Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Maude learns to roll with the punches

I'm officially blogging for our local online running news source now under my real name and posted my race recap last week.  So I had to wait to post my personal review of my sprint tri for a few days.  Now Maude can tell you the real story. 

My official review was very complimentary towards the event, deservedly so. I just didn't want to put a bunch of stuff in my race recap about my actual race, no one really cares how I did, except for me. 

Let me get the first thing out of the way: THE LAKE WAS CLOSED TO SWIMMING!!!!  THE LAKE WAS CLOSED TO SWIMMING!  Remember my description about the smelly lake and dry heaving and stuff? VINDICATION!  They closed the lake to swimming the day before my sprint tri because of the fear of a TOXIC ALGAE OUTBREAK.  I can't make this stuff up.

My initial reaction?  Horrendously inappropriate and uncontrollable sobbing.  Like I'd run over a pet cat or something.  I mean seriously, I've had a LOT worse things happen to me in the last three years you'd think this would just roll off my back.  But you would be horribly wrong.

I cried, and cried and cried and cried......My only option, according to the email from the event company, was to do the Duathlon instead.  Are you freaking serious?  I have not RUINED my hair in a swimming pool for three months, subjected myself to an open water swim in what felt like an ocean and risked typhoid fever the week before the event to be told I have to run an extra 5K. 

Oh.  No.  You.  Di-int.

I kept saying "I didn't train for this event."  "My joints will never forgive me, I'll be in severe pain on Sunday."  "I don't even like riding a bike, maybe this is the universe telling me to just forget it."  Then I realized I'd have to repack my bag, and the kids bags and try to get some damn sleep.

Now I had put a TON of pressure on myself for this event.  Suddenly, the weight was lifted.  To be honest, I slept like a baby.  But I awoke with a very confused feeling, no anchor.  No A, B or C goal to achieve.  NO freaking clue how I would even do. 

The absolute FREEDOM I actually felt was like nothing I've ever experienced in a race.  I had nothing to prove.  I just had to go.  My BRF even wore her "Don't think, just go" shirt, courtesy of the Another Mother Runner  tribe.  So appropriate.  I had no other options.

Here is my BRF with the shirt, and the biggest, baddest cowbell ever!

I was still on the nervous side and barely choked down my breakfast.  Once again, can't believe I had anything left in my colon that morning but apparently I was oh so very wrong.  My compliments to the event organizers on the appropriate number of porta potties for the amount of racers. 

Normally I wish there were three porta-potty sections, one for the casual pee-er, the person who empties their bladder not because they need to, but because they feel like it.  No rush on their part. 

Then there should be a section for the emergency peers, the people who either hold it too long or drove far enough that they're sweating bullets when they arrive. 

The third section would be for people like me, the "I think I might SHART myself" line, the line that I would have needed to be in that morning, but thankfully I never really had to wait all that long. 

But I digress.  Must focus.  I really loved getting all inked up, with my big ol' 40 on my right calf and 26 (my race number) on the left.

I convinced myself that people might think the 26 and the 40 were accidentally reversed, despite my wrinkles, gray hair and flabby-ish upper arms.

There's something empowering about seeing someone's age as you compete.  Every time I passed someone running or biking with anything below 40 was a VERY gratifying experience.  Boom diggity.  But, being passed by someone with 56 on there, well that just wasn't fun.  And it did happen.

And, as it turns out,  I had the option of only doing the bike & run, and not replacing the swim with another 5K.  Have we met?  Well, that wasn't going to be acceptable.  Like any insane weekend warrior I just had to see what I could do.  Anything less would have felt like I wimped out.  Not that I'm judging....just saying for me that's how I would have felt.

My little family made it to the start of the race, literally as they were counting down the last 30 seconds before the race started.  I was so happy to get hugs and kisses from the kids who, thankfully, genuinely seemed to be happy to waste an hour and 37 minutes of their lives watching me compete.

I took off on the run and hung in the back.  I listened to the announcer tell us not to push too hard on the first 5K, and to save it for the end.  I finished the first 5K without even breaking a sweat, sitting at 92 out of 197 some competitors and in 28:32, which is a slow & easy pace for me.  I was glad I didn't push too hard.

