Last year when this race happened I was rolling out for my last long ride going into IM Cozumel. It starts less than 1/4 mile from my house, so this year I was happy to sign up and smash it into my last "long" run going into IM Arizona. And really, the only reason I'm bothering to write a report for it at all is because our friend Rick came out and took some amazing photographs, so don't bother reading the words, just look at the pretty pictures and click away.
I dragged a few of my local athletes into this race, and did about a half-hour easy warm-up with one. The morning was cold enough that I warmed up in crops and a long sleeve but then changed at the last second into shorts and a tee shirt. My very rough plan for the race was to run a couple of miles easy and then a couple of miles somewhere around ironman race effort and/or pace, ish. So I decided I would run the first couple of miles with one of my athletes to have some company as we all know I am a number one chatterbox. (This is Emma, she let me bend her ear for an hour while she hauled ass).
There were a few mats on the ground so I wasn't entirely sure where the race started, and the GPS on my Garmin decided to sleep in (90 minutes of running = .35 miles covered, ironman confidence booster success), plus I was talking so much that I kept forgetting to hit the lap button at the mile markers anyway. So I quite literally have no idea how the race went down. After the second mile, Emma was working hard and I decided that I would stay with her and whip her ass instead of trotting away. I know that when I'm racing hard, I like having something to occupy my thoughts other than ow holy shit F ow, so I babbled on and on about whatever happened to drift across my mind as we clicked off the miles. (Anyone who has run with me ever knows what this is like).
I started picking out people for us to chase down, yap yap yapping away, trying to distract Emma from how much I knew she was hurting. We caught the guy (girl?) in the weird crops, the pink shorts girl and the guy dressed as a turkey. The poet trotted back to find us after he crossed the finish and he did some extra-loud last-ditch go-go-go yelling at Emma and then that was it, we were over the line.
My biggest takeaway from this race had nothing to do with how I ran, or running at all, but instead how much fun it was to be out participating in a race, being a part of the community, chatting merrily along on a sunny Saturday morning. For me, the best work I could have done that day was to move my body and be happy, that was what I needed to be ready for ironman. Not worrying about the watch or paces or heart rate or even how many miles I ran, but instead, clearing out my head, chasing fun. I had two athletes racing themselves and they both had strong, I would daresay, breakthrough races. And the greatness of the day belongs to them. I love coaching. I love working with every single one of my athletes, I love when they want to tackle their weaknesses and their challenges and there is joy in that work being done. But the moments that are more rare are when an athlete makes a huge leap forward. It's spectacular to witness, to stand by when all the pieces come together and someone is thrilled, exhausted, at peace, motivated, and dreaming bigger than before about the future. Those days as a coach are truly better than any day I will ever have myself as an athlete.
And with that, one week until ironman.