Monday, July 19, 2010

Chattanooga Race Report

i had very high hopes for chattanooga waterfront triathlon, after missing my nationals qualification by 33 seconds in april at st. anthony's triathlon. being new to the sport, and st anthony's being my second triathlon, i had heard of the age group national races, but thought they were something very far beyond reach. never thought of them again, other than thinking that would be a great goal. after racing st anthony's and being told i was 33 seconds away from qualifiying for nationals, i realized maybe it was something to strive for; a new goal. i like goals.

with large races, when usat sanctioned, you qualify as the top 10% of your age group, but in certain regional championship races, such as st. anthony's or chattanooga, you can qualify in the top 33%. needless to say, placing in the top 10% of a large, olympic distance triathlon takes alot of talent, so once i did not make it at st. anthony's in the top 33 percent,  i wanted to give chattanooga a shot.

with the races i had done so far, which would not be 2 before chattanooga (st. anthony's and peachtree city), i had been in one of the first waves of the swim, so with the race starting at 7:30 am, i would be in the water no later than 7:45. this worked perfectly with planning pre-race nutrition. chattanooga was different. roughly 1500 participants, and my wave was one of the last, and they had racers get in the water individually, not as a wave. so, arriving at the race site at 5:30 am, it was slightly more of a challenge planning nutrition to avoid cramping in the swim, but keep enough nourishment to hold you until the bike.

the sun began beaming high in the sky on what was expected to be 98 degrees by mid day. my swim personally took off at about 9:10 am - sun high in the sky.

the swim was not a point to point as i was used to, but instead was a straight line. it is nice because there are no turns, but at the same time, it is tough to get an idea of how far you are from the finish line, so that part was a challenge for me on pacing my speed. i took it pretty fast on the offset, and then had to slow a bit in the middle to catch my breath.

out of the water, made it up the stairs to get to the other large amount of stairs to then cross the road, and barrel into transition, situate, and get on the bike. pretty smooth here (i don't always remember this part) and off i was on the bike. the bike was pretty enjoyable -highway riding, no shade, out and back on rolling hills. i tend to like the out and back breaking the race into half.  it was hot, but was tough to realize the heat due to the breeze that you receive on the bike. i felt good, legs were not burning too much, kept up the carbopro and electrolytes. i felt stronger on the bike than i had in a while, while my speed is still not there yet it will come with practice, and the base is better to build upon now. i took my last sip of fluid calories at mile 21.

i made it to t2, and once i got off my bike and ran my bike into transition, i felt my legs really getting heavy. i could not help but laugh while running through the sand with cletes on and managing a bike. not the most smooth running feeling. i turned down the wrong transition pathway, and had to duck under some racks to get to my rack. next time i need to walk both entry points of the transition area.

off to the run, and within the first minute my legs were heavy, tired and burning and already feeling anaerobic. the heat was cooking. the course was slightly distorted the first mile or so and it was tough to steady your heart-rate and cadence. there were a lot of turns, a down hill, and 2 flights of stairs until we actually got on the course. once on the course, i have to say i don't remember it too well. my memory is spotty. i was struggling both physically and mentally. i entered this race with a time goal in addition to a goal of qualifying. after a couple of miles i realized i was not going to make my time goal, but decided that i still could perhaps qualify so kept pushing. my legs were getting heavier and heavier and my left leg was getting a cramp that felt like a gremlin trying to crawl out from under my skin, one stab at a time. i have never wanted to stop racing more than this moment. i wanted everything over. i felt terrible, and while my physical state was weakening, my mental was getting worse. if you keep your mental together, your physical will stay in line. i kept pushing, but was needing a lot of walk breaks. i kept saying, ok - no more walking  - only 3 miles to go, but with that i just kept stopping. i was wishing this gremlin under my quad would just take me out and flatten me so i could stop racing. i had to decide after feeling slightly dizzy that i either had to continue to race the race, or just finish the race. i chose to finished the race.

once i crossed the finish line i was a mess. knew i did not feel well. my mental state completely collapsed along with my physical as it took everything i had to keep it together in 98 degrees. whatever was left to keep me focused and moving through the run exploded. things were spinning, and all i could think to do was find my husband, jorge. he was a few steps away. it was all i could do to hold it together until i found him to simply say i don't feel well. he took one look and he whisked me to the medical tent.  uncontrollable shaking, unexpected tears, and complete hyperventilating. my heartrate was soaring. i don't remember much from the medical tent, but i do remember two things- first - the look of shock on a females face when she looked at me as i approached the medical tent, and  second - once i was seated, the medic looked at me with a sarcastic smile as i could not control my shaking or breathing, and said "did you overexert your self a bit?". the one thing i remember thinking was you stupid piece of s***. it is a race. everything is a complete blur after that, but remember becoming coherent again, and realizing the multiple ice packs on my body, and cup of gatorade in my hand. they should have shot that stuff into my veins. my core temperature and sugar levels had been regulated.

key learnings:
-not to give up - - and always keep your mental state strong/ if i had not been so demotivated by time, and given up on the mental i could have qualified with a time 12 minutes over my time goal.
-there will be bad races, but it is important to get back into the saddle and back up instead of feeling defeated. push with what you have, so you don't have to look back and have regrets.
-no more walking - once you start, you tend to keep stopping. don't do it. period
-goals are good, but not always accomplished. but even so, having a goal pushes you harder that if you had none, so continue to set them.

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