I want to write up my race recap before I have the chance to look at any numbers from the race. (This would be slightly better if I didn't know my finishing time and place, but I'm going to forget about that for now and pretend I JUST crossed the finish line...well, about 15 minutes ago...)
THAT WAS A GREAT RACE EXPERIENCE FOR ME!!!!
Let me start at the beginning.
Given the fact this was a shorter distance race (for me), I didn't do anything different leading up....no changes in my workout, certainly no changed in diet. I had a hard-for-me bike ride Wednesday night (one that I totally ROCKED), a long swim on Thursday (that I finished which was a good thing), and then taught a strength Spin class yesterday. I woke up at 4:00, got my stuff ready and got my sweet husband to drive me over to my friend's house so we could ride together.
On the way there we were talking about the swim/bike/run distances; she said the swim was 1000ish. I thought it was odd that I was thinking it was 600, but I've been looking at a lot of races lately so I didn't think too much about it.
After we got there and picked up our packets, I went to air my tires (using her pump since I figured there was no reason to bring mine since we had hers). All pumps are NOT created equally...I ended up letting all the air out of my tire and neither of us could get the thing to work!! So, we decided to get set up in transition and try again. As I was putting my number on my bike, my friend asked in an astonished tone, "What time did you put down for your swim???"
(((Side note for my non-triathlete readers/friends...many races base your starting position on your swim time. In a perfect everyone correctly estimates the time it will take them, they all start in the correct order, and everyone finishes in a straight line. Now...that NEVER happens, but if everyone is close then at least it doesn't get bottle-necked or congested in the water. The lower the number, the faster the swim time/swimmer.))
((Friend says in astonished tone, "what time did you put down for your swim??")) It was only at that moment that I noticed my number was FORTY TWO!!! (She is a faster swimmer and her number was 308!!) OH MY GOSH...the swim was .6...which my brain saw as 600!!! I started freaking out. I didn't care about people passing me on the swim, but the thing was I didn't want to be an impedance to anyone. I didn't want to be like a big log floating in the water as all the fish were trying to swim by!
Coach Karen, and some other friends encouraged me it was no big deal because the faster swimmers know how to go around people better than the slower ones do. I decided to calm down, not worry about it and finish getting set up. Thankfully the pump worked and I was able to have a very short little warm up in the water before it was time for the race to start. Just as they were about to sing the National Anthem I asked the starting official if I could let others go in front of me and she calmly said that was NOT a problem!! Whew-crisis averted!
Since I had warmed up (I think that's the first time I've done a pre-race swim warm up), I new how far out I needed to run before starting my swim. I swam strong, straight and fast-for-me. ...for about 50 yards! I intend to write a whole post about the swim later so I won't go too far into it here. Instead, I want to focus on the fact that I started in a better position than I would have if I had estimated my time accurately, and passed A LOT of people. I felt good a decent bit of the time and, without looking at my time/pace, I think I had a pretty average-for-my-normal-swim-workout-times time. I struggled quite about sighting on the way back because the sun was in our eyes. Also, I got HOT in my wetsuit toward the end. (However, I am VERY glad I wore it because that thing gives me a HUGE advantage compared to not wearing it.) ((Now, once I look at me time I might pull out the baseball bat and commence to dis on myself for my performance, but purely based on how it felt, I think I did about average.
I think that might have been the slowest comparative transition I've done. I'm usually pretty fast but I don't think that was the case today. In addition to taking off the wetsuit, I felt pretty dizzy and almost fell over when I put on my shoes. But, I'm pretty certain I wasn't the slowest either and I know I didn't miss placing in my age group because of it, so it's okay.
Since I had completely scoped out the transition area/run in/bike out layout I knew exactly where to find my bike and exactly where to go once I got it. Fantastic.
My friend told me the course was rolling the whole time. I didn't have a good concept of what she meant until I was out there. None of them were steep or long, but as soon as one ended another one started almost the whole time. I am NOT used to that. I shifted A LOT today-more than any other race ever!
My goal was to push the whole time-even if it meant I could not stand up when I got off the bike. All things considered, I think I did that. I passed more people than what passed me (a first), and I was only re-passed by 3 people (all three of whom I re-passed and stayed in front of-I think). At one point I was struggling a little. I said, out loud, "DIG DIG DIG". (If anyone was close enough to hear me, that may be why I wasn't passed as many times as usual!)
I kept telling myself it was only 16 miles...less than an hour. I've been teaching tough, climbing, Spin classes that last longer than an hour for a while now, so this should be old hat...piece of cake! My goal was to not leave anything on the course and be able to say I gave ALL I HAD today. Based on what I know right now, I think I did that. Now...let me say I know that when I learn how to suffer really well I'm certain I will have more to give but I can honestly say I haven't learned that yet. (More on that later, too.)
Again...because of my pre-race recon, I knew exactly where to go once I got into transition and where to go once I had my running stuff. Still not my fastest time in T2 (comparatively speaking) but, all-in-all, not horrible.
I'd like to only say one word: ROLLING. But, who am I kidding, there's no way I could only say one word!
I ran out of transition with a gal wearing pig-tails and a very fit-looking 50 year old man. The man looked strong so I decided to try to stay with him. It always helps me to have someone to pace off of, or to chase. I think once I get better at pacing (and suffering) this might not be the case, but that's what it is today. It turned out Pigtails and Fit-n-50 and I were pretty well matched in the run. Fit-n-50 had to walk some hills (obviously watching his heart rate) but ran faster on the down hills so he did this back and forth thing with us a good bit of the time.
