Vision turned nightmare: the prologue of the world’s most epic race report

Way before I became a mom. Heck, way before I was even pregnant, I had this vision. In it, I imagined myself victoriously crossing the finish line at Eagleman. Ryan and our little girl would be there waiting for me. I further imagined standing on the podium on a brilliantly sunny and hot Cambridge day and accepting my Kona spot.

Fast forward to reality, training had gone no where near as well as I had planned. I probably hit less than 50% of my scheduled workouts. It’s been extremely tough trying to find the balance of training, still nursing Koa, spending time with my family and work. Still, I had no real regrets. If I had to to it all over again, I’d have done it the same way. The time I’ve spent with Koa and Ryan in these first months of her life have been the happiest of my life.

I knew it would take a monumental effort to put up a Kona qualifying time at Eagleman and I knew I just wasn’t interested or prepared to do that this year. The goal became Vegas. I wanted to head to the September Vegas 70.3 championships. Further, I wanted to be there with Dina, a good friend who had a qualifying race the week before Eagleman. It’s something we’ve talked about repeatedly through the last months of training.

I saw even that dream start to crumble in the weeks leading up to my race. Between travel and work, my training become even more sporadic. I was feeling woefully unprepared for Eagleman. This is a completely unknown feeling to me. I pride myself on my preparation, both in training and in developing my race plan.

Then, the week before Eagleman, while participating in the Reston Sprint Triathlon my calf completely seized up. Honestly, I thought I had torn it. In an instant I went from running at a strong pace to hobbling to the finish. I knew it was pretty bad. I was pretty sure I wasn’t even going to be able to start at Eagleman in a week. I talked to Ryan about cancelling our plans to make the trip.

I stayed off it until Thursday when I rode. Even riding, it was hurting me. I still couldn’t walk without a limp. I was worried. Still, there was enough daily improvement that I thought I could try to start.

At the same time, the next round of Daycare Baby Plague started to take victims in our house. Koa had a mild fever on Thursday and I was hoping I would be spared, but I could feel the internal war in process. Things weren’t looking good.

We left for Cambridge on Friday. It took us 5 hours to make a 3 hour trip. It poured. Traffic was stopped. Koa screamed.

I was sore. I was hobbling. I was feeling sick. I was tired. I was defeated. I arrived in Cambridge feeling completely hopeless.

Then, an Angel was delivered to me. Through the strangest of circumstances, Sister Madonna Buder was staying in the garage apartment of the house that Team FeXY had rented. She is a legend in the sport. At 83 years old she is still competing in long distance triathlons. She was here at Eagleman to punch her ticket to Kona.

On a rainy Saturday afternoon I headed out to do the short bike and run that I usually do the day before the race. The ride felt okay, but I stopped 1.5 minutes into the 10 minute run. The calf was terrible. It was the first time I had run on it since feeling it shut down the weekend prior. I couldn’t even run the length of the block. I stopped and turned around for the short walk back to the house. The rain matched my mood. There was no way I was going to be able to keep it together for a half marathon in less than 24 hours. No way. I knew a DNF was in my future.

Dejected, I went back into the house, changed into my bathing suit and headed out by myself to the hot tub. When I got there, Sister Madonna was also there. We talked about the challenges of both of our seasons. We shared stories about not being able to hit our training goals….and then, we talked about how the greatest part of the sport wasn’t succeeding on your good days. It is perservering on your bad ones that counts. I knew then, that if I had to walk to the whole half marathon, I would.

My tests would keep coming, though. I laid down with Koa to take a nap later in the day. When I woke up I felt like my body had thrown in the towel against the Daycare Plague. I had felt okay when I went to sleep, but when I opened my eyes, I suddenly felt feverish. Seriously? This just wasn’t meant to be. I cannot deal with all of this, I thought. I can not deal. Maybe I could have dealt with the calf. Maybe I could have dealt with an illness but, I cannot deal with both. I just give up.

I completely shut down. I told Ryan I wanted to pack up the car and head home. I officially give up. This was just not meant to be. I sat and stared at my transition bag willing myself to pack it but, my brain just wouldn’t work. I couldn’t think straight. I was in the darkest place I have ever been in triathlon.

Ryan stepped in as I sat there staring blankly at my mess of triathlon gear. He packed my bag. He filled my bottles with race day nutrition.

I threw in the towel and went to bed. I laid in bed with the chills and was confident that I was not starting the race the next day. Most alarmingly, I didn’t care. I didn’t care about triathlon or this race or my goals. I just didn’t care. I was sick of fighting and I was ready to go home.

That night, Koa barely slept. She had been sleeping through the night pretty consistently for weeks. This night, though, she was up at 10:30pm and again at 12:30am. Finally, I brought her into bed with me. When we both woke up again at 2:30am, we were covered in sweat and laying in a puddle. It appeared my fever had broken.

The alarm went off at 4:30am. I was feeling okay, but I was covered in sweat, exhausted from not sleeping, confident my calf was going to buckle the second I started to run and in no mood to race.

I have never gone into a race so dejected. This is not at all how the vision had gone. This was not, at all, how this day was supposed to look.

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