The BIG BTA Meet-up in Louisville Kentucky
Updated: Nov 21, 2020
My FIRST 140.6 Louisville KY, USA PRE-RACE I was still down about Long Course Nationals. Not only had I failed to make the US Team. I passed out at mile 4 of the run. I have splits up to mile 6 so only GOD knows what was going on for 2 miles because I surely don't remember. I determined to throw myself across the IM Louisville 140.6 finish line by any means necessary.
I drove to Louisville with my Run Coach Euleen Josiah -Tanner we left Atlanta around 3:AM. Other than a truck flipping over in the mountains in Tennessee, the ride was uneventful. We arrived in Louisville right on target about 10:am. We checked in and went directly to the IronMan Village for packet pick-up.
As usual I had to get gifts for my children. I think they have more triathlon celebration gear than I do LOL!! I was also on the hunt for something XXL for my Trainer. Fortunately even though there's not much in that size for triathletes the nice stuff doesn't move quickly O_O. I hit the sale rack and was able to get some nice things for everyone. We returned everything to the room and then drove the bike course.
"Everyone seemed so excited and well trained. My "A" race was a 70.3 and I made a conscious decision at the start of the year to make that my focus. I was tired, under-trained for sure and petrified."
Everyone kept talking about the infamous out and back but I felt that Sligo Road and L'Esprit would be the places that would require the most patience and be the most taxing. Looking back I was right on the second loop. We drove the run course and I panicked!! I was exhausted from the work week, the drive and just everything that needed to be done to prepare…….the run loop just seemed ENDLESS. I went back to the room ordered food and sipped on a recovery shake. Everyone seemed so excited and well trained. My "A" race was a 70.3 and I made a conscious decision at the start of the year to make that my focus. I was tired, under-trained for sure and petrified. I showered, ate and went to sleep.
Race Day Soon Come - But PreRace First
The next morning I headed to the practice swim and realized I had forgotten to go to the athletes briefing which was made COMPLETELY evident by the fact that I didn't know I had to wear my timing chip for the practice swim. Euleen proceeded to break the Guyanese 800M record by sprinting to our room and back to retrieve it. I was out on the swim in plenty of time. It was no biggie but it was evident that the portion of the swim against the current was going to be much harder than I anticipated. I dried off and got on The Green Machine to check things out . Evidently there was a road race on the bike course because my ride lasted about 2.5 miles out and back because of runners and crowds. NO biggie I thought. I know the course. I had ridden sections of the bike course many times on my Kickr and I physically saw it yesterday. I needed rest more than anything. I gave my bike to Euleen and ran the first mile of the run course and the turnaround loop. I felt good. I just had to get my mind right. I kept thinking about that smile on Tiencia's face in her finisher pic. I wanted THAT feeling! By 10:30 AM we were back in the room so we decided to go to the early Athletes briefing and then go to the Muhammad Ali Center .
The athletes briefing was like most…… really corny jokes, athletes posturing. I was particularly annoyed by this briefing because the host was one of the Iron Man officials who insulted me in front of a room full of people in Raleigh. That's another long story but it does tie into the end of THIS story. The Ali Center was ALL THAT!!! I'm so glad I went before the race. It gave me that mental BOOST that I needed. I could have stayed all day. I watched a 20 minute movie about Muhammad Ali's life. I hit the speed bag. I read about his spiritual journey. Boxing was his way to reach people, touch people, help people ……. I left that building completely determined to finish 140.6 miles RUNNING. Maybe not the fastest but with dignity, on my own two feet . I put on a wristband that reads "Find Greatness Within".
Race Day is HERE
I checked my bike in around 3:pm. The line earlier was RIDICULOUS. Walked the transition as usual then turned in my bike and run bags. I even left all of my nutrition on the bike. RACE DAY I got up at 4:00am not excited but scared and overwhelmed. I kept going through my race plan in my head . I shoved as much leftover Chinese food as I could tolerate down my throat as I got dressed. I ate a protein bar and drank a NASTY pre-race endurance mixture. I was trying to get as many calories as I could comfortable hold. I wrote the names, Aisha, Donn Sr and Aaron one hand. I wrote the names of my children on the other with a sharpie. I double checked my checklist and then headed to Transition. I had already checked tire pressure when I dropped off the bike, I just took my seat cover off and the bag off of my handlebars, made sure my nutrition was still secure, made sure my bike and run bag were where I left them then bee lined to the swim start. The swim start line was already @ 400 meters long!!!
