Saturday, March 23, 2013

San Juan 70.3 Race Report - "Changing Your Stars"

I was watching the movie "A Knights Tale" the other day on TV.  It's one of my favorites.  It could be because the cast breaks out into a really good dance rendition to "Golden Years" by David Bowie.  Somehow I think it's more than that though. 

If you’re not familiar with the story, it’s about a poor thatcher’s son who sees a parade of knights riding proudly through the city square.  While being propped up on a stock by his Father, the young boy confidently says, “someday…I’ll be a knight!”  A man looks up from below him after overhearing the boy and laughs.  “A thatcher’s son? A Knight? You might as well try to change the stars!” he tells the boy. 

The young boy, William, asks his Father if it can really be done and if a man can “really change the stars?”  His Father calmly replies, “Yes, William.  If he believes enough, a man can do anything.”

So I'm a sucker for feel-good movies, it's true.  What I really love about this movie though is that at first when William grows up he starts pretending to be a knight, learns to joust, wears the clothes, walks the walk so to speak.  At some point though things start to change and he realizes he has real God-given talent and on top of it, he possess the real qualities of a true knight.  He starts believing in his heart that he actually IS a knight.  I'll get back to that later!!

On to San Juan!  I traveled to San Juan from Florida on Thursday and I was greeted by a whole crew of wonderful people including my friend Ramon, his wife Sol and his friends (and now my friends, Alma (my homestay) and Jose (or Jochie as we call him!).  

Alma, Jochie & I

I feel so fortunate that wherever I go I seem to meet the most kind hearted, nice, giving people.  They picked me up at the airport, put my bike in the truck and we were off!

The next morning (Friday) I swam on the course which was in the lagoon right in the middle of the city of San Juan and waited patiently for Kyle to arrive around noon!  When he finally got there I was just so happy to see him after a FULL MONTH of being away.  We put my bike together and did all the necessary race prep while also throwing in a few fun things like taking this shot after driving the bike (thanks Ramon for hauling us around!) course on Saturday.  The humidity hits you in the face the second you get to San Juan.  I knew it had the potential to be a pretty hot race on Sunday and it certainly did not disappoint!

My bike was feeling speedy and ready to go pre-race thanks to Top Gear Bicycle Shop in Wexford and The Bike Shop in Ormond Beach. I would also be wearing my personally decorated Rudy Project aero helmet.

I manged not to poop my pants during the pro meeting so that was a success.  These things are getting a bit easier with time and seeing World Champions and Ironman Champions within the same field isn't exactly getting "normal" but it's becoming a bit less "abnormal" if that means anything! The pro meeting was FILLED and pretty much everyone showed up so that would mean at least 20-22 of us on the start line.

I pulled on my BlueSeventy swim skin and it was time to rock and roll! I had explicit instructions from my coach on where to line up.  Although it was right in the front, AND with the really fast swimmers, I did what he said.  Although I went out HARD, the faster girls pulled away quickly, I was with a group of two other women and I fought tooth and nail to stay on their feet.

Kyle filming the action!  

I swallowed some salt water and, at times, I felt like I could have gone faster.  Other times I felt like I was hanging on for dear life.  It made more sense to stay where I was rather than pull out on my own.  When I got out the clock said 32 mins and I realized the men were about 2 minutes ahead. I knew I probably swam close to 30 mins.  It wasn't what I was hoping for that day.  However, it was decent for me for non-wetsuit swim!  Onward!

Heading out of T1 I saw Linsey Corbin fixing her bike and my heart went out to her.  Serious bummer.  It was obvious from the condition of the roads that it had rained hard the night prior. There were huge puddles over some rough pavement in spots.  I worried briefly about the safety out there, but realized everyone was dealing with it so I'd just have to be smart and do my best! Time to get to work!

Except the legs didn't really feel like getting to work!  They felt sore and tight.  Every time I wanted to push my power numbers up to where I had been instructed, they seemed to fight me!! I resigned to just push as hard as I could within reason and to top it off my heart rate strap seemed to not be connecting so I was at exactly 56 beats per minute (which I know is wrong, it should be much higher).
Photo credit: Allan Torres

At the turnaround I caught sight of who was in front of me and low and behold it looked like Rinny  (which of course didn't make any sense to me).  When I got close I could see her shoulder was all skinned up and all of the sudden  it made more sense about why I was catching her (she crashed at some point).  Rinny, Amber Ferreira and I went back and forth a bit changing positions.  Finally, I realized my numbers just weren't improving. It was decision time...I floored it.  For the first time ever it didn't matter to me who anyone was or what their history was, I just wanted to race up to my potential and follow my plan!

