“Mommy, what’s my talent?” This is the question I asked my mom when I was about 5 years old. Over the next 24 years, as I’ve adventured into endurance sports, I’ve experienced the answer to this question with my mom by side.
Ironman 70.3 Campeche was no different. Mom was there cheering, giving me time gaps, taking pictures and managing social media during my 10th triathlon, 2nd Ironman 70.3, and first professional race.
What an experience! Campeche, Mexico was a beautiful location to celebrate the gift of sport, all the hard work it took to get there, and the many people who made it possible.
We arrived in Campeche Thursday night and checked into an Airbnb, Historical Yellow House. (Triathlon Taren stayed here also! He has much better footage of the house than I do HERE). The home is nestled in the Barrio de San Francisco and equipped with everything we needed, including a full kitchen, washer and dryer, and a comfortable and air conditioned bedroom. It is also super close to a Walmart and the race venue. Finally, the host, Guadalupe and her mom, were extremely flexible when we arrived late due to travel delays. Guadalupe’s mom waited two extra hours at the house to check us in. Her kindness and sweet spirit shocked me! Yet, in the following days, I learned that this kind spirit permeates the city. The people of Campeche are overwhelmingly kind and generous.
Friday and Saturday were full of pre-race happenings, including: pre-riding the course, sleeping, eating, packet pick-up, athlete meeting, swimming, running, checking the bike in, dropping off red-bag (bag that waits for you in the second transition area that holds all your run stuff), and more sleeping and eating…..oh..AND HYDRATING! Lots of hydrating.
Going into this race, I knew it would be hot and humid so I used a product called ReImmune to pump my system full of electrolytes. This product is not specifically marketed to athletes, but it has become my go-to source for hydration during hard training blocks, pre- and post-race, and to help my body recover from sickness.
This active hydration, plus some sauna training I did in the couple months leading up to the race, helped prepare me for the heat. A couple times a week I sat in the sauna at The CoxHealth Meyer Center for 3x10 minute segments with cold water breaks between segments. This helped prepare my Missouri winter-laden body for the Campeche heat!
Sunday morning, 3:45 AM CST, I am already awake anticipating the 4:00 AM alarm. While sleeping the night before the race is important, pre-race jitters flowing through the body often prevent a deep slumber. These pre-race jitters also make it hard to eat the peanut butter filled oatmeal that usually tastes great, but today tastes like some sort of nursing home mush that you wouldn’t actually feed your grandmother. Regardless, I wash it down with delicious Mexican coffee and get to work preparing for the race.
The race started at the Campeche Country Club, a pristine location to lay out by the pool overlooking the ocean and share some drinks with friends. But not today! The only drinks I would share with friends would be mouthfuls of saltwater!
7:00 AM – After a light jog and pre-race swim, I’m standing on the starting line with several Herculean women watching the pro men swim away. This is a moment I have visualized. It is in this moment that I know I have done everything I can possibly do to be as ready as I possibly can to give everything I have. It is this confidence that keeps me calm.
7:05 AM – After several announcements are made in Spanish and many rapid ramblings, the airhorn is sounded! In a flurry, all the amazon women run to the water and I find myself in a frenzy of strong arms and legs. I feel the energy of the group and feel that I am being pulled along in the water with the draft. But soon, the feet begin to disappear, the bubbles get smaller, and I find myself alone. All alone. Well….there is nothing I can do, but just keep swimming!
Swimming is a discipline I started eight months ago. It has taken time for this land-animal to adapt to the nuances of thriving in a weightless environment. It will take more time, but I will keep pressing on, learning, growing, and not let this challenge overcome me. Sooner or later, I won’t be shot out the back door of a race in the first five minutes!
After coming out of the water, I quickly strip off my swimskin, easily identify my lone bike, and make a quick transition to the bike course.
The course is technical, hilly, and windy. Coming out of transition, there is a steep hill, followed by a winding decent with some cobblestones and a roundabout. Once making in through this technical section, the course is fairly straight forward with two out and backs on a hilly and windy highway. It takes me about half the bike to get comfortable in aero position in the wind. Because of the Missouri winter and short daylight hours, I did not get much riding time outside prior to this race. Yet, halfway through the bike, all the cobwebs are blown away, I get dialed in on the bike, and make up significant ground.
Entering the second transition, I pass one more competitor and ventured out on the run in seventh. My mom strategically placed herself near the start of the run to tell me, “Six girls in front! Six minutes!” Meaning six minutes to the next girl in front of me. The run is challenging due to the heat, but a beautiful course next to the water. The entire time on the run, I hear spectators yelling, “Sí, se puede!” (Yes, you can!), as well as the sound of a 50-person marching band beating their drums at a beat synonymous with my run cadence. I keep the run steady and manage to retain my seventh position to the finish line.
Approaching the finish line, I feel one thing, HAPPY. There is nothing I would change about this moment. I am exactly where I am meant to be.
