Monday, June 28, 2010

Feeling much better

By today, he sting of yesterday has worn off, as long as I keep my mind off the bike portion of the race. That part's still pretty raw.

Oh, and last night we had an end-of-season party for a softball league I'm in. Of course my body marking hadn't washed off completely (not like I tried all that hard ) so people kept asking why I had "622" Sharpied onto my arm. They were pleasantly surprised and impressed that I did a tri that morning.

And the best part was when this super cocky guy on my team found out the distance. "Oh, you did a tri? How long was it, a sprint?" Nope, an Oly mofo. His jaw literally dropped. Awesome!

Lastly, as of 10:45 pm last night, my soul is complete. At least that's the text I sent to a friend. So apparently it didn't take all that much for it to heal. Just a few beers and some good company.

Loveland Lake to Lake Triathlon

The second triathlon is done! And it may've been the hardest thing I've experienced (mentally) since being in the mountains of Italy for a month two years, was it really that long ago? Anywhos, below is the race report, again written for the tri group so it's a bit long.

Loveland Lake to Lake Triathlon
1.5 k/30 mi/10 k
 Loveland, CO
26 June 2010

I have no idea what happened to me during this race. Physically, I was fine throughout. I hammered out the swim slowly but surely. My bike split was faster than the trial run last week. And I probably could've run most of the 10k. But I gave up around mile 20 of the bike and it just got worse as the race went on. I barely talked myself into going out on the run. Midway through, I was completely done. Had it not been an out-an-back, I would've just headed back and gotten a DNF. By that point I didn't even care. So I trudged through it and somehow finished.

That was the nutshell version. Here's the more detailed one. Like my last report, it's also written for me, so excuse the length. And really, it's long, especially the bike part.

We planned to leave the house promptly at 4 am to get there when transition opened at 5. I made the mistake of sleeping in til noon the day before so I couldn't fall asleep that night. Ended up finally dozing off at 2:30 or something, and woke up to my alarm an hour later. I know, 1 hour of sleep before an Oly is probably the worst way to start a day. But since I'm a night person, I'm used to getting only a few hours of sleep before huge athletic events, and I'd also had a pretty restful week. So I figured, no biggie. And once I was up, I felt refreshed and good.

Anywhos, one of the girls I was carpooling with forgot her helmet 15 minutes into the drive, so we turned around to grab it. By the time we left for good it was 4:45, and we had about an hour drive ahead of us with the first wave going out at 6:20. Most definitely not enough time for me. I was pissed off and really stressed. So I think that's where the bad attitude began.

BUT, we made pretty good time (partially due to my erratic driving) and got there around 5:20. We had plenty of time to set up, walk around, and even take a few pictures with our other friends also doing the tri. I calmed down and was really enjoying myself.

                                                                   47:23             AG: 56/56
                                                           2:53/100 yards       OA: 694/715
I felt really good throughout. I was much more relaxed than during the sprint last month and just powered through it. My roommate was about a pool length ahead of me and swam around the same speed, so it was really nice to have a pace buddy within seeing distance. Kept me consistent and persistent in my swimming. I probably could've gone faster but I wasn't really racing this race, but rather going for a solid finish. And, I didn't want to come out as dizzy as I had last time. So, I did good

There was about a quarter-mile run to transition which I did as a slow jog and then headed to the bikes to get ready to ride.
                                                                      2:26          AG: 45/56
Most of the bikes were already gone by the time I got there, which is fine. Other than that, I took my time and made sure I had everything I would need and headed out.

                                                                2:04:27             AG: 53/56
                                                             14.46 mph          OA: 686/715
These were the most demoralizing and lonely 2 hours of my life. I wanted to cry at least 10 times and I'm not a crying person. I think I may've shed a tear or two towards the end, and then promptly told myself to suck it up and keep going.
From the beginning I could tell I was a bit tired. I think I used my legs too much during the swim or something, because they felt a bit heavy in the beginning. That feeling went away pretty quickly, so I probably just needed a warm-up.

