Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I Won the Day.

I raced the Santa Barbara Triathlon Long Course in 2005 for the first time. With a time of 3:49:04, I placed 3rd in my age group. I was in utter disbelief! I knew my times were decent, but amazed that they were enough to earn an age group award.

Last year's time doesn't really count for me because of the bike mechanical I had (though I did have a kick-ass run - prob due to the rest I had on the bike!).

Cut to 2008. It hasn't exactly been 'my' year. Race times have been alright, but I suppose I kept thinking I had something better in me. Like I was supposed to continue to dramatically improve somehow. I don't really know. I kept saying 2008 was the year of triathlon for me. But 2008 has been a year of change for me, to put it simply.

With Vineman over with, I decided to take a different approach to the Santa Barbara Triathlon. No expectations. No time goals. No fantasies of age group podium spots. I decided I simply didn't care. About any of it.

My real goal was to bring back that attitude from last year that no matter what happened, I would enjoy myself, I would give it my all and I could walk away knowing that I could be proud because I did my best. That if I did all of that, I would win the day regardless of the results.

My breakdowns were this:

Swim: 28:24 (1 mile; 1:37 pace)
T1: 2:30
Bike: 1:46:43 (34 miles; 19.12 mph)
T2: 3:17 (um...there was a mandatory bathroom stop for me...let's just say the timing of this race didn't really seem to coincide well with my female cycle timing...GRRRR!)
Run: 1:24:58 (10 miles; 8:30 min/mile)

Overall time: 3:45:35

I bettered my time from 2 years ago by 3 minutes and 40 seconds...and I placed 17TH!!!!!!

Which goes to show...this race got WAAAY more competitive. I remember last year looking at the times and noticing that if I had done the same time as the year prior, I wouldn't have placed, either. But it wasn't quite as competitive as this year. The women who won my age group came in at 3:18, 3:23 and 3:24. Insane.

Instead of being disappointed, though, I was ecstatic. I had a fantastic race. The run was a bit slower than I'd hoped, but overall, I walked away thinking "I really did win my day. I REALLY DID have the best time at a race than I've had all year long. That was so awesome and I can't wait to do it again!"

So the race itself - how was it?
Pre-Race Tri Ladies:
Michelle, Mary Lou, Elise, Heather, Me

Pre-race I was a little nervous. Couldn't figure out why, but nevertheless was itching to get going. I always wonder what will happen on the swim, how I'll feel once on the bike, etc.

But before I knew it, it was time to go! Into the water we went. I concentrated really hard on 3 things: 1) Keeping my 'ribs back,' as my coach says; 2) Keeping my elbows up as I pulled; 3) Keeping my head nice and low as I breathed. Additionally, I wanted to push a little harder than I usually do. It was only a mile and I knew that I needed to simply increase my stroke rate a little.

As I leapt onto the beach, my watch was showing 28:00 - WHOA!!! This was awesome! I do think we had some tides working with us because everybody seemed to have faster times than last year, but I'll take it. One of the advantages of ocean swims - always different one year to the next.

Grabbing my bike, I suddenly realized something - my timing chip was sitting on my bike - NOT my ankle! HA!! I grabbed the chip and wrapped it around my ankle. Maybe I had taken this 'chill out' attitude a little too far.

Onto the bike. I was smiling from the inside out. I was so excited. Then about 5 minutes in, the quads began to burn. I thought "ooohh, come on bike legs! Hurry up and get here! I need you now!" I knew it would be especially fierce here because the beginning of this bike ride has a good amount of climbing. But I pushed through and tried to be patient for my bike legs to arrive, enduring the pain that came with every little incline.

After about 30 minutes, the bike legs decided to come out and play. I began to consider that maybe that century last weekend wasn't so smart and I probably should've ridden the 65 miles instead. In any case, I pushed on and it was good. I just love cycling and today was no different. I was passed early on by a few women from my age group who looked visibly...well...STRONG!! They were zooming by going UP a hill and I was just like "wow...you go, girls!!"

At one point we were stopped for a good 20-30 seconds due to the oncoming bike traffic (the course crosses itself). I was like "oh, what's 20 seconds?" [Later I realized that those 20 seconds, plus my bathroom break in T2 probably added up to about a minute...and looking at the results...a minute makes a difference!]

