Guest post by: Kari Hamilton
Ahh race day. All of the preparations you have made for weeks and months in order to be in your best shape physically and mentally pay-off today. You have run the race over and over in your mind, thinking of every scenario, visualizing yourself through it all. Your tri-bag is packed with all of the tools that will make today a success. You have brought your A-game.
That was my scenario for Wildflower 2012. I am an age-group rookie racer and did the Olympic distance for the 2nd time this year. I knew my weaknesses for the course and had trained accordingly. I got down to the swim start, all wetsuited up ready to have my visions play out perfectly in the race. I did my warm-up and felt great. The water conditions could not be more perfect. I played out my start just as I had planned and had escaped the pack. I wasn't getting run over and kicked and my lungs were feeling great, just like the sprints I had practiced. And then at about 150 yards out, I couldn't breathe. It felt like I only had a tiny straw to breathe through. Stupid asthma. Inhaler and all, it was putting a wrench in my plan. I tried to just relax and swim through it. Nothing was helping. I pulled off to a kayak (definitely NOT part of my grandiose vision) and unzipped the back of my wetsuit about 12" so my lungs could expand fully. It helped, so I got back to my swim... with my wetsuit unzipped. I had lost a lot of time trying to recover from my asthma attack, but did my best to make up as much as possible.
Onto the bike, I had a good transition and got off as quickly as I could. On my way up Lynch, Macca was running down. That guy is awesome. Gave me just the boost I needed to climb that hill. One thing I love about triathlon, the pros are on the same course at the same time as the "regular" athletes. It's very inspiring. I pushed hard through the bike and felt like I had a good ride, yet saved my legs enough for the run. By the time I was on the run, it was about 90 degrees. Hot. I didn't fly on the run, but I definitely did better then last year, which made me happy.
When it was all said and done, I beat last year's time by 26 seconds. As an OCD triathlete that had bigger plans then that, I was very annoyed. I know I could have done better. I could have reached my goal if my mojo hadn't been screwed up in the swim. Mentally it is hard to recover from that. When I was telling a coach from a tri club what happened he laughed and said I had a "character building" race. I guess. I did learn the mental game is just as much as the physical game. All the preparation in the world can't be as useful as "in the moment experiences". I cannot wait until next year when I get another chance at my own personal victory. I will meet my goal of 3 hours. Wildflower is my favorite race by far. Even with "character building" you still have fun. Finishing alone is a victory.