Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lake Oconee Olympic Triathlon Race Report.

After a few days of mentally absorbing this race I have finally found some time to sit down and write out my race report. I had gone over to the race start on Friday May 20th in order to pick up my race packet. While I was there the crew was setting everything up so I stood around for a little while and tried to make mental notes on where everything was so that when I arrived the next morning I would not be walking around looking lost. I went down to the water where they were setting up the big yellow inflatable marker. I stood there for a while being mesmerized by how far out the marker seemed. I remember thinking to myself over and over "I have to swim that far twice there is no way". I have said it before and I will say it again I am not a swimmer by any stretch of the imagination. I have gotten better but I am far from being consistently good. Anyway, when I realized I was mentally panicking I turned around and walked away. I found out the transition area opened up at 5am in order for those participating to set up their gear. So I left and attempted to push the swim portion as far from my mind as possible. I went back to the house and had a grill out with my family and some friends that have driven in. I cooked the meal Jason from Cook, Train, Eat, Race sent me, The Blue Line Runner Risotto, which was a HIT I must say. I hung out and talked with everyone before going to bed around 9:30.

Like most people the pre-race excitement had me tossing and turning all night. I got up before my alarm went off at 4:30 and showered, dressed, and headed downstairs to have my cup of coffee and some chow. I think I was only able to drink 1/2 the cup and eat one piece of toast with peanut butter, agave nectar, and a banana. I was just to nervous to eat anything else. My husband, Mathew, had come downstairs by this time and asked me if I was ready. I don't think I even answered him just shrugged my shoulders and walked to the truck to make sure my transition bag and bike were there.

We got to the park around 6:15 and there were only a handful of people there which I found surprising. I sort of thought we were running late since it opened at 5. Mathew inspected my bike gears once again for me since I had some issues with the front gears the day before and put the right amount of air in my tires (he is just the BEST). I got my bag and bike and walked into the transition area. As soon as I got in I noticed they had names on each spot in order of your number. I was number 21 so I found my spot which was on the outside right by the bike exit (remember this part). I got my spot all set up and one of the race crew walked over and put my numbers on me. I almost had to show the lady my ID when I told her I was 28 not 18.  I did not have a clue you had your age put on your left leg I am still not really sure why its there...  The only thing I can figure is so that you can look for others in your age group in case you are attempting to place in your AG. (For those of you that know why you are marked with your age can you tell me?) My family, all 13 that came, kept asking me why I had a 28 on my leg and 21's on my arms =). For some reason the race crew had missed # 20s spot so when he got there there was a little issue with spacing. We were ontop of each other and instead of turning his bike opposite of mine he turned his the same way which literally left them touching each other. I thought about switching mine but If I had I would have messed up #22.. so I just left it alone. 

Once I was done setting up my little spot I started walking around and stretching. I glanced at the water once but looked away and tried to just remind myself I was not trying to win anything just finish. As I was walking around a camera man came up and asked if he could have an interview. I thought he was joking at first why in the world would he want to interview me. But he was being serious so I stood there and answered his questions. Once he learned this was my first Triathlon he went insane with questions and kept commenting on how "hard" (his words not mine) this course was. Seriously that is not the best thing to hear when your trying not to be nervous. After all that was done it was time to get into my wetsuit and head down to... the dang water. Here we go!

Swim: 44:21
The part I was the most nervous about. I just wanted to get it over with. So as we are standing there waiting on the instructions there was a lady standing next to me who taped me on the arm and said "do we have to swim to both of those yellow things?". I was looking at her and realized she had just said "both" I was sort of confused because I had only seen one but I looked at where she was pointing and there it was another yellow marker off to the left of the one I had seen. CRAP. I turned around and located Mathew in the crowd I think he saw the fear in my eyes because the next thing I know he was at my side. I pointed at the marker and said I think I have to swim to both of those things... Twice. He said yeah but there is no need to worry you have this gave me a hug a good luck and walked away. To late to worry now I just have to do it however I can find the way to do it. Honestly, I am sort of glad I did not know till seconds from the start I think had I seen it much sooner I would have checked myself in for a mental evaluation. The buzzer went off and we hit the water. I got hit a few times I hit a few people I think that is just par for the course. It seemed like it took me forever to settle down. When I finally felt like I was settling down we had to exit the water, run around a flag, and get back into the water for lap #2. I was still worn out from lap #1 but I got back in for lap #2 which hyped me up again and I found myself trying to settle down once again. I don't know what else to say about the swim other than I have got to get stronger at swimming. Surprisingly I was not last out of the water. I was SOOOO happy to be done with that part! As can be seen by the smile on my face! I did a whole combination of swimming techniques some of which were made up on the spot but all I cared about was moving and not drowning. 

