Saturday, May 1, 2010

St. Anthony's Race Report 4/25/10

Times change, training has its good days and bad, weather can become monstrous and numbing – but the TNT family never changes. Always positive, encouraging, smiling and motivating. There is a lot to be said for steadfast consistency, particularly when training for an extreme sport such as triathlon. What was the disclaimer on the race pickup form – you are taking your life into your hands by pushing your body to extreme limits….Huh. Is that what we are doing?

The season presented some challenges. My season seemed to be chalk full of injuries which aided in some of the seasons bumps, but with the help of my husband, and therapy (physical, but mental may have helped further) – I was able to work through, ITBS, tendinitis, strains, pulls right up until a week before race (that is when the mental therapy would have helped)– whatever. Traveling for work proved some difficulties this season disparaging me from finding consistency in my training, but when I trained – I did my best to keep that consistent. Thanks Coach King for the spinnervals! We all experienced the weather, the chilling 20 degree rides through sleet, snow, hail, windstorm, sandstorms - - you name it. Seeing my mentees and triathletes in training was inspiring as I was that triathlete in training just one year ago. I remember the elatedness, the joy, and sense of pride that it brings you to commit to do something, something for yourself and something even grander – for others. You commit, you stay committed, and you succeed and accomplish your goals. There are too few who follow that process, and for those who do, you understand the amazing sense of accomplishments it brings with it. You should all be unbelievably proud of yourself. Team in Training proves that when we work together, we CAN make a difference. That is a strong life lesson that we can succeed, but as a group, we are that much stronger. GO TEAM!

I was told the Pasta Dinner would be awe-inspiring; and it was. All the pictures in the screen, the pictures of the people we are making a difference for was beyond words. Seeing a friend, and team- mate speak regarding his battle with cancer was breathtaking. Mike, you are the inspiration. Your face is on my transition bag!

My race morning felt great. I slept like a baby the night before. 4:00 came, and I was up and at ‘em. My husband on the other hand was not. Down to the lobby to meet all my elated and nervous team mates. I was so excited to see them accomplish their goals. Set up transition, and the time came to fill my tires with air. Front tire complete, now for the back. Done, except the air pump took my stem with it. Lovely. I was determined to just take care of it, and hope I don’t mess up the rear tire. I had to make the decision to say “this will not ruin your nerves, or race – and it is not a sign, either”. Thank goodness for Jeff Lyon who said, to go use the bike techs, that is what they are there for. DUH, Christina – use them!!! Thanks to those bike techs who took away all my stress of my unplanned mild catastrophe.

Saw most of the team departing transition as I was having my bike worked on, I headed back to the hotel for some oatmeal, and relax (did not happen). I got back, and proceeded to stand anxiously while my husband was getting ready. I wanted to get to swim start to warm up really, really badly  and I just could not understand why he needed to put his contacts in. Funny the way your mind works before a race (and that we all still have spouses)

Got to the swim start, and there was a stream of people walking over at the same time. It looked like what could be a stream of little ants on their way to the picnic. It was a gorgeous morning, the cloud formations were spectacular and seeing the boats in the harbor on the right as we were walking over gave me a sense of calm back to my childhood when we used to sail. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be walking past a harbor of boats to jump into the ocean and swim for a mile (then bike and run) instead of getting on a boat to go sailing instead.

I arrived at the swim start at roughly 6:45 am, and got to have a great amount of time to swim. I ran into Adam standing at the shoreline observing and seemingly taking it all in. This is an unnerving time to say the least. We got into the water, and then appeared my partner in swim waves – Raquel. We swam together for a bit, and said – hey – the water is not so bad over here. It was much worse yesterday. Little did we know! All of a sudden, we heard the race director call for the yellow caps. We pretty much looked at each other - Holy @%#$# that is us! We booked over to the corral and got lined up. The corral in front of us was the red capped males. Mike Stashak was right there, ready to take off. (You did great, Mike!)

Raquel and I were front and center on the line to avoid being trampled. We were raring to go! We hugged, wished each other luck and were off.

Washing and swirling through the turbulence the buoys kept passing. There was really no time to think – just swim! On the first turn, my left breath was face-first on the yellow buoy. Current was to the right of me. Turn left – current behind me. This was a wonderful time riding the waves, up and down. Take a breath, {or not} – quick breathe to the other side wall of water in the way. Wave comes again, on top of the swimmers, ooops, sorry. Sighting was from the hips, not the neck on this swim, and even that was not adequate. Fortunately, the part of the swim wave I was in stayed together, and I was able to seemingly draft (or be pushed by the current). There was a real survivor of the fittest mentality out there. It was a twisted fun experience with the waves. Final turn at the 3rd buoy. Stay tight, the current will be coming at you at the left and boom – just on the turn I was hit by a huge wave and got completely knocked off course far right. I saw the Gatorade bottle at the finish to my sharp left and knew I had to fight a hard, diagonal swim against the current and waves to the finish. I was actually swimming horizontal to the wall upon approach to the stairs instead of straight on. Can’t imagine how long my actual swim distance was.

