Sunday, July 11, 2010

Dissapointment, Frustration, Inspiration, Pennance, and Dreams (a full day!)

I'm going to warn you right out of the gate here...    in training and racing (and in life) there are a good and bad days, and good and bad moments.  Today has run the gamut for me form some pretty intense lows, to some inspiring highs, and just about everything in between.  I'm not going to sugarcoat it.

After my post yesterday I spent a lot of time trying to turn my attitude around.  I was so focused on the decision I would have to make if they didn't allow wetsuits that I wasn't race focused anymore.  I was in an awful mood and I had nothing resembling a game face on.  So I did everything I could to try and turn that around before I went to sleep.  I'm a big believer in mental strength, positive reinforcment, self talk, and how it affects you during training and racing.  So I worked really hard in the couple of hours after my post to turn my attitude around.  I focused on relaxing.  I told myself that I had a plan.  If they allow wetsuits I'm going to race.  If they don't, I won't.  End of story, end of discussion.  I blocked out all of the things my friends had told me in response to my facebook posts.  I blocked out everything but my own thoughts.  And then once I'd managed to clear my head I started going through my race plan again and again and again.  I went through everything I would do once the alarm clock went off all the way to finishing the race.  I visualized setting up transition, my warmup, what I would eat and drink before the race, the swim, sighting, how I would look for landmarks before I started the swim, how I would do the transition, my strategy for the bike portion, how I would change my bike if it was raining, how I would transition to the run and what my run plan was.  I went through this many times until I felt solid about it.  Finally I was starting to get excited about the race again.  And finally I was starting to feel at peace.  Unsurprisingly I then promptly fell asleep.  In fact I must have really turned things around as I had one of the best pre race nights of sleep I've ever had.  I almost never sleep well before a race.  This time I only woke up once in the middle of the night and I got right back to sleep.  Which to me was a sign that I'd gotten my thoughts under control again.  Great!

4:30AM the alarm goes off.  Ugh!  Out of bed, shower, get dressed, pack up the car, make some coffee, and then head out for the race start at 5:20.  I got to the parking area around 5:45am.  I was told transition would open at 6am.  I wanted to have lots of time to walk through transition, and remember where my rack was and what my steps would be at each transition.  So I spent from 5:45am-6 at the car prepping all my gear so it would setup faster once I was allowed into transition.
At 6am transition was nowhere near ready.  They were still building bike racks.  In fact the whole race was rather disorganized.  I was not happy about this.
There were lots of volunteers around but noone to tell them what to do.  Although there seemes to be lots of people around to tell them what they had done was wrong and that they needed to redo it.  It was quite the circus.  Finally around 6:40 transition was sort of done enough that I could setup my stuff.  Before I did I checked with an official to see if they had made the call about wetsuits yet.  Nope.

So I setup my transition area.  I was the first on my assigned rack so I grabbed the prime spot on the end of the rack.  Perfect!  And I was in a great spot.  All the way at the end on the right from where you would enter the transition area from the swim and the bike.  And the exit was directly to the left from my rack.  Perfect spot.  Nobody in the way at all.  So I got that all done and ready and then looked at my watch.  7:00am.  I should also note that I had a big checklist with me that I'd written a couple of days ago.  That was a great idea as there were a few things I forgot to do in the heat of the moment that the list reminded me to do.  Such as put air in my bike tires!  Oops!

At 7 they still hadn't made the call about wetsuits but I was told it would be soon.  So I went and got body marked.  Beautifull women drawing numbers on your calves and shoulders is something that should happen every day.

Right around the time I was considering going for a warmup swim (7:30?) I saw the race director.  So I went up to her and asked her about wetsuits.  Apparently they had JUST measured the water temperature and it was 80 degrees.  It had dropped two degrees overnight, but it was not cool enough to allow wetsuits so it was announced that they would not be permitted.  I thanked the race director and walked back to my rack in transition.  I quickly stuffed everything back in my transition bag, unracked my bike and threw my wetsuit over it and started to roll it back to the car.  Mind you I'm now what feels like the only person rolling a bike in this direction.  Everyone else is going the other way and looking at me.  I felt awful.  Absolutely dejected, embarassed, ashamed, and angry.  I can't beleive after all my hard work I made a mistake this big.  I had felt like I had covered all the bases.  I felt more prepared than any other first timer I talked to.  I'd been logging 13-14 hours a week of training.  I was swimming a mile three times a week, riding three times a week including a 50+ mile ride every week, running three times a week including a 13 miler every Saturday.  I'd read piles of books, magazines, websites, talked with lots of people.  I felt like I couldn't have been more prepared if I tried.  But I forgot one thing.  I forgot that moment I first put a wetsuit on and got into the open water.  That moment when I realized that the wetsuit fixed all the things that were frustrating me in the pool.  My legs no longer sank and dragged behind me.  I no longer had to kick like a mad fool to stop from sinking.  I could suddenly swim further and further than I'd ever gone before.  And I forgot about the pool.  I could swim a mile!  Yeah!  And yet I forgot that without the wetsuit I can't swim more than 200 yards without feeling completely exhausted and feel like I have to stop.  And suddenly here at the race it slapped me right in the face.  I'd made a huge mistake, and now I had to pay for it with a shameful walk back to my car with all my crap.  I've had some crappy moments in life...  but this one ranked right up there.  It was all I could do to keep the tears at bay and try and keep a poker face on.  All the work I'd put in meant nothing.  I'd have been lucky to make it to the first buoy before I got pulled out of the water.  Yes...   its entirely possible I could have completed the swim with 12 different strokes in an epic amount of time.  But I came here to race...  not splash my way exhausted into T1 and have a crappy bike and run.

