Monday, August 4, 2008

Highs and Lows

Pre-race pictures that Mom's make you take "stand over there by that gatorade sign" they say! I love you Mom! Glad you were there to actually take some pictures (I always forget!)

If you race triathlons. You know exactly what I am talking about here. Throughout the weeks before in preparation for a race, at some points you may be thinking, I am really going to do well at this, I feel ready, this race is going down (whatever that means, don't ask... I have strange thoughts!). Other times, you get in a lull of the taper, or the legs just feel really heavy, and you find yourself, normally a positive person, becoming negative, doubting yourself, or your training. You hope race day will go well, but you just really aren't sure.
Then the race morning finally arrives. Usually for me, it arrives with only 3-4 hours of sleep under my belt as I am notorious for instead of sleeping, just rolling around and doing a lot of annoying my husband, the night before a race!! Poor guy!!

During the race we have multiple highs and lows. The longer the race, the more that seem to come and go. There are certain points when I might think I am having the race of my life. Within ten minutes my legs are full of lead and all I can think about is having dinner or lounging in some cool water somewhere instead of being in the here and now.

I think this is true for everyone. It certainly was true for me on Saturday at Whirlpool Steelhead Half-Ironman. The swim being cancelled (which I am sure many of you have already heard about from other peoples blogs etc.) was a low. When we began walking the 1.2 miles up the beach, the wind blew so hard and I noticed the lack of buoys (which either meant no swim OR that we were just going to have the extra challenge of not knowing where to swim - either one - no good!). My mother was with me on this trip and she is known for being so nervous or worried that she shut her finger in our car door during the last Olympic distance she witnessed in Florida last year. Needless to say, she was trying to hide her concern about the choppy water filled with waves swelling to 4 or 5 feet, but she wasn't doing too well at it! She's a mother, what can you say!

The pilgrimage up the beach to the start! Ten minutes after this was taken, it was cancelled!

Once the swim was cancelled, I was bummed, but understood the reasoning. She was breathing a big sigh of relief!! We walked our way down to where the run would start in approximately an hour after our normally scheduled wave start. The 2 mile run stared in waves once again, and talk about strange. It felt very abnormal to be lining up like we were about to bust out of our corral at the Boston Marathon, all wearing our triathlon suits and race belts! I tried to keep my run under control and not doing anything silly like bust out a 6 minute mile. It was going to be a long day, no reason to ruin it now!

After 13:30 of running, I came into transition with Beth & another girl in my age group. Transition went beautifully (I was lovin that no wetsuit then!!) and headed out to bike. I felt wonderful on the bike, but it was all about nutrition as I mentioned in the previous blog. Nothing could sway me, nothing could move me, nothing could pull me away even for one second from this plan of action. I was drinking all three bottles (two 24oz. and one 12oz on this bike). Each bottle was filled with around 300 calories (except the small was closer to 200) and I was taking a gel somewhere in the middle for what I like to call "insurance." I kept coming up on groups of races in other waves and made a game of looking at their wave number on their leg. It was fun to see it go from my wave (7) down through 4 and eventually 2 or 3. I wasn't passed by any women, not one. I had a feeling this was a good sign, but tried not to worry about it, and just kept my heart rate in my pre-scribed range, and my nutrition on track. Within the last 10 miles I actually thought I saw Beth, but I was sure it couldn't be as she is so fast on the bike and just couldn't be anywhere near me. When I caught her I asked if she was ok, but I could kinda tell things weren't right. We rode into transition together and ran out together on our 13.1 mile journey.

I started out the run feeling better than I ever have. When I realized something was definitely wrong with Beth (she could normally at least hold my pace if not run away from me), I started to pull away but continued to pray she would recover or feel better. I hit my first few mile splits and almost fell over they were so surprising low! I was running right around 7 min pace with a 6:44 thrown in there as well. I tried to just back off a little because I didn't want to use up all the juice right at the beginning. The miles kept clicking away and sometimes I felt great, and sometimes I felt lousy (where I was running closer to 8mins/mile). Either way, I was thankful for the fact that I finally felt hydrated and fueled to do what I knew I was capable of doing in an actual race. I also had some lows where I just wished for my friend to be beside me, us helping each other to keep moving. I saw O a couple of times and it was awesome to see a familiar face.

Around mile 12.4 a girl in my age group came flying passed me and I thought, hummm.. should I do it.. do I go with her??! I decided my day had been so good, there was no need to risk crawling at this point. I let her go, which was very unusual for me. I was feeling pretty bad at that point, and I might have been able to push it right to the edge, but the most important thing of the day had already been accomplished, and I decided it was enough.
So happy to see the finish line!
There were highs, there were lows, but the day was truly exceptional and crossing that finish line standing was so wonderful!! I finally did it!! Mission Accomplished!!

As a side note, I did place 5th women overall, and 3rd in my age group (the 25-29 year olds cleaned up!). My bike time was a bit short of 56 miles with 2:24 and my run time was 1:39 (7:33 average) which is a big PR for me! I was grateful to get a TYR backpack out of the deal, and I have officially moved to using it as my new gym bag. We'll see how the "backpack" idea goes. It has tons of pockets so I am very excited to attempt to be organized (once again, we'll see how that goes).

Kim + Backpack! The winner got a food processor! How cool is that!!

Other Mark Allen athletes were there and I enjoyed meeting everyone as well. In addition, a gentlemen in the 65-69 age group named Jim, that I had met at St. Croix, parked right next to me and I just love him!! We spent some time going to dinner with him during our time there and he is so witty and fun. He's just a great person and another reason why I love these races and meeting amazing people & athletes. Jim got second in his age group - way to go Jim!!

Jim & I at the award ceremony!

I can't say thank you enough for the encouragement & well-wishes about this race. Thank you friends, family, blog buddies that I haven't even met, husband & sponsors! My life wouldn't be the same without you! I thought of some of the comments during the race and they really did help me! I do this for the fun, the friends, the encouragement and even the highs and the lows that come with it!

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