Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I Stunk...No, I Did Okay...Well, I Finished...NO--I DID WELL!!!

I wish I could write a race recap within a few moments after I cross the finish line.  Although I can think of plenty of races I mentally battered myself through the course, striking the whip on everything from my pace to my form to my lack of training, I can't remember a time when I wasn't completely ELATED after the finish (even if only for the fact the mental self abuse would abate for the particular race I found myself at the end).  Usually, in the few moments between crossing the finish line and catching my breath again, I am truly happy with my performance.  I can't think of a time I didn't want to go back out and do it all over again.  But, give it half an hour and the nag in my head finds her voice again.  If I'm really lucky, it might take a few days, but I have "always" found myself going fisticuffs with HER.

I know I've written about her many times...and have said (over and over) I will not allow her to have a place on the panel of speakers in my head...and yet here I am again, trying to write about the race and having a hard time.  So...I'm going to write one little paragraph from her perspective, and then send her off to play with matches!!

You were not prepared.  Plain and simple.  If you would learn to swim in open water you might not have had to breast stroke a third of a mile.  And...how hard is it really to run all the way from the water to the transition?  It's a RACE for crying out loud, not a Sunday stroll through the park.  I think your 90 year old grandma could bike faster than you did at times...and she wouldn't have fallen at dismount-what a complete DORK-BUTT.  And, really??  You let a girl with a broken foot beat you by TEN MINUTES.  You should have at least tried to run off and leave her instead of cowering back and telling her to go ahead.  Are you that much of a chicken you can't even fight for a win??  It was a RACE.  You set a pathetic goal, to finish in the top half.  Naturally you could make that, half the people out there could make that....

You know, it's kind of funny...I think this is the first time I can say I don't think I believe any of that!!!  (Well, other than the being unprepared part...more on that later.)

So...let me tell you about the race (Iron Girl)!!

I was terrified.  My main "fear" was actually not of drowning, but that the water would be really cold.  I know, it's silly.  But I HATE cold water.  It makes me shiver and I can't stop.  I feared I would get in the water, not stop shaking and not be able to swim.  They had an age group start with my group being split into two groups because there were 255 40-44 year olds!!  I was in the fifth group to start so I had been watching many women splashing around out there, and many women finished long before I got in the water.  As my time drew near I told my husband I couldn't do it!  I think if we hadn't traveled to Atlanta to do the race I might have just stepped out of the crowd and slunk home--at least that's the way I felt at that moment!  I very nearly had a full-on panic attack just thinking about going into the cold water, not to mention trying to swim with all those women, in LAKE water.  He gave me a pep-talk and pointed me toward the gaggle.

Mercifully just before my group's gun went off, two of my friends (broken-foot Sarah and another training buddy) came up to give me a much-needed boost of confidence.  When I stepped into the water...to my great pleasure it was WARM!!  I should have known it would be with an air temp of 51 and a water temp of 70...but, hey, fear is usually irrational!  I ran out as far as I needed to start swimming.  The last thought that ran through my head before my face hit the water:  "this is going to be GREAT!!!"  Two strokes later, after I was kicked in the side, and had lake water splashed right in my open, supposed-to-be-breathing-in-air mouth, I decided I was wrong!!  About the time I settled into a nice breast stroke rhythm a woman behind me started screaming, "I'm going to drown!!!"

Now...I'm not proud of this, but my first thought was, "Hey, I know I'm going to beat her at least!"  I considered just "swimming" off as fast as my breast stroke could carry me, but I noticed none of the kayaks seemed to have heard her calls for help.  I knew I shouldn't get to close to her because I knew if she was really panicked she'd pull me under. I, along with several other ladies, told her to stay calm (she was NOT drowning, her head was over the water), and started yelling our heads off for help.  My poor husband knew I was in the middle of all those screaming ladies, and knew just how upset I had been, and prayed it was not me needing the lifeguard.

I tried a few times to just SWIM, but I never could get more than a few strokes before I went back to my fail-safe.  Hey, at least I was making forward progress, and I wasn't on my back this time!!  I finished the third mile swim in 17:50 (205/255 in my age group)

When I came out of the water, I did actually start out running.  My husband got a good series of photos with me passing two other ladies...but from the water to the transition area was all up-hill, a sandy, hot asphalt hill.  Maybe I could walk across scorching hot pavement when I was younger, but I literally get blisters doing that now.  (No, it was not that hot, but can you say tender feet?  That's me.)  I did manage to sort of walk/jog to my bike, but (other than right out of the water) no one would mistake what I was doing for "running"!

