Monday, August 10, 2009
I took a hard recovery week last week. I was annihilated after my grueling 3-week "Final Push" block. Of course, in addition to resting, I was starving and exhausted, causing me to eat and sleep constantly. And, I was having the PMS week from hell. It was "the Perfect Storm". On Wednesday, I tried in vain to do masters swim. I got there late (unable to wake up on time) and feeling the size of a runty mouse. Overwhelmed by the 9, aggressive guys in lane 2 that I normally swim in, I slipped into the slow lane since there was only 1 other girl there, and started swimming. I wanted to swim with Brent, but he had been moved to an even faster lane. Which further deflated me. I forced my groggy arms to turn over in the water. I kicked my sluggish legs. After 1,000 meters, I'll feel better, I told myself. Like I always do. But I didn't. I felt worse and worse. And worse. After 2,000 meters, I got out. Sickie came over and asked what I was doing.
"I feel like crap."
"It's a recovery week. I'm coming off a big-volume week."
"Normally, you feel better the farther you swim."
"Not today. I feel worse the farther I swim."
"Huh. That's weird."
Panic rose in my throat. Great. That made me feel a lot better. As if sensing my unease, Sickie reassured me, "Don't worry. You'll recover by race day." I ran off to the locker room and once nestled safely inside, found a private shower stall, locked myself inside, and started sobbing. Brent later asked Sickie if he had seen me.
"She got out early. She didn't feel well."
"I'll have to give her crap about that,"Brent teased.
Sickie, normally always joking and poking fun, just shook his head, "No...no. I wouldn't do that....not a good idea." Thanks, Sickie! Nice to know someone's got my back.
That pretty much is a perfect example of how I felt all week. A basketcase. Ranting, raving, crying, depressed, hungry, tired, exhausted. Partly because I was so tired from all the training and partly because I couldn't work out as much. I didn't have my outlet. Whenever my training dips below 8-10 hours a week, watch out! I become a bear.
After complaining to Brent that I sucked and was slow and worthless and should just quit the sport of triathlon all together, I packed my gear bag and put on Torch's race wheels to prepare for the Camp Pendleton Sprint Triathlon. In the back of my head, I perked up. Maybe this was just the confidence booster I needed. I was well rested and needed something fun and easy to tackle. I had done this race at the end of the season last year, burnt out and without heart. In actuality, I had just wanted to sleep in that day. It would be fun to do it this year full of enthusiasm. I hadn't raced since California 70.3 in April; I was raring to go.
I found a great spot in transition, unpacked, met up with Brent and some other buddies and walked down to the beach for a practice swim. I felt calm, relaxed, and excited. Such a nice change from years prior where I was so nervous, I thought I would throw up! I chattered nonstop to my friends.
"I'm really fast on this course," I babbled, full of confidence, a complete 180 from the day before. Everyone looked at me with amusement. "Is that so?" they replied. I hushed up, feeling embarrassed. Now, I'd have to work even harder so as not to eat my cocky words.
As we swam out for the practice swim, I was rudely reminded of how choppy and violent the waves are on Camp Pendleton. This would not be easy, I thought to myself. We watched the first waves go; it took them a looong time to swim to the first buoy. Oh well. At least I won't be upset when I have a slow swim, I told myself. Everyone will!
Brent's wave left, and I plopped down on the beach to wait. I still had 30 minutes before my wave! Ugh! The worst part is the waiting! Can I go now? Now? How 'bout now? Finally, someone from my wave recognized me, and we started chatting. We're both talkers and, unfortunately, I was ill-prepared when the gun went off. I wish I had been more focused!
I surged into the waves and dove into the water....way too early. Everyone else was still standing. It was difficult to swim in the shallow water and manuever around all the other legs. A giant wave pounded over me, and I came up coughing and sputtering. Dammit! At least I won't need any extra electrolytes! I had been soundly humbled by the great majestic goddess, the Ocean. I started diving under wave after wave, swimming water-polo style out past the breakers....which took F-O-R-E-V-E-R. Then, finally, I started swimming, still gasping for breath, after working violently to fight the waves. The right side of my goggles was full of water. Ugh! Believe it or not, that's the first time that's ever happened to me! Feeling very protective of my contacts, I tried, futilely, to adjust my goggles. No good. They still leaked. Stupid goggles! Luckily, I swim equally well to both sides. I swam to the left side and focused on reaching the buoy. After much jostling, kicking, bumping, and dirty looks (sorry, gals, I didn't mean to!), I turned past the first buoy, sighted and started swimming the shortest distance (a straight line) to the 2nd buoy. I wanted to draft sooo badly but all the other gals were swimming high. I had to decide: swim farther with a draft, or swim shorter without a draft. Maybe I should have opted for the former but I'm not the best at drafting so I opted for the latter. I turned past the 2nd buoy and began swimming in. After getting pummeled by that first wave, I was very cautious, overly so, and swam each stroke while looking back over my shoulder to make sure I didn't get blindsided by a giant wave. The water got shallow very quickly, and I stood. It was still too deep to run efficiently, however, so I dolphin-dived into the next wave and body-surfed onto the beach. Way more fun! I then made my way to transition but not before being forced to run through deep sand for a 1/4 mile. Ugh!!! Huffing and puffing like a fat, out-of-shape smoker, I forced myself to do a pathetic jog into T1. I glanced at my watch. WTF? My swim was SO SLOW!!! Almost 15 minutes!!! I've never swam a 500 so slow in my life!!! (Later, after consulting with Brent and others, they all described similar times and experiences, making me feel a whole lot better).
