Monday, June 26, 2006

I Survived!

Detailed Race Report--San Diego International Triathlon
Pre-Race Prep:
Alarm went off at 4:00 am, only 5.5 hours after going to sleep. Adrenaline began pumping right away. Had no difficulty getting out of bed and even actually slept well the night before. Jumped in the shower to try and wake up. Must not have worked because it took me 15 minutes of fooling with my contacts before I realized I was putting 2 contacts in the same eye. Hmmm. That could be a problem.
Got to the race site in plenty of time. Felt relatively at ease since bike was already set up in transition area. Plus, I had memorized every intimate detail of the transition area, course, and lay-out the day before, which helped immensely. I had diagrams mapped out and lists and schedules. I had driven the bike course and measured the distances of every turn and hill. I had studied them and practiced mental imagery, picturing everything in my head. I knew everything by heart:
"Pink towel on bike. All the way in back on left by water, 2nd row of my wave, by "No Parking" sign. If reach blue trash can, have gone 2 rows too far. Swim course was 6 buoys on right shoulder going out, turn, swim 50m, 5 buoys on right coming back, last buoy on left as turn towards shore (mentally altered this to 4 buoys out and 3 back on race-day since race organizers diagrammed more buoys than they set out. Boo!). Bike course was a hard left turn, 1 mile straight, left turn, 0.2 miles, right turn, 0.2 miles left turn, immediate right turn, 1.2 miles up worst hill on course, left turn, rolling hills 6 miles, turn-around, 3 miles, turn-around, 3 miles-turn around, then back." And so on...
Needless to say, I was ready. Even though I got to the race site in plenty of time, time flew. Before I knew it, I was in the water, warming up. Ready to go. The water felt good. 68 degrees. Calm. Ear plugs in? Check. Swim cap on? Check. Goggles? Check. Wetsuit? Check. All systems go. At this point, I began to relax. I realized there was nothing more I could do. It was time.
I started out very calmly and found my rhythm. I swam on the outside, preferring to have space rather than get run over. I soon found myself in the back of my wave. "Oh, well. Just go my own pace," I told myself. My rhythm and breathing were even and steady but my shoulders began to get sore very quickly. At 500m, they had begun to ache. I felt like I was swimming through molasses. Was there a current? The guys on the boat had said something about starting upstream. That confused me. The water looked so calm. "Just keep swimming," I sang to myself in Finding Nemo fashion. I began breathing on my left side to alleviate the ache in my shoulders. Aaah. Much better. Unfortunately, since I was not swimming in a crowd like usual, I had to rely on sighting the buoys to swim straight, which I still don't trust myself to do. Since the buoys were on my right, I kept having to switch sides to make sure I was on course. Outcome? I stayed on course but probably sighted too much out of anxiety.
Turned at the yellow buoys. Finally. That took a long time. Okay. Halfway done. I could see little fishies and saltwater grass growing underneath. Cool. The fast swimmers in the wave behind me surged ahead, knocking me aside very aggressively. No worries. Just keep swimming. Sighting became very challenging as the sun came out from behind the clouds, blinding me as I looked right. Sore shoulders. No matter. Only need them for the swim. Finally, I reached the yellow buoy and turned left. Wow. That last buoy came up fast! I hit sand once. Twice. Three times. Stood up and groggily ran onto the shore.
Wetsuit zipper undone. Get top half off. Run at same time. Kind of like patting your head and rubbing your belly at the same time. Goggles off, cap off, ear plugs out, good. Still jogging. And jogging, and jogging, and jogging. Jeez my bike was a long ways away. All the way at the end. Dodging other competitors in the transition area as I weaved my way to the bike. Okay. Rest of wetsuit off. Stomp on towel while putting sunglasses on, helmet on, then socks, then shoes. Grab bike and trot towards mounting area. Trotting and trotting and trotting. And trotting. Mounting area a long way away. Very proud for being able to run so far in my bike shoes. Clip in and I'm off.
The bike felt great. Simply awesome. I was flying. Knew exactly what to expect and anticipate from my detailed course overview the day before. I had been so freaked by the "hilly" course. Everyone said how hilly it was. It wasn't bad at all, which pleasantly surprised me. The nice part about hills is that after going up, you get to go down! Going out to the Cabrillo National Monument (which was beautiful, by the way) was all uphill. Coming back was all doooown. Awesome. Hit 35 mph at one point. This was the best part of the entire race. Only funny thing is that the course was supposed to be 23 miles and my cyclometer only registered 18. Hmmm. Odd.
T2: Popped on shoes, and I'm off!
My legs had that familiar dead feeling so I was mentally prepared. I have been upping my mileage lately so that helped also. It was all on sidewalks so my knees took a beating. Everything ached. Good thing I had my new orthotics. I started to feel better and better. I felt more "warmed up" after the first mile and found my stride. However, I could definitely feel fatigue setting in. It took me more effort and focus to stay in my zone and maintain good running form.
Hit my high between mile 2-4. A blister set in on my right arch. Dammit! Wet feet, plus worn socks, plus new orthotics = new hole ripped in foot. Guess that CoolMax stuff does wear out eventually. "Focus, focus. I can do this. Running's my thing." I shifted my attention away from my burning foot and listened to my footfalls. Aaah. That's better. Breathing slow and even? Check. Stride rhythmic, even tempo? Check. Head up, shoulders down, feet under me? Check. Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle. Just keep moving forward. Every step forward counts. Left foot, right foot, left foot right foot.
Mile 4. I felt the urge to walk but I knew if I did it would only make it harder. Psychologically, I was verrry tired. I kept pushing. I just knew I could do it physically. My stomach started cramping up. Every time I would feel "perky" and pick up the pace, my stomach complained. Then I would slow down a bit. My stomach calmed down. I picked up the pace. We fought back and forth like that for the last 2 miles.
"You're going too fast."
"No, I'm not. My breathing is nice and slow. My legs are turning over faster and they don't burn. I can go faster."
"No, you can't."
"Yes, I can!"
"Well, actually, nuh-ah. You can't."
"Dammit! Why do you always ruin everything?"
At mile 5, I perked up. The woman next to me urged me on, "C'mon. Only 1 more mile. We can do more mile." She was great. "Yeah. I can do 1 more mile." I picked up the pace. It seemed to get very hot right about then. Why did the breeze have to stop just then? Okay, where's the finish? Where IS IT? That last 1/2 mile is always the longest. Suddenly I was running down the chute with everyone cheering me on. I crossed the finish line and completed my first Olympic distance triathlon.
The Aftermath:
I felt surprisingly okay as I walked around. I glanced at the red ambulance and smiled. I don't need you today! I was thirsty and sipped on some water. My stomach kept cramping up. I had to sip soooo slowly. This isn't a new thing for my stomach. It's a whiny, complaining, brat. It always cramps up. I'm pretty lucky if that's all it does. I envy people with iron guts. Hunger began to set in. I salivated over the freshly cut oranges. There was a whole smorgasboard of post-race food but I only wanted oranges. Funny how your body's needs just take over after such a physically demanding event. Again, I had to nibble very slowly in between stomach cramps. Within the hour, my stomach calmed down and fatigue set in.
Spent the rest of the day napping, relaxing, eating, and stretching. I could only eat little bits at a time all day. I would be famished, eat a little something and then be full. 30 minutes later, repeat. Weird. I thought I would be extremely sore today but I'm just achy. A little tired. That's about it. All I can say is, when's the next one?
Official split times are coming later. Swim took about 20 minutes or so, bike about 1 hr, and run about 55 minutes. Overall, I finished in about 2.5 hours, a whole 30 minutes less than I anticipated (even though it was about 30 minutes slower than 2/3 of the competitors there--How do they do that?!). I am verry happy with how it went. It couldn't have really gone any better. I just focused on myself and nothing else. My goal was to go out and do my best, have fun with it, and finish feeling good. Mission accomplished. Sure, I need to work on lots of things but right now, what I need most is experience. And that can only come with time, patience, and more of what I'm doing. I can do that.