My roommate and I are the same bike pace too so we stayed close to each other and chatted for the first few miles. Other than that, there was no one else around. Eventually she went ahead leaving me to chat with the voices in my head.

Somewhere around the first hill around mile 8 (don't know the mileage since my bike computer wasn't working) it hit me that this race sucks and it's going to be a long day. I had been one of the last people out of the water and now even my roommate, who I'd hoped to be on par with, had left me, making me really far behind. With all the curves and ups and downs in the road, I could only see other bikers every once in a while. And even so, they were super far away and probably impossible to catch. I couldn't talk myself into thinking I was racing, since there was no one within sight to catch, and then I tried saying it's like a group ride, which it wasn't since I was alone. I had run out of positive things to compare this to or convince myself of, so I sank into despair.

There have been very few times when I've felt so low and alone, and powerless to change the situation. This bike leg is now added to the list. There was absolutely nothing I could do about the situation besides keep pedaling which, thankfully, wasn't too hard. But it took so looooong...

Even now writing about it is pretty hard and brings tears to my eyes, so apparently I'm not over it and it wasn't a fleeting thought, but a true soul bruising. In fact, it's taken me all day to write this report. I don't know what sparked that initial feeling, but it all spiraled from there.

The long hill wasn't bad biking-wise and going down was super awesome...except for the fact that I couldn't see another biker for at least a few miles ahead. The rolling hills were much easier to conquer (physically at least) this time around as compared to last week when we scouted the course. I wasn't cursing them or the course at all. Maybe I was too wrapped up in my own feelings to notice the difficulty of the hills. But at least by that point, I could see 5 miles down the straight road and there were plenty of people to keep me company, even if they were a spec on the horizon.

Every time I saw a light-colored jersey up ahead, I hoped it was my roommate so I would be able to tell I hadn't fallen too far behind. But as soon as I got closer I realized it wasn't her. After 3 or 4 of these disappointments, I resigned myself to the fact that she was way ahead and I stopped getting my hopes up, which helped. The bright side of this was that I was passing people, and never got passed during the whole 30 miles. Yay for small successes

Anywhos, it was around this time (rolling hills, mile 20-ish) that the thought of not finishing crossed my mind. All along I had been aware of the difficulty of running 6 miles after all this. Even though it was daunting, I knew I could push through it and somehow finish, even if I had to walk the whole thing. By the rolling hills, it seemed impossible. Every time I felt that way, I would try to push the run to the back of my mind and just focus on getting through the bike, but eventually I just couldn't shake that feeling. I had no idea how I was going to continue on.

Once closer to civilization, there were more volunteers to cheer us racers on. Some of them looked bored out of their minds which exacerbated everything I was feeling, but the vast majority were genuinely enthusiastic so I put on a smile and yelled out "Thanks" because I really was grateful. The aid stations got an extra shout-out due to the kids' ridiculous excitement and encouragement.

Had my roommate not waited for me in transition, I would've quit. No doubt in my mind. To add to the feeling of being the last racer on the course, I literally had to wade through the people who were getting their stuff out of transition to go home. No joke. And thus began my anger towards race management. But more on that later.

Some volunteer realized I was still racing instead of going home (like most everyone else in transition) and yelled some words of encouragement, which was nice. I got all my stuff and jogged out with the roommie, who apparently was feeling the exact same way.

                                                                   1:36:55          AG: 54/56
                                                           15:37 min/mile   OA: 708/715

Umm, I should've labeled this as a walk instead. Going out, there were a ton of people heading back in, kinda weird to see after being alone for a couple hours. We ran most of the first mile and then did the rest of the 10k as a half walk, half jog, not because I was tired and couldn't run any more, but because I was done with this race. So over it.