Got to the stairs, and hands reached out to me. Little did they know they would need to brace themselves because as I brought my feet to the steps and attempted to stand, my legs were like jello and I went sideways right down back into the water. Up I went and booked to transition. For those of you who did not know, I took over 10 minutes total in my Tugaloo transition, so I was determined to not do that again. I was off, in 2 minutes. Yes! So excited, I almost mounted my bike prematurely – thanks Coach Mark for yelling from the crowd! Began cycling, and felt the jello legs again. I suppose the sprint into T1 and out did not seem efficient at this point. It would have been nice to get a breather. Oh well. Off I went and felt good, rounded the first turn and boom – (I thought this was a flat course) I got hit with a crazy headwind that knocked my speed dramatically, to what felt like a slow grinding climb.

At the 10 minute mark from T1 I took ½ of a gel and continued on. With the speed I was going, I did not see how my goal time was going to be accomplished but continued on. At mile 10, I felt strong again. Winds subsided slightly, and my legs felt well warmed up; I kept saying, I cannot wait for the run – that is my favorite part. I love running! Another ½ of my gel, 20 minutes later and one in my pocket for later to prepare for the run (but as you will read, it was never used).

Mile 20 and finally the wind was in my favor, grind, grind. Time to make up some time. Got to T2 and nearly went front first off my bike because I came to the dismount line too fast and had to come to a screeching hault. Dismounted, ran into T2, and off. Something went wrong. I ran out of T2, and there was a feeling in me that I had not felt before, not in all the training bricks I had done the past year. I felt spent, and my legs HURT like never before on a brick. Usually, my mind can work me through this, especially with everyone’s adrenaline pumping around me, and seeing my age groupers running past me; but this was different. I could not figure out what was going on. I heard someone sarcastic from the crowd yell – not much further, only 6.2 miles to go. Man, if I saw him at that point I would have found him after the race. I kept going, but stopped at least 10 times on the run. I passed the mile marker, and kept thinking, wow – it is a long time between markers; maybe they are marking every 2. I asked a girl running next to me, and she said we were at mile 1.8. That is a great sign that at 1.8 you feel like you have gone a whole lot farther. I would run, and my body would stop; I did not tell it to, or will it to, but it stopped. I kept wishing I saw some of my teams faces out there. I needed some inspiration. Finally I began seeing my friends and teammates one by one in line, Raquel, Carmen, Ryan, Craig, Andy, Natalie, Nanci – that gave me energy until I did not see anyone else familiar coming and it continued to be a rough haul for me.

I finally made it through, and someone shouts from the crowd – the finish is just around the corner. I really was hoping it was. But their ‘right around the corner’ was really 1.5 miles out. I had an age grouper right with me on the run. When I ran, I would stay far in front of her, but then my body would stop, and she would pass me. Normally, I would try not to allow this to happen I could not believe I was allowing an age-grouper pass!

I approached the finish line, and was done. Pictures were taken (I saw them on the St. A’s website) but I have no memory of them. I remembered wandering aimlessly. Found the TNT tent, got a Gatorade with brought some clarity back into my mind and got a rub down at the massage tent. After assessing my race the next day in an 8 hour car ride, to see what went wrong, I realized I did not take in any calories after mile 10 on the bike. Nothing. Just electrolytes, so I got to experience firsthand what felt like to ‘hit the wall’. Lesson learned. The sad part, I was not even able to realize what was wrong while on the run, and I had a gel in my back pocket the entire run. Each race is different, and you learn a lot each time! We’re always learning – that is why we need to keep racing!!!

The best part of the race, and what got my adrenaline pumping – seeing my teammates accomplish their goals. Each one of them. Each leaving T2 strong, with a spring in their step, and approaching the finish line in the same fashion. Each with their own, amazing reason for doing it. Each bringing a tear to my eye with the accomplishment and pride I saw on my team mates faces! You all rock, and should be very proud of yourself. It was unbelievably inspirational seeing you all begin the season with a different sense of challenges, and complete the race conquering your individual fears. Not only that, but we raised $180,000, and $1.8 million nationwide for this race. You set goals, made a plan, and accomplished them. Pat yourselves on your back! I will say it again because I cannot hear it or say it enough, GO TEAM!

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