See? Not even tired or sweaty.
In the end they told us we could run with one earbud in, something I didn't think we could do, so of course I had to run with tunes.  That ended up costing me a few seconds in transition to the bike, which made me mad and regret my decision to listen to music.  

Then I was really mad because if had been able to swim it wouldn't have been an issue at all.  Like the hulk, any anger triggers an immediate hot flash.  Now I'm breaking a sweat.  Damn.

Here I am, headed to the bike portion.  Note my helmet wasn't buckled so that cost me time too.  
So the bike was where I was most nervous.  I've said it before but I'm terrified of the bike.  I was ever nervous about how that was going to go, but I had nothing to fear apparently.
My long ol' legs are clearly an advantage so I passed many people (again, thrilled when their ages were less than mine) and ended up going into the final 5K at 51st place.  Do that math, 92 going in, 51 coming out.....Never in my life has 12 miles on a bike gone so freaking fast.  And thank GOD for the tail wind on the return 6 miles.

Here I am, I came flying in at 20 MPH, I kid you not.  No way was I slowing down until I had to!

I wasted no time on the transition here, and just took off on the run.  Again, your brain thinks you should be going faster so you try really hard but your legs feel like they belong to someone else so you WILL THEM TO MOVE. 

And I mean you really WILL THEM TO MOVE.  If legs could talk after a hard bike ride and you push them to run, they would say, and I quote "F*&k you."  Yes, they would.

After about the first mile I started to get the feeling back and was holding pretty well at my pace.  I walked through the aid stations (lesson learned during my first half marathon) and put on the gas for the last mile, and was running sub 8 when I finished.  

Here I am, running by the STINKY lake (thank GOD I didn't have to swim in it) for the second time that day.  The girl next to me that I'm passing had a 33 on her calf.  Jussayin'.

I ended up finishing 48th overall, in the top fourth of the competitors, and 10th in my age division, 40-44 year old women.  Not too shabby for an old lady on her first tri, er, try!  I realized, as I calculated my times that I likely would have finished in about 1:30 had I done the swim.  So, it was a total victory for me.

This last pic is one of my favorites.  I was so happy to see my kids and husband there to cheer me on.  I was smiling SO BIG every time I saw them in transition.  I should have posted THOSE pics.  It meant the world to me that my family was there, along with my Best Running Friend Cyndie and her husband (whose LIGHTNING fast bike I borrowed) and their kids.

Even if it wasn't the race I wanted, it was the race I raced and the best I've ever done.  I loved it.  In fact, I registered for my next sprint tri, and have been assured that I'll be able to get my swim in this time as it's in a nice, clear reservoir in Oregon.

I learned to roll with the punches on this one.  Racing and parenting are no different in that respect.  What you are prepared for may not always be what happens and you've got to do the best you can in that moment.  And I did.  I truly found some bliss in this chaos of racing that I've created for myself.  And I can't wait for the next one.......

Friday, August 2, 2013

Putting on my big girl panties

Who needs to take all that nasty "prep" before a colonscopy, simply register for a sprint triathlon (or fill in the blank for whatever you might do), train for it for months and then wait until the day before. 

I guarantee your colon will be so clean it sparkles, like in that Orbit Gum commercial. Really.  It totally will.

Today is supposed to be a day of carbo fueling, (not counting calories) and resting.  A day I look forward to for MONTHS.  Instead, I'm "running" to the bathroom and can't hardly eat a darn thing. 

So while I'll be on the lighter side for my first sprint triathlon tomorrow, I'll also be under fueled.  Which brings me to my post for the day.

I started training for this event in May.  I haven't gotten injured, I only missed one week of training (a rest week no less, because I got sick) and I even did a practice tri (recently, and I did a blog about it) and I smoked it.  So why would I, at this point, be so nervous that I can't even eat?!?!

I decided it's time for me to put on my big girl panties and own up to my fears.  Maybe writing it down will lessen some of my nerves so I can finally relax and get mentally prepared.

I'm nervous for the swim.  I'm a confident swimmer, and I've been in open water before.  However, I've not ever swam through a sewer, which is what Blue Lake smelled like when I attempted my second, and final, pre-race open water swim last Saturday.

Maybe it was the slight hangover, but I kind of doubt it.  I got in the water up to my knees and promptly DRY HEAVED from the smell.  That one EPIC FAILURE has me concerned that I'm not gonna be able to suck it up and swim in that cesspool.