This race also left me HUNGRY (of course, physically…duh…and more on that later when I tell you about where you MUST go for the best chocolate ever). It left me hungry to continue improving the little things, work on the big things (SWIMMING) and race hard at the upcoming races. Ironman 70.3 races are amazing tests of mental stamina, flexibility, and will. I am excited to continue pushing my personal boundaries and find my limits in the sport.
Campeche is not a super touristy town like Cozumel or Cancun. It is quaint, unique, and full of love. The people are eager to help and slow to ask for tips. For example, when we tipped a local fisherman who cleaned a couple fish for us, he was shocked and thankful.
The beauty of the people is reflected in the beauty of the city. The city center is walled which points back to its rich history involving Spaniards and pirates. Within the walled city, the buildings are painted in vibrant colors and are filled with delicious eateries and unique shops (pictures below).
Also, the food is inexpensive. After the race, my mom and I visited Marganzo for lunch and had a big lunch with a few drinks and only paid $17 with tip! We also visited a chocolate store called Chocol Ha which blew me away with a smooth, rich, velvety chocolate and cayenne spiced drink. The best part about visiting Chocol Ha was meeting the owner who told me this,
“The best way to stay close to God, is to stay close to the one who brought you to the earth…your mom.”
Massive thank you to everyone who sent positive vibes, love and support for this race. All of your well-wishes and go get-ems kept me encouraged and motivated. Thank you to my coaches Scotti and Ernie with Leborne Coaching and Thomas Baumann with Drury Swimming for believing in and pushing me. Thank you to all my sponsors, SBC Athletics, A&B Cycle, Active Life Chiropractic, Atom Composites, Kuat Racks, Eric and Melissa Belk, the Law Office of Doug Fredrick, LLC, and many more supporters. Finally, I could not do this without my husband, Grayson, who endures an often tired and hangry wife. And of course, Mom. Thank you for being by my side as we experience the realization of this talent.
Together, onward and upward!
Content. Confident. Calm. Three words that sum up my emotions in starting the 2018 race season.
Content. The past few months have included a fairly regimented routine that balanced work, training, commuting, and family time. Being disciplined in executing this routine gives me contentment knowing that I’ve done everything possible to be as ready as possible.
A normal work day looked like this:
4:00 AM - Wake Up
4:30 - drive to Springfield
5:30 - Master’s Swim at Drury University
7:30 - Work at Springfield-Greene County Health Department
11:30 - Run or strength workout
1:00 - back to work
4:30 - drive home to Branson
5:30 - Bike workout on trainer or strength/stretching
7:00 - dinner at home with the hubs and pack bags for the next day
8:00 PM - bed
All this would not be possible without the support of the hubs, Grayson, and bosses and peers at work!
Confident. Despite the limited training hours, my coaches at Leborne Coaching have done a phenomenal job focusing our training on quality work versus quantity. Physically and mentally, I’m feeling stronger than ever. Knowing swimming is my limiter, I’ve worked closely with world-class coaches at Drury University to learn how to swim, refine technique and get stronger. I have only been “really swimming” for 8.5 months and have seen great growth. The real test will be when the gun goes off! My grandmother (JamJam) recently gave me great advice. She said, “Just keep swimming, honey. You never know. Someone else may get caught up in a buoy line.” LOL. Thanks JamJam.
I’m also confident because of the confidence my community has in me! My team SBC Athletics, support crew at A&B Cycle, buddies at Kuat Racks, strength trainer at the Meyer Fitness Center, chiropractor at Active Life Chiropractic, and many more friends are in my corner cheering and constantly sending positive vibes. This confidence is energizing!
Calm. This confidence also keeps me calm. When I reflect on the journey I’ve had to get here, I see how the highs and lows have paved this cobblestone path to realizing my dream of being a “pro athlete.”
Just the other day, my friend’s 10 year old daughter, Emma, put things in perspective. We were talking about her upcoming float trip on the Buffalo River. I told her I did a lot of hiking around the Buffalo in 2016. Emma said, “You’ve done everything! When did you have time to do that?”
Me: “ I wasn’t training or racing in 2016, so I did a lot of hiking, floating and camping with Grayson.”
Emma: “Why didn’t you train or race?”
Me: “I thought I was done with sport.”
Emma starts laughing hysterically!
Me: “Why are you laughing?”
Emma: “Because you won the Ironman* last year! You only trained for a few months and then won!”
*referring to my placing at IM70.3 Cozumel as first overall AG female, 6th overall female.
Gotta love the insight of a 10 year-old!
This perspective fills me with gratitude for the people who have spoken truth into my life and picked me up out of doubt and fear. One of my greatest champions has been my church community at Bloom Church. When I gave up on my dreams, the Church was there holding a torch to reignite my fire and purpose. Because the Church has been this solid foundation, I’m partnering with Bloom for the 2018 season to give a portion of my winnings to the remodel of their new home which will increase their capacity to continuing lighting the community on fire for Christ!
The 2018 race season is here! I’m ready and excited to continue watching this cobblestone path be paved as I step forward in confidence.