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Dispatch: Project Penny (Challenge Penticton), Chapter Three

  • By Holly Bennett
  • Published Aug 22, 2013
  • Updated Aug 22, 2013 at 8:58 PM UTC
Holly shares a sweaty moment with her loyal pup Viggo.


Name: Holly Bennett
Title: Editor-at-Large
Age: 45

I purposefully waited to write my pre-race piece until the flight to Penticton–once I’d closed out the training chapter at home in Boulder. Now I’m up in the air and on my way north, ready to relax into the race week vibe and discover whatever story Sunday brings.

And what a chapter it’s been getting to this point, filled with both the toughest and best training I’ve ever accomplished. When coach Dibens showed me a particular two-week block in my program–the final biggest build before tapering–my muscles almost spoke to me: Holy shit. But my mind felt giddy with anticipation. I figured if I could get through it–and get through it well–I’d be so pleased with myself I’d hardly care what happens on race day.

Not only did I get through it, I enjoyed it–in fact, I went so far as to geek out on my training. Yes, that was me obsessing over my heart monitor and GPS data and leaving novel-length notes in Training Peaks following every session–me, the girl that usually just swims and rides and runs. Over the entire Project Penny prep period, I got into triathlon training in ways I never really have–and in ways I honestly wouldn’t want to sustain year-round, but that provided me a perfect short-term project that I’ve utterly loved. That’s not to say the rest of life has been entirely smooth these past 12 weeks–both professionally and personally I’ve faced my share of stress–but in the interest of keeping my you-know-what together to tackle the top-notch training I adopted what I dubbed a “quack mentality:” letting anything negative roll off my back like water off a duck. My hope is to kick into quack mode as needed on race day, diffusing the inevitable tough moments with similar tenacity.

Now really is the time to go full-on Zen. While I’ve let my inner tri-geek loose during training, race week for me is about stripping back to the bare essentials. It’s time to put away the heart monitor and GPS and hone in on the tools that will truly power my race: my body, mind and heart. And while I do have various goals regarding time on the clock (any triathlete that says they don’t is fibbing, as far as I’m concerned), and while I do oddly enjoy the mental work/distraction of making Rainman-esque pace calculations mid-ride and run, the bigger goal I’m after is to put out an effort that is the absolute best I can do–leaving no stone of strength and spirit unturned and finishing the day fully spent. I want to be in every hot, sweaty, salt-caked moment and seize them with gusto. Ideally, I’d love to vomit at the line.

Tapering is both a blessing and a curse. I’ve been inspired in the past week to tweet a few things that feel #taperrific (when running nine miles feels like nuthin’) and #notsotaperrific” (that shift from feeling phat to feeling fat). I’m trying my best to enjoy the much needed rest, but truth be told I’m jonesing for race day. I’m yearning for a kickass endurance test–which I guess is a good sign, as I’ll surely have one on Sunday. That’s not to say I’m all confidence and zero nerves–the butterflies are amassing in bulk in my belly. But I can’t get enough of that fluttery feeling. The more the merrier I say–because I certainly plan to harness all those wee yet powerful wings as I take flight.

Like my teammate Julia, I feel compelled to make a couple shout-outs in advance of the big day. I’m fully on board with the school of thought that getting to the start line is often the toughest part of any iron-distance race, and thus my thanks to these folks are already overflowing:

My long-distance beau Chris, who will travel to Penticton to serve as race week Sherpa extraordinaire and my number one support. My family and my extended family of friends from around the globe–I feel their hugs from afar as poignantly as if they were all on hand in Penticton. My sweet pup Viggo­, who still seems to love me despite receiving less attention than usual in the past few weeks. My friend and coach Julie Dibens, who has guided me through this awesome exercise with a perfect blend of help, humor and hardassedness. Steph Swanson, the woman at the helm of SOAS Racing whose generosity and cleverly-crafted gear keeps us girls looking fashion-forward, even when the going gets fierce. And finally Jené and Julia, who I proudly claim as teammates and colleagues but more importantly as friends (unlike Jené I trend heavily toward cheese). Here’s to a BFF-bonding experience–an adventure that no matter how it pans out for each of us individually will surely result in one hell of a lump sum post-race celebration and a memory to forever cherish (more #cheeseball).

Let’s do this thing!

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