This season was not intended for the ‘Year of Firsts’, however, it has been, so with this, I guess you could call it my second rookie season. After a year off from racing, I entered 2014 with my first bike race, my first trail race, and now my first 10k road race. It is a great reward to find once again my love for racing by trying new distances and types of racing.
Every country I travel to, whether it be for business or pleasure, it is essential to find a race, and with that I had the choice of a 2.5 or 5km (too short for the distance traveled to get there), 10km (not my ideal), 21 or 42km (not in shape for either). So I guess the choice was automatically narrowed down for me, and there I was, left with my arch nemesis of distances – the 10km. Pick 8 or 15 and I would have mentally and physically known how to pace myself, but for some reason I have never been able to figure out how to pull of a 10km. As a result, I have avoided the distance like the plague of all road races.
This unusual event was like the track and field of road races. Families brought picnics and tents to make a day event of this multi-distance, all day event. Starting on a track, making multi-loops around this beautiful park, this little local race was to raise money for the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami.
After spending a winter in India, I am very unconscious of the conservative nature of clothing women wear when it comes to working out and racing. And although I am a true believer of less is best when it comes to racing in 90F/32C degrees in the beating sun, I am also aware that I had to get my way back to my hotel, which was about 5km away from the race site. I prefer to draw the lease amount of attention as possible when walking down streets of foreign countries, so I chose to dress Asian style – long black tights and black top (let’s be smart and make it as hot and uncomfortable as possible when exerting a massive amount of energy in the heat.) The only thing I could not bear was covering my arms; I believe I would have overheated and died had I done that. Although, I did bring a scarf and throw in the bushes, so I could cover them on my way back to the hotel.
11:00 a.m. – My race started. 4 laps (2.5km each) around the park, passing through the track stadium on each round. No shade. Not a cloud in the sky. Lap 1 – My start was conservative, given I had gotten off a plane from the US 12 hours previous. Lap 2 – I started to make my slow and steady passes, one after another. Lap 3 – Starting to have those conversations in my head, reminding me why I never race this distance…it hurts…really, it hurts. But here, we go, one last lap. At this point you have a choice to make.
Choice – it is something we all have. The choices we make is what helps us forge the path we create throughout our life. We can choose the easy way or challenge ourselves, and while it may not be easy at the time, the reward on the other side often is greater.
As much as I wanted to ease off on this lap, in this race that really didn’t count for anything on my racing resume, I made a choice to push harder; to hurt more. Picking off 3 more women on that last lap landed me 7th place overall women in my very first 10km race ever. The girl who sucked (really) at cross country. The girl who has always struggled to run a stand alone road race not only conquered her first 10km race with a top 10 finish, but pulled off a jet-lagged negative split run.
It is hard to write about something when you have nothing to write about, therefore, I haven’t.
Moving into the next box came with one of the worst year’s ever in my books. 10 months ago I went off on a business trip and had a freak toe accident that left my foot in a boot for 4 months and out of running (along with everything else) for almost 7 months. Who knew a baby toe was so important…especially when you have to put a shoe on your foot.
Long story short…
Forced myself through 4 climbs of Alpe d’Huez in 5 days, because I was not giving up on the trip/race of a lifetime (some are just worth the sacrifice). Got two flat 20 miler rides in before that week. Cleared it in 1:10 and descending in less than 18 minutes with a trailer in front of me for 2 miles. Making car passes downhill was the worst of it all! Fell in love with it – LOVE Alpe d’Huez and would say if you have ever questioned it, wanted just once to try it: DON’T HESITATE, DO IT!
February 2nd, 2014 my very first bike race ever! Why did it take so long? 100km crit style in Ahmedabad, India. 13th OA women’s and can never complain about that, holding on in the 2nd chase group and pulled the pack with 4 other men. *Ladies, if you want to be a better cyclist, learn how to pull your weight in the pack, don’t let everyone else do it for you. Do this and you will soon be in the 1st chase. I really wanted to take the two of you out after yelling at the leads to speed up and you refusing to work.
