The Best Race I’ve Ever Had

The Best Race I’ve Ever Had

by Natalie H.

I was so excited to be going into my first race, Naperville SheRox Tri, after deciding to work with a coach from Experience Triathlon.  Thank goodness I touched base with my coach the week before the race.  She suggested I set some goals for the race and gave me some good advice on how to go about setting those goals.  My idea of setting a goal for the triathlon was to run the 5K portion of the tri in a faster time than I had ever run any of my single 5Ks alone.  As I was soon to find out my coach had a lot of knowledge and some good advice.

We talked about things that would be within my control and things that are out of my control at race time.  Things like the weather and excess heat are things I couldn’t control.  We never talked about being sick being out of my control but maybe we should have.  For the five days leading up to the race I was sick.  Two days of body aches followed by a head cold moving into a chest cold by race day.  Talk about a week of tapering my workouts.  I felt like I was going cold turkey on the workouts and by Saturday, the day before the race, I felt I had to do something.  So I followed my workout designed for me by my coach.  I mean, how bad could an easy spin on the bike and an easy run be?  So out I went on my bike in the early morning and during my easy spin my heart rate shot to 175.  It hadn’t been that high on the bike even when I was doing hills.  So I completed my ride moving from “easy spin” to “slow easy spin” and walked some of my run.  I decided to show up at the race and just see what happened.  I could always really slow down or drop out if I had to.

Coach Suzy was incredible.  I was supposed to send her my race goals and then we would touch base by phone before the race.  Well, I was sick so how was I supposed to figure out any race goals?  So I finally sent her my race goals less than 36 hours before my race.  And she took the time during her marathon day setting up for the ET Batavia Triathlon & Duathlon to call me not once, but twice.  I missed her call, but that must have been meant to be.  I simply had to “listen” to her message and advice instead of trying to think ahead and ask all the right questions.  I wish I could remember her exact words to me and I can’t, but I remember coming away from that phone call feeling so at ease and at peace going into this race.

I had set some race goals for the swim as I figured I would make it through at least that part of the race.  Thanks to the coached swimming at ET open water clinics at Centennial Beach and special thanks to Coach Jim, whose group I was in the Monday before the race, I was prepared.  Prior to that one coached swim I had never heard of drafting, had never swum around a buoy and every time I was bumped in prior swims I would stop and breast stroke until I settled down again.  During the race I got behind someone and drafted through the first 600 yards or so, I swam around buoys and I bumped shoulders with the best of them.  Someone even grabbed my ankle and deliberately pulled me backwards.  I just kept my slow, even strokes.  I had Coach Suzy in my head telling me to keep long even strokes and to use my swim as the warm-up to the rest of the race.  I listened – I went out with deliberation and not too much speed so that I wouldn’t burn out.

I ended up with the best race I’ve ever had.  But more than anything else, when I finished the race I felt absolutely great.  I had trained well and hard.  I was in better shape than I had been in previous years.  Many thanks to Coach Suzy, who has kept me on track, kept me injury free and has had the best advice of all.  I can’t wait to meet with my coach and set some new goals and look to future races.



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