I decided to bail out on the swim last weekend, thinking (rationalizing) that perhaps acquiring the PLAGUE a week before my race wasn't a good plan.  So I'm kinda freaking out about that. 

At the very least I timed my side stroke yesterday in the pool and it is slightly slower than my freestyle, and slightly faster than my breast stroke. I don't have to put my face in the water with that one, and I've got NO SHAME if I have to bust it out.

So assuming I survive the swim, then I have to ride 12 miles on a bike.  That I borrowed.  Because I'm an idiot and I registered for an event that requires a bike.  And I don't have one. 

But as far as borrowed bikes go, this one is the SHIZZLE, a super light and fast Trek road bike, that even has an AMERICAN FLAG and the name of it's OWNER on the side (my BRF's hubby who is an AVID and REALLY GOOD cyclist). 

My only issue with the bike, aside from it being a bike (I say a Hail Mary every 1/2 mile while riding folks, I'm THAT terrified) is the tires are really really really skinny.

The run is the part I'm the least concerned about, aside from just hoping I'm not out of gas before I even get there.  I've been training hard so I have hope that between what I want to be a somewhat restful sleep and the fuel plan I have in place (yes, it does include bananas) will hold me until the end.

So aside from total panic and many "what the hell was I thinking" moments, the bottom line is that I really don't want to just finish.  I always say "Oh I'm happy to finish on my own power" but honestly that is total bullshit.

This time, THIS TIME, I want to crush my race plan.  Not just smash it a little, but CRUSH IT, like stomp on it and do a little dance on top of it with a big smile on my face crush it.  And I think I can.  But what I need to say is I KNOW I can, but I'm not there.  YET.  I might not be there until I actually do it.

There's a lot of pressure that I put on myself for this.  It's all that time I've spent training, time that my husband had to pick up the slack and deal with 2 (and for the summer 3) kids all by himself.

Saturday mornings that I didn't sleep in and snuggle, evening workouts where I could have been home with my husband. Time away from my responsibilities as a mother.  But yet, it's the time away spent training that allows me to stay a mostly sane human. 

My BRF is coming to watch me and I don't want her to have gotten up so freaking ass crack early only to choke it up during the race.  I watched her do this event last year (I was supposed to do it WITH her but well, life got in the way) and I don't want to disappoint her.  I want to have a good showing.  And she's got one big ass cowbell to ring.....seriously.  On loan.  From a drummer.

My dear sweet husband and children will be there too.  This has been a sacrifice for them as well.  I don't want to disappoint them with a crappy race and have three months of effort be for nothing and then have a really crabby mom.  If I fail, swim, bike, or run....I'll have failed my family.

Finally, if I don't do well I will feel like I failed myself.  You don't give up this much time to train for something and be mildly accepting if you don't do as well as you thought.  Let's be honest.

And I know what I think I am capable of for this event, and I'm afraid if I don't complete this event to the level I am capable of, that I'll never forgive myself. 

I set my B goal as 1:50.  That's a 25 minute swim, 45 minute bike, 30 minute run and 10 minutes total transition time.  I know I can nail that.

I set my A goal as 1:40.  That's a 20 minute swim, 40 minute bike and 30 minute run, with another 10 minutes total transition time.  Again, I know that's achievable.

But, if I'm being honest, I CAN do better than that.  I am CAPABLE of better than that.  I'm capable of an 18 minute swim, 36 minute bike, 25 minute run with 6 minutes total transition time.  That's 1:25.  I am CAPABLE of it, I just don't think I WILL do it.

For tomorrow, though, I'm not gunning for 1:25.  I'll save that for another sprint, another time.  I need to make space in my head to say that I'm going to hit my A goal, and I will get there, no problem. 

I NEED to stop the self doubt, put my fears aside, and put on my big girl panties and know that I've trained, HARD, for months.  Tomorrow is the main event, and this time I will put everything out there and see what happens.  There will be no "I think I could have done better on X, Y or Z."

I already feel better having written this all down.   Right now I'm going to go (gag down) eat (another) banana and hope that tomorrow I'll have finished all my nervous pooping and wake up rested, happy and ready to kick some ass.