Racing by Shannon Coates
Wildflower has amazed me. It is the kind of race that will chew you up and spit you out. I strangely enjoyed its level of difficulty. For much of the race, I thought I had taken myself out of the equation of being competitive due to the fact that first I had mechanical issues on the bike and then come the run portion, I was moving slower then molasses. I learned late in the race, roughly around mile 8 of the run where a woman on a relay team told me that she believed I was one of the top female competitors as I passed her. I was being severely challenged by my mental demons until this lady told me I was still in the race. I immediately was shocked to hear this and felt a wave of energy as hope filled my heart. I just couldn’t believe that I was apparently ahead of most of the field after my set back on the bike and how slow I believed I was moving on the run. This race was truly about sheer grit and the ability to thrive under adverse conditions and situations. A new type of racing that I had not experienced before. If going into the race you can truly understand that this was the way the race was going to go you would be just fine. To accept that PR’s on the bike and run would be unlikely and even the fittest athlete can crack under the brutal conditions of the race, then you’ve got yourself a race strategy. Again, I strangely admired the challenge of this race. The challenge was in the conditions you must withstand. The heat, hills and trails are not to be underestimated. I had a pretty solid swim. I felt strong throughout the entire swim and stayed in control of my pace. I stayed with a good pack and tried to stay on people’s feet as much as I could. Out of the water there is a nice hill to run up to get to your bike. Running up the hill I laughed thinking this is such a cruel joke!! Starting the bike I felt strong and optimistic I could take down this bike course. Coming off of my training I felt well prepared. Constantly climbing for the first 15 miles or so, I stayed calm and spun up the hills and powered the down hills as planned. I was amazed at how smooth and efficient I felt. I just felt this steady strong power as my heart rate stayed low. It was becoming an amazing ride for me. Then the unexpected happened. My aero bar extension came loose on me at 30 miles in and then completely off hanging only by a Di2 cord. I pulled off the road for about 5 mins ditching my aero drink and feverishly trying to reassemble my aero bar extension. No luck so I decided to just hold it, it was only 26 more miles. There was no was I was letting this ruin my race. I realized this was a great opportunity to practice my resilience. Nothing is ever guaranteed to go your way in races. The only thing you can ever control is how you handle yourself and I choose to fight. I don’t claim to be perfect; I was upset over the set back on the bike and had some demons in my mind I was fighting. I was fighting to stay in the race but had a sinking feeling I had taken myself out of being competitive since I was moving so slowly out of transition on the run. More then half of the run I fought with myself to believe. The run was mostly on a sandy trail with constant leg burning hills dispersed evilly apart. Sometimes you just need a little angel to whisper in your ear and give you that extra push. I had two during my race. First was the lady I passed letting me know I was one of the top females that were passing here and that gave me that extra little push to change gears at mile 8 of the run. The second was a man named Kevin I met during the last couple of miles of the run. He had done this race last year and knew there was a giant hill at mile 11 to climb, but mile 12 was all down hill to the finish. I cringed of the thought about climbing another killer hill at mile 11 but stride for stride he talked with me up that hill. I would have walked that thing if it were not for him my legs were that numb. Thank you Kevin for being that second little angel to help me fight when I was feeling weak. Mile 12 finally came and all the anticipation of ending this brutal race exploded within me and I took a mile long sprint down this giant hill, put my arms in the air and crossed that finish line. I took 2nd in the 25-29, which I am OK with. I am just still amazed that I took a podium spot when I thought I was done for much of the race. It taught me a lot about resilience and the power of continuing to believe. It is not over until it is over. You ought to fight to the very end. Never ever ever give up. Even if you come in dead last, you cross that line, because when you commit yourself to something you owe it to yourself to see it through. Now with that said there are absolutely extenuating circumstances like illness and injury that it would be silly to go on, but taking those factors out of the equation, just always believe that when the going gets tough, the tough get going (tuff). And to bring it full circle, being the Timex athlete I am, it is all about being able to take a licking and keep on ticking! A phenomenal thank you to both my team Timex who I had a number of teammates out there who rocked it and Tri Lab who has continued to be a huge support for me. I wore my new Timex race trainer 2.0 during the run and although I did not like the numbers I was seeing, I loved the ease of use and high visibility it gave me from start to finish. Tri Lab being the best triathlon retailer of all time hooked me up with my disc wheel for the bike. A huge thank you to Hypoxico altitude systems for sponsoring me this year and giving me the means to train with altitude so when I get the chance to race at altitude I will rock it! I am also immensely blessed to have such a phenomenal coach Chuck Kemeny of Revolutions Tri Coaching for believing in me and being such a force in my racing. He truly knows how to execute a training protocol for even the toughest races and get my butt in gear when I fight my doubts. And finally Joshua, my rock. I don’t know what I would do without such an amazing man in my life.