T1: 2:42
I had gotten my wetsuit almost all off before getting to my bike but I had to sit down and pull the rest of it off. I had to almost crawl under my bike to get my bike shoes because they had gotten hit, moved, or something by #22. I doubt he meant to we were just that close. My family was standing there talking with me about the swim as I was putting my shoes on. That helped calm me down a little. I told them I would see them in a few and started to head out. Well me and my brilliance ran all the way to the run exit until I realized my family was yelling at me that I was going the wrong way. Yep, remember when I said I was right by the bike exit well I screwed that one up. I went to the opposite end had to turn around and go back to the other end. Sigh, I could not help but laugh at this mistake! Live and learn.

Bike: 1:41:41
That was a tough 25 mile ride. Lots of hills but wonderful views. I was hoping for a time in the area of 1:15 but once I saw the amount of hills I knew that was not going to happen. There was an officer at each intersection during the whole ride to stop traffic for us. I made sure I said thanks to each one of my Brothers and Sisters in Blue not that they knew I was one of them I was just very thankful I did not have to stop. There were lots of turns that were at the very bottom of hills which meant I had to slow down before the turn only to be faced with an instant uphill clime. Due to this I was forced to use my front gears which I have never needed before. Well I must say I found my bikes flaw. When I tried to switch the front gears it was a mess I had to spend time trying to get the gears back in the right place which meant my legs were working on double time. I had discovered this flaw while on a ride the day before with Mathew in the hills. He worked on them as much as he could but said ultimately it was due to the low end of the bike. I see a new bike in the very near future. I was trying to save as much of my legs as possible because of the six mile run I still had facing me but my legs were already beginning to burn esp in my thighs. I passed a few people on the bike leg and was passed by one guy who came out of nowhere (Kevin you will meet him later on). I was impressed at how fast he seemed to be going. I had only taken one water bottle with me and I had finished it just before I turned into the camp grounds. I used one Gu as soon as I got on the bike which gave me the rush I was hoping for and lasted the entire ride. 

T2: 1:13
I ran into the transition area and attempted to lift my bike into place. My bike is very light but for some reason at this point it felt like it weighed 50 pounds. I started laughing because I had to use both arms to pick it up and place it on the bar. Maybe I was delusional I don't know. I had noticed that the sun was out in full it had to be near 90 at this point because it was HOT out. I grabbed my race belt, garmin, running hat,  and switched into my running shoes. Mathew and my mom where there cheering me on. I took off once again.

Run: 1:08:30
My dad is on the Right with my Mother-in-law in the middle.
I am very thankful for the bricks I had done during my training because that feeling of running right after a ride is insane. It took me a moment to get into my stride as soon as I found it I instantly knew the run was not going to go as I had planed. I had not gotten a mile into the run before my left thigh went into fits of cramps. I had to stop mid stride and try to stretch it out. A guy, Kevin (The fast bike guy), came up and stopped to check on me. I told him I was okay just had a cramp and for him to keep going. He told me that if it was okay by me he would walk with me for a little while because he was not feeling so well after drinking so much lake water =). I started walking and after about 200 feet I felt like I could start running again so we started running. I was doing fine for a little while, Kevin dropped out wishing me luck, till my thigh began cramping again. So for the rest of the run part I had to do a run walk ratio depending on when I had a cramp. I was passing people and I almost cried each time I had to stop and walk out another fit of cramps. I can't recall a race in which I have ever waked. Running is my thing and I was counting on that to finish the race strong. Of all the races I have done this was by far the most difficult hill race ever. I would find it extremely challenging just as a 10K alone. I got to the 5 mile marker and told myself I was not going to stop anymore for any reason until I crossed the finish line. I saw another runner a little bit in front of me and I set my sights on their back and took off. As I rounded the corner and the finish line came into view my dad, also a runner and wonderful supporter, was there telling me I was almost done he ran right beside me making sure not to touch me. I was in intense pain my left thigh was in knots and I had acquired a new cramp on the back of my right thigh. I know my stride had to look funny.. My dad, family, people I don't know went wild yelling at me to keep going. So that is what I did I kept going till I crossed the line. 

