Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Redemption, Progression, and Determination

“Your attitude, not our aptitude, will determine your altitude.”  Zig Ziglar

I know, I know, I know….this post is way overdue.  I definitely need to do better.  So to be economical I’m combining all 3 race reports into this post.  As always, thanks for reading.

Redemption – Monticelloman Olympic Triathlon – 3:32 (May 5)
The first time I attempted this race I DNF’d.  I did not make the swim’s 50 minute time cut-off.  After having my pity party, I was determined to come back and redeem myself.  The morning of the race I was feeling pretty confident as my husband and I traveled to the race site.  My confidence soon faded as I made my way to the transition area and saw Lake Monticello.

Fear and self-doubt rushed through me.  A part of me was ready to turn around and go back to my friends’ house.  I was afraid that I was going to DNF again.  Once I finished setting up my transition area and getting my stuff for the swim, I walked over to my husband.  He could see I was on edge and began giving me one of his pep talks.  When we got to the beach, my husband held me close and said a prayer over me and all of the participants. SN – I LOVE my husband! 

The race began with the United Athletics team of Jenna and Craig.  Jenna is a very special young lady who has been partnered with Craig to race with her in her first open water tri.  Jenna sits in a raft and Craig pulls her through the water as he swims.  It made my heart full watching them take off.  It also distracted me from my own nervousness.  One by one each wave entered the water.  When it was time for my wave to go, I waited for everyone to get in the water first.  I took a deep breath, walked into the water, and started the swim.

At the beginning of my swim parts of John 14:27 (Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid) kept going through my mind.  I didn’t have a panic attack and I actually found myself enjoying the swim.  The only concern I had was making the 50 minute time cut-off.  So I pushed myself a little bit more than I should have, but I didn’t care.  My only goal that day was completing the swim.  Anything else was gravy.  When I exited the water I raised my hands in the air, thanked God, and kept screaming, “No DNF for me!”  I made it through the swim in 45:01!

I had some trouble during the very hilly bike, but that was because I had pushed a little too hard during the swim.  I was able to regroup and have a solid run (1:05).  Overall I was very pleased with myself.

All Smiles!

Progression – Ground Force IT Power Sprint – 1:24 (May 19)
This was my breakout race!  I improved my time for all 3 disciplines.  I am the most proud of my swim and bike splits.  I dropped my swim time by almost 3 minutes from the previous year.  Thanks to my sponsor, CycleOps, I have been using my trainer to get more comfortable in aero.  I was able to hammer it and average a pace of 18.24 mph over the 12 mile course.  This race proved to me that I definitely have potential to be a competitive triathlete.  It also confirmed that my hard work combined with my weight loss was paying off.

 Going Fast!

Determination – Ironman 70.3 Raleigh – 7:42 (June 2)
Raleigh truly broke me down.  The race was an uphill battle from the start!  The swim was in Jordan Lake and the course was triangular shape.  I was hoping that the water would be calm like Lake Monticello.  It was for the first 1/3 of the course, but once I came around the first turn buoy, I felt like I was swimming in a washer machine.  The water was so choppy!  I really had to focus on my stroke to make sure I was pulling through the water effectively and efficiently.  Furthermore, I had to sight more than usual to make sure I did not get off course.  Unfortunately there were some people that had a very difficult time during the swim.  I saw people going off course, while others were asking for assistance from the numerous kayakers. 

I would be lying if I stated that I was not worried about DNF’ing because of the swim.  I had to pop-up once because the water had gotten so chaotic and I had felt a panic attack coming on.  Once things had calmed down, I went right back at it.  There were people grabbing on to me and bumping me.  I pushed several people off of me.  This swim was not ideal for someone like me who manages swimming induced panic attacks.  By God’s grace and me keeping my wits about me, I was able to complete the 1.2 mile swim in 59:38.  My goal was to complete the swim in an hour.  Goal accomplished!

