of my training would be done inside, either on a treadmill or on a stationary bike. Because of that, my training has suffered a bit and I really only have myself to blame. I have this awesome coach, Coach Mike, from Carmichael Training Systems that has been giving me my weekly workout schedules in preparation for the race. I’d be lying if I said I completed them all, and I too often used the excuse of being too tired, or it’s too cold, or really just preferring to sit on the couch with my husband. But whatever the reason, it was pure laziness on my part and I’m sure I will feel it on Sat. I am confident that I have done enough training to finish the race, it just won’t be pretty and I probably won’t look all that happy at mile 10 of the run.
We’ll start with a lovely 1.2 mile ocean swim with the first dip being at 6:45am. From there we start on the 56 mile bike course that I’m told can be a bit hilly. I’m not a huge fan of hills, the only having one leg thing, makes them a little difficult. If I go to slow, I’ll actually start rolling backwards. No joke. But the one thing I have done over the past few months is really step up my bike training. And thanks to my rocking computrainer coach, Stacee, I feel as prepared as I can be at this point. After I get off the bike, I’ll start the 13 mile run course, which is a 2 lap course with periods of sand you have to run through. Again, not too much a fan of the sand especially after the bike. BUT, at the end of it all there will be a glorious finish line where I will run, or crawl, through in my moment of glory of having completed the race. My motto of the race is, The only way to finish it to start, and start I will bright and early on Sat morning. Please pray to the wind gods that they take it easy on us.
There are some cutoffs that have to be made throughout the race that allow you to stay on the course. We have the fortune of being the very first swim wave, which will give us the maximum time available to make those cutoffs. Once I make the bike cutoff I will make it to the finish, even if the finish shoot is torn down by then.
I’m lucky that I’ll have my husband, the awesome CAF peeps and many other athletes and supporters there for the support. I’m a sucker for people cheering for me, and I’m told there’s a crowd at this race with some loud cheers along the way. Plus, my husband is going to meet me halfway on the run with a towel and a fresh liner for my running leg and there’s nothing like a sweaty hug and a kiss to keep me going for 7 more miles. Oh and did I mention that Dick and I will be flying to Hawaii the following day for a week of R&R. So as I become near the point of exhaustion it will be thoughts of hula skirts, and mai tai’s on the beach that will get me through those last miles.
But really, as much as I talk about how long it is and how much it’s going to hurt, the bottom line is, I’m thrilled. Thrilled, really, to have the opportunity to compete in such a race. To have the people behind me who believe I can do it, and to prove to myself that I really can.
So. Wish me luck. I’ll send a race update as soon as I’m able to move my fingers long enough to type it out.