Friday, April 3, 2015

Oceanside 70.3 - Here we go... Race Report!!!

Just part of the 50+ Tri It Together family members we had in Oceanside - 23
racers and a ton of cheerleaders!  This was in the Athlete's Village Friday
afternoon... packet pickup, shopping, Course Talk... almost go time.
Saturday was the hardest (both physically and mentally), most exciting, painful, silly, "what the hell was I thinking," supportive and wonderful days ever.  I've been thinking about the story that I wanted to tell and one of my training partners helped me define it.  Wednesday was my first workout since the race and I started telling the story.  "I didn't finish the race,"   "What!? You've been doing triathlons for years and we've been watching you train... what happened?" Exactly what I've been asking myself for the past few days, but a perfect way to start the story...

Another view of Athlete's Village - what a BEAUTIFUL
place for a race!
Friday afternoon - Jeff and I headed down to the race to do packet pick-up, Athlete's Meeting, catch up with friends, check out Athlete's Village and drop my bike off at transition.  The week leading up to the race, I had a cold and decided to really taper.  I did what I thought I should do... started taking in electrolites, packing my bags, and I was a nervous wreck!  Am I ready?... nutrition?... training?... 8 1/2 hour time limit... where are Mom and Dad going to park?... racking my bike the day before?...8 1/2 hour time limit... the bike hills?... where are we going to park?... AUGH!  I continued to freak out... until I got to the transition area.  This was familiar... it was BIG... a big inflatable entry, lots of racks, "Ironman" on everything... but once in transition, I knew what to do.  I checked out the in's and out's... how to site my transition spot... looked at the swim course... and all of a sudden I was calm... and ready... 

Representing Tri It Together... and my new
Ironman Swag... shopping is part of the process! ;-)

Caught up with "Queen Amanda" at transition set up.  Signs were made for
each of us... shhhhhhh... we weren't supposed to see them yet...
 I LOVE this photo... walking down the center of transitions like,
"Yeah... this is my hood..." :-)
Saturday morning... up at 3AM... on the road by 4AM... in transition by 5AM.  Set up was good... normal... body marked... tires pumped up (I had never racked my bike the day before so this was a new step)... chatting with athletes (I LOVE this part... meeting new people... hearing their stories!), final bathroom stop, photos with Jeff, final nutrition, back to check my stuff one more time and grab swim gear, photo with Matt and prayer with Lala, and off to do a brief run and my own pre-race prayers.
Race morning and on our way to the swim start.  We
started a "Tri Club" at our YMCA several years ago.  Although
the program didn't make it, those of us that started tris at that time
have become wonderful friends!  Matt is one of those friends,
one of my biggest inspirations, and the one I call, "Superman!"
The wave starts were in a different format that I was used to, but I was glad to line up with several of my tri friends.  While in the chute, we took photos, watched the pros go by and celebrated what we were about to accomplish.  And then, there were the sea lions...

The swim start... about 100 meters from a boat ramp in Oceanside harbor.  The day before the race, the sea lions were  sunning and enjoying their normal spots... on the boat ramps.  Just before my group, the pink caps, were to start, this
group swam up and started playing right in front of us.  We all started laughing and cheering and the sea lions seemed
to play even more.  I am VERY glad that I didn't see this photo before I got into the water... where I could see just
how big their teeth are... I have now done races with dolphins (Mission Bay Tri) and jellyfish (Spring Sprint Tri)
and now the sea lions.  Just hope that sharks aren't next on my "wildlife swim partner" list!!!
I told you we had a bunch of Tri It Together family cheerleaders on course. There is something very special about doing this race for the first time, being in a wave start with several tri friends, and then having the swim out/in team being our team! That is Rick in the hat taking photos... Lee giving me a huge hug... I think we had about 10 friends on this line... you guys made me feel
like a superstar! BEST... WAY... EVER... to start a race!!!
 The swim was very crowded and choppy, with sun in your eyes on the turn, but I felt good and this is the best part of my race.  Funny thing... about 20 minutes into the swim, both of my calves cramped up.  Weird!  I NEVER cramp during a swim.  I spent a good third of the swim without kicking, legs straight out and feet flexed, but felt like I had a strong swim. Swim Split - 41:38 - 30/188 in my division; 258/675 of the women!  Oh YEAH!

