Through last week, I was really sick with a tummy bug. I was hopeful, but there was a chance I was going to DNS this race. The night before I wasn’t feeling well at all, so things were rocky even 12 hours before race start.
However, in the morning, I woke up feeling intact, so I knew I could at least start. I did the normal half a starbucks mocha and half a peppermint cliff bar (I’m buying a case when they come back at Christmas) and all seemed to be settling well. I only got about 6 hours sleep, but it was magical healing sleep, and I was incredibly rested from the week, so again, all signs pointed to go.
We got there, set up transitions, walked the bike pump to the car, poo’d in real bathrooms, and ran back as warmup. We had 10 mins til transition close at that point so we did final adjustments, sunscreened, and got down to the swim start. I made some changes to normal race procedure, so it would be interesting to see how it went! We saw B and his mom, said hi, chatted a bit, then it was time for Zliten to get on deck so we cheered him off. Then, I thought I had a lot of time before I started, but we’d read the waves wrong, and I was called to double deck quickly, so I went and then we jumped in the water and found a place not at the front but right behind, and then it was time to race.
The first thing we noticed was NATURE. Oh my dear fluffy lord – NATURE. This wasn’t just a patch of plants, this was unending and tangling NATURE. I was glad I had done an OWS at the lake just two days before which was also nature filled or it may have skeeved me out (the lake zombies hide in plants, right?) I concentrated on keeping a strong stroke even if I was pulling weeds and making sure not to stay on slow feet and get past them.
I did not like the white buoys – they didn’t show up as well to me as the normal orange or yellow ones, especially going towards the sun, and I got off course a few times. I also HIT a buoy because I didn’t see it and then had to swim under it. Also, the fact that they were all white – no difference in color between turn buoys and straight buoys – meant I started to cut the course at one point and had to back track. At the end, I got trapped behind this large guy in a blue tri suit who at that point of this course I not-so affectionally nicknamed the whale. I tried going left and ran into people, tried going right and ran into more people, so I coasted a bit behind him until I saw an opening and sprinted a bit to find open water and then I was getting pulled up the ramp wearing a lot of nature (seriously, I got undressed at home and half the lake fell out) and I was off to transition.
While I have a lot of things I have previously bitched about, I will say some positives. I felt very strong when I was actually going the right way and not running into buoys. I passed plenty of people, and I even started pretty far up this time. I’m getting better at sprinting around slower people and not getting stuck and not freaking out when people molest me.
Swim time: 37:39. Not nearly what I was aiming for, but 2 minutes exactly faster than last year under worse conditions (lake was much lower this year)
Is it really weird to be pumped up about how your transition went? If so, call me crazy. I skipped the sandals (I think I may have kicked this crutch) and ran pretty fast through the huge transition area to my bike. I worked on paring down what I had to do. Now that I have a bike bottle, I don’t have to deal with the camelback.
I tried two more time savers this time – garmin on the bike (no fumbling getting it on my wrist) and stashing my bike gloves in my bento box instead of fumbling with those. I did a practice run with getting the gloves on Saturday, and it worked fine, but the garmin was a last minute change. I did that two years ago, forgot it on my bike, and haven’t dared since. My helmet and glasses were propped up on my aero bars instead of on the ground, the only thing I have left to do is do the bike shoes on the bike trick, and I haven’t gotten the courage to do that one yet.
T1 time: 3:43 (almost a minute better than last year)
I got out, onto the bike, and going. Thankfully, when Zliten had cleaned and lubed the bikes the day before, he had shifted me down into a lower gear, so that was nice (though I quickly got out of it once we got up the hill). I did the first loop of the bike without even looking at the garmin, just trying to keep a good, solid, steady effort and seeing what that got me. That got me 17.6 mph, which was 1 mph better than last year. I was totally great with that. My pie in the sky goal was in the 18 mph range, and I was pretty close.
Usually on looped courses, I have a tendency to speed up each loop, but a few things were working against me:
- The wind picked up. It wasn’t Lake Pf wind, but it was noticeable enough that my extra effort was put into just maintaining what I had built on lap 1.
- I finished the gatorade in bottle #1 and due to a mixup, I had citrus nuun in bottle #2 instead of more gatorade (it was still frozen, and I figured nuun would be better than water). I forgot that citrus nuun is just about the most vile thing on the planet so I sipped sparingly (though, this may have been a good thing because I sucked down the first bottle so fast I thought I was going to have to learn to pee on the bike). This also may have lead me to under-nutrition because I had planned on getting all my calories from gatorade, and I was 130 calories light (and I forgot to eat anything to offset).
- I think my subconscious told me to back off a little and not cook myself for the run since I had been sick all week. My subconscious was is a smart lady. I don’t remember ever thinking about backing off, but I definitely kept a nice, steady effort instead of escalating.
- Also, it started getting more crowded and I got crotchety at people. I don’t know if that slowed me down, but how many times do you have to yell “On your RIGHT, asshole” when someone would narrowly miss me as I was legit passing someone? Sigh.
A goal was 1:20, and I noted that I wasn’t on pace to beat that halfway through the last lap, but I had a chance to hit my B goal: 1:25, so I stayed on it and got in just in time. At that point, I felt pretty good, not overcooked, a little tired, but who isn’t after the bike, right?
Bike time: 1:24:43. 17.6 mph. I am pretty excited about this one – even with the wind and the gatorade mixup and the dudeholes, I picked up 1 full mile per hour this year, beating last year’s time by over 5 minutes.