T1 wasn't as fast as Frank Maples, but since the run was first in that one I didn't have to put socks on.  And, this time I had to wipe my feet just a bit.  (Although when I took my socks off after the race they were full of sand, so I didn't get much off.)  I downed a Gu and thought I'd drink water once I got out on the course-that was a mistake.  Not only did I not have enough water, I have a hard time drinking and riding.   T1 time:  4:08 (60/255--I don't guess that's too bad considering I didn't RUN!)

From the mount line, the bike course went straight down hill with a sharp right turn at the bottom.  There were WAY too many gals there trying to baby it--gripping their brakes and easing into the turn.  Once I got past them I felt like I was flying!  I passed quite a few of those women who beat me down in the water...until we started hitting hills.  Here is a link to the the bike course map...take a look at the elevation profile.  (I would post the map here if I could figure out how to do it!)  Anyway...I wish I had worn my Garmin so I could know just how fast crazy is because I was certainly going crazy fast down some of those hills.  Unfortunately for me, I can't couldn't at that time go crazy fast up them.  I didn't get off the bike and walk up any hills (unlike quite a few others who took that option).

I had a packet of Gu taped to my bike, but I just didn't ever really know when to take it, and I didn't have a lot of water (poor planning on my part) with me so I didn't ever use it.  I could feel my energy level dropping about mile 15 or so.   I knew the dismount line was at the top of the hill I came down after mounting...and I powered up it pretty quick.  However, when I stopped the bike and unclipped my right foot, I fell left!  I finished the bike in 1:18:33 (123/255).

I felt a little discombobulated in T2.  I had fallen.  I think I had not had enough water, and could have used some fuel for sure.  I got out of there in 2:57 (132/255).  As I was running out of transition, I bumped into someone...low and behold it was SARAH.  I think that's when I hit an all-race low.  I realized she was competing with a broken foot, and was beating me by TEN MINUTES, and wasn't even really breathing hard.  I was toast.  I wanted to tell her I was going to have to leave her behind, but the truth was, I didn't think I had it in me at all.  I'd like to say I was just being nice, staying with her, being as how she was gimpy and all...but really I think she helped keep me going.  She said she was going to tell everyone she walked, and I told her there was NO WAY I was going to go along with that because not only would she and I have the same run time, but there was no way I was going to have people see she beat me by TEN MINUTES and walked the run part to boot!!

The run felt like it was up hill both ways.  It was hot.  I was tired.  The biggest hurdle I was up against was my mind.  I couldn't get over the fact Sarah didn't even sound like she was breathing hard.  She was talking to me the whole time-telling me about a half in October.  I kept thinking, "how does she have the energy to talk??"  At the same time, I knew I didn't want to try any harder and STILL have her beat the snot out of me.  As we neared the hill up to the finish, I told her to go ahead and finish strong.  She grabbed my hand and said we'd cross together.  As soon as I could see the finish line, I kicked in my sprint.

Let me say...I think I have a KILLER finish sprint. I don't know if it's because I hold too much in reserve, or if I just have better fast-twitch muscles than slow-twitch.  Whatever the case may be, I can kick it at the line.  I heard the announcer calling out finishers' first and last names....and I was wondering what he was going to do with my name (DeBardelaben is NOT an easy name to sound out!).  Thankfully my daughter caught it on video because it was pretty darn funny....

((By the way...the mats you see us crossing are not the finish line...that's when I kicked in the sprint...))

I finished the run in 28:33 (96/255).  Overall I finished 437/1008 and 120/255 in my age group.  The truth is, I did well.  This was my first "real" tri (Frank Maples is a reverse, and much shorter) and my first ever open water swim.  Sure, I want to do better, and I'm training hard to be able to do better...but I can honestly say I am proud of myself!!!  I am.  I really am.  If you told me a year ago this was going to happen, I'd have laughed in your face!  Me, swim a third of a mile in a lake...bike 18 miles...run three miles with a pace right at 9:30??  Yet, here I am.  Not only that, here I am just a couple of weeks later training harder than I ever have in my life for an Olympic distance tri in August!!

Yes, I did well.  No...I did GREAT!!!

Thanks for stopping in.  Come again soon!!  :D

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