We talked to a Team in Training lady for a while who walked the entire run because she'd badly broken her leg in a fall off a 30-foot cliff (yeah, crazy!) recently and was just looking to finish. There were lots of interesting people on that course, and because we were so slow we got to talk to a few of them, including the group of old ladies who was doing a garden tour down the streets we were running. Incredible landscaping, I gotta say. Even gave us some ideas for our own garden

Back to the we were heading back to the finish for the last 1.5 miles we saw absolutely no one racing or working the race. No volunteers, no racers, nothing. Just a bunch of cones and some beach-goers by the reservoir. It was as if we were going for a Saturday jog by the lake instead of participating in a race. Some dude was putting away football equipment into a shed so we asked him if he knew where we were supposed to go, since by that point we were already back to where we had started and the route took a different turn. It was completely ridiculous that all the volunteers and race officials had left their posts and essentially abandoned the course.

We kept following the cones like the guy suggested and eventually we ran into a finisher chilling by the water who told us where to go. Soon after that our friends spotted us and pointed us in the right direction and for the last half mile we were rounding an inlet so we could tell where the finish was.

It was absolutely ridiculous that there was no one telling the runners where to go. The race was far from over as there were at least 10 people behind us, with one lady going out as we were coming in. We talked to a few people after the race and one late finisher said she got lost and ended up running around the high school thinking that's where the course went, instead of turning away and going along the lake.

I know that people get tired of cheering after a few hours. I most definitely did last week when I volunteered, and that was only a sprint! But that doesn't mean they should leave. The run photographer had even left by the time I was coming back around. I paid just as much for this race as the guy who finished in 2 hours so why do I get shafted with poor race management? Not cool. And I understand that an Olympic race is long and it's hours until the last biker comes in and people want to home. But I shouldn't have to dodge finishers when I'm trying to get through transition. There has to be a better system for that. And I definitely plan on writing the race director about all this, especially the run part.

Back to the race again...for the finish, the roommate and I sprinted the last few yards, even though I wish we had crossed hand in hand (seriously) since neither of us would've made it through the run to the finish if we weren't together. So that's my only regret.

Nothing special. Since most racers had already left and the awards ceremony was finishing up, the line for the massage tables was super short. So I got a massage. And a beer that a friend had saved for me.

Official time: 4:33:56
Overall: 701/715
Females: 306/317
Division (Athena): 5/6
AG (if I was in it): 53/56

Results (Bib 622):

- NUTRITION: Spot on throughout the whole race. I wasn't hungry at all the whole morning. The Shot Blocks were delicious and kept me full and energized, even though I didn't use that energy for much during the run. The extra Gatorades at the two bike aid stations were much needed and I'm really glad I grabbed some. But then again, maybe my emotional break-down was due to not enough nutrition. I don't know.
- RUN OFF THE BIKE: Well, I should rephrase that to "my legs off the bike." Felt great. Seriously. I could've definitely run most of that 10k, but just didn't want to. My legs didn't feel heavy at all even during the first mile (which I did actually run), and felt somewhat fresh throughout...probably because I walked the rest of the way. That is probably attributed to the last 4 miles of the bike being downhill, but I also made sure not to push too hard earlier on the bike course either. And it worked

What's next? I don't have another tri scheduled or in mind until at least September. BUT, I want to try the Oly distance again this season. It needs to be conquered, and I can't wait a whole year. So we'll see how training goes throughout the summer and take it from there.

For now, I'm taking a break from formal-ish training, and just enjoying swimming, biking, and running without any structure or planning at all.

All in all, even though the bike was soul-crushing, I'm glad I did this race. I have no idea how anyone who does a HIM or IM pushes through a whole race. So STEVEA and STEVEB, wow. Major kudos to you.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

No drama, just the truth about the Oly tri

Again, this is copy-pasted from a note I wrote to my triathlon mentor group the evening after the tri. It totally expresses how I felt afterwards:

Short and depressing update from Colorado. I'm not trying to be dramatic here, just honest.

The Oly kicked my butt and killed my soul. And my bike got its first scratches during the transport home. Huge bummer. In short, not a good day.

I'm off to take a nap and recharge. Race report to follow tomorrow. Unofficial time: 4:33:48.

On a positive note, I got a really sweet bike short tan. It's about time!