The race entry had been paid; the training had been done; the reservations for a house to rent have been completed; I have gone over my race needs list at LEAST 5 times; May 8th arrives and my family (and friends) is packed, in the car, and ready to roll out. We have 500 miles until we reach my race destination spot of Panama City Beach, FL. YAY! It is RACE time; it is BEACH time! The road trip was was quite uneventful until, with only about 2 more hours to go, LGC decides the Subway sandwich she had eaten about 30 minutes prior didn’t agree with the motion of the car. ICK. GAK. And, her backseat friend, Elyse, was mortified while LGC just sat there, after the fact (car still in motion) paralyzed in her Subway sandwich she was unfortunate enough to see again. *oops*
Welcome to Florida, the “Sunshine State!”
The unloading commences, Stacey and I head to the grocery store to get the necessities and then we all head to the beach. As I sat in my chair looking at the ocean I had a little concern, as it looked very “choppy” if you will, but I thought “hmm..tomorrow is a new day, all will be fine.” All is well! After all, we are in FLORIDA, right?! WooHoo! The next picture says it all; “Life was Good That Day” to quote Zac Brown Band… “toes in the water–“
The next morning comes (Friday morning-day before the race) and we head to the beach after breakfast. HOLY WIND BATMAN! REALLY? Upon walking over the bridge to the sand/ocean the FIRST thing I see is the ocean and its very mean breakers/waves at that point. Um, this didn’t change over night like I had thought it would/had prayed for. We get our chairs situated, kids immediately get in the water; HOWEVER, very cautious as the rip current is carrying them down the beach at an amazing rate.
I had previously organized an “open water” ocean swim with some of my triathlon team friends and husband for this day. After sitting in my chair for about 30-45 minutes, watching the ocean, the current, the kids entering the water and then exiting the water about 100 yards down the beach in a time span of a mere 2 minutes I commenced to enter FREAK OUT mode. Ain’t nobody got time to go out and swim in that mess. Susan, who had traveled from Memphis with her husband Scott and son Connor for a small vacation, said “yeah, I brought my wet suit but I am thinkin’ no on the swim.” Eling finally arrives (so good to see her-she has to do this race with me tomorrow; finally someone who can relate with me!!) with her husband Don and she says the same thing. THANK YOU SWEET BABY JESUS IN YOUR CRIB I do not have to do this today. BUT-please little baby Jesus in your crib with the straw and the cows and the 3 men that brought you some presents-don’t let it be this way in the morning; race morning. GAK! Then, the RED flag comes out and I want to grab a beer and put down the water that I had been religiously drinking to hydrate for the race tomorrow. Beer makes everything better right? No. Just no. (I didn’t drink the beer). I did, however, get to watch Susan help Connor build amazing sand dinosaurs. 🙂
Later this afternoon I make all my hydration, mixing everything in bottles JUST right; put this all in the fridge so I can easily grab it in the wee hours or the early morning. Then it is EXPO time! Eling and Don come pick John and I up and off we go to the Expo-lots of neat stuff there, even got a shirt that says “Swim, Bike, Run, Be Fabulous” on it with a tiara. Because, well, I am. 🙂 The mandatory bike check-in was not for another hour so Eling and Don take John and I back home. Eling and I had tossed around the idea of riding our bikes to the check in, because it really wasn’t that far, but decided against it. John loaded up my bike, I took off my cateye, my bento box (so I could load it with nutrition when I got him later on) and takes me to bike check in. I see Erin and Rachel there; check my bike, make sure it is in a smaller gear for easy take off, and say night-night and tell Becca (my bike) I will see her bright and early in the a.m.
Carbo loading has to commence and we get the kids and head to the Mellow Mushroom. I had the same pizza I had, had last year before my first 70.3 I did (Ironman 70.3 Augusta GA) and I had 2 beers-per the normal regime. The Holy Shiitake Pie! We return home and I head to bed for the fighting of sleep that always happens the night before. Hubster even slept on the couch to give me the entire bed thinking I would sleep more sound. Sleep sound before the night of a race? Ha!
4:30 a.m.- RISE and SHINE! It is RACE DAY! I take Baxter out for a walk, step out the door quietly as to not disturb all the others and the first thing I hear is the sound of the ocean-the SAME sound it has made for the last 2 days and I immediately got a sick feeling pit in my stomach. I don’t walk over and look-because I just can’t. Baxter does his business and back to the house we go. I have my morning coffee, my normal pre-race breakfast meal, I load all of my nutrition in my transition bag, go over my transition bag items at least 3 times to make sure I haven’t left anything out, grab my Garmin (canNOT leave the house without it) and hit the road with my chauffeur, the hubster. Roads are already blocked off so Hubster has to drop me off and I walk about 0.5 miles to transition. I am somewhat nervous, but okay, and then I see that Eling has racked her bike right next to mine-YAY! Speedy Turtles TOGETHER! I start unloading, meticulously placing all items I need in all the correct places (OCD is pure hell I tell you) and here she comes-Queen Speedy Turtle (QST)! We give big hugs to one another, go on about our business and then IT’S TIME-it is time to put on our wet suits, grab our goggles and go face the music. LAWD have MERCY!
