Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I am an Iron Girl!

The Iron Girl Columbia race is one that usually fills up within 24 hours (this year it filled up in FIVE hours), so on November 1, 2010, I signed up for the race, which was on Sunday. The plan to race was temporarily cancelled when a friend planned her 40th birthday shindig in London this weekend. Well, after Delta Airlines and Mother Nature thwarted my travel plans (and some hemming and hawing about whether or not I wanted to race after the disappointment behind the trip) I completed the Columbia Iron Girl Triathlon today!

There were 3 other ladies of Tri Unify that met up before the race and we tried to stay positive throughout the torrential downpour before we got started. We looked fab and were all smiles despite the rain. Ken showed up to offer his support, as usual.
Lisa, Terri, Me and Cassandra

The 1100 meter swim (which is long for a Sprint Triathlon) went well. The water was calm with no crazy current and choppiness to make me loose my lunch like in the NYC Triathlon. The only thing was, I kept feeling like my Tri shorts were sliding down and I had to stop stroking twice and do a little wiggle like movement to pull them up before sinking into the murky lake. I went my usual slow and easy pace and started to think about how I was going to get my swimming speed up, once I saw women with other colored caps passing me that started after me. I ran out of positive stuff to think about and was more than ready when I saw the swim exit buoys. Time: 32:42

Getting mentally prepared!

Me and Cassandra

Done with the swim!
T1: Maybe I will get a change of heart/mind next year about transitions times. I never really like to rush, as is evident by my time. I've been told that they should be less than 5 minutes. Time: 7:43

I had mentally prepared for the 17.5 mile bike course and had been out there on the crazy hills of Columbia in the past. However, I was concerned about this "Mount Albert" that everyone was talking about. I didn't go too hard on the bike, as I had been fairly warned of the crazy hills on the run. I think I paced myself nicely and even provided some free therapy to a lady along the way. I came up with this "WE GOT... THIS!" song that I sang out loud on the hills of Mount Albert and Homewood. This one lady caught up to me on the down hill and told me that she was looking for me to sing on the last hill because "she needed me". I told her that, "She didn't need me, because she made it up the hill without me and that sometimes we look for things that we already have inside ourselves". She asked if I was a life coach. Time: 1:17

T2: There was nothing impressive here. This should be my fastest transition time, but it's NOT!
Time: 8:12

The 3.3 mile run was just WRONG. I don't know who in the hell planned that course, but it sucked elephant nuts. The hills man, THE HILLS! I found myself skipping, shuffling, making a stop in a boathouse bathroom, walking and a little bit of running. I finally made it through. Time: 49:56

It was a nice event, but I doubt that I will be sitting at my computer on November 1st signing up again.

Total time: 2:55

Monday, August 8, 2011

New York City Triathlon

Although I had a fall down a flight of wet slippery stairs on my way to the race, vomited before the 250 meter mark of the swim, risked getting DQ'd after cursing a race official on the bike and taking a pill from a fellow runner in hopes that it was really a salt tab during the run, I can report that I am FINISHER of the 2011 New York Triathlon!
I was so proud to earn this medal that I wore it for HOURS after the race

Pre Race:
   Three of my friends decided to take the road trip with me to New York City from Washington, DC on the morning before the race. Shelita and Adrienne stayed over at my place on Friday night and Pier was ready to roll when we pulled up at 6am on Saturday morning. I laughed more in less than 48 hours with these ladies than I have laughed all year! We had a blast at the Expo making signs for race day. I made dinner reservations for the evening before the race at Bocca de Bacco which turned out to be a fabulous dining experience, to include great food, the waiter dancing for us and even giving one of my friends a sweet kiss before leaving.
Hanging with Shelita, Pier and Adrienne at the race expo

Shelita and Maximillion from Italy

Race day:
   The alarm went off at 3:15am and I felt ready! I got it together and trekked down to the geographically challenged race. The shuttle bus took us to transition, but dropped us off about a mile away from it. It was rainy and I slipped down a flight of slick stairs in route. I wasn't injured, but it is just not the way you want to start your race day. I realized just how much the DC Triathlon has me spoiled with their well laid out transition area. It didn't take me long to set up my transition and off I was for the 1 mile trek to the swim start in the rain. Every other race that I have completed to date was with my buddy Dawn, and this is when I really started to miss her, as we always walk out of transition together. I was glad that it was raining so my tears of loneliness would be washed away by the rain. I found the corral for my swim wave and I must have looked like a sad and lost puppy when my friends found me. I quickly cheered up, the sun finally came up, the rain started to subside and off I went to embark upon another Triathlon journey. 
My personal cheering squad: Pier, Shelita and Adrienne

My cheering crew cheered me up and turned my frown into a smile

All set and ready to rumble!

