Even though this is now my fifth season racing triathlons, I’m constantly learning that this sport requires enormous attention to small details. And to big details. Note that this is an and, not an or. Furthermore, being diligent at some point does not mean you can coast through the rest of the process.
Take today, for instance. Past KT was really on top of things. Back in January, she diligently studied the race schedule and signed up for the Kinetic Half Aquabike (swim/bike) + Kinetic Sprint triathlon when prices were quite low. She even thoughtfully checked the start times (7 AM on Saturday!) and decided to book a hotel in nearby Fredericksburg, rather than drive the 90 minutes from DC (twice, in one weekend). Past KT also smartly scheduled a pre-race tuneup at Rose Physical Therapy to get some Active Release Technique (ART) to work out any knots or muscle tightness from the big weeks of training.
Given all that, Present KT should be sitting pretty, right? Well, there was something else that Past KT did, or rather, didn’t do: sleep. The past few
weeks months have been really busy and stressful between work, training, and travel planning. As a result, I’ve been in a bit of a mental fog. But no problem, right? The Kinetic Half is just an aquabike (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike), so logistics should be easy! If you are already spotting the flaw in that logic, you have definitely slept more than I have.
Since a simple list of all the things that went awry would make a very long and depressing blog post, here are some choice moments that I am now able to laugh about:
- Missing a key section on my new race nutrition plan (reading and memorizing are not the same, go figure), therefore starting the race hungry, and bonking at the beginning of the bike. If you’re not familiar with the term, bonking is when your body is out of glycogen and you suddenly have no more energy. My reaction is usually to burst into tears, and today was no exception.
- Receiving the wrong swim cap color at check-in (or maybe I received two and put on the wrong one), nearly causing me to be disqualified by starting in the wrong starting wave.
- Mis-mixing my electrolyte drink and winding up with double the concentration in my bike bottle. The powder clumped in the straw and I could barely drink without gagging.
- Getting stuck behind cars for long stretches because they were stuck behind slower cyclists. Bravo to the cars for not passing too closely but very frustrating at the time.
- Hearing a disturbing noise from my back tire around mile 30. I pulled over, checked for a flat, and then found the culprit: the race number sticker was catching on the wheel. My first reaction was to tear it off but then remembered I kind of needed it to finish the race properly (and for tomorrow) so compromised with an awkward origami.
- Packing the proper food but not packing it properly. Picture electrolyte drink mix spilled all over my suitcase, and trying to use my finger to mix applesauce and protein powder in a styrofoam hotel coffee cup at 4 AM.
Yep. But as much as the little things can mess you up, they can also set you straight. I was able to finish the race by focusing on positive details, like how fresh the air smelled (except when passing a trash fire, ew), names of streets that reminded me of friends or family, and even picturing a snooty concierge telling me that my reservation for the Pity Party of 1 was not available yet and would have to wait until after the race. I did eventually finish, contemplated dramatically throwing my bike into the lake (come on, we’ve all been there), but decided to quietly feel sorry for myself instead. That lasted all of a few minutes. Then the Pity Party of 1 turned into a perspective party of many. I ran into Claire Bowe, co-owner of Rose PT, who not only made me smile for the fist time all day, she was able to figure out (and fix) the mysterious rotator cuff pain that had emerged during my swim. Then, via text messages with my family, friends, and coach, emerged some choice lines, including “Just call this one a mulligan. Golfers can do it, so can you!” and “Wow, you’re right, everything possible did go wrong!// Yay, I got something right today!” and “The road to heaven goes through miles of clouded hell. This is your clouded hell. We need to keep on!”
So that’s the plan for the sprint tomorrow, keeping on. But first, sleep.