Monday, August 3, 2009

It Wasn't Pretty...

I always have, and always will love to race. There is just nothing like packing up your stuff, heading out to a new place you've never been, or even an old place that you just love and now have friends to meet up with, to see what happens on any given Saturday (or Sunday).

I love the thrill of standing at the starting line and hearing AC/DC Thunderstruck blare through the speakers with 130 of my closest 30-34 year old friends around me all covered in wetsuits, hearts pounding, breathing hard and then hearing the gun go off as we sprint into the water and dive for position. Seriously, what's not to love!!

Going into Saturday I had a good attitude. I had a few good weeks of training in and a very small taper so I felt pretty optimistic.

This will have to be the short version of race report because I am short on time and I have a busy week traveling for work starting this afternoon.

The swim was like it always is, hitting and kicking and crazy for the first 200 meters and then it calmed down and I can honestly say I swam hard throughout that entire swim. I even attempted to draft for a minute somewhere in there that almost worked! I came out and glanced at my watch - 33:something and change. It was either the current I just had a big PR. I'm not sure which but I'm pretty sure it was the current!

We had a beach run up which was torture as my heart rate of 185 remained so high while running uphill on sand after a 1.2 mile swim! I could have done without that part!

The transition was SUPER long. It was probably the longest I have ever experienced with only three rows so they just lined up what seemed like football fields worth of bikes long ways. I found my bike easily, wrestled with my wetsuit and then grabbed my bike while almost getting run over by the girl behind me. The aisles weren't even wide enough to not worry about nailing the poor other girls trying to get their wetsuits off in my same row. That was definitely not cool. I had to keep yelling so they knew I was coming and could eek forward a bit so they didn't loose a foot or have me crash into a whole bike row on my left.

The bike was interesting. There were three of us that headed out right at the same time of similar abilities and the passing back and forth began almost immediately. She passed and slowed down, I passed, then she passed. You get it. Finally about mile 30 I said enough. My heart rate was hanging on the low side anyway and I said to myself "let's give it ten good minutes and see if these girls decide to stick around." I did, and after ten minutes they were not there so I figured I must have dropped them. I just wanted to ride MY race and not be worrying about drafting constantly dropping back and pushing forward to pass.

Before I knew it we were at 46 miles and the wind picked up immensely. It was a terrible head wind and I just hunkered down in aero and tried to cut through it. I drank two 24 ounce bottles of MAO fluid energizer and had 3 gels. The weather was perfect, not too hot at all, so I was convinced my fluid intake was fine.

My T2 went well and I was off and running. During my first mile I noticed my legs were not feeling so great and I just kept saying "get through this then re-assess, it's just the first mile." I checked my split - 6:55. Ok..a bit fast..slow it down and we'll see how this thing goes. However, by mile two I was already starting to slow down unintentionally. My legs just started to feel achy, sore and just generally not wanting to function. I tried to keep pushing but they just wouldn't. I started going through the aid stations taking everything - Gatorade, water.. I ate another gel to try and bring them around. Nope, nothing. On top of that my stomach was starting to hurt and cramping a little. All around by mile 4 I was a mess. There was a pretty decent hill right at the end of the first loop and I was trying as hard as I could not to give up and walk but I just felt miserable. So, I did..which was a first for me in a race...ever.

As I did other athletes young and old encouraged me and said positive things "one step at a time" they would say as they ran by. I would wave and try to smile and thank them. It was a humbling experience and one that I am actually glad I have to put in the memory bank for when I see someone walking the course the next time. At one point I started to have a major breakdown and felt like quitting. A familiar voice told me not to, one step at a time and to just make it to the finish. It was the right thing to do and in the end I'm glad I did. I shuffled, I walked and I ran a bit through the rest of the race. At one point an older gentlemen said when I started running again (after seeing my small teary breakdown), "that's it, don't let me see you back here again, I'll talk your ear off and you don't want that do you!" It was very cute and made me smile. After the race he found me and I gave him a big hug and thanked him for that smile that helped carry me through the rest of the race.

It became about finishing. Not time, not place, just finishing. I was proud I didn't give into the negative thoughts about not having the race I wanted and just giving up. My motto is if we can go on, if it's not going to hurt us further, then we should.

So, that was Saturday. I have yet to figure out why the legs were so mad, but that's ok. I may never. The point is I love to race and I did it again on Saturday at Whirlpool Steelhead 70.3. Thanks for the support and well-wishes! I appreciate it and love you guys! Thank you sponsors for helping me race once again and even when it's not quite where I want to be, learning from it and coming away a bit stronger. It was good practice for when things aren't going well - what do you do?! I proved to myself that I stay in it and fight even when it's not pretty. I'm thankful for the opportunity to have that chance once again.

I'll post pictures sometime soon hopefully! Great job to Beth (who toughed it out on the run too with serious stomach issues) and my fellow racers - Jim and Cindy! You guys are awesome and it was great to see you! I think I heard Liz cheering! Thanks ELF!

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