I didn't wear my Garmin but I'm pretty certain the first mile was slow. After mile one I told myself I needed to pick it up. About that time I saw Coach Karen who was of course on mile 3 about to finish. She yelled out, "DANA!!! ARE YOU OKAY????" She sounded so concerned it made me wonder if I was bleeding somewhere or if I looked like I was limping!! I yelled back "I'M GREAT!!" I realized after a split second she thought I had started out 42d instead of 309th!! She had been looking for me the whole time and had been worried to death. I worried it might have hindered her performance until I found out she came in 2nd Masters (1st won bike several minute...I don't think the worry over my well-being made the difference--WHEW!).
As I neared the 2 mile mark I worried. I entered the water with two gals who I know are MUCH better swimmers than I am. One is MUCH faster than I am on the bike. But, I figured I am a faster runner than both of them so I hoped to have caught them at some point...but the course was an out-and-back and I had not seen either of them anywhere. Could they really have been that far in front of me???
About that time I saw one of them, she was about 1/2 mile ahead of me I'm guessing. She kindly said, "WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU, YOU BIG WUSS??? YOU'RE A FASTER RUNNER THAN I AM, YOU BETTER CATCH UP?? YOU CAN RUN FASTER THAN THAT--SPEED UP!!!" I love my hard-driving friends!! I yelled back at her, "OH, I'M COMING ALL RIGHT!! I'VE GOT YOUR NUMBER BABY AND I'M CALLING IT!!"...and promptly passed Pig-Tails and Fit-n-50 in my pursuit of catching up with (and passing) my friend.
About that time I came up to a gal with a star tatoo on each shoulder, I'll call her Rock Star. She was running strong so I latched on to her. We ran down a hill and then up a hill together. I "knew" she was going to leave me as soon as she said, "good job" because I couldn't say it back to her.
My one real regret at that point was not trying harder to stay with her. Instead I re-focused my attention on my friend who was only about 25 feet ahead of me, with one mile to go. I hooked her and started reeling her in as we went up a hill. She was holding her side so, with all the concern I had for her, I yelled out, "you better use that arm to get up this hill because I'm about to pass you!! COME ON--WE ONLY HAVE ONE MILE TO GO!!!"
We had talked earlier about willingness to suffer in a race. A longer race is a little easier because you really don't hurt the whole time as much as you "should" in a shorter race. The first time I heard a runner tell me a 5K hurts more than a marathon I though she was crazy. But it's true...you run much faster the short the distance therefore you suffer more, albeit for a shorter time. (So maybe the total "sufferage" is the same...but you get what I mean.) We talked about those people you see who cross the finish and completely collapse, and how we really want that experience. So, I added, "LET'S TURN IT ON, CROSS THE FINISH AND HAVE TO LAY DOWN!!"
I then passed her and proceeded to find a new target as she cheered me on.
My new target pair were both 40 years old-a man and a woman running together. We rounded the corner and a volunteer in a wheelchair cheered loudly for us saying, "around the corner and down the hill to the finish!!"
DOWN THE HILL???!!! Oh yeah baby, I can do this. About that time I realized this woman in my age group was another friend of mine. I yelled out to her that I was coming for her when, from out of no where, Pig Tails FLEW by me yelling, "COME ON!!"
OH YES!!!! I LOVE IT WHEN I HAVE SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO RACE TO THE FINISH!! She was a little ahead and we only had about 150-200 to go to the finish.
My first thought was, "I can't sprint that far...she got me." In a split second I remembered so many words from Macca's book "I'm Here to Win", coupled with the verse of the day I got this morning in my email ("I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Phil 4:13)...and my second thought was, "you will NOT beat me across that line" and I took off with ALL I HAD.
I'm pretty sure I heard some people cheering for me, but I didn't care. All I cared about was getting passed her before that line. And...I did! Coach Eric was right there saying "GREAT JOB". I couldn't talk!!! He held his arms out for a hug and I darn near collapsed!!! Now...it wasn't because I had gone hard the WHOLE time, but it's a start anyway! It took me several minutes to recover enough to even make sound other than the involuntary guttural gasping for air sound coming out of my throat. YEA!! Success!!
I'm going to write up a whole post about Pig Tails because I had the good fortune to meet her later and get some of her story and I think it's pretty cool!!
After my friends came in hot on my heels, I went to load up my bike. I told my the one I rode to the race with (the one who called me out for being a wuss and not running as hard as I could) that I wanted to say (before I saw any numbers at all) I felt I had just had one of my personal best races. I figure the times wouldn't be that great given the rolling hills, but only speaking in terms of making myself PUSH and feeling like I had in fact done just that, I think it was fairly decent.
When we checked the results I saw my time was right at 1:56 and I had come in 7th place in my age group. This is a smaller race so there were only like 11 of us...but that's okay. this race has been around for 30 years, chances are high at least some of the others have done it and knew the course (which in my mind gives at least a slight advantage).
I almost fell into the trap of allowing those numbers dictate my perception of the race, but I stopped because I remembered how I felt on the course. I "know" I could have/should have swam faster, but that will come as I give more effort in my swim workouts. I don't think I could have biked any faster today than what I did. I may have been able to run a tiny bit faster, but I didn't feel like I left anything that I knew I had on the course...and I had not given up when I thought Pig Tails was going to beat me.
All-in-all, today was a grand victory.
Now I'm going to look at my times! :D
Thanks for stopping in. Come again soon for the rest of the story about the swim, Pig Tails and to see if I keep feeling as victorious once I look at the data!