As if this walk of shame wasn't bad enough I then had to walk up to the registration desk to turn in my timing chip.  And that process meant explaining that I was no longer going to race to three different people till they found someone that could take my chip from me.  Yeah...   I felt like a loser then too.

I'm not a quitter...   I'm a realist and I know 100% that I made the right choice today, but I still felt like I was a quitter no matter how I reasoned with myself.  I was angry.  Livid.  PISSED OFF!  Dissapointed...  and Hurt.  I got knocked down a peg today.  All that confidence I had feeling like I had prepared better than anyone else I know was instantly crushed.

I couldn't get out of there fast enough.  I hit the highway and hightailed it for home.  After about twenty minutes in the car thinking about what I was going to do today I decided that I needed to suck it up, get over it, and go and support my fellow club members racing in the half ironman in Providence today.  So I drove home and unpacked my car, got cleaned up, went through the awful process of removing the numbers from my bike and race belt so I'd never have to see them again, and then went through the even worse process of washing the race numbers off my shoulder and calf.  Want to feel really really crappy about yourself?  Go get body marked and then wash the numbers off without haveing ever raced.  I finished getting cleaned up, bucked up, and then headed over to the state house.  Somewhere in that process I reminded myself that today was about the people racing.  Not about me, not about my failure this morning.  It was about them.  If anyone asked me about my race I was going to smile and handle it quickly and then change the subject.  And thats pretty much what I did. 

I got to the Statehouse and saw Cass at the Tri-Newengland Club area that was setup in a prime location right along the finishing chute.  Cass and I got to chat a bit and she was very understanding of  things which I appreciated.  I then got to meet members of Jon Lameroux's family, Dean's family, saw Kate, met Tara's husband and started to get a handle on when various club members may be finishing.  I got there just in time to see the top men and women finish.  They looked beat! 
In fact the second place man looked behind him as he entered the chute and realized there was noone in sight so he walked the 100 yards to the arch as he'd given all he had to try and catch the leader and was done!  Pretty heroic effort by the look on his face.  The top men finished in just over 4 hours with the top woman finishing around 4:30.
After watching them I went for a walk to look at the gazillion dollar bikes of the pros in the transition area and watched a lot of people do their dismounts off the bike and head into transition. 

I watched some of the run which was a two loop affair that takes you within sight of the finish line at the halway point and then you have to do another lap.  Brutal!

It wasn't too much longer that our first club member Jon came through the finish looking strong and happy. 
A little bit behind him was Kevan,

and then John (who snuck past me), and Tara who is accompanied by a new friend made out on the race course who she worked together with to run the last few miles in to the finish.

During all this time Luis and CJ showed up as well so I had a good time chatting with everyone in our club area.  There were several other club members racing today as well, but I didn't catch any of them unfortunately.  A few people asked me about my race and I quickly explained what happened with a smile on my face and then changed the subject.  So I managed to keep all the drama on the inside I think.  At least I hope so as I tried really hard to keep it to myself.  I don't care if people come here and read it, I just didn't want to get into it there.  That would have been highly inaprorpriate.  On the plus side those I did talk to about it were understanding and supportive.  Speaking of which....

I will say that all of my triathlete friends were very understanding about it.  At most I got a few I think you could have done its, but once I explained how my struggles in the pool have been they seemed to agree that I made the right choice and were supportive of it.  Including two other club members who told me they would have done the exact same thing if they had not allowed wetsuits.  So it was nice to be in good company.

My friends however who are not athletes...   well they don't know better.  And to them I've always been a little unstoppable.  They knew me before when I was not athletic so now to them I've built myself up into this person that continues to find and conquer new challenges.  So when they perceived my actions to be me giving up they tried to encourage me to do it anyway.  My friend Penelope went as far as to call me a "Puss".  That one hurt...     I know all of their comments came from a place of wanting to help and support me, but they really didn't do anything except hurt and frustrate me.  I wanted them to support my decision, and they didn't.  Again though...   I can't blame them.  They only wanted to help.

