Racing “Open”

I’m not 100% sure if I’ve mentioned on here that I have decided to race in the “Open” category in the NC Tri Series this year.  I recently registered for my first event – White Lake 1/2 – and I nearly crapped my pants.

I’m scared – I’m not gonna lie!

I had some pretty solid results last year, both overall and in my AG.   After having won my AG for the NC Series, I figured I’d try my hand at some stiffer competition.  However, I feel as if I’m kind of “in the middle” when it comes to racing AG or racing Open.  I’m certainly not at the level of most of the other girls who race Open in the Series, but I’m truly tired of riding my bike with 40-49 year old men who start in the wave before my AG.

What does the challenge mean for me?  A lot!

1.  It means, more than anything, that I will have to step up my game.  You can either rise to the competition or let it roll over you.  Whether my game has the ability to be stepped up as high as it needs to go to remain competitive still remains unknown.

2.  It means I’ve been working even harder on my swimming.  February 7th marked the 3rd anniversary of the first 25 yards I ever swam!!  I was cleared by Dr. Brockmeier on February 6th after 3 months on crutches with my fracture femur.   I swam exactly 50 yards and left.  I felt awkward, embarrassed, fat in my bathing suit…so I signed up for Augusta 70.3.

That said, I have to offer myself some credit for the gains I’ve made in 3 short years.  It’s well known that I’m hard on myself.  I often quickly forget the people I’m comparing myself to people who started swimming way back when I was starting to play softball and and learn back handsprings.  Learning such a technical sport at age 28 is no easy feat and I have come very far.  But (there’s always a “but”) I’m not where I’d like to be.  I’m not where I think I’m capable of being.  I hope the work I have been putting in since I’ve been working with Stacey at least allows me to remain with “striking distance” of the other girls I’ll be racing.

3.  It means I’ll have to tighten up my mental game…one of the hardest parts of this sport for me (and I’d venture to say lots of others)!  I cannot let knowing I’m the “underdog” in these races effect me from racing MY race and do what I have been doing.  I can’t let coming out of the water 3-4 minutes behind the crowd get in my head…I need to continue to use it as fuel and do what I can in other parts of the race.

4.  It means I will get to know/meet new people.  It seems as though there’s 2 separate races going on at times, well, I guess there is.  I’m excited to see what it’s like at the “other race”.

5.  It means I’ll be walking away from many-a-races empty handed.  This hasn’t been the case since I started racing (not at all trying to sound like I’m great or anything).  I’ve always seemed to bode well in my age group – having only ever raced a few times (locally) where I haven’t come home with some hardware.  I’ve begun the process of prepping myself to come home empty handed more often than not.

6.  It means I’m also very excited.  I’ve continued to work hard in the off season and I’m looking forward to the challenge of racing again.  I always say:

“The difference between people who do triathlons and a triathletes, is what they do in the off season.”  Yes, the off season is certainly for some recovery, “fun” workouts, less structure, etc…but it’s not about  letting all of your hard work from the previous 9 months go to crap!  Triathletes train year round…people who do triathlon train for an upcoming race.

Given how my winter has been, I’d say I’m a triathlete 🙂

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