I don’t remember this one being particularly speedy, but I didn’t waste any time, and resisted transition gravity. I noticed the heat suddenly ratchet up about 10 degrees and my legs weren’t really working, but forward I went.
T2 time: 3:18. Faster by about 30 seconds from last year. However, I could definitely pick this up a little more by running faster.
Got out and going across the grass/dirt area. Noted that I was was doing very well per the race clock (about 2:09) and hoped I could hold it together on the run. Tried to let that buoy me up, but I had nothing in those legs and I was already really hot. At about .75 mile in, I saw Zliten turning around and noted that if we both kept pace, we’d both finish about the same time (actually, in retrospect, he was definitely ahead – at my current pace, I needed to speed up) and hoped that also would keep me going. I ran the first loop just trotting away, trying to stave off heat sickness and the mental demons.
I finished loop #1 in about 36 mins and just willed myself to keep going. I passed the finish line and was hot and tired, but ok. Then, they made us run on the grass through the dirt again. Something about that just broke me, and I was just getting hotter and hotter. When I hit the concrete again, somewhere between mile 3.5 and mile 4, I realized there was no shade for quite a while and I was feeling chilly, so I stopped to walk. I passed Zliten again just as I started power walking and said “I’m broken” and kept going.
I walked to where there was shade, and tried to run when I hit the shade and it didn’t really work. I walked to the next aide station and drank every cup someone held in front of my face – 3 waters, 3 gatorades… I had to go back to refill my bottle because I realized I would have nothing for a mile. Let’s not forget that on the run, I had already downed a full gatorade bottle from mile 1-4, and took water and gatorade at each aide station. I was doing all the right things, but it wasn’t enough. Either I was sloshy from hydration, or I was barely able to keep going. This sucked.
I ran where I could, walked where I couldn’t, and nothing could get me going fast. After the week I had, I wasn’t going to push it too hard and risk missing another week of training down the drain and a trip to the med tent, but I can’t deny that some of it was mental too. My give a shit ran out. I just watched my run time and pace go from sucktastic to unbelievably sucktastic and tried to keep the curse words internal and finally I was up the bridge and down the bridge and around the corner and saw everyone and got through the finish and finally this shitshow was over.
Run time: 1:19:02 for 6.2 miles – 12:46 pace. I’m not sure I’ve ever traversed a 10k that slow in my life, certainly not in a race.
Total time: 3:28:32. 2.5 mins slower than last year. My run was over ELEVEN minutes slower than last year (1:07:56)
As normal, Zliten won on the bike, B won on the run, I won on the swim. B beat Zliten by 8 mins, and Zliten beat me by 10. I wish I could say it was all the run, but Zliten had a stellar race, keeping almost a 19 mph pace on the bike and only letting me beat him on the swim by 4 minutes. I would have had to run a 1:09 to beat him, and I just didn’t have that yesterday.
My final thoughts:
I’m really and truly done with these hot races (at least, until I decide I’m not ). Some day, if it’s my job or I’m training for Kona or there is a race I really want to do or whatever, I’ll need how to solve the problem of how to maintain a decent run pace in the feels like 90 degree heat. For now, I do these races for fun, and to push myself athletically and see improvement. The last two races have not been fun for me, and they’ve been B races I only did because they are part of a series and I did them last year. It feels stupid when you’re pushing the thin line between heatstroke and GI distress and the sun is an oppressive ball of pain, fucking with your body, confusing your mind, stealing your will to go forward. That isn’t sport. That’s just being sick in the head.
Zliten asked me what the most fun I had yesterday was, and my answer was T1. It’s pretty shitty when your highlight of the race is when you aren’t actually swimming, biking, or running. To be fair, I did have a stellar T1, and I did enjoy the bike ride here, but I digress. I went from being a runner, to a runner who did triathlons, to a triathlete, to this year, a solid swimmer and biker who really sucks at running. This fucks with my pysche and I start thinking things like the only reason I’m improving on the bike and swim so much is I sucked so badly at them before, so how could I not, and I’m just becoming a worse and worse athlete each year as gauged by my running.
Something broke in me last month, and the idea of running in the heat, just as it was time to really ramp up my run miles, and with each experience that seems to go badly, more and more, just makes want to cry and avoid it. It burns. I’m psychologically (and this week, physiologically) tired of dealing with the heat. I don’t WANT to go out and run for hours training trying to stave off heat sickness. I’m sick of seeing these super slow paces, and reinforcing shit like walk breaks in my training because it obviously becomes ok to do it in a race.
I’m going to see how Kerrville goes this year (because it is indeed the sweet, sweet relief to the heat to go race there in the oh so perfect 60 low, 80 high temps), but I’m already considering changing up my race plan for 2014. Yes, I want to challenge myself, but I also want it to be fun.
To leave this on a happy note: the other 4 sports (swim, t1, bike, t2) went somewhere between good and amazing. I have really improved both on the swim and bike this year (even if it’s going from back of the pack to back of the middle of the pack) without much focus and direction, just simply by doing it MORE. Imagine what could happen if I actually incorporated some real training here! I’m also happy about getting better at transitions. Some of it has been throwing money at it (aero bottle instead of camelback), but some has been smarts (put the garmin on the bike, dummy) or just bucking up (no sandals). I got 90 free seconds this race just by being better at transitions, that’s 15 seconds per mile on the run!
Now, it’s time for two more weeks of training, and two weeks of taper before racing the big A race this season – Kerrville 70.3.
And since you made it to the end of a very long post, here’s the cat trying to come to the triathlon with us.