I couldn't find my bike. This has never happened to me before. I can't believe I made such a rookie mistake! I was soundly humbled, yet again. I had erroneously relied on an orange cone by my rack as a marker but it had been moved!!! And some of the signs that labeled the racks had come down!!! I stood in the wrong rack, looking frantically around, thinking, Oh, my God. Someone stole my bike! I was about to have a hissy fit! Then, I looked 2 racks over and saw Torch, safely nestled among the other bike. I made my way over to him and shook my head in frustration as I put on my helmet, sunglasses, and shoes. I was very pissed at myself. On the bright side, my bike was one of the first out of my rack!
I felt awesome. I hadn't ridden all week, and my legs felt fresh. Hmmm. So this is what it feels like to have glycogen in your muscles. Since I had been one of the last waves to go, I enjoyed passing bike after bike on the course. Such a confidence boost! I worked very hard on the uphills and into the headwind, thoroughly enjoying how the aero helmet and race wheels sliced through the wind. Ahhhh, I've missed that. Time to take off the training wheels! After training on them for 6 months, it's absolute heaven to switch to such light, aerodynamic wheels. And I feel so speedy! I reached the turn-around and cruised in the tailwind coming back momentarily. Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! Three girls passed me. WTF? I guess I'd been daydreaming. Snapping back into it, I burned the engines and caught up to them. I need to focus more on the downhills and tailwinds on the bike! I work like a demon when it gets tough and then cruise on the easy parts. I trick myself into thinking, "This is fast enough. I'm going 20." And that's when I get passed. I got caught in a pack of girls and had a hard time getting around so as not to draft. We were all giving each other dirty looks; I know each of us was mad at the other for "drafting." It's so hard on a crowded course! Thankfully, a short, steep uphill loomed up ahead. Using all my hill training, I sprinted up the hill and surged ahead of the group. I wasn't bothered by them again. Another gal in compression tights zipped by; I let her go but kept her in my sights. She was a very good cyclist. I observed how she conserved her energy on the hills and then let loose near the top, instead of powering down (like I do when I hit it too hard at the beginning of the hill). I cruised into T2 right behind her. My average was 18.8, faster than last year! I felt terrific.
After a quick T2, I toiled up the long (only 1/4 mile) hill out of transition. A hill right off the bat? How cruel! I tried to settle in and let the jelly feeling work itself out of my legs. I knew it would get easier after the hill. Thankfully, by the top, my legs were feeling better and better. I picked up the tempo, grabbed a cup of water, gulped it down, and began accelerating. I was amazed at how good my legs were feeling all of a sudden. Must be all the 5K cross-country "races" I've been doing lately. My feet were light and quick; my legs springy. I passed tons of people, including the amazing cyclist I had tailed on the bike! My confidence, regained, I surged ahead. I focused on running just hard enough to make myself have to work; my breath was quick but still rhythmic, my legs quick and springy. When I would push too hard, my breath would become raspy and my legs would feel like noodles. I'd pull back a little, recover, and surge forward again. Oh, yeah. I love this part! It was actually a lot of fun. Running is my favorite. I surged down the finishing chute with as much kick as I could muster (not much), and then let the marines take my chip off (I knew if I bent over I would puke and pass out). According to my watch, I managed sub-8:00s (still waiting for the official splits).
Total Time: 1:43:34
All in all, I had a FANTASTIC time. This was just what I needed to boost my confidence and get me back on track. Later, I found out I placed 4th in my AG! If I had been 1:06 faster, I could have medaled!!! I've never been so close to medaling before in San Diego. I'm super stoked! I know I could have gone a little over a minute faster! Last year, even though I was burnt out and didn't care, my time was :20 faster. I need to be more focused at the start and more efficient in transitions. I guess I've let this slip because I keep telling myself transitions don't matter in an Ironman but it all counts! This race was just about having fun, and I did that. However, if I'd worked just a little harder, I could have medaled! I want to try just a little bit harder next time. Be a little more focused. I think I could have earned that minute with a better swim and T1 and T2. I know it!