"Expectation is the root of all heartache." William Shakespeare
Another 4 am wake up call for what should have been my last longest day. I was to preview 147 miles of day 2, skipping over the first 24 miles which I rode just two days ago. I knew it was going to be a long day and after Tuesday's ride, I also knew what lay ahead.
One might think that after having done the big climb, and knowing what was involved, it would be easier the second time around. It was not. I still struggled. It still took me 4 hours to bike 28 miles. I still quit a thousand times even though I never stopped. I still swore I was never going to ride my bike again.
And then something amazing happened.
As I left Hilo I was feeling pretty down. I knew there would be no way I could make the time cutoff on day 2. And that hurt. A lot. I applied to Ultraman Worlds with the expectation that barring disaster, I would complete each day within the time allotment. I arrived on the island with this expectation knowing the work I had done in preparation for this, over months and years. I also arrived on the island with the expectation from my coach that I would not only finish, but do well and be competitive.
I don't feel like these expectations were unrealistic, generally speaking. I had the fastest women's time on day 2 in Australia the year I raced. And I had the fastest bike split 3 months ago in Mont Tremblant in my age group, and one of the top 10 women's splits overall. I am not a bad cyclist. But when after 90 miles, my average pace is just over 10 mph... the math doesn't add up. It is physically not possible for me to ride 171 miles, on this course, in 12 hours.
As I rode along I let the scenery distract me from my thoughts, and in that moment I was overwhelmed with the urge to cry- not from pain or frustration as was my norm- but because of the sheer beauty of this ride. If you've never biked the saddle road into Hilo, or taken the 19 from Hilo to Waimea on two wheels- you must. It is hands down one of the most beautiful rides I've ever done- on par with the Alaska Extreme Tri course.
And then it hit me, I was letting my expectations steal my joy. This is not me. These are not my thoughts. I chose to apply to race here because of the challenge it presented. That challenge still stands, and I can pursue it with joy and passion, or I can quit.
I continued my ride and in my head I was composing my consolation speech. (At the awards banquet each athlete gives a speech- and they order them by non- finishers, participants--those who completed it, but didn't make the time cutoff--, and finishers from slowest to fastest). So I imagined being one of the participants sharing my thoughts on how this was not how I wanted things to go. I cried (AGAIN) as I rode, and I let it all go. I let go of the expectations. I let go of the fear of failure. I let it go.
A few minutes later I hit a huge rock in the road which bounced off my rear derailleur and caused me to lose function of my gears. I was stuck in the biggest gear with a lot of climbing left to go. My day was over. The irony of this is that for 105 miles I said I was finished. That I quit. That I was done with this. And the minute I let go and decided to just enjoy riding my bike, the universe steps in and ends my day. A reminder to be careful what you wish for.
I knocked out my 5 mile transition run, and then on the way back to the hotel I called the #bff, who is also my voice of reason. I told her what I knew- that I wouldn't make the time cutoff on day 2- but that I was also OK with this, and I was going to keep biking until they were told to pull me off the course. I told her we might be out there for a really long time on day 2, and this won't set us up well for day 3, but I am going to finish what I started.
I am at peace with this now. And I'm glad I have 2 more weeks to solidify the plan in my head, and to be calm with it. More than anything I want to do what I love most- and that is race with joy. I don't want to be negative. I want to choose away from the negative, to lean into the challenge, and just keep taking one breath at a time.