March 9th I got talked into doing my first trail race, a beautiful 21km run through Mt. Abu, Rajasthan, India. Knowing I am not the strongest of runners, and definitely not placing worthy, I was elated to have placed 2nd overall in the 35+ division and winning my first overseas prize money. 15km was the longest I had run since February 2013, so no complaint here!
Now the question becomes, are there races for 2014?
YES THERE IS A SEASON FOR ME!!! So excited, and 100% healthy. Crazy how all my injuries come from doing something stupid and never related to my sport. So, Iron Insanity is Back to Life and ready to take on the 2014 season with full force effort. Back in the Saddle and ready to take it One Step at a Time.
Of course I think I have the best job in the world…who wouldn’t love to get to educate people about fitness, help them live better quality lives and help people feel good about themselves? With that, I get to do this while traveling all over the world AND get to race in triathlons and road races. SIMPLY THE BEST!
Now I found the job that very well might one-up even mine… Jauntaroo‘s Best Job Around the World contest had 3000 people enter, and as of today they eliminated to 50. I was one of the 50. Holy Crap!!!! I want to be excited, but there is a bit of a popularity contest and votes are needed. I am not much for popularity contests…maybe because I wasn’t a popular one growing up, just choosing to go to the beat of my own drum. Quality over popularity. But either way – I still need votes.
So, now I need to ask everyone I know to vote & get their friends & their friends to vote for ME! I beg you to make me popular now.
I promise if I get this job to travel the world and write and do great things with the community – I will find a few AMAZING races to do, take some great pictures & videos and write about it, so you can follow along. Thank you thank you thank you – TO VOTE, CLICK HERE AND THEN CLICK THE LIKE BUTTON. YOU CAN VOTE EVERY 24 HOURS!!!!
I love buying my race photos. Almost always it is the only souvenir I ever buy. Maybe it’s because I can’t take them myself, but when they say a picture is worth a 1000 words, I find myself scouring the “lost and found” section of race photos in hopes to find that one magical moment caught on film as soon as that email comes in saying “your race photos are ready” .
Bottom line, I hate TSA. Rarely do I ever use the H word, but I really do hate TSA. Once a year I can always plan on a flight plan from hell, and once a year it always happens.
From the time I started flying with my bike I have learned to leave my home an extra hour earlier regardless of flying domestic or international: First and last time I ever flew Spirit Airlines. Destination – Tampa, Race – St. Anthony’s, Problem – Held up by TSA for full on luggage search with me present. I arrived 2.5 hours before my flight thinking it was good enough, but little did I know I was going to be pulled aside with my bike, contents thoroughly searched and be held up 90 minutes without having gone through security yet. As my plane was boarding, I was refused request to go through the line, simply being told I needed to arrive earlier. To make matters worse, Spirit Air told me at the gate I missed my flight and I had to go back outside to check in to change my flight. After arriving back to the check in, I was rushed to the gate to board my flight…my original flight. But before boarding the head flight attendant and pilot meet me to yell at me (no joke) on how I have held up the plane for an hour. Once boarding, the attendant continued to make a scene and yell at me on the plane in front of everyone. WORST FLIGHT EVER, all because of TSA strip searching my bike. *I was the first in line for check-in, when they opened the line.
Throughout the past 7 years of flying, I have had 3 bike cases completely ruined due to the carelessness of TSA not closing my bike case properly after search. I understand the need to search bags and cases for security reasons, but seriously, a little more respect to traveler’s items need to be taken into consideration. I have even requested to be present during searches to ensure my case be closed properly afterwards, and after many arguments I was allowed…only to have them open it again while I was not present and damage my case and frame further.
After almost giving up traveling to races last year, I decided to try one more bike case that might not get damaged as much or damage my frame during searches – a Ruster Sports Case. Best luck ever for the past year until last week. This case is AMAZING (with the exception of me buying the original version #1 week before the wheeled version #2 was released – I have to lug a case the size of me around); you can check the case in as luggage! That’s right – FREE CHECK-IN!!!! No more $300 round trip flights for my bike. The catch…you have to fully disassemble your bike. So if you are willing to be a little grease monkey and learn to be a bike mechanic, this case is worth it! However, I hate TSA.
