Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Brains over Brawn

It's not exactly how I imagined my race morning; unconcerned of when exactly I woke up, no need to meticulously go over what I would take down to the course and the timeline I would need to follow for my race day schedule. I wasn't applying my race tattoos or checking to make sure everything on my bike was good to go. Rather, I found myself doing my best to maintain normalcy around the people who would be racing. Hoping to do anything I could to be useful to others on race day. Even if all it was was carrying a spare wheel to the course or returning a wetsuit to the athlete lounge. You see, WTS Yokohama was the first race I've ever sat out due to injury. After crashing in Cape Town the doctor had told me at best it would take 2-3 weeks for my ribs to recover. Well as many athletes in my situation would believe, that doctor must be telling me the recovery time for a "normal" person-- not me. So I had every intention of traveling to Japan and racing.

It turns out I am a bit more human than I'd like to believe. My ribs didn't mend themselves as quickly as I had hoped. It took me until the day before the race, doing the swim course recon, when I realized racing was not going to be a smart idea. Even if I was able to get through the race, what would be the future cost? Sometimes it takes heart and courage to decide not to race and it was a risk I ultimately decided I was not willing to take.

It's funny how many personalities I found myself to have when making this decision. There were two little consciences sitting on my shoulder battling it out. One of them telling me to be tough and fight through; telling me that I could finish and that the pain would be worth it. The other one taking the more rational side reminding me of the physical demands a triathlon would require of me. Also reminding me what toll a race could have with my body not fully repaired or ready. I sought out advice from others, but ultimately I knew I had to make the decision myself. So all leading up to the race I prepared to take my position on the starting line. Then the day before the race clarity hit, and my thoughts were reaffirmed. Racing=mistake. As hard as it was for me to come to that decision I was confident that I had made the right choice.

However, all was not lost in my trip to Japan. Due to the fact I was getting ready to race I got very familiar with the course. I rod the course everyday leading up to the race and even though the stop lights were quite cumbersome I grew to love it (which made choosing to race even harder, because I felt the course suited me). I really liked the swim with its two lap course and dive in right after coming up the ramp. So although this year did not work out, I am already anticipating a return next year and I cannot wait to race at this lovely venue!

 I also got to experience a wonderful culture with great people who follow the rules. There is no jay-walking here and even with a severe lack of trashcans the streets are so clean! There is so much pampering in the bathrooms where the toilets are bidets with heated seats and rushing water sounds to aid in the process. It was pretty cool, though at times challenging to come to a place where English speakers are a rarity and you order your food based on pictures.

Then it was race day where I watched my friends and teammates prep for a race that I should be doing as well. I learned a lot watching the race. It was my first WTS race I'd ever viewed and I got quite a different perspective watching it rather than being in it. Watching it I was able to see how much those precious seconds count; whether it be a gap in the swim, a speedy transition or watching the time between bike packs deteriorate and all of a sudden the race had become a road race. It's fun witnessing true grit take place on the course and seeing how different strategies play out. Seeing some athletes have breakthrough performances while others struggled a bit on the day--every single person leaving it all on the course.

Watching the race was inspiring. It makes me even more motivated to get back out there as soon as my body is ready. As I've been reminded there are plenty more races to come and I can't wait to perform at the level I know I am capable of. Competing not with just a "race to race" attitude, but rather with a "race to win" one. I really can't thank my friends, family and Coeur Sports enough for being there for me as I made this decision and supporting me in my choices. Now onward to the next race where I am so looking forward to embracing the Team Psycho in me.