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.
Check out these great workouts for when you are on the road. No more excuses for not getting your strength training in when traveling!
Thanks Rayme & Stephen for sharing!
Chameleon – a distinctive and highly specialized clade of lizards with the ability to change color.
140.6 Distance Triathlete – a unique breed of athlete specialized in long endurance racing with the ability to change and adapt to any situation on a course.
A Coach, a Wife, a Sister, Daughter, Teammate and Athlete were the expectations of the weekend as I traveled to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio for the Rev3 Full Triathlon; one of those roles, I was sure to fail, if not a few.
The Coach – Earlier in the season, I had planted the seed of my NJOY RACING team coming to Cedar Point and race with me and get a taste of what a triathlon was, even if it meant I bribe them with relays & roller coasters, so be it. To much my surprise people committed than I had ever dreamed – 4 sprint relay teams, 3 half relay teams, 5 sprinters, 3 half distance, 1 full aqua-bike and 2 full & 1 boat volunteer. In other words, I had over 20 people coming to race with me and only 5 of them had completed a triathlon previously. Needless to say, if I had not raced I would have been stressed enough, let alone having signed up for the full distance race, but there was no way I was not going race. I LOVE my Rev3 races and get to be part of a team as an athlete and not a coach. Not to mention, I belive they run the best races in North America.
The Daughter & Sister – Unfortunately, like most people in this country, my family has lost sight in the importance of taking responsibility for their health and life more active lifestyles (and their excuses are not unique). In the 8 years of racing with over 100 races, they have been to less than 5 of them, so I thought it would be a good idea to not only invite them to come watch, but be part of the team and join a relay team of the sprint distance. 3 agreed – I was ecstatic. In my job, I get to change lives in a very positive way. I give people a chance to live longer, healthier lives. I help people feel better emotionally, physically about themselves and build confidence in ways they may have never had. This was my chance to not only have my family there with me, but also have them do something healthy with me. It was my opportunity to help give them a better quality of life. Who knows, maybe once a year they might want to join me for a family event?
The Coach – Rev3 picks the best race locations! On paper some might not seem like the most exciting locations: Sandusky, Ohio – but who doesn’t like a good roller coaster? Fun, family friendly locations with lots to do…and doesn’t hurt to be $$$ reasonable places. So when waking up Saturday morning to pouring rain and a flooded bike course, it was very disappointing the sprint triathlon was cancelled. However, you make the best of it and do what you can. Troopers on team NJOY went ahead and ran the 5k, all getting race PRs! As the day continued it got beautiful, sunny and dry – ROLLER COASTERS!!!! That’s what we did and had a great time doing it. After the first ride I thought it was about the stupidest thing I had ever done before the race I was about to do, and only more stupid after the second. But like drinking, after a few it doesn’t really matter how many more you ride once you realize your body is going to feel it tomorrow regardless of how many.
The Athlete – Race Day…could not have been more perfect with the weather as the day began. In the morning this girl woke up as Athlete. I have often been asked why I don’t race with the athletes I coach…this is why: I need to focus and take care of me and only me, and I don’t like to talk to people at all before a race. Simply, I am no good as a coach before a race and some of my athletes got a taste of that in transition before the race even started.
The race course was great, even for a flat bike course, which are not my favorites to ride. I love 2 lap courses! Mentally I know where I am at all times and what is coming up and makes the course easier to master. Due to a sprain shoulder, I had not been in the water since KMD Challenge 4 weeks previous, so my swim was not fast by any means, but I still enjoyed. On the bike I went out averaging 19.5 mph to mile 70, but after nutritional issues causing my stomach to not be able to hold in my calories I lost all energy and took a small nap in the ditch before finishing the rest of my ride. I know that sounds crazy, but it is the second time in a long distance race I have ever gotten sick and the same thing happened: couldn’t keep my eyes open, took a little nap and woke up feeling fresh and ready to take on the world! The problem I believe was – using new gel I had never used before and couldn’t hold it down (and any time I ever get ‘sick’ like that I immediately fall asleep). No, I’m not a rookie and will spare you the details to why it happened. I know better. After falling off the leader board with that move (I had been one of the top 5 females overall) I finally made it to the T2 and was mentally questionable, stomach was questionable, but legs felt great. Off I went after a brief conversation with my husband who was there to cheer me out onto the course. Time to take down some runners!