"You can do this any day of the week but you CANNOT ride that bike the way I know you want to. You WILL finish but you have to take your time." - Felicia Le-Ray Turk
When got to the swim start I tried to lay down and rest but it was obvious I wasn't at rest, at least not at peace. Felicia LeRay came by. She saw the panic in my face. She literally grabbed the sides of my head and said, "Listen to me. I've seen you train. You can do this any day of the week but you CANNOT ride that bike the way I know you want to. You WILL finish but you have to take your time." She gave me a laundry list of GOOD advice and made me promise I wasn't going to wild out like I normally do. She literally MADE me say it out loud and I'm glad she did.
I waited in a 20 MINUTE porta potty line and by the time that was over the line to the start was moving. I zipped up my wetsuit . The next thing I know I'm in the Ohio River !!!!! THE RACE I was swimming but I felt like I wasn't moving!! The current was so much stronger than I thought at the practice swim. I couldn't FEEL it but I knew I was swimming slow. Finally I can SEE the turn buoy and I realize I'm grabbing MUD not water?!?? The water was so shallow I had to stand up and WALK about 20 feet through knee deep mud . It gave my arms a rest but put a DENT in my swim time. I finally get to waist deep water so I throw myself forward and keep swimming ……..ZIG ZAG. After about 100 meters of foolishness I get my life together I can see the final buoy in the far distance so I site off that and forget about trying to get close to the intermediate buoys. I swam the last half like I knew what I was doing. My stroke was smooth and I was starting to catch and pass other swimmers. The Garmin data shows I went from swimming WELL over 2:00 per 100 down to 1:45-1:55. I felt fine after the swim. I jogged through transition. I was a bit annoyed by people walking . This is a RACE people!!
The Surprise of the Long Course Transition
I grabbed my bag easily and shot to the change tent. Oooooooh the change tent!!! I was NOT prepared for the level of NUDITY. I won't go into detail but…..yeah. I swam in the tights I would cycle AND run in so I just put on my cleats, and cycling jersey. My extra nutrition was already in my back pockets. I dropped my bag at the door and left.
The Bike Where I Wanted to Be
I found the Green Machine and I was rolling!! Mile 5 on my Garmin 19.2, Mile 10 19.5…..then I remembered Felicia's face. When I got to the first hill I geared down, upped my cadence and I spun up the hill. I pushed the downhills and I used high cadence moderate gears on the few flat areas there were on the course. I got more PISSED as the ride went on because I knew I could ride faster, but I KNEW Felicia was right. I dropped my chain at about mile 40 and I stopped at a lone porta potty that I had peeped on the first loop around mile 75 but other than two slowdowns to grab water I kept it rolling and only used my own personal nutrition. I consumed 68 ounces of Nutrition , 20 ounces of plain water, 2 Lara bars, 4 GUs and half of a shot block. I was averaging about 16.6 as I made the final turn to home…..just under 10 miles to go. I took in some salt, started spinning and rode the last few miles easy. Follow the plan Khadijah, follow the plan. I got off my bike and other than my butt being sore…. I decided to go with my normal race chamois versus a century chamois….. I felt GREAT! A volunteer took my bike and I was able to jog through transition.
Getting Ready to be Run and Done
As I got close to the tent I saw Ovetta. She stopped EVERYTHING and assisted me as if I was a child headed to my first day of school. I ditched the cycling jersey and put on a ClimaCool shirt. A few people didn't recognize me. I couldn't find green or lavender so I ran the marathon in royal blue. It matched my TriSports visor so I went with it. My shoes were OF COURSE Lavender. I will never forget how Ovetta forbade me to move until I ate an entire cup of pretzels O_O. The Iron Princess had SPOKEN. I crammed them all in my mouth almost at once LOL!!! I downed a Red Bull hit the porta potty which was toxic at this point and took off. I didn't think about miles I thought about pace and destination. Winkler Rd, turnaround, Derby, Muhammad Ali, Winkler, turnaround, Derby, home. I just RAN. Every aid station I mashed two sponges on my head and did the Ethiopian water sip. Mile 4 I tried to take in a Gu but I couldn't so I stayed on top of my Liquid nutrition consumption which was in my Fuel Belt. Peep the Watch, Peep the Watch , Sponges, Water, Peep the Watch, Peep the Watch, Infinite ……… Peep the Watch, Peep the Watch , Sponges, Water, Peep the Watch Peep the Watch....I literally zoned out and got into this mindless movement On the way back aching in my legs broke my concentration and I had to walk so I started reciting Qur'an. I reminded myself about the niece Aisha and I gave myself 5 minutes. I walked as fast as I could shook my legs out and then got back on pace. ……… Peep the Watch, Peep the Watch , Sponges, Water Peep the Watch Peep the Watch, Infinite, recite, recite. I saw Euleen at the turnaround she's telling me so and so called, the kids called, Jamell called. I smiled and got ready for the repeat. I felt ok. I asked for Red Bull at Winkler. I was getting tired but I had come so far!!! Made it to the turnaround!!!! Less than 6 to go!!! Here comes Vonn!!! Wait a minute I was so focused on what I was doing I couldn't believe I held off Vonn through Mile 20??I had no clue where I was as far as overall time but it had to be decent the way Vonn was running. I was so proud of her. We high-fived and the florescent shorts slowly pulled away. I headed to the Churchill Downs and Vonn headed out and that was the last I saw her until the finish. 3 miles to go….I'm getting just plain SLEEPY!!! I drink 2 CUPS of Red Bull and some Cola as I walked through the next aid station then get back on pace. I could hear the music and see the lights but I didn't have the energy to pick up the pace. I made sure my hijab was straight, I held my form and kept running.
