Race day gives you what it gives you. And at a certain point, getting to the finish line is like opening Santa’s Christmas gift — Was I good enough leading up to this day? Will I be pleasantly surprised with what I get? Will I get what I silently wished for? Or, after those months of waiting and wishing, will I get something I don’t like?
In Tri United 2, 2014 I got something I didn’t expect.
I swam well until the last 800 or 900 meters heading back. The sun was in our eyes, and it was just hard to navigate. I came out 4 minutes later than I wanted.
I expected the bike to be fast and fun — coz for the past 2 years it’s been that for me. But halfway through the bike, my lower back muscles and both my hamstrings were in spasms. Something was wrong and I couldn’t undo it. I slowed down and tried to manage the pain and spasms as much as I could. The pain & frustration was sapping my energy and I needed to save a lot for the 15k run that followed.
By the last 15k of the 60k bike, I was already 10 mins off my target time and knew the 15k run was going to take a lot more from me. I was thinking of quitting and taking a DNF (did not finish). What was the point? I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do. I knew I could perform better but for some reason just couldn’t get it out that day. All I could expect in the run was more effort, energy drain, and maybe more frustration. What’s the point of that? And then I remembered what a team mate said as he was suffering through the 21k run of a half ironman “I wanted to show my kids that they can do anything and that they shouldn’t give up on anything.” That thought woke me up from the funk and the decision to go on came easily.
The run is sort of a blur now. I knew it was about saving energy, managing the heat so that I could get to the finish. I also hoped I wouldn’t suffer much. I ran at the pace I could and poured water over my head in every water station. I mentally kept myself together and tried to “keep everything inside” (vs magkalat sa race course). When I would get tired, I’d walk one minute and then run again. Sooner than expected, I was on my way to the finish line. I crossed it with a feeling of disbelief, frustration, relief and 21 more minutes than I wanted.
After all these years of racing, there are really just 2 kinds of races for me: the ones you race and the ones you just survive. And like Santa’s gifts, I’m always hoping that raceway’s gift is going to be better than I wished for. I survived this last race and I didn’t expect that I’d have to do that. But race day gives you what it gives you. So as my team mate told me after the race “Jake, kasama sa boxing ‘yan.” Right now, I’m slowly (really slowly) trying to stand up from the mat.