Onward in Havana

Long time, no blog. oopsy. I’ve had some insane writer’s block. Plus I wasn’t sure what to write about. To say that 2016 was a disappointing race year to me is an understatement. It’s like saying “Trump’s tweets are a tiny bit of crazy”. I started 2016 with a DNS (did not start) at HITS Naples due to injury. My big Olympic Tri moment in Boston was over with the swim and some hypothermia (sweet!), then I ended 2016 with a DNS at TriKW (bronchitis).

To sum up: “blah, blah, blah, whine, whine, whine” Oy. Now you know why I’ve barely written anything in the last few months. Mentally and physically, I was DONE with triathlon. Was sick of training, sick of the routine, sick of not trying, good lord, I’m whining again. Apologies.

Basically going into Havana Tri last weekend I hadn’t raced since September 2016 (my beloved Escape to Miami). I was nervous as hell. Not only haven’t I raced in awhile, but I was racing in a foreign country. There were many logistical things that could (and did) go wrong. But that weirdly took the pressure off the race. I was heading to Havana to experience some of Cuba and whatever happened with the race, happened. whatevs!

The biggest worry about heading over to this race was getting the dang bikes there. It was such a hassle to figure out the bags and the flights and the…zzzzzzzzzzzzz

Yeah, was gonna go into details about the whole race, but gawd. How boring. Here’s what really stood out to me about the race. It was the most fun I have ever had from start to finish. Why? It’s probably many different things. Not to get all Stuart Smalley but it was pretty much the first race I ever did where I felt like I deserved to race. What?! You see, the mental game is always a struggle. For me, it’s the fact that I’m always last. I am always so slow and (so far) I always have to walk a good portion of the run. I always felt like a phony. I would say the most awful things to myself throughout the entire race. Like if I tried too hard than people would be like “look at her, like she shouldn’t even be out here, why is she pushing it” (which people have actually said to me in some form or another on the course). But this time was different. I was full of self love (relax pervert, I mean mentally). I was giving myself daily affirmations that would make Oprah be like “PREACH”. How did I flip this around?

Back in November, I reapplied to be on the BASE Performance Race Team. I wasn’t sure if I’d be accepted nor was I sure that I would accept. This team is chock FULL of Ironman finishers and triathlon rock stars. How would a (slow) Sprinter like me be worthy? But I got on again. And when I expressed shock and hesitation, the CEO and dudes in charge very vocally gave me their support. And have continued to do so.

The other thing? It was a book. Diana Nyad’s “Find a Way”. I was lucky enough to see her come ashore in Key West after her historic swim. When I saw this book, I had to read it. I started it in the airport on our way to Cuba and finished it the night before the race. I couldn’t put it down. One word of hers kept me going through the race. Whenever I started to flail, I just told myself “Onward”.  So when we had to swim 200 yards to the start and swim in a not so clean canal? “onward”. When I had to do the 6 miles of climbing in my big ring because my gears were broken? “onward” (ok, maybe some four letter words in there too) and when it was hot as hell during the run and I was DONE? “onward”.  When I was tired and done drinking that night in Old Havana? “on-hiccup-ward”.   And onward I went.

I managed to PR on the swim and the run for this race by a lot (when compared with the same distance of TriKW. Ok, you can never compare like that. Yet we do).

IMG_6929 2


And I missed the total PR by only a couple of minutes thanks to me stopping during the bike to see if I could fix my bike. Which was insane of me considering I have absolutely zero mechanical skills.

This race was fantastic! I came out of it feeling great and am trying to build upon it so that I can go into SoBe Tri on April 2nd and finally, finally, make that damn race my bitch once and for all.

photos by Kathleen O’Dowd kathleenodowd.wordpress.com


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18 Responses to Onward in Havana

  1. If you can write a 50+ word comment, it’s not much of a stretch to write a 500-word blog post. Especially if it’s not something factual but your experience, thoughts, etc. Maybe tomorrow you’ll go ride a block, then a few days later, ride a mile, then in a while, ride 10 miles. Walk a block, jog a block, run a block, walk all the way home or call that Uber or phone a friend. Winter is ending soon. If you need encouragement, you only need to look to yourSELF! But sometimes a stranger’s comment helps. ;~)

  2. elaine319 says:

    I am so inspired by you! How did you begin training for a triathlon? I am considering the idea but I have literally no clue where I would begin

    • fathlete says:

      hi! thanks for checking it out. I’ve been remiss in posting. Find a Sprint or Super Sprint Triathlon in your area. Ideally not less than 12 weeks away. Online programs are easy to find. See if you have a local TriClub. They’re a great resource! look for a local Masters Swim class. Biggest thing is not to be intimidated. Every single person had a time when they were brand new to the sport!! Feel free to hit me up here with questions or send me a DM on Instagram @fathlete1 If I can do it, ANYBODY can!

  3. This was amazing. Great job! Hope you’ll find your way back to writing, riding, running and swimming. I’ve used the same phrase fathlete about my biking 10,000 miles in two years that got me featured in the Austin paper. If you get this I hope you’ll look at my blog and let me know what you think. –www.ADudeAbikes

    • fathlete says:

      Thanks for your kind words. My blog has been woefully neglected as I lost my dog one week after this post and have had Writer’s Block ever since. Your comment has completely motivated me to get back at it so THANK YOU! Your blog is great!!

      • I urge you to read my blog for more inspiration. I just did 31 in 31 days. Even though now I’m laid up with cedar fever and anemia, waiting 5 weeks for a public health doc, can’t barely ride. Inspiration may come from without but really that’s just been in you. Sorry about your dog. Blog about that too. Last night’s blog is about a bicyclist with one leg. James Clear says focus on the process not a goal or results. Good luck!

  4. Craig says:

    Had to go back and read this one again.

  5. Hey that was a great write-up on the Havana race. I was there in Havana doing the half. This one went well for me. The swim went well for me. The bike portion was very well run. The run however was extremely hot. That was the slowest half marathon I have ever done because I did so much walking in the Sun and there was no shade anyplace on the Malecon.

    • fathlete says:

      Thanks! I was gonna due a full race report but nobody really cares about that but triathletes lol. I may still.
      congrats on the Half!! I actually said that I felt bad for the Half people as I knew it was going to be so hot. It was one of the only races I can remember where the longer race started after the shorter?
      no shade on the Malecon but so beautiful!! I live in Key West and try to run in the heat at least one run per week. and my bikes are always in the heat.

  6. Well done! Just traveling to Havana would be amazing, so getting to race there is beyond my imagination. You definitely conquered this one, my friend!

  7. Erin says:

    Havana! That’s so awesome! If you only knew what an inspiration you are, you’d never say another mean thing to yourself. 😉

  8. gilmour16 says:

    Very proud of you as always. You Rock girl!!!!!!!

  9. Kathy, I invariably enjoy seeing your posts hit my email and admire your accomplishments. Congrats on the Cuba race and thanks for the Diana Nyad book recommendation!

  10. Carol says:

    Hi Kathy –
    Go girl! ONWARD! Your post couldn’t have come at a better time. Feeling a smidge low this eve after another swim class that kicked my butt. Signed up for 3….count em….3 sprint tri’s this summer. I was “an older first time parent” and now I’m an even older first time triathlete!😳 I’m either brave or stupid! LOL! Don’t stop sharing your journey. You encouraged me to pull the trigger and give it a go. I’m doing just that! ONWARD!

    • fathlete says:

      You can totally do it!!! 3 is manageable. Just don’t put too much pressure on yourself. The beauty of Tri is that it’s for all ages. you’re only racing against yourself.

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