"I didn't even really meet him. Not knowing who I was he conveniently got in the way of volunteers who tried to stop me from competing. I never asked if it was intentional or accidental but....."
Front Street LIVE!!!
As I get ready to turn the last corner the Red Bull inflatable falls on my head!?!?!?!? Some guy picks me up and I keep going. There were so many lights and people and the NOISE!! I was actually confused, overwhelmed as I ran to the line. My hands started shaking , I started thinking about the midnight Kickr rides, the disappointing races this season, running in the dark at the track sometimes, the smile on Jamell's face when I could finally do 10 pull-ups, how my kids and nieces and nephews tell people I'm the fastest triathlete in the World LOL!! I guess the caveat is the World ends at our front door. I think I was laughing and crying at the same time. Tom Scheer gave me my medal and a big bear hug and at that point I was crying like a baby. You see I met Tom at IM Raleigh 70.3. I didn't even really meet him. Not even knowing who I was, he conveniently got in the way of volunteers who tried to stop me from competing because I was racing covered. I never asked if it was intentional or accidental but he did look me directly in my face as if to say, "JUST GO!!!!" For the first time I felt like I could say out loud….. I was so proud of myself. I'm a lifelong swimmer but never swam competitively. I didn't own a bike until a week before my first Tri 4 years prior to IM Louisville and I was a 800 meter runner in college. I never swam 2.4 miles without stopping. I'd NEVER completed a marathon. I had DNF'd in my last race only two (2) weeks earlier, a 70.3 and I toed the line petrified but I went anyway. My reward at the end was being surrounded by amazing people and a new sense of dignity and confidence I had never felt before.
The After Party
POST RACE I went to hug Vonn. I put on some sweat clothes and went to wait for other BTA members to come in. I realized I ran track at A&T with Maurice. The highlight of the night was the drama as Tony crossed the line. Motivated Tasha swooped in made the announcement. He jogged to the line did Superman pose then raised his hands. It was AWESOME. I went to my room, showered and then Facebooked until I dozed off with the phone in my hand. Based on my goals for the season I had a pretty crappy year, but in retrospect Allah (swt) as always is the BEST of planners. I met and connected with
GREAT people through BTA and TriSports. I didn't just learn the importance of nutrition I LIVED it. I didn't just learn the importance of patience I LIVED it. I didn't just learn the importance of preparedness I LIVED IT. Most importantly I learned that I am physically and mentally stronger than any single set-back or disappointment. 2015 not only made me a better athlete but a better person. As usual I have to thank Euleen and Jamell. They know I love them both so I won't say it again.
Post Thoughts - August 15, 2020
I am SO VERY blessed. Its just triathlon but the training, the process has brought me from low points in my life to joys that I never could have imagined. Its given me an opportunity to share the beauty of Islam and help people recognize we are more the same than different. This race didn't give me faith or Islam but it made me use it. It made me be grateful for it. I am humbled by the experience. As I type these words, tears are literally streaming down my face.....gratitude, joy and a bit of disbelief at the wonderful experiences Allah(swt) has chosen to write from me and the amazing and loving people that have been placed in my life.
Enjoy every moment of life, the good and the bad. Every moment is from The Creator and even though we may not understand at the moment........ See the good and the great in everyone. See the good and the great in yourself and be honest about the things that need to change.