My first Olympic distance race of the year has come and gone. I experienced so many emotions. There were ups and downs and I hope I can learn lessons from the day and move on to be a stronger athlete.
I travelled to N.H. on Friday and met up with my brother, my friend Mike (not racing) and my friend Mary. We had dinner and then headed to our teeny tiny cabin to organize our piles of gear for the next day. It was a fun time to share the experience with them. I enjoyed the evening. Mary and I felt like we were at camp. We were in a tiny room with tiny twin beds so close that we could have held hands. It wasn't the most comfortable little place but we had a good time.
The forecast had been for hot and humid weather. Since we were wearing sweats the night before, we didn't believe it. When race morning arrive, there was fog across the lake and the temps were still mild. Things looked good.
We all choked down our planned out pre-race meal at 4:45-5:00 a.m. A good 2-3 hrs before the race start. All planned. Time to digest but still be fueled.
Once at the site we headed quietly to Transition to organize yet again. Mary and I were next to each other!!! How does this keep happening?? It's really great. The time we are Not near each other will be really sad. We went through our typical pre-race rituals and while we'd heard the start may be delayed, they still shuffled us to the beach as if it would begin at the planned time. We got in for a Short Short warm up. It was Freezing. I grew up on the ocean. I swam in the ocean Every morning...the Maine ocean...and this was worse. This was so so cold. Our faces hurt. There. Ready. 7:15 now? Let's go!! Wrong!!!!!!!! We ended up standing on the beach until about 9:00. Not good. We had zippo swim warm up and we now had no calories in us. But what else could we do? You see, the fog on the water truly impacted the ability for them to keep the racers safe. They had to shorten the course in the end and this was a big fat bummer for those of us who are swimmers and rely on the extra minutes in the water to gain on the field.
Finally we started the swim. It was a Bar fight out there for a few minutes! I was getting clobbered. I finally pulled out of it and felt pretty good on the swim. The lake was clean and beautiful and I sighted well. I found my rhythm and felt strong. I wish, oh do I wish that it was longer. A mere 13+ minutes in a race that takes over 2 hrs.
I went to the wetsuit strippers even though my 1st and only other experience with them wasn't great. I regretted it again this time. Two young boys put in pathetic effort to get it off me. It got stuck at my ankles and they seemed to give up. Ugh.
T1 1:34 Yeah! This is Way way better for me.
I headed off on the bike with my new aero helmet on for the first time and felt strong. I had a good ride. My new bike just seems to come alive when I get out there to race. The course was very hilly and very rough. It required total attention to the road so as not to hit a hole and flip or blow a tire. Stressful. There were lots of people to dodge too and this was tricky. I found lots of people just cruising along on the left...in the way! It can be scary sometimes. I rode hard and strong. I felt solid. Confident. Excited that I now enjoy the bike instead of just enduring it so I can get to the run. My stomach wasn't great however. I did drink all my water bottle over the course of the ride. I also had about 1/2-3/4 of my HEED/amino mix. I had one hammer gel around mile 20. But my started hurting. Was it upset because it was basically empty when I started? I didn't dwell on it.
I hit T2 and while trying to get my bike shoe off, my calf muscle Completely cramped up in a knot. OUCH!!!! Man did it hurt. No time. Grab the hat and race belt and go. 1:06 in T2. Yeah me again. That's so so much better!
the run. Oh the run. I love to run. I love to run off the bike. But this run, well, it was about the most painful run I've ever ever had. It was just plain tough. A big mental game. I ran mile 1 and felt pretty slow and I was panting like a dog. Ok, that's normal. 6:38. Hey, pretty darn good. I was encouraged. Mile 2 6:51. oops. There was a hill, I think. Mile 3 6:57. Ok, enough. I was unravelling. It wasn't that I was just tired. I was truly coming apart. My legs didn't feel like they belonged to me. They were 2 separate flailing sticks....ok logs. (I have big legs :) ) And I felt completely nauseous. Totally sick. Gross. I got to mile 3 and the turn around and then I had to watch my competition running at me. That was scary. I had nothing in the tank. I just thought, "they're running me down and there's not a damn thing I can do about it." I just kept putting one foot in front of the other--like the song says. Mile 4 was better again: 6:42. Was it downhill? I can't remember. Now, I am pleased that I could do these splits while feeling like death. But why did I feel like death? I decided to try to get some more gel in me to see if it would help. One sip. Nope. Not good at all. I held that sticky oozing chocolate mess for the next few miles...I did get a little more water in me though.
It took all my mental power to get to the end. And it was only 10K!? Why??? I run and run and run around here. Something happened to me out there. I was completely doubting my ability to race. I just wanted to get to the end so I could lay down and die. Those are not good thoughts.
Somehow, I dug deep and finished the race. I did it. Sometimes you just have to go through the pain in order to learn a lesson and improve for next time. I am ready for that. I want to learn the lesson and do better. I am so happy that I did what I did while feeling so bad. It was a tough tough run but I still did well and that gives me great hope. I feel excited to try again.
Final Splits and Stats:
Total time: 2:17:55
Swim 13:48 (4th woman/20th overall)
Bike 1:18:48 (20.7 mph for 27.2 miles--no idea where I placed for women but was 75th in the field of 726)
Run 42:40 (6:53 pace, no idea for women yet but 63rd/726 racers) A few yrs ago I couldn't go under 44 for a flat 10K so I am psyched here.
3rd place for women, 1st age group
36th overall/726 finishers
Time to recover and prepare for the next challenge.
Thanks for reading!