After the race, I told Jeff that I could hear the sea lions barking during the whole
swim and I asked him how close they were to the swimmers.  He smiled and said,
"Those of us on the docks could see the sea lions... swimming right next to you...
swimming under you and coming up on the other side... they were having a great
time playing with you!"  Again... very happy I did not see the photo of their teeth
before I dove in!

Swimmers starting on the far right... swimmers coming in on the left... I love this photo!
I was just getting out of the water and didn't realize that my suit was already open
and ready to go!  I was too busy hugging friends and moving onto the bike.  Thanks,
Kaide, for the cheering and suit stripping! ;-)
So, swim went well - CHECK!  Transition... although I finished faster than I expected, I was very surprised that both of my calves were in a total cramp as I tried to run into transition.  Again... NEVER happened before.  While it was happening, I figured it was nerves, but kept it in the back of my mind.

Our cheerleaders were AWESOME... even made it to!

Next up... the bike.  56 miles.  Although I had practiced the first 20 or so miles of this course, the mental part kicked in about mile 10.  I was already calculating my speed and the needed time to get to the 5 hour 30 minute cut off to start the run.  Darn... those negative voices can be SO LOUD!  I did alright... decided that I could make the cut offs, but wanted to be smart.  I decided I would stop at each aid station, grab a quick drink and nutrition (bananas... those would help with the weird cramps) and breathe.  Now, there are parts of this course that an athlete can not see or practice until race day because it is on Camp Pendleton property.  I passed the second aid station and was doing well... until I came up on a crest and saw the first climb in front of me.  I said out loud, "What in the hell is THAT!?" A few riders around me said, "That is the 'Mother F-----..." like that is a hill I was going to smile at and say, "thank you, can I have another!?"  I would say 75% of the people around me walked their bike up that hill... I made it up at 2 miles per hour.  Yeah, my time sucked, but I cheered on every single person that biked up that hill!  Little did I know there would be (3) more significant climbs on that course.  (2) more I walked part of and (1) that I rode all the way up.

The last (10) or so miles of the bike is pretty flat, but there was a strong headwind.  It was tough, but the worst part was an incredibly painful cramp in my side.  I have had this cramp before... the (4) times it has happened in my life, I can tell you exactly when and where it happened because the pain is significant enough you don't forget it.  And during this one bike ride, it happened (4) times... each time I had to slam on my breaks and jump off the bike so I could stretch it out. I probably wasted about 40 minutes with these cramps... (foreshadowing... why didn't I see I was having a major cramp issue!?)

I don't know how, but I made it back to transition with 10 minutes to go before the bike cut off.  I spent over (4) hours thinking I couldn't make it, but I DID!  Ok... now onto the half marathon run... Bike Split - 4:31 - 109/118 in my division - 615/675 for the gals - OUCH!!!

