Tuesday, October 03, 2006

THE REST: Cranberry Country Triathlon

(Cut to real time here: this race report has been hanging over my head for more than a month now - like a term paper that I've been putting off starting until the last minute. I SO wanted to do a good job with it - but ya know, it just wasn't that great a race. And while there is plenty I can learn from it...it's just not inspiring me to write about it right now... SO, in true last minute term paper form, I'm starting at 10:20 pm and by the time my head hits the pillow it WILL be done. I debated just writing: "After the swim, I biked 25 miles, got thru T2 and ran 6.2 miles. The End." But I was afraid of the hate mail after stringing you all along like this... alas...here we go...)

OK, so the run up the hill from the water to T1 was a bit of a shocker. I was fine on the way up...must've still been working on some adrenaline...but once up, I started gasping for air... THIS is weird, I thought as I started to see little black spots... MUST GET OXYGEN... at that point I decided that walking was ok. We had to cross the pavement in bare feet anyway so walking was good (a badly stubbed toe was NOT in my race plan). The world righted itself 20 seconds later and I was breathing ok again... hated to walk but that was better than the completely horizontal alternative!

I made my way to my bike and dried off quickly... shorts on, shirt on, sat for a minute for socks and shoes...HRM on, helmet, no glasses as it was gray gray gray... and I was off. Followed the LOOOOOOOONG path out of transition and headed off on the 24.9 mile advertised-as-flat course.

OK, so I train in VT. You'd think that I wouldn't be phased by hills. And there were no hills, that's for sure. But when I ride a hill, I want it to be one that ends...that I can GET to the top of - and zoom down the other side... this course may have been flat...but it was a false flat for what felt like the entire 24.9 miles. GUH. Now I didn't push like crazy on the swim as I knew I had more than two hours of work to do after it... but once on the bike, my legs just decided they weren't at all interested in riding on a course like that. And Amelia HATED every second of it. She's supposed to excel on the rollers and is a crappy climber. I was really looking forward to seeing how she could help me on this course. Alas, the engine needed more HP...perhaps a Hemi...and there was no such hemi to be found out on that course.

Anyway, apart from the misery of what felt like 24.9 miles of uphill, the course was beautiful. It wound it's way thru the cranberry bogs of southern MA (Ocean Spray Juice headquarters is in this town!) and followed a nice loop thru a state park. There was one mile of road that would've given the Fairlee Race Directors apoplectic fits of angst (I'm talking potholes and fissure cracks that could've swallowed me WHOLE) but I managed it without eating pavement and was thankful for that.

At one point though, I did almost die. At least my life flashed before my eyes. The course was open to traffic and I'm thinking that Massachusetts drivers don't get a lot of practice driving around bikers. The road was pretty narrow and there was a bend of almost 90˚. I'd been hugging the very right edge of the road and there was a considerable drop off into soft, deep sand...but there was a pickup trying to pass me. I'm always really aware of cars - for the obvious reasons...but also because I know how annoying it can be when cyclists don't stay to the side... share the road means just that: SHARE. So the truck decided to pull past me, in the left lane (where there is oncoming traffic) on this blind curve...and it just so happened that I could SEE that there was another pickup coming toward me in the left lane around the curve. I shouted something about a truck coming and luckily the truck on my side veered back into the right lane just in time - but I almost ended up in the ditch as he pulled back into the right lane - I'd say another half inch and I would've been eating a literal sand-wich (get it? har har) That woke me up...and also gave me new vision for a life of living like there is no tomorrow. Sheesh.

Around mile 21 I started to feel like I'd had enough. I'd gone thru almost 20 oz. of gatorade but felt like I was starting to bonk... my bike computer was still reading high mileage (can ANYONE tell my why I can't get it to be accurate again??) so I felt like I should've been done but still had 3 miles to go. I knew there were still a bunch of people behind me but couldn't convince myself that it was MY race and I was growing ever more panicked with each biker that passed me (and there were MANY). I really just wanted to be DONE. Finally I started seeing runners and knew I must be close. I passed the race leader who had one mile to go on the run as I was coming in on the bike. I wanted to say something to cheer him on - something that would give him that extra kick...but I didn't feel it... so just biked by with a friendly "Nice job, finish strong." It did feel good to get out of my head for that split second. I pushed harder on the last two miles to ensure I came in under 1:30, my target for the bike leg. I did it but boy did it feel BAAAAAAAAD!

Bike split: 1:28:57

Into T2, ALLLLLLLLLLL the way to the back of transition again to my rack, parked my bike, helmet off, switch shoes, LiveStrong hat ON, grab FOOD - a power bar that I carried with me - and I was off again.

T2: 3:06 (again, not stellar but transition was seriously the size of a football field!! I didn't dilly dally at ALL!)

