Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Olympic Distance Tri: Take 2

Let me start this by saying I have never gone through an entire race without one negative thought creeping into my head. NEVER. Sunday was the exception.

I had so much on my mind going into this race. Back in April when I attempted this distance, the swim was cancelled due to weather and then I collapsed on the run due to poor hydration on the bike. With my first half ironman race a mere 6 weeks away, I needed Sunday to go well. I needed to know I could conquer this distance. Mentally it would have been disaster if I didn’t race or didn’t race “well”.

The weather reports leading up to the race caused the first anxious moments. 30% chance of thunderstorms in the area. Sorry Mother Nature, that’s just not going to work! I prayed, hoped, wished and thought about sacrificing a small animal to the weather God’s to ensure no rain (trust me, I didn’t harm any animals). I called Lynn on my way to the race and she let me know it was lookin’ good. YES! My fear of any portion of the race being cancelled went out the window.


Even though my time was slower than what I wanted, I had a BLAST with the swim. I used to be so afraid of open water swim starts but not anymore. I respect the start but I don’t fear it. Every part of my body was smacked, grabbed, poked, touched, rubbed against and I didn’t let it phase me. I found a pretty clear line that kept the buoys on my right and I just relaxed and swam. Before I knew it, I was rounding the yellow buoys (watching many swim right into them) and headed to shore. I lost all my fellow sTRIver’s at the start so had no clue where anyone was. “That’s ok” I told myself. “Race YOUR race”. I started my second loop getting in just as the blue wave was on their way. Merging in water is way harder than merging on the highway. No worries though. I found another line and just swam. Next thing I knew, the swim was done. Huh? How did that happen so fast?


I wouldn’t normally give the run to T1 it’s own section but given it was red carpeted and at least .25 miles, I think it’s deserved. I told myself getting out of the water that I was running the whole way to T1 no matter what. Walking the red carpet is only acceptable if you’re wearing an evening gown and heels, not a tri suit. It wasn’t pretty but I ran the whole way and managed to keep a smile on my face even though the thought kept running through my head that people were taking pictures of me running after swimming and I sure hope I didn’t look like a whale. Vain, I know but whatever.


Not much to say here. The bike was flat and windy. Coach G wanted me in aero more and so I did focus on that. I had some issues w/ my hydration bottle not staying put and then losing another straw. WTH? I lost one on my 62 mile ride, how in the hell did I lose another? Whatever. I’ve still got one working straw so I’ll make it work. While overall I’m happy with what I did on the bike, I know I can do better. I’ve definitely had some trouble moving past the crash I took when my bike was brand spanking new! I get more comfortable every time I ride so I’m moving in the right direction, just not moving as fast as I’d like. The way I look at it, I’ve got 6 weeks of riding left before Ironstar to build back my confidence. Seems doable to me! The good news here is my mount & dismount went smoothly and I clipped in & out with no issues. Hey, small victories baby, small victories!


I hate saying anything negative at all about this race because I REALLY was so pleased with it but…..Well, let’s just say the run wasn’t my friend on Sunday. Immediately after hopping off my bike, I was made painfully aware of the massive cramps in both calves. Seriously? I hydrated like crazy and I even switched back to the drink that had more electrolytes. Why? Why? Why? Deciding I didn’t want to sound like Nancy Kerrigan, I quit asking why and just went with it. I knew from Clear Lake the cramps wouldn’t last forever so I just needed to work through it. I spent the first 3 miles walking a LOT more than planned. I was forced to running for 2 – 3 minutes and then walking for 15 – 30 seconds. I repeated this up until mile 3 when the cramps FINALLY went away. After that, I was able to run far more normal! Even though the run time is not what I’m capable of by any means, I was beyond happy because for once, I didn’t let any negative talk in my head. I smiled, chatted with fellow runners and knew that no matter what, I was going to finish smiling. How in the world could that be a bad run? After hitting the 5 mile marker outside the stadium, I was barely able to contain my excitement. 1.2 miles left and I get to collect my medal and enjoy. In the distance I saw sTRIve green and knew it was my coach. “Where have you been?” she asked. Hmmm. I just smiled and shrugged. Coach G ran with me a bit and gave me a great pep talk. I was going to see mile 6 in just a minute and after that, she outlined how many turns I would have, where the sTRIvers would be and then, the finish. She wanted me to push it and didn’t care if I vomited. LOL. Umm, there are cameras coach! I took off running with my smile and saw the 6 mile sign. All of a sudden I hear, “I can see you. Run HARDER.”. The irritating voice continued for several more steps. Coach wasn’t about to let me slow down. A strong finish is what she wanted and that’s what I was going to deliver. I rounded the corner and saw Keith & Hannah (the best cheerleaders ever). Another corner rounded and there were the sTRIVers. YAYYYYY! At that point, I told myself to treat it like a 400 (even though I had far less left) and just sprint the rest of the way. A nice lady cheered for me and told me “way to sprint to the finish”. I crossed the finish and just smiled!

The fact I’m still this happy about finishing with a time slower than I wanted is amazing to me. And it proves to me how much I’ve grown over the past year. This was the first race that I really understood what it meant to “race your own race”. Make no mistake though, I’m expecting to PR my next Oly!

Lessons Learned:
1. I’m MUCH tougher than I give myself credit for.
2. I don’t suck at swimming any more. J
3. Need to figure out the cramping issues so I can have the run I’m meant to have!
4. I really, really LOVE racing.

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