All day I had been looking forward to the run, but with my head and stomach playing games on me, I was uncertain of the outcome. I made it to mile 6 where I had convinced myself I was not going to make it through to the 2nd lap and this is where my saving grace came to my rescue. Rev3 Teammate Tim Andrus put me back together. I never name drop, but he gets all the credit in the world for this – I could not have done it without him. Stopping to complain about my iffy stomach, he got me moving while he inventoried me – asking me how my legs were. When I said they were fine, he told me we can get my head and stomach together and coached me through my nutritional changes and in no time I was off and ready to take on the next 20 miles.
The Wife – By mile 12.75, 1 hour and 52 minutes later convinced myself the only way I could complete this race was if my husband was there at the turn-around to tell me to get out there and finish the final lap. But he wasn’t there. He had gone back to the hotel room with everyone else. As the world came to screeching stop, the tears flowed and the rage set in as I completely lost my mind. I start screaming at the one person who was there to get my husband on the phone and yell at him to not bother coming because he was too late. As I continue to run while sobbing, I am conversing with myself out loud that I would never be in this situation if I were married to a triathlete. A triathlete would know the final turn-around is one of the most crucial points in the race. Of course he should have know, even though I had never expressed that to him…but then again he is not a triathlete. So he didn’t get it.
Client coaching the coach – at this point to only one out there attempting to pull my head back together was a long time client of mine who helped me pulled it back together for the next 4 miles. Forever grateful and ever so sorry he had to deal with my crazed psychosis, as we laugh about it now.
The Husband – shows up at mile 19ish after my client told him to get there, but I wanted nothing to do with him until mile 20, where I decided to let him know he wasn’t there for me when I needed him the most. Let’s be clear – half my family left Saturday, before the race had even started. The other half left after I had gotten on my bike, so at this point I was left with only 1 on the run – and now he had left me. As soon as he said he would have never left had he known, my switch flipped and I was perfectly fine and off to finish the last 6 miles. I had never been so focused at this point, taking down one mile at a time as I tried to hunt down every female I could who was head of me. (Still, he is banned from any important race I have from here forward.)
The Finish Line – I had made my way up to 14th overall as I crossed the finish line, taking my highest placing ever overall and in my age group at 4th in a Full Distance race. As I came across the tape, I found my husband standing there while they played our first dance song at our wedding (Journey – Don’t Stop Believin’…our first dance was in a nightclub in Vegas). My athletes who were still in town were all there to see the athlete cross the finish line. It felt surreal and was a blur. Oddly, I don’t remember much. I felt good, but I was dazed, and then it was over.
In Conclusion – It was a great race. It was a place where everyone was able to come together, have fun, try new things and support one another as a team. I am a proud coach, as I see my athletes work together and try a new sport that took them out of their comfort zone.
As an athlete, anyone who loves this distance can relate to the “now what” feeling you go through once the curtain has closed. That is where I am. There is an emotional let down for me goes beyond the race being over as I reflect on my experience with my family at this race and come to the conclusion that some don’t care (fore they left before the race had even started), others try to get it, but can’t quite get there (I appreciate them for trying) so by the time I made it through 127 miles I had been left by all of them. Hence, why I like racing solo so much – no one can let you down but yourself. *This is why it has taken a couple weeks to write this piece. It has been hard for me to deal with and I want to be honest about my experience.
As for my goal of attempting give the gift of a higher quality of life through fitness to my family…I failed. Why do I try when I know people will never live a healthy lifestyle unless they are willing to take responsibility for themselves and be willing the break bad habits?
I walk away with this race experience looking forward to next year doing the same distance. A chameleon can change its color to fit into its environment in order to survive. An endurance athlete must be able to do the same in order to survive a race like such.