|I'm the third from the left, thankful I blend in with the other pros. Picture credit here.|
Onto the race…as I lined up to race last month in Coeur d’Alene, I thought about how doing this was one of the scarier things I’ve ever done. It wasn’t the distance or the conditions that frightened me - my 11th Ironman and I’ve seen my share of windy days. It was the exposure of racing up front and against some of the best athletes in our sport. “Everyone would be watching” is what I told myself. All the spectators on the beach and athletes waiting to start were watching my start and would be able to see how quickly (or slowly) I’d make my way through the first loop of the swim. Thirty-five minutes *should* be enough to get through 1.2 miles, but I worried about getting dropped before the first turn and swimming solo the entire way. As I watched the men start, I seriously wondered if any professional athlete had ever had a panic attack before even getting in the water. I took some deep breaths and knew I couldn’t set that stage for the age groupers watching. Besides, get it together, Cathleen, you prepared for this! Be courageous and trust the training and years of experience that have basically been a gift in getting you here.
|Part of the reason I was a bit intimidated. Photo credit here.|
Backing up a bit, Ironman Coeur d’Alene is one of my favorite race weekends. I get to meet up with some old and new friends and I usually know the best spots for dinner, a cup of coffee, or a post-race beer. I’ve had pretty good results here several times and I like the local feel, being only a long drive from Seattle. I often have a handful of teammates toeing the line for their first Ironman, which is always fun to see. This year I had the pleasure of getting to know the CDA community even more by staying with a generous host family – the Pinkertons, who fully immersed themselves in volunteering. My race weekend started out well and everything was pretty much stress-free in getting to the start line. I had the usual pre-race routine and met with my coach to zip up my wetsuit and get final good luck hugs from friends and teammates.
|With my friends Helen and Cecil.|
|Starting loop 2 - I'm second here.|
|Two shots - not sure if the second pic is just a bad angle or if my|
stomach was starting to bloat in the bottom picture.
That's how I felt most of the day. Super attractive.
As I turned down Sherman Ave to run toward the finish chute, it was truly a special moment. And it wasn’t because I had laid down a blazing fast race or won anything spectacular. But I knew I had followed through on my goal of racing as a professional this year. Yes, I was the last finisher of the pro women, but it took some guts and a hell of a lot of dedication to get to this point. I’ve chatted with a few other pro women who’ve reminded me that it takes some getting used to when you make the leap from amateur to professional. My new competitors have been nothing but nice and inspiring and I’m fortunate that I can consider them my new peers (even when they finish way the hell in front of me…Heather Wurtele). The hours and days after the race I was left on a high of only wanting to work harder and get faster. It helped me realized that “going pro,” as I contemplated for years, was the right decision in keeping this sport fresh and exciting for me.
I learned a lot over Coeur d’Alene race weekend including that in reality I don’t think “everyone” was watching the beach start or really paying too much attention to my race all day. Athletes worry about their own races and spectators sometimes don’t know what’s going on. I know starting with the pros and having a “P” on my calf all day makes people think I’m going to race fast, and that is what I hope for every day. I can use that expectation to push on when things get tough. My boyfriend, friends, teammates, and coach watched as I ran on the beach to complete the first loop of the swim, but I’m the one who put the most pressure on my day. This Ironman made me excited for the rest of the season and future years. There are more races to come. Again, thank you to everyone who made is so special.
Until the next one,
Other random thoughts from race day:
- It was another fun weekend of racing with my friends David and Adam. We travelled to St. George in 2012, had a blast, bought matching sweatshirts, and take advantage of wearing them together in public when we can. It was great seeing these guys race, but we’ve decided that the three of us often have bad luck with the wind.
|It's like they're taking this picture with me!|
|We LOVE our St. G sweatshirts and leftover pizza.|
- I nerded out at the pro meeting and told Heather Wurtele that she won Ironman CDA the first year I did an Ironman (2008). She was really cool about it.
- Race morning I asked some random male pro to borrow a bike pump. That random pro was Andy Potts. I was totally star struck. Geez.
- My host family was awesome! I was very lucky to be paired with such a fun and supportive family. I hope to keep in touch and visit them the next time I’m in CDA. All four of them also volunteered in T1 and had some hilarious stories from the changing tents.
- Major thanks to my friend Kevin Tu for many of the great pictures above. He takes excellent race day photos.
- Mike Reilly still pronounces my name wrong. Instead of K-newt-son, he says NUT-son. At the swim start, Jess Smith leaned over and laughed and told me “that’s why you marry a Smith.”
- I got to know both Jess and Ali Black a little bit during over the weekend. I hope to run into them at other races, as they are both very down to earth and kind.
- I also got to meet up with Haley Chura who was in town for SMASH. Both she and her mom were really sweet. I was impressed by her dedication to squeeze in a swim workout, which made me understand why she’s so fast. I hope to see her again at some races.
- I have yet to decide on my 2015 season, but I do hope to race again in CDA. I need to break that 10 hour barrier and doing so in CDA would be really special.
- Finally, a belated Happy Birthday to my boyfriend. June 29th (race day) was his birthday and he spent it as my Sherpa. :)
|Many more races together...hopefully a little faster and not on your birthday.|