I need to begin this recap with a reminder of where I’ve come from since last year. Not how far away I’ve gotten from myself in the past couple years, but how much of a comeback I’ve been able to make. 9 weeks ago when I registered for this race, I was a person I didn’t recognize. Today I paid a few more dues for the 18 months that I allowed my fitness to escape me, but before I begin a detailed nitpicking of my performance today, I do need to honestly congratulate myself for finishing.
I am also writing this before I saw my own results so it’s not based on performance against the field but against myself.
I woke up with yet another upset stomach. I have been plagued by this for the better part of the past month. It was a discouraging way to start the day. I did not feel rested and because of my stomach issues (which were in full force last night as well, I really couldn’t fill the tank either. It is what it is and there was nothing I could do, so after several trips to the bathroom while I gathered my thoughts, I headed to the race.
I do not recommend showing up to a race alone, especially if it’s a first for you and you are nervous about it. It really helps to have a friend or a family member, someone to help you and take your thoughts off worries. Someone to remind you of important things. Someone to help apply sunscreen. Just someone for support. This was a mistake that would haunt the rest of my race. I either need more friends or different ones. The friends I grew up with would have been there without a question. But those friends are 3,000 miles away.
This was my first swim in a wetsuit. Although there was a current, it was my longest swim race ever. Last weekend I did a mock tri and discovered how cold the water was, and how hard it was to breathe. So I was surprised to be able to put my face in the water this morning. When our wave left, I was happy that I did not hold back like I did in my first tri. I knew by the kicks and the grabs and the congestion that I was in the thick of it. At least for a little while.
Breathing is not easy for me in a wetsuit. Perhaps my wetsuit is too small right now. But I didn’t buy it for right now per say. I bought it for the future, which holds a lot of triathlons. I have been and will continue to lose weight. And so the wetsuit will only fit better and better.
That being said, I was exhausted when I got out of the water. More exhausted than I expected. And I made a mental note that I need to do a lot more hard swim workouts and a lot more open water swimming. But I had to be thankful that my arm still had feeling. The pinched ulnar nerve that plagued me for 6 months of last year has been keeping quiet.
Transition 1 involved a short run to the TA, and I was able to begin peeling the wetsuit off and swim cap & goggles. My legs felt so cold and tired and I felt like a fish out of water. Wetsuit came off OK (surprisingly) and I didn’t have too much trouble in T1. It just happened so fast and I felt like I was missing something. Bike, shoes, helmet, sunglasses. The bike was already prepped so I was good to go.
The bike start was difficult for me. I just couldn’t get my normal speed and I blamed the swimmers legs. When I started the bike I was with a decent pack, and we played leap frog as we all found our moment of strength vs someone else’s moment of strength.
I visibly noticed one woman cycling at a ridiculous cadence. Though she was pedaling faster than lightning, she was being passed by someone with an oddly slow cadence. This should have been my first clue but I still didn’t notice yet.
The bike course is not easy. 12.5 miles of climbing up Century Drive toward Mt Bachelor. 1800+ feet in elevation gain. I had yet to conquer it and I was feeling discouraged that I had felt stronger on training rides (that didn’t end well) than I was feeling in this moment. I was in my easiest gear way too early in the ride and my legs were just not joining the race. That’s when I realized how far I still have to go in my training to truly be ready.. And I started down a negative road in my thoughts.
Aerobars were my saving grace. So much more comfortable and with noticeably more power, so I rode a significant distance in the aero position. This alone is a big improvement for me!
What I am about to say is going to make me sound very uneducated. Mainly because I don’t really understand verbiage on gears. So please bear with me. At mile 9.3 I noticed that the gear on my left aerobar was up. I never ride in that gear unless I am coming down Century Drive and at coasting speed hitting the 30 mph range. I looked at it and thought it looked out of place. So I decided to switch gears. I prepared myself for a big jump in gears for the more difficult and when it jumped in the other direction – much easier – I literally said out loud, “you’ve got to be kidding me.”