To the beach we go; I am paying careful attention en route to the beach for the showers that they told us would be there to rinse the sand off of ourselves as well as taking in other details and then SHAZAM there is the ocean (like it was going to go away over night?!-I am dumbass). I find some of my TRI team members, we smile for photo ops, each one of us say how crazy this is, one of us, Michelle, said “yeah, I lied, this sounded like a good idea months ago.” Ha!
Anyway, here I stand, shoulder to shoulder, with Eling. Hubsters (both mine and Don, Eling’s husband) are right there with us, outside the chute. The National Anthem is played, I pray (per my normal routine) and I turn again and face the water; still shoulder to shoulder with QST in my wet suit, swim cap; goggles are on and I am listening to the race director who is up on a ladder speaking. What was he saying? I can’t remember. Why, why can’t you remember Becky? WELL I WILL TELL YOU WHY-I am looking at Navy SEALS in kayaks who are there for swimmer support who can’t get past the breakers, I am looking at jet ski’s that are up on their ass end and can’t get past the breakers, I am looking at the last buoy (OHMYGAWDTHATISSOFARAWAY) but I can’t see it, in its entirety because it is BOBBING UP AND DOWN so dern much and this is where I summon Sweet Baby J, His Dad and all who are holy to guide me, help me, and let me get through this; myself and all other race participants. Keep in my the race director is still talking (wha wha wha) and I am still praying, silently crying in my goggles (already fogging up-DAMMIT-and had just been treated with de-fog) and all of a sudden I see my Hubs make the sign like he is chopping his neck off. WHAT? What in the fresh hell? WHAT?? GO. AWAY! And then I hear it “After talking with the Bay County Sheriff’s office and rescue personnel, we have made the determination that we are going to cancel the swim this morning due to safety concerns. We apologize, but right now due to safety concerns with the Gulf of Mexico we are canceling the swim for everyone’s safety. There will be a time trial start from the beach to transition.” OHMYWORD -for that second I didn’t know whether to cry, be excited, pee on myself (I had to go-yes-HYDRATED) or be mad because the mileage of the race just went down 1.2 miles; the 70.3 was no longer true.
Okay-HERE WE GO! Time trial start to transition (they will release one athlete every 3 seconds); 1/4 mile run from the water’s edge through the sand, to our bike in transition. I get to transition, Hubster there rooting me on, QST is right behind me, get shoes on, helmet, glasses, the mandatory Hoo Ha Ride Glide (yes, true name, great product), and take my bike out to the “mount line.” Mounted and I’m off! Man, it felt GREAT! There was a little breeze, somewhat of a tailwind, and I am getting situated, opening my bento box so I can grab my fig newtons during my ride, getting into a good position with other riders and I am just past the mile 3 mark and I hear a noise-this noise sounds like my chain is hitting some metal (not a big deal; have heard it before). I try to fix the issue with a simple gearing adjustment-um, that doesn’t work. In motion I look down and all I can see is my entire crank set shifting left to right with every revolution I am making. So, I tell myself “SELF-it will be a long 51 miles to do this but just slow down, keep your legs as mid line as you can, and finish the bike portion.” Right about the time I had digested my new game plan “BINK!!!” off pops my crank arm, attached to my bike shoe, and um…obviously I can’t pedal anymore. HOW DO I STOP? I am still clipped in with my right foot as well. I was trying not to wreck, trying not to hurt the parts of my bike completely, knew I would have to scratch some things somehow and managed to come to a safe stop (thank you, Hayzeus) and there I am. Standing on the Side of the Road. Michelle, a team mate, passes me and says “I will go get help!” Cyclists are whizzing by me one by one, some of them asking if I am okay, “well yes, I am-I am not hurt.” What I am IS Angry, Pissed, Helpless (don’t have the right tool to fix this) and now MacGyver. I am looking around for something the same dimensions as my crank to screw the bolt back in place.
