This past weekend, Sunday, September 23rd, to be exact, I participated and completed my first and quite possibly my last ever Iron Girl Duathlon. For those of you unfamiliar with the specifics, that is a 2 mile run, a 22 mile bike ride and a 2 mile run to top it all off. My fellow footie Mom, in the photo above, suggested this race to me when she heard Husband Jared and I enjoyed half marathons. Being ignorant in the ways of cycling I said yes, registered for the race and begin training.
Little did I know what I was getting into, until Husband Jared and I drove the cycling course. There was hill after hill after hill oh and then some more inclines. So I diligently logged miles and hours on my bike. A mountain bike no less. Heavy and with knobby tires. Come to find out that is not a good combination for a road race. No sir.
So, there I was the night before race day. Feeling rather unprepared, knots in my stomach and definitely lacking the confidence necessary to conquer those hills. Husband Jared spoke some truth, poured encouragement out and even woke up on race moring to prepare coffee and hard boiled eggs for me. Time for me to get over myself. The goal...just finish the race. Don't worry about the time and just keep pedaling. Even when you don't want to, even when it's tough, even when your legs are screaming, just keep pedaling.
And I did. Carolyn was a huge support. She had navigated the course two times previously, knew her way around and was such a source of motivation for me. I might have left out, the race is women only! Oh yeah. In the case you did not know I am an emotional being. Seeing a sea of women line up, some alone, some in groups, some cancer survivors, some struggling with MS diagnosis, others celebrating birthdays or weight loss, was overwhleming. Not only that, but relationally women are amazing. There were strangers encouraging, fist pumping and hugging all whiel preparing to head out onto the course. Then there was Carolyn and myself. Her spurring me on and running the first miles with me all while talking. Super impressive. We made it into the transition area and I was feeling strong. Stronger than when I started. Until I saw the racks of bikes and once again I felt completely intimidated. Remembering the mantra, just keep pedaling, I mounted the bike and we began. Then Carolyn was just a speck of purple, miles in front of me. Before the race began we had agreed that we would each run our own race so to speak, go at our own pace and not worry about "staying together". And we did. She finished a good half hour ahead of me but when I rounded the corner towards the finish line she was right there, cheering me on and smiling. Awesome. I must admit, I was a bit jealous of her water and her smile. Almost there.
Here's where I stop and reflect for a brief moment about the experience. I struggled both mentally and physically on the course. There was one hill, on the second time around that I had to literally talk myself into climbing on the bike and as I was in the midst of it I heard a voice from behind yelling, "get it girl". Women are beautiful. Another hill, and a different rider, passing me on the left and shouting encouragement, "almost there", "keep going", "you can do it". That was the norm, not the exception for this race. A group of women came along side as we were on the last of a string of hills on the back side of the course. I must admit that I was cursing in my head when next to me I hear, "jeepers". Yes, that's right, "jeepers". Couldn't have said it better myself. Those hills were hard. They tested my resolve in more ways than one. Yet, while riding, I was strangely at peace. There was conversation between me, myself and God. Some prayers. Some questions. Some blog writing happening while I was riding. Hence this reflection. I was so grateful to be amongst competitors that shared womenhood as our common ground. It was inspiring.
Well enough of that. Let's talk finish line. And breakfast. Medals and photos. I crossed the finish line, heard my name called out and found Carolyn waiting for me. No sooner did I see her and she asked if we were still friends. Ha. Of course. Not that I didn't question my sanity as well as hers throughout the race. Those last two miles were excruciating. I could liken my legs to Popeye's calves, each feeling as though they weighed 100 pounds. It was a long, slow two miles. I did in fact finish. Goal accomplished. Then we refueled doing our best to repace the thousand plus calories that we just burned. And we laughed and compared the racer's high to childbirth; Painful throughout, yet strangely enough we would do it all again. Maybe.