I am behind on my updates. Two weeks ago, I went to Tennessee to cheer on my friends (and strangers) at 70.3 Chattanooga. On some level, I was sad to not be racing, but I’m clearly still not back into shape thanks to this hip injury, so it was clear that I didn’t have any business being on the course. I think that helped prevent any sadness in not being able to race.
But don’t get me wrong. Cheering is hard work!
Since I was just tagging along and playing sherpa, I let the others kind of dictate the weekend – which was awesome. It was nice to not have to make any decisions and just go with the flow. I joined some of my awesome Coeur teammates for an open water swim practice, which was so much fun. It was great to hang out with so many lovely ladies (and their families) and it was super convenient to be able to get in an OWS as well. I hadn’t been in open water yet this season, and now I’ve managed to check off that box.
Race morning, I let our racers decide what time we would get to the race site. So we were in bright and early (which is my preference as a racer for sure). I met up with a bunch of teammates who were racing, made sure everyone had everything they needed, and then made the first trip back to the car with the bike pump and some other things.
Headed over to race start and found some more of our team members. I was wearing a giant shark mask (mostly as a hat, because it was hot inside that thing). It made me easy to find, which is good, since everyone I was looking for was wearing wetsuits and swim caps. I collected items from some of the racers and then cheered everyone as they entered the water. I stuck around to see the last swimmers get in, and everyone looked so great! I was so proud of everyone.
I missed a lot of people getting out of the water because that swim was fast! A number of my friends were out of the water before the last swimmers were in! I hopped a bus back to transition and headed over to swim finish to watch the rest of the swimmers get out of the water. It was awesome to see so many grinning faces as people made it out of the water. I know that some team members were worried if they would all make it out of the swim in time, and everyone made it with plenty of time to spare. It was such a great feeling.
I then headed back to the car to drop off the shark head and a few other things I had collected along the way, then stopped to grab coffee and a quick breakfast. I started getting text messages that one of our racers seemed to have stopped. Finally, I got a text from someone with information. Even though Ruth didn’t finish the race, I’m so proud of all she accomplished, and her spirit is awesome and you should read her recap of what happened. I tracked her down and offered a hug and was super impressed by her determination to try again.
Now things were getting busy. I spent much of the day going between bike finish and the race finish line and then between the finish and mile 12.6, trying to see as many people as possible. It was exhausting, but it was also awesome to cheer people along the way, both friends and strangers. It was a hot day, and I was so impressed with everyone (and also kind of glad I wasn’t racing).
As friends finished the race, I slowly collected people and we headed up the run course to cheer people on where the race split and people on their first loop went one way and people on their second headed to the finish. It was a tough spot to be at when the race time limit was reached and people were no longer allowed to head to their second loop. Some seemed to know that it was going to happen, others were clearly devastated. It’s so hard to put in all that effort and not just miss the cutoff.
I was so, so proud of all of my teammates who were out there, pushing through different situations, each doing their best in difficult conditions. Everyone made smart choices, and sometimes that meant not finishing the race, but being able to race another day.
Being out and cheering was so, so much fun. Definitely highly recommended, and I’m certainly going to make a point to be at more races in the future. Just because I can’t race doesn’t mean I can’t exhaust myself on race day just the same!
(Seriously. I was so, so sore the next day. So sore.)