I'm not sure what in the heck we were doing, but we were sure having fun!
I took my time in transition and by the time I started the run, it was about 5 1/2 hours into my race.  I took it easy to get my legs moving after the bike and the first mile wasn't too bad.  I saw the first of several Tri It Together Cheer Stations (Hi Lorenzo!)  Next was the pier and ramp (what an aweful thing to put into an Ironman... don't they know our legs were shot?)  Right at the top of the ramp was the home base Tri It Together tent with Rob and Kevin cheering us on, my parents, Jeff, Anna and Chris and a whole team of cheerleaders.  Boy, did I need those smiles and hugs right then!!! 
Only (3) hours to go!
 Down the street and the ramp down, and at the bottom was another of our cheer stations.  Lee ran up next to me and asked how I was doing.  I was hurting, but I had no idea how much worse it was about to get.  Another mile down and all of a sudden, my body stopped.  I walked a bit and tried to run, but my legs wouldn't hold me up.  Back to walking.  Another few test run steps and my legs went out.  I started thinking about exactly what was happening.  What the heck!?  I trained, I put in the miles, I thought I had taken in plenty of liquids and nutrition all day, I had my best race run EVER (sub 10 minute miles) just three weeks ago, how could my body stop now?  I spent the next mile walking, one excruciating step after another, all while my body was yelling, "Stop, stupid, you're race is over!"  I had about 10 miles to go and about 2 hours to get it done before the 8 1/2 hour cut off.  I lifted my head, stood up straight, and started power walking.  I knew I wasn't going to make the cut off at this pace, but darn it, I WAS NOT going to leave that course until an official pulled me off!
I walked like that for another hour.  The crowds were amazing, homeowners giving us showers with their hoses, other homeowners having little parties in their yards, blasting music and cheering on every athlete.  Most of the racers at this point were hurting, but most would at least flash a quick smile or "thumbs up" as we passed.  At about mile 6, there was another ramp to go up.  Half way up, my right inner thigh slammed me with a massive cramp.  I bent over, started to massage, but the darn thing would not relax!  I looked around and there was nothing to hold onto and my other leg was shaking and about to give out, which would have been tragic because I would have tumbled down to the bottom of the ramp.  One of the race volunteers ran to me and offered to help.  My brain shut down and I couldn't think of anything but getting that muscle to let go.  Another volunteer ran down to us and the two of them got on either side of me and picked me up.  NOW my brain started working and all I could think, besides the fact I was sure my leg was going to fall off it was squeezed so hard, was that I had raced for over 7 hours and I smelled BAD... and I'm a big girl... I went between thanking these poor guys and apologizing for the smell and weight... thanking them... apologizing... and then I started giggling.  Even with the craziness that was happening, I could see how funny this whole scene was! :-)  My helpers set me down at the top of the hill and as soon as they did, my right quad locked up.  Lord have mercy!  A few police officers came to see what they could do as well as race officials.  I asked one of my helpers if they could get my husband (I was only about a block away from Jeff at that point) and he ran off.
It had been about 10 minutes since the first cramp started and both the inner thigh and quad had yet to let go.  Jeff ran up about the same time that a race official told me that he strongly suggested that I go go to medical.  However, he told me that if he took me off the course, my race was done.  That was it... I couldn't stand, much less walk and I called it.  I was in medical for about an hour, and while I was there... the first two cramps STILL GOING... my left calf and shin cramped as well as my diaphram.  What the heck...!?  It took about an hour for fluids, salt and massage to get everything to finally let go, to stand up, and limp around the room.  Jeff wasn't allowed in the medical area, but sat in the doorway and watched over me the whole time.  As I limped out to him, he looked at me with a grin and said, "You're doing this again next year, aren't you!?" :-)

Last week, I moved my triathlon medals to the left and my running/marathon medals
to the right, leaving the center for this week's medal.  I have already put up a sign
that says, "RESERVED - Oceanside 70.3 - 2016"
For the past week, I've been thinking a lot and reflecting.  Am I bummed that I didn't finish - YES!  Do I need to do some research on salt/electrolites/race nutrition - YES!  Was I ready, both physically and mentally, for this race - YES!  After all is said and done, what one word would describe this experience - PRIDE!  One thing that I have learned from (5) years of triathlons is that every single race is different.  Training, nutrition, confidence, preparation... all important, but race morning you show up, and your day will be set up by how you feel - THAT DAY - if you are ready - THAT DAY - what kind of mechanicals or injuries or mental blocks that you have - THAT DAY.  I am THRILLED with what I accomplished with the cards I was dealt - ON SATURDAY, and will be back to get that medal in 2016... because I will have MY DAY!!!

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