I can do this!! Um, no-no I can’t. I realize this. (Cyclists still whizzing by me). Race Support motorcycle goes by and waves, and I wave and point to my bike..she smiles. I think, “OKAY HELP IS ON THE WAY! YES!” Then, two ladies out for their morning wog pass by and I ask if I can borrow their phone. They oblige and I dial the Hubster’s number. He picks up “what’s wrong??” I commence to vomit in a chaotic voice what has happened, that race support has passed me, the intersection I am at, what I am looking at and then hang up.” And there I am, Standing on the Side of the Road. I am near a convenience store and I watch people come and go; one man walks up to help me and I thank him-but there was no way he could. A couple out for their morning walk ask me if I need anything, I tell them no. I am thinking help is on the way-but thank you, nice people. Keep in mind, cyclists are whizzing by me-they have a RACE to do! 🙂 About that time a cyclist, who is out for a morning ride, cycles up and says to me “are you the lady with a crank issue?” I reply to her that I am, and she states “you need to know your husband is working very hard for you right now back at the race site.” She is an accomplished cyclist, looks at my problem, I tell her in need an Allen wrench, she doesn’t have one and she walks into the convenience store and comes out and says “um yeah, they don’t even know what an Allen wrench is.” I say thank you, and she pedals away. And there I am, Standing on the Side of the Road. I call Hubster again and he tells me there is no race support on the bike course and I am on my own and that he is trying his best to get to me. WHAT? WHAT THE HECK DID YOU JUST SAY? No RACE SUPPORT for the bike? Um….
About this time a man riding a “fat tire” bike with a big ol’ basket on the front comes pedaling up. “Ma’am, do you have a flat tire?” I said “no sir, I sure don’t-I wish that was all that was wrong with my bike.” He says, “well, I want to help you.” I say “thank you, I appreciate the offer, but I am afraid he can’t.” He inspects my bike from afar, is enamored with the fact that my shoes are attached the pedals, says “oh you are a PROFESSIONAL then!” I laugh, tell him “no sir-not quite.” And he paused, and then he looked at me and said “well, I do hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day tomorrow-if you are one.” MELTED MY HEART! He then told me his name was Xavier (had a foreign accent as well, I told him my name, and away he pedaled. 🙂 The silver lining to a VERY bleek, gray cloud.
Here comes my CAR!!!! My HUBSTER! YES! Hubster gets out, flips this, does this, quick hold this, do this, jam this in there, this will get you going, here you go, wow, okay, yeah, OKAY–GO GO GO GO GO GO GO!!!! I look at him and say “what if it happens again?!!!” He says “HERE! TAKE YOUR PHONE!” And, about that time, the last cyclist of the entire race goes by, followed by the motorcycle who follows the last cyclist during the race. I told Hubster to rack my bike and then I just sat in the car and cried. Hubster too, I believe; on my behalf. He drives me to park by transition, he is going to go into transition and get my bag for me. I call my mother and can’t manage to do anything on the phone but cry to her. She tries to comfort me. About this time Don, Eling’s husband, walks by where we are parked, he comes over, offers words of solace, and then Hubster returns telling me the Transition Nazi (TN) (we will call her) will not let him get my things. He did turn in my timing chip, though. I start immediately walking that way and in my head “let this TN tell ME I can’t get in there to get my things-JUST LET HER. Obviously, in the angry phase. I walk in without incident, walk out, and ask Hubster to take me back to our house so that I can get out on the run course and cheer on my friends and teammates, and that is exactly what I did.
The race was over, we finished cheering on race participants, go back to the house we had rented, and I was mad, I was angry, I was sad, I was exhausted, I was frustrated, I was tired, I was just PISSED to be honest. All very valid feelings. We decided to shower and go out to dinner that night and ended up having a great time.
I received a late night visit from QST and her husband Don; we sat out back by the pool with an adult beverage and spoke about the incidences of the day and QST looks at me and tells me that God was looking out for me that day; there was a reason I wasn’t supposed to be out on that course. And, I agreed. It was silent for a few minutes and then Don looks at me and says “so, did you know that you got a 4-minute penalty for blocking?” SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! WHAT? WHAT IS BLOCKING?? I DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW TO BLOCK!!! ARGHHHH!!!!! Further validation that, that just wasn’t my day. And, I finally laughed.
Standing on the Side of the Road-watching every race participant go by (you see, I was in the first wave that went off so EVERYONE had to pass me-) will teach you some things. It will teach you to be humble. It will teach you that things are not in your control. It will teach you to swallow some things that are hard to swallow. It will teach you that it isn’t your way, it’s God’s way.
After all, I did get to spend Mother’s Day on the beach with my family, friends with most importantly with LGC: 🙂
You see, there will always be another race entry fee to pay. There will always be more training you can do. There will NOT always be life lessons and hard times; it is through those hard times you grow, evolve, change, and become a better version of you. Just. Take. Another. Step.