Have you ever shown up to a party and felt so out of place that the only thing you wanted to do what high tail it to the nearest exit. That is how I felt the when I showed up on Thursday to IM Louisville. First of let me put this out there, I never, ever, ever dreamed of being a triathlete . I was always one of those people who “worked out” at the gym, but not really; ya’ll know what I am talking about. As I walk around and stared at everyone, all I could think of is I am going to get my bandonks kicked. My mantra that day was I can’t swim, or bike well, maybe I can run 26.2; maybe…
So I did the only self-respecting thing I could do at the time. I called my coach Laura Sophiea and had a meltdown. All she said was, “You can do this Nikki. You are mentally tough. You made it through all of your training. You will prove them all wrong”; meaning the thoughts in my head. I went to bed that night feeling a little better, and woke up the next morning feeling empowered to do my practice swim. As I jumped into the water, I felt calm as I repeated my mantra over and over in the water; this is something I worked on a lot to not freak out in the water. As, I exited the swim, I felt great and was smiling. This momentum me carried through the remainder of my pre-race activities Friday and Saturday . Tip-always throw the junk out of your head and replace it with a positive(s). Junk bogs you down; empowering thoughts can propel you to achieve your goals.
Flash forward to race day morning-Laura was now with me…I got up at 3:45, feeling anxious. I reluctantly ate my breakfast because I felt like my stomach was about to jump out of my body; but since Laura kept telling me to eat, I ate and drank my water. Laura and I then walked down to transition and she kept filling my head with positive thoughts. I checked my bike one last time, looked around in amazement and left the scene. I met up with Laura and friends again, and we did the long walk to the swim line up/start area. The line was long and we had a over an hour to wait. I took this time to mentally go over my race plan and have some quite time to myself. Before I knew it the line was moving and time to jump in the water. I said my goodbyes, and within 5 minutes, it was my turn to jump in the water. I jumped in with three other people at the same time; they seemed to use the cannon ball technique, while I did more of a modified toothpick.
The water experience was a little weird, since you could see above water, but not below. This being the case, there was some bumping and slapping in the water, but not much. I felt good in the water, stuck with my mantra and did my best to keep moving forward in a straight line. When I exited the water, I excited to get ready for the bike. The thought in my head at this point was, the hardest of the race for me is over, now it is time to have some fun. Tip for swim-do whatever you need to do to stay calm in the water.
T2 was a little weird at first, since I am not used to people helping me get ready. I was thankful though because they keep you moving. Once dressed I ran to my bike named, “THE HELLO KITTY”, and thought wow I am really doing this. I got to the mount line and once again Laura was cheering, I could not hear exactly what she said, but I knew it was good stuff. I hopped on my bike and was off. Earlier in the summer I came down to practice on the course with my friend Neal two different times, so I knew what to expect. This made it hard for me not to go balls out from the get go. I also think this is hard for any person doing an Iron distance for the first time to really gage how fast they should start and when to really push it. For me I wanted to do a negative split, so I was conservative the first half pushed a little harder to mile 100 and then really raced the last part. I did do a negative split, but looking back I think I could have gone a bit harder on the bike…but don’t we all think that. Overall I did like the bike course and all the rolling hills that went with it. I thought some parts were very narrow, people racing up and down a hill at the same time, but doable. Tip for the bike: stick to your nutrition plan, no matter what, and always put chamois butter on before you get on the bike; wet bike shorts and 112 miles without it = ow!!!
T2 was fantastic, I had people drying my feet, putting on my socks and shoes, and cheering me on at the same time. I was really fired up for the run, since this is what I love to do the most. I made sure I hit the bathroom; since I did not want to stop later, and away I went. During the first mile I felt pretty good, but somewhere between 2 and 3 my stomach was not being nice to me. As this was occurring Laura came up next to me on her bike. I told her what was up, and she said, “Nikki, this is your rough patch, you will get through this, and once you do you will be ok.” I ran on, and emptied my stomach twice, while running; I thought that was pretty talented… Then right before mile 6, I knew I was in for it, and grew very upset that I would now have to stop at the bathroom. I flew inside, and gave myself 5 minutes to get everything out; I hate losing time like this, but I had no other option. When I got out I began to take in cola. This seemed to help, but I had to get it every mile; because once you start cola you have to keep using it. The rest of the run was good. I did slow down a little bit after the stop, but I stayed positive. Tip for run: keep running, stick to nutrition plan, and do not give into those pesky little thoughts that try to creep into your head.
As I approached the final mile, I was over the moon with pride, excitement, and gratitude. I was high fiving, dancing around, whoo-hooing until I hit the finish line! 12:21:57 Wow, what a day!I