Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Day I Battled Inner Demons.....and spiders.

Belews Lake International Triathlon 2014

I really don't know where to begin this recap, or exactly what I want to say about it.  So, if you'll just bear with me, I'm just going to type and see where the story leads.

I picked up Mr. C. around 6:00 am.  Without much caffeine consumed yet, I have to admit it took me at least 5 minutes to realize that no, no one moved their house...I turned too soon and was on the wrong road.  Anyway...moving on.
We loaded up the Jeep with his steed and gear and off we went into the great blue yonder that was Belews Lake one hour and thirty minutes away, with nothing but crappy songs on the radio.  I'm sorry if this offends, but Katy Perry at 6:30 in the morning does not motivate me.  Thank goodness for 80s on 8.

This is me, pretending to be tough stuff
Jitters finally started to sink in when we turned into the marina.  We parked, unloaded, checked in and got marked, all pretty smooth and uneventful....just how I like it!  We made our way to transition, set up our areas and chatted with friends.  Me and the boys, Mr C and Mr van Voo, did a quick warm up run and then it was time to wiggle into our wetsuits and get ready for go time.

I'd like to report back to you that all went swimmingly...(hahahaha! see what I did there? hahahaha!)  but alas that would be false.  This was THEE worst swim I have ever experienced in my entire life.  Even more than the washing machine that was Jetton sprint last year.  And no.  It was not the conditions.  Temps were a little chilly, but it honestly felt good in the full wetsuit.  With the exception of waves from a police boat here and there, the lake was basically calm.  I don't know what my problem was.  I think it was because all the buoys kept moving further and further away, that no matter what I tried to do with my stroke I was not making any forward progress (yes, I mean to use the word "forward").  Or maybe it was because I really can't see.  I can't sight in the lake worth a damn.  I can't tell how far I've gone or how far I have to go, which really sucks when you can't see the turn buoy, you know, the one that gives you hope that 1) you're going in the right direction and 2) that you'll be done with the misery soon.  I must have looked as bad as I felt because one kayaker wanted to pull me a couple times.  Finally I did take a rest and held onto his boat for a second...until I saw the only 5 remaining swimmers in the lake.  Voices in my head started SCREAMING.
"No way can you be the last one out of this lake.  Oh my gosh.  You are going to be the last one out of this lake.  What does that mean..you're going to be getting out on the bike when everyone is coming in.  You are going to be the only one out there.  What is the point.  This is ridiculous.  You are not going to finish this."
 I looked behind me once more.  No. Effing. Way.
Another voice enters my head, words of encouragement that I read just an hour before appeared in my mind.

Me:  "Alright.  I'm good."
Kayaker:  "Are you sure?" (because he really didn't believe me)
Me:  "I'm gonna have to be."

And then I pushed off and went on my way with every single emotion a human being can experience at one time.  I used any stroke I could think of, made up a few of my own, and probably 10 minutes later I reached the ladder and somehow pulled myself and 10 gallons of water that was IN my wetsuit out of that freaking lake, and using words a little more colorful than "freaking".  Walking up, yes walking, to transition, of course there HAD to be a freaking camera.

So....this happened.
so happy to be out of that lake!

Next up?  The bike.  Not much to say about the bike.  Thelma and I had a disagreement about what gear she wanted to be in before I got on, but considering I had to go up what looked like a damn mountain as soon as I got on, I had to win that argument.  A two looped course on country roads with cross wind and some decent inclines...I can't be too upset with my performance on the bike.  Granted, I have a long way to go, but I think I performed right where my bike fitness and comfort levels are.  I give myself additional props for not crashing when the spider crawled over my hands......

It is near impossible for me to walk in my cycle shoes.  So, to save myself from further humiliation that only the duck walk can bring, and since there was NO ONE ELSE IN TRANSITION and no chance for me to get in anyone's way, I stopped and took off my shoes and walked to my rack.  There, I put on my run shoes, my bib and started what would be the longest hour of my entire life.

Only 6.2 miles.  I just had to keep it together for 6.2 miles.  And I tried.  I really tried.  Tried to stay in the moment, take step by step.  It helped to see most my peeps out on the course....even if they were making the turn to finish when I was just starting my run.  But those high fives and friendly faces of Lori, Ashley, Mr. C., Marc and Mr. van Voo...well they kept me going.  A double out-and-back course that had some good rolls and inclines didn't make for my best run in the least.  By mile 4 I finally settled in to a reasonably comfortable pace, enough to get me through to the last .5 mile that was a downhill finish.  I'm really good at downhill finishes....

And then it was over.  I ate Nilla Wafers and Chips Ahoy cookies, drank a real Dr. Pepper, may have taken a 15 second nap, tried to figure out how it all went so wrong and ultimately thanked the heavens that I made it through.

This was my first attempt at this distance.  I didn't expect to kill it, but I did believe I was in shape to do much better than I did.  This event was a humbling experience and a complete eye opener of just how much more work I need to do to finish this 70.3 coming in June.

Some positives.  Because you need to find the positives....
My times have nowhere to go BUT up.  Lots of time to work with on the swim just by figuring out some small corrections to my stroke and getting familiar with OWS will help the anxiety.  My T1 & T2 times?  Hell, that's at least 5 minutes right there! (No. I am not exaggerating.)  And my run is where it needs to be in training...I just need to start putting it all together.

And, I've heard this before but I never really truly empathized with it until now.
Pros and elite amateur athletes are awesome.  They are fast, they are skilled, they are fun to watch and to cheer for because their performances are exhilarating. They finish and everyone cheers them in!  It's inspirational, it's motivational....they are just awesome!

Now, let's visit the athletes that finish in the bottom. These athletes are giving it their all.  They are putting as much effort into their race as the elites.  No, they aren't as speedy, but % of effort that they put out is the same.  Your speed at 90% effort may be faster than me, but we are both putting in 90% if you're getting my drift.  So, think of giving 90% effort for 02:15:00, with people cheering, flurry of excitement! Then, think about giving 90% effort over 3 hours and 30 minutes........and alone.  You are still giving a 90% effort while watching spectators pack up their chairs, athletes leaving.....volunteers cleaning up cones and equipment from the course.  All that is left, is you. Alone, in your own head.

Pros and Elites = hardcore
Last of the pack athletes = a different kind of hardcore
Just promise me you won't forget that.

Now....as for my predictions!  Let's see how I did, shall we?

  • The water will be cold.
    • FALSE the lake was not as cold as anticipated.  no worries of hypothermia here.
  • I finish at least 45 minutes behind all my friends.
    • TRUE not all my peeps, but Mr C crossed in 2:43:40, Me in 3:25:51.
  • It is completely possible that I will finish in the bottom 20 finishers.
    • FALSE  I finished in the bottom 23.
  • Lori will finish in the top 5 in our AG if not place.
    • TRUE  and TRUE  Lori got 3rd in AG!!!   GO LOLO!
  • Mr. van Voo will pass me in the lake within 2 minutes.
    • she needs more Nilla Wafers...
    • FALSE  He passed me within 45 seconds.
  • Mr. C will have a strong showing on the bike giving him a great advantage coming into T2
    • TRUE Mr. C had the best day out of all of us!!!

And what a better way to finish this epic long blog post than with finisher pics....

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