We are now within a few days of the 2016 Ironman World Championship.

Before you get too caught up in the media, blogs and predictions about that race, let’s talk about the race that really matters:

The J-Hawk Late Bird Sprint Triathlon

Otherwise known as the Wisconsin Indoor Pool Sprint World Triathlon Championship.

Coming up on 12 weeks post-partum, it was time to race.  I’ve been “training” as much as my body and schedule will permit.  On days that I am tired, I go easy.  On days that I am tired but decide to ignore that by way of stubbornness or too much coffee, I go a little harder than easy.  My paces are getting faster little by little, my power is going up and my heart rate is going down.  Measured day to day, progress is never quick enough.  But when I look back at the past few weeks and when I look back after my return after the other two kids, I am assured that it’s a slow, unpredictable and tedious process to gain fitness.  But one day, when I need it, it will be there ready to use.

Two weekends ago, we drove up to Whitewater, Wisconsin to race.  Chris, fresh off of a 4 week break of beer, sloth and donuts every Saturday, chose the Olympic distance.  In his words, he could suffer longer at a slower pace.  Myself, fresh off of baby #3, I chose the sprint.  I would rather suffer shorter at a slower pace.

We loaded up the van with bikes and bags and a baby.  Yes, the baby.  But we had a plan.  If we timed this just right (meaning, Chris had to finish his race as x:xx time), we would have just a few minutes to hand off the baby before my race started.

Like any other race, I woke up at 3:30 am.  Pumped and then fed Mason.  Drove 2 hours north.  While Chris got ready for his race, I pumped again in the car and again fed Mason.  He eats every 3-4 hours and I am still on the schedule of pumping every 3-4 hours to supply the milk as well as build up a supply of milk.  At this point, I’ve frozen over 350 bags.  As a mom of a preemie, there were so many weeks where I felt helpless and disconnected as his mother.  The storing of milk because the one thing I could do for him.  To all of the moms who have exclusively pumped – big pat on the back.  It isn’t easy!

While Chris was out racing, I took Mason with me to set up my transition area.  Luckily, this was a very low key race where a baby carseat was not only permitted in transition but welcome!  I received a lot of interesting questions but mostly support for being out of the house and fully clothed with a 12 week old baby.

As my race start time approached, I pumped one last time before sitting on the pool deck with Mason.  And, within 2 minutes of my race starting, Chris came through the door (he ended up winning the Olympic race) and took over with Mason.   The timer called me to my lane.

Now J-Hawk is a small race.  Unsanctioned.  A 500 yard swim in a pool.  Doesn’t exactly draw stiff competition.  And part of the reason I chose this race was for its laid back, ease back into it, dust off the cobwebs feeling.  That is, until I scanned the start list a few days earlier only to realize that the current F30-34 Sprint National Champion would be racing.

I spent the next few days lamenting to my friends.  Wah …. now I actually have to race!  Not only that but I had to race her in the same lane.  Imagine my surprise when in scanning the start list, I also realized that my darling husband (who had taken care of our registration) seeded me with a 500 time of 6 minutes.  Pretty fast, eh?  Only problem is that only once in my life and only aided by paddles, pull buoy and the awesome draft of Timmy, have I gone sub 6 on a 500.   Right now, I would be grateful to crack 7:30!

There I was, in a lane with the Sprint National Champion who legitimately could swim 6 minutes, ready to race.  We split the lane.  The gun went off and I swam as hard as I could.  The effort was there but after baby you feel disconnected, sloppy, like you need to spend the next 3 months in plank position to tighten things up.  Needless to say, she had a minute on me by the time we exited the swim.  It was time to chase.

Running through transition.  Remember this?  Remember this feeling?  That feeling of – I signed up for this?  Paid good money?  Chose this over laying in bed and then going for coffee?  I WANNA QUIT NOW!  Those feelings are how you know you are at the proper effort level in a sprint race.

On to the bike.  Chris and Jennifer (who also won the Olympic race!) were shouting that my competition was 1 minute ahead.  Go chase!  It has been nearly one year since my time trial bike wheels have touched pavement.  The last time we danced together was on the Queen K!  This time around, I was going much harder, seeing heart rates I haven’t visited in a very long time.  It was a warm day but warm in September means windy.  I pushed through the wind and realized at the turnaround I had put a little time into my competition.

I CAN STILL DO THIS!

I rolled into transition and headed out for the run.  A slow transition cost me some time but I was ready to chase.  The J-Hawk run course is challenging – entirely off road, hilly, mud, packed dirt, bridges, trails, grass.  I ran as hard as I could, huffing and puffing through the trails.  I remember thinking – I’m racing.  Here, now, I love this feeling.  I love the chase.  To get completely lost in the moment of what you’re doing with nothing but putting one foot painfully and quickly in front of the other – the simplicity of that over 3.3 miles was a welcome respite from the chaos of my every day.  It made me realize that in 2017 I want to race more often.

j-hawk-silver

In the end, I finished about 2 minutes behind the overall woman.  SILVER MEDAL!  2nd PLACE WORLD SPRINT WISCONSIN CHAMPION!

And then I spent the rest of the day feeling like I raced an Ironman (normal new mom feeling, honestly).

Now you can get back to your world championship coverage.  This year, Multisport Mastery has 4 athletes on the Big Island.  I’ve lived vicariously through their pictures of Dig Me Beach, the Queen K and sunsets.  All four of them are the result of long term vision, commitment and dedication.  Which, in my coach opinion, counts more than talent, V02 max, training volume or equipment when your goal is to race the Ironman World Championship.

As for me – time to get back to some training, enjoy the fall season, make sure I have 3 kids in my possession at all times (hey, it’s hard to lose count at times!) and plotting out my 2017 season.