Jack said...

Mission accomplished, congratulations! Awesome report, I was sure to take notes for when I finally get the nerve to try a tri. Feel good, you did great!

Cliff said...

Way to go girl..u did it.

It ain't that bad right? U have a hell fo a good time from the way you wrote this post.

Good work in checking the transition and race course before hand. That always calm my mind.

Barb said...

Nice job! You give me hope that maybe someday I will be able to complete the swim of an international/ olympic distance race. Just gotta have the guts to get out there and do it!

One of the things I love about this sport is there is always something to work on! We never get bored!

Half Ironman next?

jessie_tri_mn said...

I've never known anyone to be as mentally prepared for a race as you were for this one!

Great report! Great Race! You rocked out there :)

Ken Schulz said...

I think the best part of this story was the internal struggle. Congrats on completing your first Olympic. Soon you'll be doing Half IM distance like they are a walk in the park! Keep up the training and keep on writing about it!

Jessi said...

Woohoo! Congrats on your first Olympic! Loved the detailed race report too!

Chris said...

Congrats on your first oly done! Who cares what anyone else did? You beat your own guesstimate by 30 minutes. That's totally awesome! :)

Veeg said...

Congrats -- that's OUTSTANDING for your first Oly! Great job. :)

qcmier said...

Great job!!!

JeffM said...

Fantastic time for an Olympic! Sounds like your preparation paid off.

Habeela said...

Sounds like you were in the zone for this one on all fronts! Awesome job! :D

Paul said...

That's some seriously detailed prep work. Good job and way to excute on your race plan!

Britney said...

Wow! Way to go beating your estimated time by 30 minutes!

jameson said...

killer race and report. knowing what to expect out of the bike course is key. i usually lay in bed the night before the race do the whole race in my head. It helps so much. Seriously... good job on the first OLY. I am doing Camp Pendleton on 7/15 and it will be my first OLY... can't wait! keep it up! What's next?

Anonymous said...

Super good job. It sounds like the triathalons are coming along "swimmingly" ok that was a bad pun, but its the best than I can think of while I'm babysitting a gel :)

Seth G

Anonymous said...

Awesome, I felt like I was right there on the course. What a great report. Way to go in the race.

I know how those internal conversations go. Last weekend in the heat, it was between me and my bike (bike won).