Overall Time: 3:38:25

I had such a mix of emotions after crossing the line. My family was all there giving me hugs, water, and congratulating me. Mathew greeted me with the biggest smile, a dozen yellow roses, and a necklaces that is a triangle that says TRI in the middle. Seriously, I love that guy to death!  My mind was just numb I don't think I could comprehend that I had just finished something I had once only dreamed about. A finishers medal was placed around my neck and I remember thinking of all the medals I have acquired over the years this one felt truly earned. I felt like everyone was probably ready to go back to the house and get some lunch since they had been there watching me all day but my cousin Amy kept saying "no we can't leave till after the awards ceremony". I kept saying there was no need to stay since I just wanted to finish and was not going to be getting any awards. She insisted so we hung out for a while. We made our way to the tent for the awards ceremony and cheered for those that were getting awards. Then they got to the female age group 25-29 and I was talking with Mathew about something when I heard 2nd place goes to Summer Bailey. My first thought was wow that's odd there are two Summer Baileys... Then it hit me they were calling me. My family went wild and began pushing me forward. I was in shock. The lady who I had met at the swim (the one who pointed out the second marker) came over and hugged my neck telling me how impressed she was with me. She was also doing her first Tri and I had informed her it was my first time as well back at the water. As I was walking away I could hear others saying can you believe that was her first Triathlon.

If I was not in shock already I received an email Monday form the race directors stating there had been an issue with my time chip and after a recalculation I had not come in 2nd place in my AG but 1st WHAT... So they are sending me a gold medal in the mail. 


Its been a couple of days since the race and my mind has yet to comprehend what I just did. All I know is that I want to do it again. I want to be faster, better, stronger for the next time. For all of you that wished me luck before the race Thank you. I could not have done it without you! Now to figure out what to do next.

Friday, May 20, 2011

I'm Ready!

It’s been a week. Or shall I say its been an interesting two weeks. Last week was supposed to be my final “big numbers” training week but I was sidelined for the most of the week due to a sudden, out of nowhere, uninvited infection. Doctor told me I had caught it just in time before it turned to strep so I dodged a bullet there. Anyway I did not get much training done because I was so afraid I was going to make myself sicker and I did not want to chance not being able to participate in the Triathlon.  

This week was set to be my taper week. I am not the best at tapering and I have found it’s even harder for me when the taper week falls after such a low almost no performance week. I was able to make it to Greensboro, Ga on Tuesday afternoon and have spent the past 4 days training in the hills and checking out the bike and run race routes. I have learned a few things since having arrived.

First, expect the unexpected. I did not even remotely think I would need a wetsuit by this time of year esp. in Georgia. However, when I got in the water I realized it was freezing.  The temps have been in the upper 90s but there has been a cold front that moved in around the end of last week and has stayed. Anyway I got in the water and I rather quickly removed myself. This was on Wednesday. So I did what anyone would do in my situation, panic, I sought out some advice from an expert in the field, KC of 140 Point 6 Miles of Awesome.  I don’t know what I would have done without her help. Within an hour she had sent me to the Xterra website and told me her recommendation, the Vortex 3 full sleeve, along with finding a coupon allowing me to get the wetsuit at ½ the price. It does not get better than that! Today has been the first day it has been warm and by warm its back in the 80’s and the weather people are saying lower 90s for race day. Depending on what the temp of the water is tonight I may not even get to wear the suit. But I dang sure have one now if the water temps don’t reach 78.

Second, Valdosta, Ga is FLAT. I had done some training on hills around there but let me say the hills there are the flat part here. I drove the bike and run course and I could not believe I was about to attempt anything other than driving a car on such hills. But it is what it is and I am not going to let it hinder my attempt.

Third, there are some amazingly supportive and inspiring people that will go out of their way to help a “stranger”. Sure I help people but it’s my job, I get paid to do it. What I truly find inspiring are those that do it just out of the kindness of their heart. Since having joined blogger I have been very fortunate to have “met” some of these people. I feel as if I have been accepted into a community of others that share a common interest and are not out to say “Hey, look at me I’m better than you” but more like “Hey, how can I help you get to where you want to be”. I find so much inspiration from these people and if you’re reading this you more than likely are one of the people I am referring too. Kc, as I have mentioned before, has been one of the most inspiring, motivating, helpful people I think I have ever met. Another blogger, Jason, who writes the blog Cook, Train, Eat, Race, go check out his site he was kind enough to produce this menu for me yesterday. Amazing!!! There are so many more to mention. For each of you that have sent me motivation Thank you it has kept me focused and consistent in my effort at reaching my goals.  

I have so much more to share but I need to head over to the park and pick up my race packet. My family has driven in and we are having a grill out tonight burgers for them and spaghetti for me with Jason’s The Blue Line Runner Risotto!

