Sunday, June 27, 2010

Third Tri's a Charm

I am spent. I did my third triathlon today, the Iron Girl Atlanta. It was my second Iron Girl event, and I'm glad I registered for it. I had a different experience than last year, when I was like a Muppet on crack - SUPER excited, all day, even after the race when I was really, really, really tired. Today, however, was a day of high's and low's. I still enjoyed the experience, but it was a completely different one than last year's.

Let's start at the beginning: yesterday. We attended a pool party, at which I (smartly) decided not to partake in any alcoholic beverages or food (burgers, hot dogs, the usual... although it looked super tasty), but Dave rather enjoyed himself. So much so, in fact, that he was awake all night dealing with "stomach issues." Thanks to his being awake at 3:40 am, he noticed that I wasn't up at 3:30, as he thought I was supposed to be, and he was able to wake me up in time to get on the road by 4 am. Didn't you set an alarm, you ask? Of course. But on the iPhone, you can set the DAY you want to wake up at particular times, not just the time. So, I made a huge error yesterday in setting my alarm for 3:45 am on SATURDAY instead of Sunday. How many PhD's does it take to set an alarm clock?

When things like this happen, it reminds me that everything always works out the exact way they're supposed to. High point!

Before jumping in the water, I was crazy nervous. Terrified. It was the same feeling I had at Iron Girl last year; oddly enough, I wasn't that nervous before the triathlon I did earlier in the month. Maybe it's because Karl was freaking me out yesterday with talk of crocodiles in Lake Lanier, or maybe it's just because I realized that I've trained for 2 years for triathlons, and the event day is the culmination of all the hard work I've done for the year, so I felt extra pressure to meet my goal of finishing in under 2 hours. It's also super easy to become insecure waiting around to jump in the lake, especially if you're like me and prone to social comparisons. There are people of all body types who compete in triathlons, and I think part of the process if you're an athlete of any kind is accepting the body that you have - the one that God has so graciously provided for you to use while you're here on this earth, the one you've spent countless hours training with in order to prepare you physically for the day, the one that you've hopefully fueled properly with good nutrition - and trusting it to do its job for you on race day, which is to finish strong, in the very best time that you possibly can. Still, it's sometimes difficult to accept that all the training in the world won't necessarily translate to a stereotypical, ripped physique. I'm looking at you, fellow 29-year-old who was about 6' and 115 pounds with incredible muscle tone... or 46-year-old who was closer to my height but had abs of steel... Here we have a "low point" as a result of nerves, self-doubt, insecurity and social comparison.

Related side note: I weighed myself on Friday for the first time since December 31. It was my new year's resolution to stop obsessing with how much I weighed, and start focusing instead on how I felt, listening to what my body told me it needed as far as food goes, and letting biology figure out the rest. I will say that I've gained weight (I'm now at 131) and lost body fat percentage (hanging in there at 22.2%). I have felt better, mentally and physically, the past 6 months than I've felt in a long time, I've had time to worry about more important things in life, and I've finally stopped trying to calculate how many calories I've burned versus how many calories I should consume every day. And, my husband thinks I'm hot. So, I'm happy with that.

The first real "high point" of the day was the swim. I swam hard today. I courageously stayed in the middle of the pack as much as possible, swimming over and around people. I was winded within about 4 minutes, but eventually found my pace and finished the 1/3 mile swim in 11 minutes - exactly on target! I ran, ran, ran to the bike transition, feeling great.

Then, there was a "low point" on the bike. Actually, the whole bike ride was a big downer. The front part of my shin started hurting. I was going at a slow pace. I wasn't passing as many people as I hoped. 52 year olds were zooming past me. My gears weren't shifting smoothly. I was wishing I'd been courageous enough to get clips before the race (everyone I know who uses clips has one major, epic fall, usually resulting in some sort of serious injury requiring an ER visit and stitches, and I wasn't prepared to handle that before this race). I dropped, and lost, my water bottle at about mile 3 of 17. It was hot. There were near vertical hills to conquer. I was getting tired, and focusing too much on the fact that I wasn't pedaling fast enough and was worried I wouldn't have any energy left for the run. It was just a downer, all around. In hindsight: I should've corrected my thinking. I should've stopped beating myself up and fretting, and instead should have focused on smiling more, having a positive attitude, enjoying the course, and having fun. Lesson learned, because today's bike was no fun at all.

Finally, I made it to the run transition. I threw off my helmet, took a few swigs of water from my emergency reserve bottle at the transition station, and went for it. For those of you who have never experienced running after riding a bike for an hour and 11 minutes and swimming 1/3 of a mile before that, lemme just tell you: it's weird. Your body says something like "under no circumstances are you going to run right now," but your mind says something like "RUN! GO! FASTER!" The run, I will say, felt like another low point, but ended up being the best part of the day. First of all, when you start running in the tri, you feel like you're crawling. Or, at least I do. Low point. My pacing is completely screwed up. I feel like I'm barely jogging, but I'm always going faster than I expect. Today we had a definite "mind over matter" situation. I would not let myself walk until at least mile 1, where I knew I'd have the chance to drink some water and walk for a little while. Sure enough, the mile 1 water/Gatorade station came, and I took one of both. I sipped the Gatorade, which was risky since I never drink Gatorade during a workout, and dumped the water all over my head. Heavenly! I told myself that if I could run the first mile, I could definitely run until mile 2, and I nearly made it. My body shut down going up a hill, and I had to walk up to the top. On the walk, I turned the "low" into a "high," promising myself that I was going to run the remainder of the course after I got to the top of the hill, and I did!

During the run, when I usually focus on something like staying healthy, or motivated, or rainbows and kittens, I told myself something kind of shocking: it's time for a break. I have the Peacthree Road Race next weekend, and I think I'm taking a serious break after that. I'll still be working out, but probably not as much for a while. I get the sense that I need some recovery, and that thought actually motivated me more. So, sort of a "low point" was realizing that I needed to rest for a while. I made up my mind that I probably shouldn't add on to my swim, or run, and probably shouldn't sign up for an Olympic distance tri next spring.

But then, after the race was over, I noticed a man who'd had his legs amputated, above the knees. When he turned around, I noticed that on his prosthetic leg, right where the back of his knee would have been was a bumper sticker that said "Iron Man Finisher." And I thought, well, crap. If he can do an Iron Man, with no legs, who am I to say that I can't do more than I just accomplished? High point: inspiration to do more. Eventually.

I felt the greatest when I realized that my pace on the run was 8:07, which is crazy fast for me. Yay, endurance! And I also felt pretty great when the race was finished.

Other assorted high points for the day: that ice cold Aflac sponge you get as you walk through the finish chute; the week of June 23, 1973 was an incredible week for music, as I found out on a rerun of Kasey Kasem's American Top 40 on XM 70s on 7, during the drive back; La Parilla with the Baesmans for lunch; 2 1/2 hour nap; dinner with the Changs at Taco Mac.

Low point: soreness and exhaustion. Lots of it.

1 comment:

Grace said...

great post. how crazy that dave was up to wake you up!!

your cracked out muppet comment made me actually laugh aloud.

running at the end seems like the meanest trick to me. i'd rather swim or bike last... my body does not adjust well to running after the other elements.

sounds like your iron girl was iron clad, in the bag. again, SO proud of you. love you LB!