I don’t ever use that gear. Why was my bike even in that gear?! And why the %_€£ didn’t I notice it?! 9.3 miles of struggle when the struggle was already laid out in front of me.
I was so mad at myself and really just never shook it after that. The last two weeks with flat tires and saviors in the form of bike techs and building up my confidence and this is how I do it. W. T. F.
I reached the turnaround and began the joyride back to T2. I was going fast and it felt good. And that’s all I really have to say about that.
T2 was a bit frustrating because Lay It Out Events really didn’t provide the right amount of racks for the number of participants. My bag of stuff was under someone’s bike and there was no room for my bike on the rack so I had to lean it against someone else’s bike, who had theirs leaning three deep. I was still mad at myself for the gear mistake. What a rookie. And I wasn’t in the mood to run. I switched shoes, took off my helmet and through on a tank over my tri suit (still feeling a little too round to be racing in a tri suit). And off I went. Like a herd of turtles.
The run sucked. There is no two ways about it. I have not run enough mileage to have any business trying to run a 10k at the end of a triathlon.
I walked a lot out of pure exhaustion. I had to stop to use a portapotty, which I almost never do in a race. But having to pee was slowing me down and I wasn’t about to pee my pants. Only winners do that and I could spare the minute. Yes, minute. I will never race in a one-piece tri suit again. Maybe [maybe] for a sprint.
I turned my ankle early in the trail section which almost made me fall. It hurt but I walked it off and then kept “running”. I was not actually running. I was extreme slogging. I felt awful. I felt slow. I felt so out of shape and I felt so lonely. I literally cried.
Why didn’t this race have a better support system? I was saying excuse me to double strollers and people running three dogs and entire families out for an afternoon stroll. Hardly any cheers at all. It was the hardest, most lonely run I’ve ever been on. And the tears kept surfacing. I thought several times that it would never end. And no matter how much I tried, I was just not trained for it so I could not pick up my pace.
I was looking forward to running through the finish shoot so I could hear my name and the cheers. I so desperately needed the encouragement. For a while I could hear the announcer calling out names of people as they finished.
As I turned the corner around a bunch of straight-faced (bored) spectators who didn’t so much as clap, I made my way to the finish where the announcer called “now finishing the Olympic tri #117″. That’s it. No name. No cheers. And I could not have felt more disappointed. No one to receive me. No one taking my picture. No hugs. Not even a familiar face.
I’ve never felt so homesick as I did in that moment. I missed my friends so badly. I wanted my mom.
Someone handed me a medal and that was that.
I am so thankful Dr Kombucha was a sponsor. The digestive issues I was having were not comfortable and he gave me a nice cold glass of ginger kombucha tea and I think it really settled my stomach (finally- and note to self).
When I got back to the transition area to pick up my bike I was greeted by a face I didn’t recognize but somehow recognized me. He asked how it went and I started crying again. I don’t think I ever want to do another triathlon without some sort of support team – whether it’s a fellow competitor or a one-man cheer squad or a coach. It was such a lonely event and that caught me way off guard. It just wasn’t in my realm of thinking in the past 9 weeks of prep.
It was nice of them to listen and offer encouragement and high fives. Really nice.
And then my friend Julie showed up and it was good to see a familiar face. She is the one who did the mock tri with me. So it was nice to recap with someone who had gone through a smaller version of the motions last week.
Deschutes Brewery had great pasta salad and I could finally eat so it tasted so good. Mmmm.
For Next Time
1. Train more. Just keep training.
2. Have a support system.
3. Wear a visor on the run (I do believe I cursed Bend and said, “why can’t there just be one little effing cloud?!”
4. Figure out digestive woes.. Was this truly nerves, or something I was eating?
5. Ride the bike in the morning just to make sure everything is RACE READY.
6. Figure out a 2-piece tri suit.
7. Practice positive mental thinking.