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Brianne's First Coke Race

Team Boston Bill swept 2nd place: Brianne, Mike, and Marty at Coca Cola Siesta Key

AKA, We All Get the Nerves

"I’m not ready to race," Brianne says to me. "I’m not in good shape. I’m slow. I’m going to embarrass myself."

It’s Friday night. My girlfriend is signed up for Coca Cola Siesta Key Sprint Triathlon #1. Brianne decided to sign up for the elite division this year. She used to race in the Exclusive Sports Marketing Sprintkids races when she was younger, where she would beat most of the boys.

Brianne just finished her last year of running cross-country for the University of Central Florida, and now she’s ready to jump into the great wide world of triathlon.

And she’s worried. She hasn’t been serious about racing in a triathlon for a few years. She did a couple races last year, but more for fun than competition. And she knows the elite competition in the ESM series can be tough. We all know how fast Ashley can swim, and Linda Neary always makes it interesting when she chases Ashley down on the bike or run. And there’s a bunch of other tough ladies who also pop in for a race or two every season.

See, my girlfriend has a complex. She likes to win.

Oh, yeah, so do I. Maybe that’s why we get along. ;-)

Anyway, we’re sitting at the dinner table discussing the weekend. She’s understandably nervous. I’m giving her some encouragement. We all know what it’s like to doubt ourselves at times. I know I’ve done it. Have I trained hard enough? Can I stay tough at the end? Do I have what it takes to win?

The truth is that the race usually goes to the athlete who has the best day on that particular day. That’s something those of us who race a lot have to come to realize. Sure, there are a few people around Florida that, if they show up, will probably beat us all. But if you look at your division, you’ll see that there’s usually some trade-off going around. We can’t all have a great race every time we race. If we did, there wouldn’t be much point in racing, would there? That’s why they call it racing, not winning. Can you imagine:

"How did the win go this weekend, Bob?”

“It went great. I won the win.”

“Great job, Bob, great job! When’s your next win?”

And so on…

So I say to my girlfriend, “Hey Brianne, just go out and do your best. Have some fun. This is your first race of the series.”

“I’m going to embarrass everyone,” She says. “They’re all going to point and laugh at me.” She pouts. “I’m slow.”

“No sweetheart,” I say, “You’re fast. You’re going to run like the wind. You’ll ride like Lance Armstrong.”

“I’m going to sink like a rock.” She says.

“You’ll swim like a dolphin,” I say.

“I’m going to get a flat tire,” She says.

“You’re going to tear up the bike course,” Says I.

“I’ll probably cramp on the run.”

“You won’t feel any pain.”

“I’m out of shape.”

“You’re super fit.”

I could go on, but then I’d be exaggerating.

Well, not really. ;-)

So we get to the race site early in the morning and set our stuff up. Brianne does a warm up run and I go for a short ride. She seems more relaxed then she did the night before. I know she’s going to do well, but she’s still got some nagging doubt. Lucky for her, Ashley is in New York doing another race, and Linda’s also not in attendance.

But there’s still about eight elite ladies competing. It ain’t no cakewalk.

I was able to keep one eye on her during the race, and she looked strong. I had my own worries at that point though, and couldn’t manage much more than a “Go Bri!” in between breaths when I saw her go by.

Brianne wound up getting 2nd overall. She didn’t have a flat tire. She didn’t get swallowed by a shark in the swim, or crash on the bike, or have a cramp on the run. She had a good race, and gave it her best, and took second overall in a tough field. And I’m proud of her.

I was happy with my own results as well. John Reback was looking very tough, as he got out of the water just a few seconds behind me, then caught me early in the bike. John usually runs faster than I do, so I knew I was in trouble. But I took my own advice, gave it what I had, had some fun, and wound up getting 2nd as well.

Dave Picciano did catch me near the end of the run, and he was flying. But he was given a penalty for starting to run a bit early in the countdown and lost a spot in the standings.

To give you folks some explanation of this, it’s something of Dave’s signature. If you were out on the beach Saturday, then you also saw him stop, smile, and turn around and wave the rest of us on. He’s out there having fun, and definitely wasn’t trying to use it to his advantage. I certainly understand the necessity to give him a penalty, because rules are rules. But y’all should know that Dave’s just having a good time.

And that about sums it up. We had some fun afterwards, listening to the band and hanging out with our friends and family. And that’s what it’s all about.

See you in Tampa, train safe,

Marty Gaal

PS: Brianne finally smiled after she got her award. She said, “I did OK. When’s our next workout?”