Hopefully, tomorrow I will have finished something I have dreamed about doing for some time now. If I’m last I don’t think I will ever care because I will have finished. With that said next time I sign on I hope to have EARNED a new title.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Last Training week and a Question

This week represents the home stretch for my very first Tri. I will start my taper week next Monday since my race is just 12 days away. I have the advantage of getting to spend the 4 days before the race at my Aunts house which is about 3 miles away from where the event will be held. A mini Vacation and plenty of time to drive, ride, or run the course =) Yay for the home team advantage. I know that I have worked very hard to get to where I am today in my training and I hope it shows during the race. I am trying not to focus so much on the time since this will be my first race and I just want to have fun and enjoy the fruit of all this labor. The swimming portion is still going to be my biggest challenge but I am beginning to get the hang of it! I sucked it up and asked a buddy of mine, who happens to be a swim coach, to swim with me one day last week. He pointed out that I was working twice as hard as I should be because I was not relaxing my body esp my arms. So he went over a few drills and off I went. I am happy to say today I swam 1300 meters and my arms were not tired! I have to constantly remind myself to relax and the motion just clicks into place. Had the pool not have closed I would have swam all day and normally I am glad my swim is over. So that's where I'm at now. Just getting in a few more workouts and waiting till May 21st with anticipation and the eagerness of a child on Christmas eve. I can't wait. I'm ready! I would also like to say thanks to all of you that have dropped me a line of encouragement and advice! Your support has helped me greatly on my journey!

I hate to change the topic so drastically but I have a dilemma and I am curious of how others have dealt with the same issue because I know I am not the first. First, I guess I need to provide a little background history. Pre Tri training I spent 5 sometimes 6 days in the gym each week weight training. Now I have always been a runner and I would run 3-6 miles before each lifting session just to clear my mind and appease my inner runner but weight training was my main focus. I began seriously lifting right after I became an officer (4 years ago). I have always been on the smaller side and I was afraid that I did not have enough physical strength to get myself out of situations in which I was dealing with men people that would be two too three times bigger than me. So that started my lifting. And like many others I fell in love with the strength I got from lifting. After a while my friends began telling me that I should not lift so much because it was not natural for a female to look as if she lifts weights. This is one of the nicer comments I would get I am sure you can imagine some of the other comments. I don't care to rehash them. Anyway, I am 5'8 and the most I weighed during the peak of my lifting was 134 and that is with no fat on my body. I had to consume large amounts of protein and take creatine in order to get the "size" which in all honesty was not big by any means. But I did this for my own peace of mind. I needed to feel like I could handle myself in dangerous situations.

 I was not as large as they made me out to be. I think its just because I do have a little definition.
I have been involved in several fights since becoming a LE and I know for a fact if I had not been strength training things would not have turned out the way they did. I have walked away from each fight with no broken bones just very minor injuries and the same goes for the other party. For example: about 3 months ago I was involved in a fight with a highly intoxicated soldier who had just gotten back from Afghanistan. I was alone on what should have been a simple quick please turn your music down call but the soldier, having only been back in the states for 2 days, was still in war mode. In his intoxicated state of mind he decided I was the enemy. I am fortunate that I have been blessed with the gut feeling that something was about to go terribly wrong and I keyed up my shoulder mic to ask for help seconds before he took me to the ground and we began literally fighting for our lives. I had long hair which I wore in a ponytail that he got a-hold of and used as a means to control my head I have since then cut off ALL my hair. Somehow I was able to get control of his arms and place him in cuffs then used my body weight to lay on him till my backup arrived. This is why I lift for days/nights like this. The comments tend to sting but I try to talk myself through the negative banter and focus on what keeps me alive. (Please don't misunderstand why I am writing about this. I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me or to thank me for what I do or even think I am bragging. I just want to make it clear the motive behind my madness fitness)

Then I started training for this Triathlon. I still weight train just not as much and with lighter weight. Therefore, I have slimmed down and now I can't seem to go a day without someone telling me I'm too small or asking me if I have an eating disorder. I have been told I am addicted and obsessed with working out. That I had a problem and should consider seeing a professional. Its a constant joke to others, at my expense, on how small I am. I am still 5'8 and currently 120 pounds. From the outside looking in I guess I do look very small but I know for a fact that I am healthy. Heaven knows I don't have an eating disorder. It seems that there is no middle ground. I know I should just disregard these comments but I its hard sometimes to not let the words of others take up residence in your mind.

Anyway I am just very curious how others deal with this type of treatment. For now I am just constantly reminding myself no one knows me better than me and I don't care what I look like to anyone other than my wonderful husband who supports my fitness "obsession".

Hope everyone has a good training week!

Think Strong, Be Strong, Finish Strong!