Actually I do have one friend that helped.  My friend Michelle who also happens to be an ex girfriend of mine (we make much better friends than lovers!) asked me the other day if she could be my "Race Mom".  I said "what the hell is that!".  Apparently its like having a Stage Mom, only for athletes instead.  Michelle said she wants to come to my races and show support and get there early and do whatever I need and help and support me.  She knows me so well she's actually the only one I'd trust to do that.  Mostly as she would know when I'm in a mood and to leave me alone and when I need some hand holding, cheering, and when I need to focus.  So I'm thrilled she wants to do that for me.  She's also an excellent photographer so she also said she would shoot the races.  Which will work out great once we get our club uniforms together as I asked her if she would grab pictures of everyone in the uniform.  To which she said...  "Of Course!  thats what all great Race Moms do!".  So yay!  Anyway, special thanks should go to Michelle for spending a lot of time talking through my decision with me yesterday and being the perfect balance of supportive, encouraging, and understanding.  Thanks Chel!  Your the best!

Right...  so I'm going to skip ahead for a second here and then I'll go back....

I left the race to go for a run.  I'd gone through the taper and carb loading so I had better get a workout in to burn all those carbs and stored glycogen off.  By this point it was around 2pm.  It was HOT.  Maybe 90 degrees and humid with no shade.  I'd decided I would go for a run.  I knew if I went home in order to start my run much later I'd never do it, so I headed to the bike path to get a run in.  I decided that 15 miles would be good pennance for backing out of a race.  And with that I hit the bike path.  Within about ten seconds of the run I said F$%& it and took my shirt off.  It was that hot.  And yes I probably looked like a dork with no shirt on and a heart rate monitor strap on.  I didn't care.  It was too hot.  Within a mile I was soaked in sweat and dripping.  This was going to be a hot run.  Oh well...   want to drop out of a race?  well then you have to pay.  So I kept going.  Somewhere in the middle of mile 2 I realized I only had one bottles worth of gatorade with me and that wasn't going to cut it in this heat.  I also made the rare mistake of not bringing any money with me on my run.  I never do that.  Damn.  So I decide I'll just ration the gatorade and make sure I don't run out too early.  Somewhere around mile 5 the most lovely thing happens.  I round a corner and theres this tent with a sign in front of it saying "FREE WATER!"   YES!  Theres a not for profit that helps take care of the east bay bike path and they were out handing out free water.  So I downed a 16oz bottle, refilled my bottle, drank a little more, thanked them profusely and off I went again.  At least something was going right today!  As I got into mile 7 I looked at my watch.  I was running a 7:30 mile at that point and my average was something like 8:10 at that point.  Not bad!  And then I hit the turnaround at mile 7.5 and all hell broke loose.  Suddenly it felt hotter and I was running slower.  This felt familiar...   much like in the DC marathon when I overheated.  I was overheating.  Bigtime.  Suddenly I was running a 10min mile.  I suffered through mile 9.  It was the hardest of the day I think.  Fortunately after that the GU I'd downed at 7.5 was starting to kick in and I got the pace back to high 8's, and eventually around mile 10 or 11 I got it back down to 8:30s.  Those last five miles were not easy.  It was stupid hot out and I was tired, and probably should have drank even more fluids than I was.  Actually I think I was just low on sodium or electrolytes more than anything.  I was starting to feel the vague signs of a bonk coming on.  At this point I was at around mile 12.  So I sucked down what little gatorade I had left and toughed out the last three miles.  I was pretty toasty when I made it back to the car.  I was definitely overheating.  I started the car and cranked the AC but even that wasn't helping.  The warm bottle of water I had in the car wasn't helping either.  So I headed out to hit a convenience store.  I was feeling kind of dizzy and lightheaded at this point.  Had I been one or two miles further from the car I would have had a full on walk it in bonk.  I just narrowly missed it.  Oops.  When I got to 7-11 I bought a huge thing of gatorade and chugged it.  I instantly felt better.  The sodium, electrolytes, the calories...  whatever.  It all felt great and I felt an instant improvement.  I'm glad I got the run in though...   it was good Pennance.

So...   now back to the 1/2 Iron.  Here's what I want to say about that.  Do you see this?

Mark my words.  I'll be crossing under this next year.  I may have had a frustrating set back today, but its not going to stop me from reaching my ultimate goal.  And crossing under this arch is going to be a giant step towards reaching that goal.  I can't say enough how inspiring watching my fellow club members cross the finish line was.  I'm so proud of all of them and I'm glad I was able to witness their tremendous efforts. Truly inspiring!  Great job everyone!

No comments:

Post a Comment