A Lesson in Humility

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I raced the inaugural IronGirl race in Grimsby, Ontario this past weekend. It was my first women’s only race and it was much harder than I expected. I hate to say it but I went into the race with a certain amount of arrogance that I am ashamed of and behaved even worse after the race. My husband warned me not to underestimate the women who would be racing and he was right.

Although the race is a great, friendly race for all women to compete in (and I strongly suggest every women try the race at least once) it is also an opportunity for high performing women to compete in a no holds bar race. There are no men to swim through or ride through to get clear space. The race course is theirs for the taking. And it was empowering to see so many strong women at one race. Most of the races I attend through the various race series available in Ontario there are anywhere from 125-200 or so women and usually anywhere from 25-50 women in my age group. At IronGirl there were over 500 women racing and 92 in my age group. The top women in each age group were serious women, all looking forward to owning the course.

My aim had been to podium but that didn’t happen. I still had my best race to date. If you are following my blog posts you know that the swim is my physical and mental achilles heel in the race. I have been painstakingly working on my swim with my coach Mat Reid with the goal of holding onto the feet of the lead pack by the time I get to World’s – which is in 4 1/2 short weeks. Yesterday not only did I hold on but I was 5th out of the water. 5th!!!! Out of 92 women. I remember getting out the water hearing my husband scream: “You are at the top! At the top baby!” I shook off the swim and headed for transition. I took too much time in transition and let two women slip past me.

I hit the bike course and started hunting. My bike leg was consistent but not nearly as fast as the Toronto Triathlon Festival. I averaged 31.6 km/h according to sportstats and here is where my bad behaviour starts. My garmin had me clocked in at 32km/h and although it is only .4km/h difference it somehow makes me feel better. And either way it doesn’t change where I place in the race but I still stomped my feet and had a full-blown temper-tantrum over the difference when really I was mad at myself. I was at the 7.5k mark when the race leaders passed me. It was so exciting to see women as the leaders and they were only 5k ahead of me. I’ve never been that close before!

As I entered the dismount area I jumped off my bike. I even did the fancy one footed dismount. Again I took too long in transition, feeling tired. Every time I had a chance to slow down I wanted to stop. Not throw in the towel but maybe have a nice little nap or rest before I moved onto the next section of the race. I forced my feet into my running shoes and headed out onto the run course. This is where I really started to beat myself up -the run. Ever since I injured my foot in May I have struggled to get my run back.

As I left T2 my cheering squad was waiting for me. I could hear them cheering as I approached and continued to hear them as I hit the road. Later my daughter would tell me I looked tired and she thought yelling extra loud would help. God bless her. I owed her a big thank you and explanation later about Mummy’s poor sportsmanlike behaviour. So yeah, I was tired when I hit the run course but I started to settle into a good pace by the 1.5k mark. I was running a 5:15 pace which is my best pace since injuring my foot. It told me the intervals are paying off and my pace is starting to improve. Then I hit the trail section of the course and I lost my rhythm. I struggled to get my legs to turn over. By the time I exited the wooded trail my pace was right off and I had a km to go. On the run three more women in my age group passed me. One of them in the last 300 meters.

Within 15 minutes or so of finishing the results were being posted. This is when I started behaving badly. I really thought I had done well, which I had, just not as well as I had hoped. When I saw that I finished 9th I started complaining about the discrepancies between my garmin and the results. Very loudly. That I should have placed higher, never acknowledging the women above me and the excellent race they ran. I went into this race thinking I was fantastic and would sweep the field. That I was Team Canada and look out. Well I was served a well needed lesson in humility.

The truth is as I later had to explain to my daughter, I have been training so hard and ran my best best race to date yesterday and it wasn’t good enough. I hated that! I hated that even though I have been training so hard and so consistently I still couldn’t make it to the podium. That I was frustrated but that doesn’t excuse my behaviour. The women who finished above me ran a great race and instead of complaining I should have congratulated them. There are no guarantees in life and even though I worked hard and I ran my best race I didn’t win and I didn’t podium and that’s life. I should be proud of the fact that I came out with the leaders not behind them. I was in contention the entire race. I finished 45th out of 500+ racers. I finished in the top 8%!!! These are all huge successes. All of which I told my daughter. I told her that success isn’t always measured by where you finish or a grade but by your own personal achievement.

For three years I have been diligently working with my swim coach so that one day I could be on the coattails of the leaders in the swim. Yesterday I became one of the leaders. That success is unmeasurable!