My nutrition consisted of three 24oz bottles of Powerbar Perform, one bottle of Gatorade from the course and a bottle of water just to cool off and wash down some extra salt / my caffeinated Powerbar gels.  Eventually, the legs came around a bit and I was able to pull my numbers up slightly which made me feel a bit better.  Sometimes I thought about Bob and the people who were praying for me and that made me feel better because I knew no matter how I did they were going to be there for me regardless.  I had no idea what my time was or of my place, but I was passing a few people here and there.  

I headed out onto the run there were a few reports I was in 9th.  "No kidding!" I thought!  That was better than I realized and it was time to see how I did with my nutrition on the bike in this heat! My legs felt decent and hydration-wise I felt fine but man it was H-O-T with that sun barreling down on our backs!  Each aid station I iced down to the fullest extent with ice in my hat and tri kit.

This run course is very up and down.  There are almost no flat portions at all and VERY significant steep hills through town.  It was a two loop course so I tried to hold back a bit the first loop. I had to go on feel because, just as it was on the bike, my heart rate strap wasn't working.  That's why I tell my athletes RPE (rate of perceived exertion) is just as important sometimes as anything else!  I passed a few girls and tried to run smart and smooth.  Kyle was giving me some  reports and knew just what to say.  I looked forward to seeing him and my friend Ramon / other athletes / friends out there! 

Then it mile ten... I started to fall apart.  My body just seemed to be shutting down one cylinder at a time!!  I could feel my pace slowing and each step started to be a struggle.  I was WILLING myself to keep the pace up, as I could see how close the girls behind me were getting.  Alas, nothing was working.  Not long after that my teammate, Cait, came flying around me and right after her Jess Jacobs and Jennie, my other QT2 teammate. UGH!  Not fun!  I had no gusto!  They were gone. 

I struggled to make it into the finish and I was never so happy to see the archway signalling the end of 13.1 miles!  I knew I had lost a few places (3 to be exact), but I did my best and that is all we can ask of ourselves and our bodies! 

That night was fun-filled dinner with friends and a new friend Micheal Lavato 

Me, Jochie, Micheal, Sol, Alma & Ramon (not pictured: Kyle)

We had a blast talking and catching up about the race.  The local food was magnificent and the company was even better!

Monday Kyle and I chilled out at the beach and I did some recovery swimming in the beautiful water.  Some much needed relaxation!

We had dinner with more friends on Monday night, including my roommate from camp, Stephaine and her amazing family

All in all, I think the goals of the day were accomplished.  Although the last three miles were not fun, I'm 95% pleased.  My coach confirmed my sneeky suspicion that my power meter might have been a bit off so I might have pushed the bike a bit harder than I realized and it's very likely it showed up in the late stages of the run.  Either way, I mixed it up with some of the best in the sport and I'm thankful that most things went VERY well and I had a fun day of competition.  

Just like William in "A Knights Tale", I know that if we believe in something enough, we really CAN change our stars.  At some point we stop "pretending" or "faking" it and we find ourselves really DOING what we set out to do.  It becomes real to us and there's no need to fake it any longer. That's how I felt in this race.  Riding and running next to some of these girls, seeing them in a new light, I was WITH them.  I wasn't as WITH THEM as I would like to be, but darn it, I was in the mix and it felt really really good.  So whatever your doing, even if you've been feeling like your pretending a bit, don't give up.  One day you'll turn around and it will really BE YOU!  You CAN change your stars - BELIEVE IT! 

Thanks to my sponsors who support me through thick and thin with great products and services.  Thanks to my family, friends and all of you who take the time to read this blog!  It means so much to me.  Coach Jesse you are my rock!  Thank you for believing in me and for helping me on this journey to be my very best!  Thanks Andres with Beyond Aero for all of your help and support. Thank you Ramon and Jochie for hauling us around and to my homestay Alma (and Pimpa - we miss you too you cute little doggie) - you are such as wonderful person!! Thank you for opening your home to Kyle and I during our time in San Juan.  The people really MADE this trip for me!!  It's about so much more than the race - it's about PEOPLE!

Most of all thanks to Kyle for letting me live my crazy dreams and being there regardless.  I'm a lucky lucky blessed girl!  Thanks for reading! 


Steve said...

Good job Kim. First race of the season in the books. It'll only get better from here.

Christi said...

Great race Kim!

Francie Van Wirkus said...

Nice story& photos! Great job working through the tough spots in your 70.3 journey. Girl power!

Heidi Austin, PT, DPT said...

congrats on a solid race! soooo freakin excited to see you in a few weeks. we WILLL hang out at some point... i will be your sherpa if you need one cuz this girl def is NOT racing :) let me know if you need anything!