We have been together for over 9 years, and we met through triathlon, when a triathlon friend introduced us. However, we never raced a triathlon together. Carol has always done Sprint and Olympic distances before she met Richard, and Richard was always a long distance athlete! One would think that it would be easier for Rich to race a small race, than to Carol train for a long distance race. And yes, that is correct. It took Carol almost 9 years of watching Richard racing, cheering him on, losing her hair and mind over his races, to finally decide to register for a long distance triathlon. It took more than years, it took a lot of courage, it took also a lot of “pushing” from Richard (his dream was always to watch Carol racing, and specially, long distances races!!)
So Carol registered for Ironman Florida that will happen November 2015, but in preparation for that race Richard (also her coach), had planned for her a few half ironman distances, and the first one was last weekend, in Naples. Believe us, as a husband and as a coach Richard had/have big plans for Carol that he has been putting it off for all these years, and he is finally in heaven (or maybe not so much because coaching his wife is also the hardest thing ever), to be able to guide Carol through this journey that he knows so well. What Carol wasn’t expecting for this first race was that Richard was going to be racing the same race, but double the distance. At first, when Rich brought the idea, Carol kind of freaked out, because she is used to watch Richard on his races, follow every step possible, and be there physically or in front of the computer from beginning until the end. But this one, she was going to be racing half of the time, and then…who knows…recovering from her first race. Plus…she wouldn’t have Rich’s support in her first long distance race…”he will be there…but mentally focus on his performance”, she thought!!
Well, when our entry was confirmed for Full Distance (Rich) and half distance (Carol), besides the butterflies in the stomach, we got really excited! We thought it would be a great opportunity for both of us to race together (for the first time), and still, Carol could watch part of Rich’s race, as well as, we would be tapering at the same time, watching every step before the big day, etc etc.
The result? We had a blast!!!!! A few days before the race, we thought we had the training in place, and our main focus was the nutrition!! Very important!! As a copy cat as Carol is, she would eat (or not eat) everything Rich would (or would not). Having had a few stomach issues 2 weeks prior to the race, Carol knew she had to score the nutrition in order to have a good race.
It was a great experience picking up packages together, preparing the bikes, setting goals, going over race strategy (It was just Carol’s first long race, but she had to have a strategy…lol…women always want everything to be organized and in place, even when they are having fun)!!! And we even had a good time trying to calm each other nerves!! For Carol was just her first, so, even though she always want everything to be perfect, she was cool about her race, and she kept telling herself she was there to have fun. But, for Rich, was time for a PR, for a great race and maybe time to win an Ironman?? So, having to go over details with Carol kind of made Rich to distract his mind and relax a little!!!
The night before the race we barely slept. We were wide awake around 2am, when Carol asked Rich: Is this normal? Not being able to sleep? I am ready to go, to start, to swim bike and run!!!!!!!! Rich answered: Yes, get used to this!!!lol
Race day was here, and we warmed up together, and we waited for the start right next to each other…when we knew was the last moment close to each until Rich’s finish. We raced like we never done before, knowing that we would see each other at some point at the race. Carol finished her race, and quickly changed from her athlete outfit to her “wife outfit”, with her camera ready to go and her lungs ready to scream for Rich.
At some point, Carol found out something happened with Richs wheel, and even sore and tired she went back and forth to find out what his status was. She came to find out, Rich had to stop for 43 minutes on the bike for mechanical issues, but soon she saw him in the transition. In Transition she looked at him and said, you still can win this, and hey…I did a great race! She told him her time and he was impressed, probably thinking, “I have to make this a big day for both of us”!!! So he started his journey on the marathon, reaching the second position within the first half. Carol gave him his special needs on the half marathon, and then decided to get her bike out of transition and go out on the course. There she was, sore and tired, checking her bike out of transition for 13 extra miles cheering Rich, timing him and taking pictures. For Carol, racing her first long race was exciting, but nothing beats cheering her hubby succeeding after so much effort and dedication!!
Richard finished the marathon impressively in 3h19min and in second place overall, only 5 minutes behind the first place. They were both very very happy! As a friend said to us, ” what a great day in the office” we had!!!:)
Overall, racing together made us stronger and even more connected. Rich could pass on his experience as coach and athlete, and Carol, as relaxed as she was, could bring Rich a little more peace for before and during the race…telling him that everything was under control!
We have totally different approaches in sport, or we used to have…but today we feel even more connected due to the fact that we love the extra miles, we learn with the challenges, and every step we make, every fear we overcome, make us stronger as people and as a couple. We chose challenging goals over comfort, and as long as we live, we will work hard every day to reach those dreams, one by one!!!
Rich & Carol