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Friday, March 30, 2012

Galveston Greetings!

  Alright!  So, somehow, two weeks have passed, and I'm sitting in a hotel room on the eve of the eve of the Galveston 70.3, aka, in my little world, as my first pro race.  For some reason, I'm preferring the "first pro race" terminology to "pro debut".  This is a matter of pure semantics, I know, but for some reason, "first pro race" sounds less intimidating-to me, it conveys more of a getting the feet wet, starting a journey, controlling what I can control and hopefully being able to compete a little feel, while "pro debut" implies that I should be coming out the gate, guns blazing, expected to make some sort of huge impact.  I'm actually feeling, for me, surprisingly more calm than I expected at this stage in the game.  The fact of the matter is, I had more at stake that wasn't in my direct control at my 70.3s last season-the desire for a Vegas slot at Mooseman and a podium spot in Vegas (I wouldn't even allow myself to think of the pro card, either) were enough to push me over the anxiety edge, into the realm of crying before the swim start, telling myself to just get through it, then I could go back to just running.  Anyways.  That promise to myself (luckily) hasn't come true.  Because I don't want to be in that state again, I just wanted to take some time tonight, when I'm still clear-minded and sane, to reflect a little on some of the positives heading in to this, and to analyze what's about to come.

1.  One of my fears in signing up for this race, thanks to living in upstate New York, was that I just wouldn't be able to get in the outdoor riding time I'd need to feel moderately comfortable on a windy course.  It's no secret that my bike skills, well, suck, so jumping on saddle off the trainer for the first time since camp wouldn't have been too comforting to me.  Well, even though the winter was a disappointment to my snow-enjoying self, Rochester's March came through.  Three consecutive weekends of long outdoor rides, some of them complete with winds worse than what I should seen on Sunday, along with a few other shorter outdoor weekday rides mixed in here and there, have eased these fears to some degree.  I'm still (and probably always will be) a relatively tentative rider, but at least the confidence grew a little with each successive ride.     

2.  My training the past couple of weeks went pretty well.  Johnny's proved to me that I'm in better running shape than I had been giving myself credit for; as a result, I actually began to worry less and execute a little better.  Shortly after that, my running paces seemed to come around a bit.  I've had a couple of long rides that I've been able to at least finish strong.  The overall pace might not have been anything to write home about, but when the time came to push, I was able to push and feel good doing it.  Swimming-well, I have stagnated, but at least I'm ahead of where I was last time I took to the line of a tri.  I'm also well aware of my tendency to mentally take myself out of an open water swim, which hopefully is the first step in correcting this habit.  I have to say, when my training has gone well, I tend to get nervous in a waiting for the other shoe to drop sort of way (still keeping my fingers crossed that the perma-sore throat I've been rocking the past week+ is in fact allergies), but overall, I'll still try to take it all as a good sign!

3.  I didn't pick up a stomach bug (yet...knock on wood) presumably from the plane, a la QT2 Florida camp.  This is self-explanatory.  I might have doused my entire general seat area in hand sanitizer the second I took my seats yesterday, to the point that the flight attendant commented on how nice and mint chocolately it smelled, thanks to my Bath & Body works sanitizer (Emma got me hooked on those.  It's like I'm 12.  I love them).

  In terms of what I'm expecting out there, I'm just going to focus on what's within my realm of control.   I know my swim isn't pro quality.  This isn't negativity; it's realism.  I'm hoping to at least have a couple of women around me, but I'm mentally prepared to be alone.  Regardless, I need to freaking push.  Mary has told me this swim is long, so the time on my watch will be somewhat irrelevant.  Once on the bike, I can control my nutrition and influence my pacing.  I've spent a winter putting in greater bike volume than I ever have, so I'm hoping this translates into improvements on the race course.  There's snippets from training I know I can draw upon-intervals on the trainer, moments at the end of my last long ride when I had attack mode channeled-when needed.  And for the run, my main thought right now is to simply stick to my HR plan, and don't freak at my pace during the first, and even early on in the second (of three) laps.  While I've tried to prepare for the heat, I haven't been able to replicate 90% humidity in my basement.  Trying to bank time in the first few miles=bad idea.  Those last few miles, though...just race.

  Otherwise, this will certainly be an experience.  Five months ago, I put my faith in Mary, Jesse, and QT2.  I've had my share of ups and (nervous break)downs, and they've had to talk me off the ledge a few times, but overall, I've at least made it to Texas in a good state (and Mary hasn't stabbed me or punched me in the face, much to her credit).  Prior to QT2, I was the typical, type-A, have to run or bike x pace every single time I hit the road in order to have confidence that I can do it in a race triathlete.  Now, I've had to reign in that mentally.  I currently don't know that I can run or bike x pace because I put forth some maximal, full distance effort in training.  I'm trusting that I can because I've executed certain hard efforts on hard days while taking it easier on easy days, and because those with far more experience than me know what that equates to, provided I execute what I can control correctly.  This simultaneously makes me nervous, yet relaxes me.  I don't have to doubt what I've done, I just have to have confidence in what some of the best coaches out there have given me to do.  As I said at the start, this is just my first pro race.  I've done what I can to this point, and honestly, I'm itching to get out there, for better or worse.

  As always, thanks to everyone who's supporting me and rooting for me (special thanks to Kestrel, WoolsportsPowerbar, and  I'm still amazed at how many people follow and offer encouragement to me, and it always helps to get through the low points of the day.  I'm inspired by so many others, I know that I'm in a position that few others get to be in by doing something I love, and I feel fortunate every day to be there.  I often feel that I have a responsibility to make the most of it, and I'll take this with me on Sunday.  I might just be calm right now because it hasn't totally registered with me that I'll get the chance to race in the pro wave, starting with some of the fastest women in the world!  Until then, I'll finish up with some pictures!

Giant boat.  Maybe it can tow me.

Random expo shot.  Sadly, the guy that was wearing his full race kit and doing some running drills directly down the middle wasn't in the picture.

Looking around transition

Looking at the special little row my bike goes on.  I hope it won't get too lonely on the rack waiting for me Sunday morning.

Aero Bailey.  In case she doesn't look ridiculous enough normally.  The things we do to this poor dog.


  1. Good luck my dear!! Aren't those sanitizers the best? ;)

  2. Yes! Thank you for introducting me to them! I need some spring scents now, haha.

  3. Great job Jennie! Just saw you finish strong on the Ironman online live video. Gave me chills! -Amy Aken

  4. You were one of the best runners today, only behind Kelly, Yvonne and Caitlin. Way to go Jennie ! And congrats on the race !

  5. Thank you everyone! I'm sure my finish didn't look too pretty :). Now just need to figure out how to bike and swim!