Besides having to deal with the brutal heat, I enjoyed the first 36 miles of the bike course.  The course contained rolling hills with some flat stretches that I could really hammer on while in aero.  The last 20 miles… big hill after another.  I did my best to use the momentum from the previous hill to get up the next hill.  I’m so glad that I spent the extra money to rent race wheels.  They definitely made a difference.  I have started a race wheel fund and I will gladly take donations. 

I was so glad to see T2!  I wanted to be off my bike even though I was not looking forward to 13.1 miles I had to run next.  As I started the run I realized how drained I was.  The day had gone from being comfortable to downright hot.  I know the temperature had risen up to 90+ degrees during the bike.  The sun had literally been beating me down.  About 5 minutes into my run my beloved coach ran up beside me.  She told me how proud she was of me and that I was doing so well.  She ran with me for almost a ½ mile and dropped off.  One of my teammates, Travis, took her place and ran with me for a bit.  Travis told me my swim split and said that my bike split was good too.  Knowing that I had decent splits gave me a short-lived boost.

It was so hot on the run course, I think I saw Satan trying to find shade, and the hills just kept coming one after another.  Even though my body wasn’t hurting, my brain was.  It kept trying to make my body stop, but I kept pushing forward.  I had gotten too far into the run when I started to break down mentally.  I did not see how I was going to make it through the run.  I was ready to throw in the towel and give up.  Fortunately for me that run course was an out and back.  So as my faster teammates were nearing the end of the run, they would pass by and encourage me.  One of teammates, who I call Grumpy Jon, really surprised me.  When he saw he ran across the road and said, “I’m so glad that you made it through the swim.”  He then gave me a big hug and asked me how I was doing.  I started to cry and told him I didn’t think I was going to make it.  He told me to “harden the f*ck up” and that I was going to be fine.  He slapped me on my butt and sent me on my way.  That was my turning point. 
I knew I wasn’t going to make my goal for the run and that I would have to adjust my run/walk ratio.  I accepted those facts and just took the race one mile at a time.  I made numerous deals with myself.  I would allow myself to walk in the sun as long as I ran in the shade.  I could walk up the hills as long as I ran down the hills.  I stopped at EVERY waterstop to make sure I stayed hydrated.  As each mile passed I noticed I was not the only that was walking.  There were groups of people walking together, encouraging each other.  I was not the only one suffering.  The heat was wrecking havoc on just about everyone.  Knowing that brought me comfort.

With less than 2 miles to go I heard this cowbell.  Normally I would not have paid it any mind, but I looked to see who was ringing the bell.  It was my husband!  One of my other teammates had told him I had been crying on the course, and he felt it was his duty as my husband to find me on the run course to see if I was ok.  He ran/walked with me for several minutes while ringing his cowbell, giving me encouragement, and talking crazy to distract me.  At one point during our run/walk I told him if he did not stop ringing that cowbell and shut-up, I was going to kill him.  He didn’t pay me any mind, which was a good thing.  I needed him, but I was just in too much pain at the time to realize it.        

After keeping me company for about 10 minutes, my husband told me he would see me at the finish line.  I was on my on again.  With less than a mile ago my coach reappears.  She runs with me just for a few minutes to tell me that I’m doing great and her name for me is “consistent.”  She peels off with about 400 meters before the finish line chute.  I have NEVER been so happy to see a finish line in my life!  Even though I wanted to walk, I was determined to run down the finish line shoot, even if my run was only a jog.  As I came down the chute I could hear people cheering for me.  I started to pick up my pace.  I ALWAYS finish my races by sprinting across the finish line.  I was so tired and worn out that I didn’t think I had anything left in tank.  I dug deep, I mean reeeaaaaalllllly deep and sprinted for about the last 50 meters.  The crowd erupted and I heard the announcer say my name.  It was the best feeling coming across that finish line.  After battling for 7:42:33 (a PR for me) and pushing my body to its limits, I definitely want to do Ironman 140.6 Mont Treblant.  I’m ready to step up to the challenge of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 run.

 This medal was hard earned!

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