Thursday, April 10, 2014

Little did I know it would be The Best Race of My Life!

I flew down to Florida on Friday morning with my mom. Our flight was at 6:50 am so we got up at 4 and left for the airport around 4:30am. I wanted to leave earlier but for those of you who know my mom, she can never be on time for anything and this time we almost missed our flight! We got to the airport around 5:15am and got in line to check my bike which I decided to bring down with us instead of shipping it ahead of time. The lines were crazy due to all the international flights going out that day. Finally, 30 minutes later my bike was checked and we ran to security where the lines were again, crazy! Made it through security in 20 minutes and ran through the airport to make our flight. With 15 minutes to spare we made it, even before the pilot and got settled in our seats for the flight. Three hours later we were in Fort Myers, Florida. We stayed the night in my parents townhouse in Naples, I did my pre race routine Friday and hung out for the rest of the day. Got in a little bit of sun but not too much so I wouldn't dehydrate or burn.
Saturday morning I woke up and went through the same routine, pre race workouts and lounging. I was texting Gerard who was on his way to Kentucky for some army training...or so I thought. Janet, my sister in law, asked "Does he ever work? I feel like you always text each other!" I said, "He does, hes just driving to Kentucky right now." 
Around 1pm we left to cross the state via Alligator Alley to South Beach Miami. That place is INSANE. Not my choice of a vacation spot but never the less entertaining. We got to South Beach at 4pm and went to get my packet for the race on Sunday. We then decided to grab an early dinner along the main road and people watch. I saw some sights Id prefer to never see again! 
Back to the room and my mom and I just hung out for a bit before bed. I tossed and turned until about 10:15 and then finally fell asleep. Up at 4am and out the door shortly after to head to transition and get my bike all set up and then a little later headed north to the start of the swim. Race start was just after 6:50 am and the swim was a point to point parallel to the shoreline. I figured we would be out past the wave break and it would be no problem. Boy, was I surprised! I was thrashed around like a rag doll in the swim. Some points I could touch the bottom as I swam along and 5 seconds later I would be 3-4 feet off the bottom. I took in so much water that I started to dry heave mid swim. I came out of the water behind schedule but right in the middle of the pack I started with. After a long run into transition I got to my bike. My wetsuit gave me a little trouble coming off but not much and I was out on the bike. A strong wind made some areas a little tricky, especially the bridges. I had to sit up in some areas afraid I would be blown over. But overall a decent bike. Back into transition #2 and as I was running in with my bike my left leg collapsed under me after hitting a hole but luckily my leg just buckled and I was able to stay on my feet. 
Out onto the run and I was able to pick off a girl ahead of me within the first 2 miles. I closed in on another later in the race. A good portion of the run was on sand which is never ideal although most sand in Florida is very very packed and relatively easy to run on. Not this sand! It was nice and dig up for us. Everyone I passed was cursing! I just wanted to finish the race to the best of my ability in the less than ideal conditions and I can say I did that. I have a lot more to work on but I know it will all come together and its always nice knowing where you stand and where you need to improve.
I finished in 4th place, 13 seconds behind the 3rd place woman I needed to beat to earn my pro card. She was not in my heat, one of aspects of triathlon I actually like because it forces you to go all out all the time but also has its disadvantages of not knowing where your competitors are. If we had been head to head I can say the outcome probably would have been different but I cant say for sure. It seems like 4th place is the story of my life right now after the same thing happened in Chicago last year! I will not give up though, one day soon I will be top 3. 
I crossed the finish line and looked ahead to keep running through the shoot to get some water when Gerard stepped out in front of me dressed up in khakis and a button down! My first words were "What are you doing here!?" I was shocked to see him there but so excited! As you can see from my face...
I had a feeling he may have been planning a surprise for somewhere, not necessarily in Miami, just because people were acting a little sketchy but I never in a million years expected what happened next! Especially because we had talked about it being 1-1.5 years down the road!!Little did I know he was being sneaky! 

He said "you're going to hate me for this" and then got down on one knee.


















How could I hate him? I LOVE HIM! Eventually I was able to say "YES!!!" Instantly my decent race was turned into the best race of my life. The ring is beautiful and absolutely perfect. He got me exactly what I wanted and more, having it engraved on the inside. 
Shortly after the race we headed back to Naples and hung out for the rest of the day. Little did I know my whole family knew Id probably stay down an extra night since Gerard wasn't heading back to GA until Monday afternoon so my dad upgraded my moms seat on the plane home Sunday but didn't upgrade mine since Id be changing it. Sean asked me if I got work emails to my phone, I was wondering why it was such a big deal all of a sudden when I am out of the office most of the day on Fridays anyway...Now I understand! How did I never catch on?! I'm glad I didn't because it was the best surprise. I am so lucky to have Gerard in my life. I wouldn't want it any other way. We are so excited to start this next chapter in our lives together! Next up: Buying a house! 
Gerard is back in GA and I am back at work and back to training and the ring is at the jeweler to be fitted. 

Huge shout out to XTERRA Wetsuits and PowerBar for helping me get through the tough racing conditions to the finish line, especially for this race! Its time to do more work! Until next time...

Caitlin