At this point I felt like complete and total CRAP. My mental demons were in full on torture mode and every person that passed me was a person closer to making me last. And physically I just felt lousy. I'm really not sure what it was...could've been the gray sky, or all the things going on in my head, or just that I wasn't as prepared as I could've been...dunno...but I was GOING to finish no matter what...even if I had to walk.

This being my first true olympic race, the run was longer than any I had done in a tri. Surprisingly, I didn't feel too nervous about it. I knew I could do it. And as I set out to run the 6.2 miles, I just accepted that it was going to hurt. And it did. All 6.2 miles of it. A lot of people passed me. Which is par for the course for me. I was able to hold 11 minute miles for the first two or three - which surprised me because I could've sworn I would move faster if I just walked. Things slowed down for miles 4 and 5 but the mile markers kept on coming - one after the next. I know that I will always be able to run one more mile...and that's truly how I plan to get thru every race I ever run. Just one more mile.... I wanted to be done so badly by the time I passed the mile 5 marker that I picked up the pace for the last 1.2. It hurt. My legs were numb. I was starting to get kind of fuzzy. I just wanted to be done. But somehow I knew I was almost there and I kept plugging away.

With about a half mile to go, a woman caught me and as she passed me she said, "You're a tough one to catch! I've been tracking you since mile 4!" I congratulated her on her successful mission, wished her a fun filled finish and then cursed her to myself as she ran away. I will BE her next time. Believe me. No more defense. I wanna play offense for once. I want to find that drive within me and nurture it...so it can carry me on to catch one after the next ahead of me...reel them in like little fishies. It will happen. Just not on that day... and on that day, I had to be okay with that.

I came into the finish chute at a faster clip...less because I wanted to give my all than because I just wanted it to be OVER. Somehow they misread my number and announced someone else's name and that was just fine with me. I was proud that I'd gotten thru it. I was glad because even though it was long and it hurt, it didn't hurt nearly as much as the last race I'd taken 3 hours to complete. And that's progress. Small as it may seem...

Run time for 6.2 miles: 1:13:39 (was shooting for 1:06 - 1:10ish...)

I knew I had more in me physically - that I hadn't left it all out on the course that day. In fact, I wasn't all that beat for the rest of the day - and I wasn't sore at all. But mentally, I did all I could. Every scrap of brain power I had at my disposal was used. It was the 4th discipline that fell apart that day. At this race, I learned how truly integrated our minds and bodies are in this sport. And you've got to have the whole system working together for optimal results. Don't ignore the mind game, kids. Your body may be made of iron but if your mind isn't ready on race day, you're not fully prepared. And I also learned that sometimes it's ok to race unprepared. Because you still learn a lot about yourself.

Not sure I'll be racing this one again - it was nice, well organized and a pretty venue...but the race itself didn't have the character or flair makes me want to sign up and try again next year. But it was Olympic #1 for the record books. And I'll take it!

Total time: 3:17:12
Overall place: 480/540
Place in Age Group: 25/31

Sorry for stringing ya'll along for that ride.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming...


Blogger Scott said...

A report well worth waiting for.

At the end of the day... you prevailed over the demons. A few other humans may have beaten you but the demons didn't.

I hope you're doing ok with all the other changes going on in your life.

4:42 AM GMT-5

Blogger Isis said...

Congratulations on that finish! As you say, the 4th discipline really is a doozy, and I am impressed by how you left it all out there on the course mentally.

5:47 AM GMT-5

Blogger TriSaraTops said...

FANTASTIC job on your first oly! You should be very proud. Scary about the truck though! Especially with everything else you've got going on...what a victory to cross that line. GREAT job! Now treat yourself to a massage...as soon as your paper is done maybe? :)

7:18 AM GMT-5

Blogger 'Zilla said...

Wahoooo! It's done! Now we can hear about the other fun things you're planning :-) (yes, always stirring the pot)

Either way, you DID finish, and you finished STRONG, and NO WHERE near last, young lady. I'm proud of you for even doing that, considering the incredible amount of stress that you were under. I think (could it be?) that you maybe underestimate your own mental strength.

Awesome report, and well worth the wait.

8:13 AM GMT-5

Blogger Flatman said...

Nice finish and great job keeping your head in the game.

Did you at least "salute" that truck??? ;)

8:18 AM GMT-5

Blogger Bolder said...

hey, where's my PR!

give yourself your PR for tackling the distance for the first time.

smells like off-season to me, take some time, recharge, do some fun stuff, and plot for '07!

8:58 AM GMT-5

Blogger Cliff said...

That 10 k (or 6. whatever miles) is long..good stuff...

9:57 AM GMT-5

Blogger Barb said...

First true Olympic distance done!!! Fantastic! I'm glad to see that you persevered and decided to complete the event.

Next one will be a breeze... and a new PR! :)

11:04 AM GMT-5

Blogger rocketpants said...

Awesome job with the Oly. When life is raining all around ya, you did awesome and pushed on through.

Looking foward to tracking you through your next ventures.

9:35 PM GMT-5


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