The one horrible part of the race came about halfway through. We were coming down a pretty sketchy descent - the road has always been torn up, and I'd heard this year it was even worse. I knew I'd have to take it a little slower than usual.

I saw the usual person telling people to take it easy on the descent. But I knew something was wrong when cyclists began to REALLY slow down, almost to a stop. Coming around the corner, I was shocked to see a woman lying on the ground. I really hoped it was just a scraped knee or something but my eyes were telling me otherwise.

As I slowly moved past, I heard a man saying to her "come on, stay with me. Don't leave us, stay with us!"

My mind raced and I began to be overcome with emotion. Damn this road!! I remembered people crashing on it last year or the year before, but thankfully nothing serious. Now this. As I turned the corner and made an effort to clear my mind, a fire truck began to rush toward me. I sent my thoughts the woman's way, gulped down my sadness and pushed on.

After that, I just made my best effort to get back to T2! I pushed hard. The quads were burning but I didn't care. I knew there was a big climb coming up but after that I could really zoom back to the beach. Zoom, I did - before I knew it, I was back on the home stretch! I smiled and as I came in with a guy next to me, I said "ready to RUN?!" He said "if you would've asked me that on the long downhill, I would've said sure." I said "well at least we have great scenery to inspire us! Good luck!"

T2 sucked. I felt all out of sorts because I was trying to be faster than usual because I knew I had to make a quick bathroom stop before I left so I wanted to make up time, but I ended up half-tripping over my bike and ugh! I cursed the timing of aunt flo, made my bathroom stop and ran out of T2 - THREE EFFING MINUTES! I knew that was a good 40 seconds right there.

Still, I put the smile back on and zoomed onto the course. It was still overcast with fog but I knew the sun would be out soon. I felt so grateful to be out there, running with the ocean to my left, spirits high and not a care in the world except to go hard and not have anything left by the end!

First mile was about 8:00. Cool. Second mile was 7:00. Whoa, slow it down, woman! Quads really burning again. As in, wow, I've got another 8 miles of burning quads, nice. Third mile came in about 8:40, but that had an uphill so I was okay with that. Fourth mile was around 8:30. Fatigue setting in, sun coming out. I knew I was going to have to work for this!

Between miles 4-5, my friends Heather and Elise caught me. I tried to keep Heather in sight for as long as I could, but she was running a good pace. Mile 5 clocked in around 8:17. I knew that if I could just get to mile 6 (there's about a 0.25 mile uphill at the beginning of mile 5) with an 8:30 and do the rest between 8-8:10, I'd be happy with that, and it shouldn't be bad since it would be all flat or downhill. Easy, right?

Well, my power seemed to be vanishing with every step. I knew that I could push a little harder breath-wise, but my quads just didn't have it in them to go any faster. I thought "wow, instead of compression socks, maybe I could use some compression shorts." It's always my quads, not my calves, that get tired first.

In any case, I vowed to just remain as strong as possible and give it my all without wussing out. Even if I slowed a little, as long as I was pushing as hard as I could, and feeling a small amount of pain, I would still be proud of myself.

So, I did. And I was. I ran through that finish line like a superstar and exalted in that amazing feeling we all know and love that is BEING DONE!

And that was it. It was a great day. I had an awesome time, I pushed hard, I beat the mind game, I enjoyed my surroundings and I really just had fun. It seemed to be over before I knew it and I was sort of perplexed at how it sort of just 'flew' by.

I really believe this was my most successful race so far this year. THANK YOU everybody for all the support!

Tri-Ladies of the weekend:
Heather, Me, Mary Lou, Elise and Michelle


Rainmaker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rainmaker said...

(This time without my day's to-do list)

"I suddenly realized something - my timing chip was sitting on my bike - NOT my ankle!"

Haha...during the pre-race brief this weekend the race director reminded folks in a rather funny way that the chip doesn't work very well when not attached to you. Hilarious to see ya do this. Although...I assure you it's only a matter of time before I do the same (or one-up you somehow)

Lee said...

What a great day! You know that if your quads don't hurt, you're not pushing hard enough. Congrats on beating your previous time and winnning the mind game.

Paul said...

Nice work out there!! I've gotta do this race next year.

tracie said...

great job!!! :)

glad to hear you had a great time!