A Year of “Firsts” with my Team!

A Year of “Firsts” with my Team!

by Laura C.

For me, it’s always fun doing events for the first time.  2012 was a year of many “firsts” for me.  Since I joined Experience Triathlon and became a coached athlete in July, 2011, this was my first full year working with Coach Suzy and alongside my talented, dedicated ET teammates.  What a benefit to train through the whole fall, winter, and spring with Coach Suzy’s quality swim workouts, ET CompuTrainer, and challenging run workouts!  And how much more fun were these workouts with my ET teammates!

Looking back on 2012, I will have some great memories thanks to ET.  I’ll remember traveling to Orlando for the Disney half marathon – my first since 1999 (pre-kids 🙂 ), cheering my teammates who were running the marathon, and getting a PR in the half marathon!  I’ll “fondly” recall my first Galena triathlon, where I was assigned race number 666, and where I missed a turn for the first time during a triathlon.  I attribute that mistake to my demonic race number and the hotter than h##l day – I actually remember thinking that they must have shortened the run course due to the heat!  🙂 I later realized I had inadvertently missed a turn and about a half mile of the run course.  A good learning experience!  On a positive note, I’ll also remember how much more calm I felt waiting for the race to start alongside my teammates – what a difference it made in my anxiety level.

When I recollect June, 2012, I’ll think of my first ET Batavia Triathlon, and how it felt like all of Team ET had the home team advantage with so many teammates competing, cheering, and volunteering.  It gave me lots of energy and I accomplished another first as I finished 2nd in my age group—my first podium finish ever in a triathlon!  2012 was my first attempt at the Pleasant Prairie Olympic.  I used the race as a gauge for the longer distance and as I finished, I felt prepared and ready for my next “first”- Racine 70.3, my first Half Ironman!

Even though it’s usually fun to try an event for the very first time, I found out that it can be very intimidating as well.  The day of Racine, I woke up feeling very nervous!  I was suddenly concerned about all of those factors that we as athletes really shouldn’t waste our energy on because they are beyond our control.  I was focusing on things like how hot it was predicted to be, and getting a flat tire on the bike.  My husband and kids woke up early with me and drove me to transition, where seeing some of my teammates helped to calm my nerves a little.  But seeing the 2000 other triathletes setting up their transition areas and hearing bits and pieces of conversations made me anxious again.  I felt inexperienced and out of my element in this crowd.  I thought that getting out of the transition area would be a better idea for my mental state, so I made my way over to the ET tent and thank God Coach Suzy was there!  I had a bit of a teary meltdown, but she had lots of helpful advice for me (as always) and was even able to find a word to describe my state of mind—overwhelmed.  Exactly!  I was feeling overwhelmed with what I was about to attempt for the first time, and the culmination of all of the time and preparation I had put into training for this long triathlon.  Suzy helped me to re-focus, and once again, hanging out at the swim start with my ET teammates and the cheer crew lowered my anxiety level.

Pretty soon I was in the water doing what I’d been training for all year.  The swim went great, and soon I was running out of the water to the cheers of the world famous ET Cheer Crew and my husband and kids.  What an awesome feeling; I’ll never forget it!  Then I was into transition and out onto the bike course, praying I wouldn’t get a flat tire.  I followed ET Team Dietitian Laurie Schubert’s nutrition/hydration plan to a T, didn’t get a flat, and was soon back for T2 and on the run course.  When I signed up for Racine, I knew that as long as I got to the run, I would finish – even if that meant walking or even crawling to the finish line.  So, with that in mind, I set out into the heat and tried to concentrate on checking off the mile markers, making it to mile 1, then mile 2, until I hit the finish line.  I again followed Laurie’s hydration plan and Coach Suzy’s advice for keeping my core temperature down in the heat.  I passed my family on the way out of transition and was blown away by the ET cheer crew as I finished my first loop on the run.  Honestly, they make you feel like such a rock star and give you such a lift when you pass by!  And it was awesome to see my ET buddies out there competing and cheering each other on even though we were all tired.  The heat was brutal and my legs got so tired, but soon I could hear the announcer in the distance.  I knew I’d see my family and ET team shortly and that image helped power me through the last mile of the run to the finish.  Another “first” for 2012 – my first Half Ironman finish!!

These “firsts” could never have happened without help from lots of people – my ET Team!  I’m so grateful to my husband for supporting my triathlon lifestyle and my participation in a big event like Racine—thanks, Mike for coordinating workout and “life” schedules, watching the kids, accompanying me on many training rides, and for not complaining when the house was a pit (something’s got to give, right?!)  Thanks to Coach Suzy for helping me achieve so much this season through your encouragement, advice, and training plans that challenge me to become a better athlete.  I’m so, so lucky to have you!  Coach Joe, thank you for ET!!  I know I wouldn’t be attempting events like Racine without ET.  Thanks for all of your advice and encouragement, and positive outlook at all times – “Sunny and 80”, right?!  Laurie, thanks for coming up with such a thorough and right-on nutrition plan for Racine.  I would never have been able to figure that out without you! Coach Sarah– I swear you have magic hands that always seem to correct and alleviate any aches and pains I have with your massages.  And I appreciate your cycling knowledge and enthusiasm through CompuTrainer; it has helped make my least familiar part of triathlons much more enjoyable!  I’m especially grateful to the ET Cheer Crew.  I was completely humbled by how many of you traveled to cheer us all at Racine, and all year long.  You selflessly give us competitors so much energy during the races, and that really makes it possible for us to achieve our goals and to cross the finish line of events like Racine.

What a Team!  Many cheers and hugs to all of you, and to a year of “firsts!”

Enjoy our Racine 70.3 pictures on the ET Photo Gallery!

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