An oft-repeated theme in my blog is going to a race as a spectator in order to motivate myself.
There’s a reason: it works. Also, it’s fun.
On Sunday, my friend Emily competed in her first triathlon. A little background: Emily moved to Albuquerque from Houston about a year ago. She was awesome from the get-go, but decided to make herself even more awesome by doing a triathlon. Her target: the Patriot Sprint Triathlon, in nearby Rio Rancho. She trained her tail off, and took “nutritious eating” to a new level. I watched her like a Mother Hen, but luckily Emily is sensible in addition to awesome, and didn’t veer into worrisome eating territory. She even tapered properly. Come race day, that girl was ready.
I knew I would go and cheer for her, partly because she doesn’t have family in Albuquerque to act as support crew, but mainly because I think debut triathlons (debuts of any kind of race, really) are a BIG DEAL. When I found out the triathlon was just a week before my next race, the Santa Fe to Buffalo Thunder Half-Marathon, I got even more excited. Motivation for pre-race week!
On Sunday morning, I drove out to Rio Rancho, and everything worked out great. I found Emily before the start – she was pumped, with no visible anxiety or inclinations to pre-race nervous vomiting. Lucky girl. When starting time drew near, I headed into the pool area. What is it about the smell of chlorine that makes me feel exactly like a fidgety kid at a swim lesson?
I kept a sharp eye on Emily as she moved through the swim line, because once someone joins the sea of thrashing – er, gracefully swimming – bodies, forget about finding them. I cheered as she completed her laps, and did some shrieking and flailing as she exited the pool area. I didn’t carry any cowbells this time; I was pretty certain that cowbells in an enclosed area would annoy even me. Then she took off on her bike, and I took the opportunity to do a little running around the neighborhood. I concluded that “Rio Rancho,” roughly translated, means “Uphill. Downhill. Nothing flat.” Oh well. Still a pleasant change of scenery.
I caught the end of Emily’s bike stage, and cheered alongside her for the first part of her run. I turned around at a random point, telling her I’d meet her again near the finish (hey, at least I didn’t say “May the odds be ever in your favor!”). I scuttled back to station myself elsewhere, and before I knew it, she came breezing along. She wasn’t cussing or foaming at the mouth: good signs! I trotted alongside her briefly, cheerily told her to kick it in (thankfully, she didn’t punch me) and hurried to the other side of the finish line.
Not only was she smiling afterwards – although she did have colorful words for the course’s hills – but she already wants to do another triathlon. And she’ll do it. After all, you don’t mess with Texas, even if you’re a triathlon.
As for me? I’m going to take the determination I witnessed and let it marinate in my bones. It may be taper time for the physical part of my training, but not at ALL for the mental part.
God, I love races!