We were preparing our gear in the parking lot at RIT, getting ready to ride a metric century around the greater Rochester area. I had some food and water but planned to pretty much live off the land. Tracy and Staci, however, were packing up gels and powders and other various nutritional supplements into their bike bags and very available pocket on their person. They pretty much had enough calories to live for a week in the jungle with them and I couldn’t control my laughter.
But I knew what they were doing.
This was practice. They were using the ride as a chance to rehearse their Ironman nutrition. I got it. I had done it plenty of times a few years ago while I was training for my first (and to date only) 140.6-mile race. And while I wasn’t part of this specific training, I was honored to be along for the ride.
Tracy, Staci and Tara will all be taking on the challenge of the Iron Distance on Sunday at the Rev3 Cedar Point event in Sandusky, Ohio. It will be the first 140.6 for all three of them. I wish I could be there to support them because all three have become not just amazing friends but incredible inspiration for me.
I’ve known Tara the longest. We’re both alums of Bona’s Old St. Bonas and worked our first professional jobs together at The Olean Times Herald — Tara as a photographer and me as a reporter. We reconnected, somewhat ironically, at the Musselman Triathlon a few years ago. She was there to watch her friends, and become inspired to do her first triathlon, while I was walking around in my wetsuit trying not to vomit before the swim.
It was through Tara that I met Tracy and Staci. If you ever wonder what it is I love about endurance sports one of the answers is this — I have made some incredible friends. All four of us did Musselman last year. All four of us ran Wineglass in October. I’ve spent a good of time out on courses with Staci mostly doubled over in laughter. Tracy kindly ran the Flower City Half Marathon with me this spring as a training run, nearly pacing me to a personal best time along with a definite personal best in enjoyment for a half marathon.
Tracy often posts quotes on Facebook and I steal (er, borrow) them often. Because they get right to the heart of why I swim, bike and run and cut through the crap of my inner critic and its crafty gremlin-like ways.
They’ve been there for me through ups and downs in training and in life, put up with text messages and emails that must have sounded like a whiney broken record. (Special thanks for them not driving to Buffalo to punch me in the face for being so annoying in those moments.) Always they were positive. Always they were supportive. Always they let me be myself. I can not thank them enough for that gift.
I know they will kick ass on Sunday. They’ve put in the work. They have the right mentality. They have everything they need to survive the day. In all likelihood, they will doubt those statements. That’s what the Ironman does to you. It makes you question your strength and your sanity. But the true measure of success is showing up as your best self and taking the day as it comes. If I know anything about these three women is that they have that in the bank.