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Race Result

Racer: Brian Richards
Race: Eagleman Ironman 70.3
Date: Sunday, June 9, 2013
Location: Cambridge, MD
Race Type: Triathlon - Half Ironman
Age Group: Male 35 - 39
Time: 5:06:54
Overall Place: 387 / 2100
Age Group Place: 65 / 236
Comment: "This Is Water"

Race Report:

I'll begin by saying, it's refreshing being able to even write a RR.

I entered my off-season training after Chessieman and Half Full in early October with a plan to execute on every level and enter the 2013 season primed and ready. However, some 7+ months later, the only thing I really executed on was how to plow through every season of Dexter, Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, Weeds, True Blood, Battlestar Ballactica, Shameless, Damages, Game of Thrones, and so on from the couch in my parents' basement. Yeah... not quite how I had outlined it from the beginning.

The transition to living in my parents' basement while our home was built (settle on 6/28!) took a toll on my training from the outset, as I was far from my routine of being able to stroll into the Columbia Athletic Club at all hours since I had a key. In hindsight, I underestimated the value of that key! Despite this, I still had a solid plan for the winter months.

I recall getting in a short treadmill run on January 24th, and that proceeded to be the last time I trained for the next 3 months. I was plowed into by a tractor-trailer on I-70 on the way to work later that morning. I have battled injuries from that accident every day since then and still today. I was diagnosed with a concussion, and neck, back, hand, and knee injuries. I was out of work for over 2 months, in physical and cognitive therapy, and managing memory, balance, and executive function issues.

Fast forward to last Wednesday. I was finally fully cleared by my neurologist to train and race. I had been training some off and on for a month since my latest tests were clear, and I was showing improvement. That said, receiving the "all clear" wednesday meant I didn't have to pass on Eagleman or, more importantly, IMLP in late July. It was a stressful appointment… ☺

As Eagleman became a reality, my wife, Renee, grounded me and reminded me that 2012 was about physical progress and accomplishments, and 2013 much more about mental ones. Why are women always right? Her words (repeated over and over) were spot on because I convinced myself not 5 feet out of the doctor’s office that I could kick butt, crush my time from last year, and execute a perfect race all because I watched seven seasons of Dexter and trained with purpose for half a week.

Renee knew I was inevitably going to be disappointed with my result because there’s no “hope” in Ironman, and especially none at Eagleman. Plus, I’m hard on myself even when I do achieve the race goals I set. For me to believe I could crush my time from last year, was really no more than a hope and a prayer. The data from training, or lack thereof, painted a different picture of my end result. Thus, I was setting myself up for a pretty darn big letdown post race. But Renee was prepared. ☺

So there I was on Sunday morning about ready to enter the Choptank. Renee looked at me and said, “This is water.” It was that simple. The most difficult task I was going to face throughout those 70.3 miles was not the wind, the sun, the 1.2…errr…1.4 mile swim, the mud pits, or even my nutrition. It was remembering the point of that declarative statement. “This is water.”

Renee showed me the video Saturday night before the race. I think she waited until then on purpose… I was getting primed and ready in race-mode, and she throws me a curveball with the video seen here:

I’m sure many of you have seen it. “This is water.” I said it over and over during the race. It was my wife’s reminder to me that it was my choice to be miserable if the day didn’t go as I wanted it to. It was my choice to be disappointed and unhappy with myself if I didn’t improve. And it was also my choice to enjoy the day, reflect on the obstacles I had overcome, and be proud with any outcome no matter what. “This is water.”

As I alluded to above, I was hit by a truck on my birthday and then again, figuratively speaking, on the run Sunday. It happened at about the ½ mile mark of Mile 1. I had no muscular endurance. My legs were shot even though I held back on the bike and remained steady at 22mph for most of the ride. My emotions went downhill quickly. I struggled for the next 12+ miles and said, “This is water.” a lot. It helped some, but it also made me think of actual water and how thirsty I was.

When I crossed the finish line I was pretty emotional about it all, and it was hard for me to stay centered. I kinda got pissed and walked away from Renee and friends. It was just that I wanted to prove everyone wrong… that I could still improve despite the odds and circumstances. I wanted to prove to the truck driver, who carelessly barreled his truck into my backseat and just feet from my head, that he didn’t win, but he did. I was slower, and I was choosing to let that result make me miserable.

I headed to the MMTC tent wearing my emotions on my sleeve. It was selfish. I was choosing to make myself the “center of the universe.” My issues were paramount and deserved attention. How terrible does that sound? And what happened to the “this is water” strategy? I guess it’s not that easy.

Many helped. Many offered advice. Many were there for me in so many ways. It meant a lot and still does. And there sat Renee, next to me the whole time, whispering, “This is water.” She even made me repeat it back to her several times until I changed my attitude and removed the disappointment from my face.

Now on to IMLP, where my approach, mindset, and goals for the race are tuned in nicely with each other (and Renee approves!). 2013 makes sense to me now. So as MMTC invades LP in just a few weeks, feel free to take any opportunity to put me in my place and remind me that, “this is water.”