With this case I have reduced the amount of luggage I have with me during travel. But beware, you MUST have every little piece secure with this case. Last week when traveling I suffered my worst bike-travel experience ever when my bike was searched a bearing fell from my Cervelo S2 frame and I arrived to a week-long trip in the Alpes without a very valuable bearing; the size no one in a 2 hour mountain drive radius carries.
So as my bike case gets smaller, my travel list of supplies gets longer – NEVER TRAVEL WITHOUT SPARE BEARINGS FOR YOUR BIKE. Lesson learned, after having to rent a bike from the Trek Store for 2 days, until I could strip my friend’s bike of her bearings.
Will we ever be able to travel again without having to worry about pieces being lost from our valuable bikes? TSA -is it that difficult to be able to properly close cases the way that they were when you received them? TSA needs to be held responsible for the damage they cause for the opening and closing of bags and cases. I have made claims in the past for the damage they have caused, without any good resolution. For those who are so careless with our gear and luggage, are they really doing their job of “security”? It makes me doubt it.
Yesterday I sat in the park and watched little two boys have at it with each other a couple styrofoam swords. Grins from ear to ear as each of them attempted to disarm or disable the other. At what age is it that we begin to believe that beating the crap out of each other is a “fun” concept? Look at the Princess Bride, a classic movie where brothers and sisters could sit and watch, both engrossed in the the adventure of a lost love while fighting off bad guys along the way. I know for me, while a hopeless romantic girl who loves a fairy tale story, I also wanted to learn to fight with a sword because of that movie. Christmas time was always a fun time in my household, but not for the typical reasons you would think of, but rather the endless empty rolls of wrapping paper tubes my brother and I could turn into our fighting weapons.
Sword fighting…how many people really get a chance to do it though? As a sport, we call it Fencing. As kids, it will always be sword fighting. From child to adult, that urge had never left me, however I never had the exposure to such a sport or even had to learn to play a sport of coordination and agility; so when given the opportunity 9 months ago to give it a try, I couldn’t turn it down.
Just like a kid again, with no finesse the swords went flying with grins from ear to ear as two 30+ year old adults reverted to their childhood memories. I was hooked. I was horrible, but hooked. Clearly I didn’t know a thing about fencing, when first suiting up by putting the chest guard on as a what I thought was a “uterus protector” from getting stabbed. How was I supposed to know? Capturing this moment on camera…at least we got a lot of laughs over it.
Quickly I bought my own gear and started learning the art of epee. What first started as practice once a week, turned into 2, 3 then 4 times a week. All the years of training I have put into my sport of triathlon – none of it mattered. For the first time in my life, I was awful at a sport. Months and months of drills and footwork I spent. Even going to the extent, that while on my 6 week trip in India, I brought my practice weapon, a tennis ball and practiced every single day.
Never did I consider any sort of competition until getting wired up for my first time. OH NO – not another sport to compete in?! 8 months of practicing, still pretty awful and am I really considering on entering a Fencing Tournament? Yes, I am. Yes, I did.
It is good to be a rookie again. The fear of the unknown, the uncertainty on how the system goes at a competition was a feeling I had long felt. My hands were trembling the first time I stepped onto the strip. My body was shaking when I walked off it after my defeat. Realistically I knew I was going to be beaten, fore everyone in the tournament was ranked. However, I truly believed I could score at least once on all of them. I scored at least 2 times on all of them. That day, there were 17 entrants and I got 17th – dead last. Even at last place, I could not remember when I had so much fun in competition. I got my ass kicked by 60 year old men, 15 year old kids and loved every minute of it.
Trying a new sport can be scary and intimidating…it certainly has been for me. But what a badass sport to take on! My nephews think I am a Super Hero because I “sword fight”, and never will I correct them on their belief. In fact, maybe I have encouraged it a bit when I bought them 20 styrofoam swords for them to practice their fighting skills. At any age, it is great to feel like a kid from time to time. Every time I suit up and put on my mask, immediately I step back 25 years and just want to play and laugh and have a great time like I did when I used to cardboard tube fight with my brother.
The Art of Epee. It is an art. This young sword fighter has much to learn, but is determined to have her first win. I love my new sport.