The swim: 1500 meters
   The swim start was changed to a time trial start. They walked us out onto a barge, lined us up 3 deep and 20 across, had us sit down on the edge of the barge and blew a whistle for us to jump in. We were notified that the Hudson River was salt water and that the current is very fast, but boy was I in for a SHOCK. I had not been paying attention to the water before jumping in and apparently there were rescue boats out there swaying back and forth pretty fast. I was expecting salt and a current and have competed in a race in the ocean before, but this was very different. I just could not get a breath in       without being slapped in the face with a swell of water. I tried to change up my stroke and managed to breast stroke a bit, but trying to time the waves became almost impossible. I even tried to side stroke, but I didn't know what the heck I was doing. I thought about back stroking, but noticed that the water was going over people's head while they were back stroking. I started to wonder how "lucky" I was for actually getting selected in the lottery for this race and about how my friends would be if I couldn't finish the race. I was starting to feel sick, and realized I never felt this way besides the first time that I was on a boat. After battling negative thoughts, trying to avoid panic, feeling the worse case of motion sickness and ingesting way... too much salt water, I vomited. ALOT!!! I started to tell myself that  I could and would get through this and that I had to do something different as I passed the 250 meter mark.  I thought about swimming at Sandy Point one day last year in choppy water and was instructed to just ride the waves and try to time the waves. So, I came up with a plan to stroke, ride two waves, breathe and then stroke on the other side and do the same. There was a lot of ruckus in the water and I could tell that others were in trouble by the amount of screams, whistles and relief boats that were dashing around, but I stayed in my "zone". Before long, I passed the 500m mark, the 750m mark and when I saw the 1000m mark and didn't feel sick anymore, I knew that I would make it out of that water. My thought as exiting: "I will never do this race again!". Time: 29:20 

After the swim

   My friends were right there as I exited the water and I did my usual smiling and waving when I have spectators watching me, but I was not looking forward to the half mile run back to transition. Getting to transition was so long that I knew that I had to be quick. The T1 time is long, but I will chalk it up to the time it took me to get there. Time:13:31

The bike: 25 miles
   We were informed that there would be a steep climb to get out of transition and then a quick sharp left turn and I was ready for it. Well, that was until I got behind a girl who was weaving back and forth up the rain slicked, steep hill and it was hard to judge her next move and I almost crashed into her  near the top of the steep climb. I thought to unclip quickly to avoid crashing into her and of course she kept going and I was stuck trying to get started again near the top of a hill. There was a race official there SCREAMING at me to DO NOT STOP! KEEP GOING!!! I told him that I couldn't and he kept screaming and then I screamed back at him to SHUT THE F@&K UP and then he said calmly, "well, just walk the bike up then!".  I was lucky enough to get to the side of the street, pushed off the curb, got going, made the sharp left and off I was. I immediately thought about whether or not my un-sportsmanlike conduct would get me DQ'd, but I kept it moving. I was very happy to see my friends close to the start of the course cheering and taking photos. I have trained hard on the bike since my last race and I felt prepared. I said ON YOUR LEFT so may times, that I grew tired of saying it. Although, I have to admit that I was passed by two different guys with a prosthetic leg, one guy with two prosthetic legs and a chick with no legs and in one of those bikes where you just use your arms. I was informed of the steep climb in mile 7, but it was longer than expected. Actually, the whole course was tough and it took me longer than ususal. I thought that I handled it well and maybe I went a little too hard, considering I had a 6 mile hilly run to do next. Time: 1:45:32

Finishing up the bike ride

   Once again, it took a while to get to the transition area and you had to slow down about a mile before getting there. I probably took a couple of minutes longer than I wanted to in transition, as my legs were tired! Time: 6:51

The Run: 6.2 miles
   I had heard that the first mile of the run was down 72nd street and there were a lot of spectators and great energy until getting to Central Park, where it falls silent. My plan was to walk up the hill out of transition and even if I had to do the "slow as molasses shuffle" to the park, I was determined to run the mile to the park. My legs were HURTING. I saw a lady struggling with the run and I kept trying to motivate her to just run to the park with me. I saw my friends again and Shelita even ran with me a little. I shuffled and smiled and gave thumbs up to all of of the spectators and tried motivating this lady although I was hurting. Man, I couldn't get to that damn park quick enough! Once I entered the park, I noticed that the lady who I was trying to encourage had New Orleans written on the back of her leg and we became fast friends. Her name was Maria and she kept thanking me for helping her get through the first mile and when I told her that I was hurting, she gave me a salt tablet. I had taken one of these before, but this one looked different. She told me that it would help my legs and that maybe I was dehydrated. I was so desperate at the time and after seeing her pop one, I said, "I'm trusting you" and popped the pill. It immediately made the back of my mouth tingle and I got a little scared, but low and behold, about 20 minutes later, my legs stopped hurting. I was sad to see so many of the people that I sped past on the bike, blow by me on the run. I promised myself that I would work on running more, so this doesn't continually happen to me. Maria and I committed to getting through this race together. She doesn't do well on hills and running downhill makes my shins hurt, so we mixed it up and suffered through it but ended up walking a lot. We stopped at every hydration station and probably walked the entire 4th mile. At the beginning of Mile 5, Maria asked me what got me into Triathlons. This is right when I started to hyperventilate a little and start to question my sanity. Maria had me taking some deep breaths and worked with me through it. It was so hot and I was so, so very tired, but we picked it up in the second half of mile 5. We saw the finish line, picked up our speed, I saw my friends there cheering, waving signs  and taking photos and I crossed the finish line! My thought: that was my hardest race to date. My legs hurt with every step that I took! I got my medal, finishers towel, some hydration, looked for my friends and off I was on the mile walk back to transition. Time: 1:27:48

Running down 72nd Street doing the "slow as molasses  shuffle". My legs were KILLING me

Maria and I bringing it to the finish line

These guys were trying to gain on us and beat us to the finish line!

The New York City Triathlon was my hardest race to date. But I finished it, and I guess that is all that matters. Some people were not so fortunate. A 64 year old man and a 40 year old woman died after suffering a cardiac arrest in the swim and 26 other people had to be rescued from the water.

Total time: 4:03:01. One day I would like to complete an Olympic Triathlon in 3 hours: 30 minute swim, 1:15 on the bike and 1 hour run with much shorter transition times. One day....

This has GOT to be the happiest finishing photo ever!

Tri Becca