Monday, August 3, 2015

An Exercise in Relentless Forward Progress: Jack's Generic Tri

Olympic triathlons are not new to me. In fact, they're my second-favorite distance after a 70.3. They're long enough to take work without having to go so fast you can't breath (sprints!)

So why, you might ask, would an intermediate distance tri such as Jack's Generic Tri warrant an "excercise in relentless forward progress?" Two main reasons: I had a horrendous chest cold, and it was hot as hell outside.

No, racing when you are sick is not a good idea. I spent a week surfing in Nicaragua and felt amazing, only to come down with something thanks to cootie-carriers on the airplane and felt pretty crappy the entire week leading to the race. I took some medicine on Saturday and seemed to be feeling better, even running a 5k in under 30mins, which was great for me considering the weather! I took the same medicine Sunday morning and this may have been my downfall. :|

We got up Sunday morning and left for Pflugerville (for the second time this season) and arrived at about 6am, plenty of time to set up a transition area and warm up. The medicine was making me a little jittery, but I wasn't sure if that was just nerves or not. I put a lot of pressure on myself for this race- I had my Tri Series lead, but knew it was tenative since I was only ahead five minutes. I had taken it very easy (being sick helped force me to do that!) the week leading to the race and felt determined to push as hard as I could.

Pre-race photo with the girls.
My four other girlfriends racing were all doing the sprint, so they got to cheer me on early since my wave began over a half an hour before theirs.  Two of them were competing in their very first tris! (Congrats, ladies!)

The swim was a time-trial start through a corral, and for the Olympic, it was an out-and-back that had to be repeated in two loops. The race directors had to modify the course to accommodate where they could trim the massive crop of Hydrilla, so while not ideal, it was better than getting pulled down by a swamp-creature's worth of aquatic plants.

The swim started with a splash for me- my right goggle leaked from hitting the water too hard, but once I emptied it they were fine and I swam the course in 22m25sec- very steady with what I'd been doing all summer. I ditched my Zoot top I'd worn to reduce drag and raced the rest of the day in a sports bra and shorts. Best decision I made all day!
Entering the water for the first loop
T1 is a LONG run from the lake to the parking lot, but I got to my rack and grabbed my bike, helmet, and sunglasses quickly. I feel like such a jerk, but accidentally knocked the helmet and stuff inside it off the bike next to mine. They had rested their helmet between their aero bars without any security- makes it faster to grab, but with how crammed our bikes were, my elbow bumped it and that was it. I tried to gather her things up, at least!

Getting ready to mount! (Bryce didn't video, sadly!)

My flying mount on the bike went much more smoothly than it did at Lake Pflugerville tri, and I was off on the 2-loop, 26 mile course. From the get-go, I knew something was up. My stomach was rolling and I couldn't get comfortable. I felt nauseous. A very smart nurse friend of mine had warned me that the meds I took would dehydrate me. I tried really hard to compensate for that, and drank almost my entire 40oz bottle on the bike, but nothing made my tummy happy. I was able to stomach a mini Luna bar, but that was it. I still finished with an average speed of 18.3mph, making my time 1:24:25. I was a little bummed, but knew my competition in the series never rode faster than 17ish mph, so I was OK. Shake it off, time to run.
Returning from the bike. Check my nasty feet out.

I started with high hopes, but half a mile in to the run I was so sick I was TRYING to puke to make it go away. I knew going in to this race that the key to holding my lead was to NOT WALK on the run, so when my pace slowed, I knew my day was done, and was so frustrated.

You can see it on my face- did not feel well!
I knew it was whatever had me sick making me feel the way I felt. Ironman Texas was hot and tough, but this is the first race I've ever seriously considered DNFing. I felt awful. My friend caught up with me on the run and knew right away I felt seriously bad when she found out I was only on my first loop. I knew if I quit, I'd be out of the running for the series completely, and didn't want that, most especially because I didn't want to have to try again with all of these races next season. So I stuck with it, plugging out mile after mile, mostly walking, but running when I could. Telling myself, "You CAN run half a mile, you CAN do that."

Bryce had brought his mountain bike and found me throughout the course, even handing me water at an aid station. He kept saying, "you're doing great, baby, keep pushing." I finally stopped and looked at him and said, "I'm NOT doing great, it's ok, I know I'm not. But I'm going to finish."

I pushed as hard as I could- I really did. I ran two miles of the second loop, which means if anything, I had a negative run split. But, considering my run pace was about a 14 minute/mile, that's not very impressive. I know, at least, that I pushed absolutely as hard as I could.

All said and done, I finished in 3:13:50 seconds. I almost cried when I saw my results. I know it's important to remember that at least I DID it and I DIDN'T quit, and hey, it was HOT outside and that course had no shade- it was tough! However, I'm a better athlete than that, and I know I could have done so much better, maybe even have increased my lead. Instead, I am now down by 19:48 total.

I have two races to make up that time. It is a LONG shot to think I will, but I can try. I plan on making a 20mile bike/6 mile run brick a weekly requirement until my redemption attempt at TriRock Austin on Labor Day. The last race is a 70.3- a distance I now feel very strong at. Who knows, I might be able to take back 1st place, but if nothing else, it'll be a 2nd place finish, which is where I'm always seeming to land when I make it at all! I'm really frustrated and disappointed, but it's time to focus on doing better and controlling what I can.

The good news is, I didn't puke.

Post-race group photo. Less clothing, and lots more sweat, but plenty of bling! (And, a plunger?)

To rev myself up today, I signed up for Ironman Boulder- nothing like dreaming about a beautiful race that's a year away to distract you from track workouts in 100-degree weather!

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