Monday, June 11, 2012

EagleMan Ironman 70.3!

About to get it started with Tania!

I can proudly proclaim that I have completed an Ironman 70.3 Triathlon! I swam 1.2 miles in the Choptank River, cycled 56 miles through Cambridge and Dorchester, Maryland and ran 13.1 hellish hot miles for a grand total of 70.3 miles. This race was one of many lessons. Due to some mistakes and race day conditions, the race was hard as hell, but I'm a FINISHER!!

1.2 mile Swim: Lesson - Make sure that I study the course and don't bring leaky goggles

I had a complete panic attack after dipping my head in the brackish water, which burned my left eye. My goggles were leaking! No bueno! This was followed by my second panic attack when I realized that I didn't study the course to know which way to go and could only see out of one eye. Tania was with me and told me, "You don't have time to go back! You just have to use your good eye! You can't see too much in this dirty water anyway! Just follow everybody else!". I quickly realized that I was already out in the water and I just had to buck up. The beginning of the swim was very panicky for me. I thought of asking a kayak person to lead me back to shore. I thought about how many people have a DNF (Did Not Finish) on their Triathlon record, so it would be no big deal if I quit. I COULD NOT SEE! Those negative thoughts were thwarted once I thought about all of the people who got up early to come out to cheer me on and to follow me on-line. I reminded myself that I had over 30 people on FB who wrote that they would pray for me and send good vibes. I thought about how I have done this before and how I have practiced swimming in the pool with my eyes closed but only opened them to see, when I turned my head to breathe. I practiced that in order to prepare myself for something like this. I combated every negative thought with a positive one and I made it through the swim. However, I did have a near accident when I thought that the yellow kayak was the yellow buoy, so I tried to swim around the kayak... just as the guy in the kayak was about to take off! I am so glad that he saw me, as that could have been a very bad accident. I made it through the swim in my expected time, despite the panic of only having one good eye. It was nice to hear Maddy screaming my name as I ran into transition.

56 mile Bike: Lesson - Stop when needed, as trying to push through will cost you time

I had some Tart Cherry Juice with breakfast, but perhaps I had too much. My stomach was in knots even before I got in the water. After ingesting a little too much river water, my stomach was not happy. I tried to keep it moving and started the bike ride. It was great to see Heather cheering me on as I took off on my bike. I just knew I was about to smoke that ride!There were porta potties on the route but I just kept moving, hoping my stomach would settle down. I started off super fast with my fancy borrowed ZIPP tires from Arrow Bicycle, but I noticed that my pace got slower... and slower... the more I tried to ignore the stomach pain. I just wanted to finish. Finally, when my speed dropped to something ridiculous and I could not be upright any longer, I stopped at mile 46. I was able to return to my planned speed for the last 10 miles and quickly regretted waiting so long to stop. I could have finished that bike ride about 45-60 minutes minutes faster, if I had not been too stubborn to stop. Lesson learned.

13.1 mile Run: Lesson - Remember the tips

Shelly told me to put some Body Glide or Aquaphor to my feet before the run. I had both of these, but I forgot to slather it on.  Truth be told, I simply forgot once I saw my teammate, Mylah, in transition packing up her stuff. She said that she was done, that she was not going back out on the race course to finish. I asked her if she needed anything like food or drink or if she was injured, but  she was fine. When I realized that it was just mental, I literally grabbed her by her wrist, pulled her off of the ground and we ran out of transition together. The poor girl didn't even have time to put on her socks; she had to stuff them in her shorts. I just could NOT let her quit.  We shuffled together until she gave me her commitment that she would not quit and then I took off. I initially had a little Achilles pain and had to stop to stretch a few times in the first 3 miles. I thought that if the pain continued, I may have to quit. The pain eventually went away. I wore my ankle brace to protect the ankle, but could not wear my compression socks due to some new rule. I thought I needed the compression socks to ward off shin splints, but my shins never bothered me this time. It would have been too hot for them anyway. My feet started to feel like they were covered with blisters after mile 5 from my socks being so wet and all of the friction. I did not think to wear moisture wicking socks. My feet hurt so bad to run, that I just walked the last 8 miles. It was over 90 degrees and there was no shade. About 90% of the athletes were walking. There was plenty of ice and snacks on the course, which was great, although they ran out of snow cones at the turn around point. I made a new friend, Kristine with the DC Tri Club, and we kept each other company until we approached the finish line. The Tri Unify cheering squad was in full force! Cassandra and her friend Sharlimar were waiting for me as I made my last turn to finish the run. Rian was there to give a high five as I made my way down the finish-line chute. Maddy, Diane and Adrienne were not too far away. It meant the world to me to have them there to cheer us on. It was a proud moment to see Mylah cross the finish line after she nearly quit the race. Next time, I will be sure to remember the tips and to wear proper socks.

Tri Unify Cheering crew!

Me and Mylah (those are Mylah's socks stuffed in the legs of her shorts)

 In hindsight, the race was not bad, with the exception of the heat. I was properly trained to complete the distances. I just need to make sure that I remember some key things next time, so I can be better prepared for what race day may bring.

I will do this all over again in Cozumel on September 23rd. I just hope to do it a little faster!

Tri Becca

Friday, June 1, 2012

Winning = earning the medal

Training for a 1/2 Ironman has been one of the most mentally challenging things that I have done so far. It has taken more than just training and learning how to fuel properly. More than ever before, I have had to have the "you can do it, if you really want to do it" talks with myself. There were days when I just stayed in bed or on the couch, because my mind believed that training that day would not make me any faster or more fit. On many days, I thought "What's the sense? What does it matter? What will this ONE training do to help me?". There were days that I went out to swim and could not get my heart rate to come down. Today I went for a run and the ugly shin splints returned. The shin splints decided to return just NINE days before the race!?!? WTH???  I was determined to not let it get me down. I came up with a plan after realizing what could have caused the shin pain to return. It has been HARD. It has been harder to just get my mind right, than it has been to complete any 56 mile ride, 2000 meter swim or 13.1 mile run. But, I am stronger as a result of training for this race. Mentally stronger.

I know that I can finish this race on June 10th. I know that I can finish all 3 legs of the race before the cut off times. I know that if I keep my heart rate low during the 1.2 mile swim, keep a manageable pace, eat and hydrate on the 56 mile bike and if I consistently do a 4:1 or 3:1 run/walk for the 13.1 mile run, then I can finish before the total race cut off time. I KNOW this. I BELIEVE this. I don't have doubts, per se, I just don't feel as fit as I want to feel going into the race. Am I excited? Absolutely not. I'm nervous. I'm nervous, because I don't know what to expect since I have not done this distance of a race before. I'm nervous because I won't have my usual racing buddies with me or my usual cheering squad out there being my "race day stalkers/paparazzi". I have been trying to get used to training alone and racing alone and being okay if there are no familiar faces out there on race day. But it has been tough. Mentally tough.

I am going to race on June 10th. I am going to follow my race day plan for pacing myself, hydration and nutrition. I am going to WIN, which in my mind, is earning that medal when I cross the finish line. I will pretend that every cheer I hear is really just for me. I will be fine. I will be tough. Mentally tough. I will have the mind of a Champion... because, in my mind, I am a Champion.

Tri Becca