This triathlon season definately did not start the way I had envisioned it to.
With a strategicly placed injury I was unable to race an early season IM. Which meant, no qualification to Kona 2009. I officially started my run training somewhere in June - ground zero. 2 minutes running, 2 minutes walking - we've all been to that demoralizing place. But everything started to come together and I was able to race a couple of half IM's before the big one and felt like my running for 13.1 miles was pretty decent. Whether or not I could run a marathon was the real question.
I had been having some real issues with motivation. I have been missing my friends and family and have probably been going through a small patch of "depression". A new job had been taking up way too much time. But I felt like I needed to focus on my career for a change. I was struggling to get out the door solo and if I wasn't really into the activity (ahem...swimming) it only happened once or twice a week. I made sure to get in the quality workouts (speed, shoot out) but couldn't force the 'junk' mileage. My longest run was 2:40, with a handful of other runs of 2 hours.... not quite the mileage I was used to.
I was worried about the run but as this is my 5th IM, I new the training was in there somewhere I was just hoping it would show it's face.
I had been watching the southern AZ temps drop all week and was scared of a colder than normal temp. I had done this race in April 08 when temps reached 95 degrees and the drop out rate was the 2nd highest ever in an IM. I loved it. In my opinion, anything below 80 is cold and uncomfortable on the bike. Race day prediction was a HIGH of 75. poo. So at 4 in the am, while we were preparing to enter the 62 degree water, it was low 40's. All I wanted to do was curl up in a down comforter!
15 minutes to race start and I felt the nerves. Perfect timing. Just enough to get you pumped up, not to soon to be wasted energy.
Once we got going, the water felt okay...everywhere but my feet! They were numb.
The April 08 swim here has been my worst IM swim to date. I got crushed, pushed, pulled and was close to having a panic attack. Needless to say, I had a score to settle. I went out fast!! And promptly settled into a rhythm. I was pushing.
I have always looked at the swim of an IM as a warm up for what's to come. My coach set me straight. If he had his way, I would have blown 3 or 4 times in the swim from going so hard. Maybe I'll try that next time.
Anyway, I ended up swimming by myself which was fine with me. The energy saved from not panicing was worth the energy lost by not drafting.
I got out of the water and was shocked to see 1:08 on the clock... bummer. Then I checked my watch and realized that was the pro time.... YES! Instantly back on track!
I took a decent amount of time in the tent to put on a bike jersey, arm warmers and gloves... it was cold!
The bike is a three looper that gradually 'climbs' to a turn around on each loop.
The first and second laps were hell. There was a strong headwind while climbing out that just beat you down. I could see the other top girls around me and at the turn around. I am very proud to say that Wendy Mader, Rhae Shaw (monster on the bike!)and myself did not draft... at all!! Coming out of the water where we did put us on a pretty bare bike course. I am super happy with my time (5:20) and am hoping to do it again on the big island. I am amazed at some of the gals who came out of the water after 1:10 who biked around (or faster than) 5:10....hmmmm... just saying. My coach (head referee) and his team did their best, but there were still packs. Sucky.
I regained feeling in my feet just before reaching the transition (did I say it was cold?).
I stopped at the port a pot in transition for the now traditional, "sit down and collect yourself" pee. I may stop doing this.... I was only 1 minute shy of the AG record and here is where it was lost!! I just couldn't force myself to pee on the bike. I had visions of it freezing to me like in Dumb and Dumber.
As mentioned in previous posts, I was expecting to feel like crap for the first of three laps on the run. I was running with a Trisports.com teammate and feel that this may have caused me to go out a little faster than I should have. My fault. I should have known better. It was great company though, and made the first loop fly by. Unfortunately, I didn't start to feel better. In fact, with every step I felt worse. At half way I was convinced that I needed to stop. I needed to walk. I told myself that I would at the next aid station. The aid station would come and the angel on my shoulder would say "na, you're okay. stop at the next one". For the next mile, the devil on my other shoulder would tell me how badly I hurt and that I wasn't going to make it. He wasn't lying. I felt bad. But I new if I stopped the self loathing I would put myself through would feel worse. This back and forth went on for the next 10 miles. I was in the far bottom corner of the hurt box. The one thing I had going for my was that my stomach was settled (rah rah Infinit). So I kept going. It wasn't pretty. In fact, I've seen the pictures - it was down right fugly. How did I think it was going to feel? That's why we do it.
I kept going. Soon enough, I was at the Trisports.com aid station with just over two miles to go. Seton yelled over the loud speaker that I could make it in under 10hours. "who, me?".
I don't really remember anything until the finishing stretch, but I guess it went okay. I'm pretty sure there was some grunting and spitting but that's par for the course.
I was just happy to stop. Every last ounce of energy was left on that course.
My run time was not a PB, but it was 11 minutes faster than the last time I did this race and it is a harder course than Kona and I was almost 10 lbs heavier. And more than anything, it was a huge personal triumph to overcome that nasty little devil on my shoulder.
I will be in Kona 2010. I will be ready for the race of my life.
If you haven't heard about Rudy: you should. He's an amazing person and ambassador for our sport. He makes me feel foolish for complaining of feeling run down.
A huge thanks to my sponsors:
And my coach/friend: J. Riccitello