The ROTH Report | Challenge Roth 2017

I’ve struggled to put this race onto paper, yet I realize the sooner I can wrap it in a bow, the sooner I can take my attitude adjustment to the next level — ya know, the check up from the neck up!
Because the truth is: Challenge Roth is OUT of THIS WORLD! Hands down the most amazing long distance triathlon race, ever. The Germans don’t miss one detail: everything is high quality, highly efficient, and most of all, full of serious serious amounts of enthusiasm! For the wee town of Roth to host over 5,000 athletes with 200,000 spectators (all of them were on bikes or in a beer garden, i’m certain!) and 7,000 volunteers — you do the math — the athletes were most certainly taken care of. Beyond the race logistics itself (which were all super easy, of course), the bike course was stunning and the local outdoor pool was my 2nd favorite to Vancouver’s own Kits Pool. I’ve watched this race thru social media and the internet and it was always a “bucket list” kinda race, yet what I can tell you is that it is EVEN better in real life. It is worth the 4hour line up to snag a spot or the ferocious refreshing of your register page.
Now, the unfiltered, unglorified tale of my own race was that I fell flat. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was totally disappointed.
I had a few goals coming into this race:
  1. Swim with someone other than a kayaker – heck yes!
  2. Run the marathon that I have yet to run off the bike – #fail
  3. Soak in all things Challenge Roth – check and check!
All things considered, on paper, it didn’t look like a terrible race…
I started on Daniela’s feet and had a 200m battle with Vonsy before realizing that she would tuck in on my feet while I would swim ahead to Laura Siddall who was on her own. We swam in a little pack, rather stupidly as neither of us knew whether to drop back or just hold our line. Vonsy certainly knew how to mix it up and would surge ahead – heading happily off course – yet we would follow. I lost their feet in the last 200m back to shore, yet that is about 3.6km better than my last swim. While it wasn’t a fast swim for me, at least I’m learning the tactics of swimming in a pack! (i share this because sometimes you gotta celebrate the smallest victories in these long days; sunday’s swim was a small victory for me!)
As I headed out on the bike, it didn’t take long before I felt the head wind or better said: the head games! It wasn’t 10km into the ride and my thoughts went dark. Let’s just say it was a very long 170km after that that really felt like a slog. The climb up Solar Hill was more than worth it. There is nothing like it in the world of triathlon. NOTHING! It is actually a very quick climb and before you know it, you are back on the perfectly-german-paved roads riding church town to church town. I broke the race into 5minute chunks and hung on fiiiiiivvvvvve minutes at a time.
Of course, there is always time to turn the day around. And when I put my shoes on I thought, this can be a fresh run. …and let’s just say, it didn’t quite ever turn around. I wasn’t half way and I was dragging the piano. I was walking my way through the course, even stopping on two occasions to jump into a kiddie pool on the side in an attempt to cool down. Mikey was the best — I knew when he showed up with a bottle of coke on the sidelines I was in trouble. (Because at Challenge events you can have outside support!) However, at km15 I didn’t know how on earth I was going to finish in under 13hrs and somehow I did. Perhaps THAT alone was the lesson in marching on, even when in the moment it feels completely impossible.
Beyond the numbers, it wasn’t the worst race I’ve ever done. Yet, here’s the deal: when you put in the work and fly half way around the world, you have expectations for yourself. And on Sunday I fell short. It’s part of racing — a very pure form of vulnerability — that says: I will toe this start line to be my very best. And on Sunday, what I know for sure is that I wasn’t my best. It goes beyond time goals and placing. It is the answer to the most important question: are you proud? In every single moment. And again, on Sunday, I wasn’t proud. While even a year ago I may have been properly thrilled with this result, I am not the same person/ athlete I was a year ago.
Thankfully Coach’s sage words post race were: “you put in a great training day for Ironman Canada!” — and indeed, a great training day it was. Said with a slightly bashful grin, this week of recovery has most definitely served me well. I am feeling fit and fresh and most importantly, perfectly fired up!
So, sweet Challenge Roth — thank you thank you thank you. For reminding me of my love of the sport that when I come up short; I want to come back fighting (err, running!) harder! For the gift of toeing the start line with some truly remarkable women that are rad examples of what is possible. For showing me the beauty in meeting new wonderful people like our Homestay Inge + Michael and experiencing the joy of travelling with the one + only Mikey P! And most of all, for the German way of SHOWING! UP! – with enthusiasm and spunk – and maybe a beer* on the side;)
Next up: Ironman Canada with a crew of exceptional pro women and lots of B78’ers — I can’t wait! Whistler has come to feel like our home and nothing beats racing on home turf.
*note: i actually only drank 1 pint the entire trip to germany, yet let it be known it was of course cheaper than water mit gas.

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