Auburn International triathlon race report
There is an expression in triathlon: You can’t win a triathlon with your swim, but you certainly can lose it. Meaning you can be the fastest swimmer out there but that doesn’t mean you’ll win the triathlon. But if you are one of the slowest swimmers that can certainly hurt your chances of winning.
The swim went great at the start and I felt strong. After rounding the 2nd orange buoy I saw the leader’s feet and drafted behind her for a while (I’ve never had the chance to draft in a race. I was so excited!). The sun was in our eyes coming back up river so it was almost impossible to see that 3rd distant orange buoy. I trusted her to be going in the correct direction and stayed on her feet following her bubbles. But after a while (since I apparently have trust issues) I thought she was going off course when I spotted the (wrong) orange buoy. I quickly jumped out of her draft and headed towards it. Then approximately where you see the point of the red line hit the N in “North” in the image below, I saw a paddle boarder frantically going across the river just ahead of me. He stopped me and said “your buoy is that way” pointing WAY back towards the other shore to the correct orange buoy (when you are in the water everything seems so far away). That’s when the quote You can’t win a triathlon with your swim, but you certainly can lose it came into my head. I figured I just lost the race because of my swim mistake. I was so disappointed. I was really pushing hard AND drafting off the leader! Dang-it! I figured I had just lost any chance for an age group podium finish let alone a good overall placing. I almost felt like giving up. Which actually made me question why I was racing in the first place. Just to win? While that is always nice of course, I should be racing because I enjoy it and love the sport. So I decided right then, despite thinking I lost any chance at placing well, to keep pushing hard and finish the swim strong then go on to bike & run hard. Racing and triathlons need to be about more than the win.
But when exiting the water the time on my watch wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting, so I thought I might still be in the race!
On the bike Maria Hodges passed me at about mile 5. I have ridden with her and know her to be a very strong cyclist. I decided to keep her in my sights, knowing she would probably drop me, but I would just try to keep up. We leap-frogged a bit and passed Rachel Main at about mile 7. Then sometime before the 15 mile turn-around I felt strong enough to surge and I was able to maintain the lead for the rest of the bike!
Coming into transition 2 (bike to run) I heard I was first female! I had family, friends & teammates cheering me on (you guys are the best!). The run, mostly trail, had a little out & back from mile 1 to mile 2 so I got to see all the runners close behind me: Maria, Rachel, Robin Soares, Kelsey Adair… all amazing triathletes. I pushed hard knowing someone was bound to catch me (running scared is what a friend calls it). So I ran scared the rest of the race and was able to hold the lead to the end!
As silly as it seems, the swim mistake put things into perspective for me. Why am I racing? Is it just to win? Shouldn’t it be for something more? So as glad as I am that my swim mistake didn’t lose the race for me, I am even more glad that I continued to race hard even when thinking the outcome might not be what I had expected or hoped. A quote I read recently rings so true: Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. — Winston Churchill
May we all have the courage to continue.
Until next time,