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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My First 70.3 - 2010 Redman Half Iron-distance Triathlon

Packet Pickup went according to plan and was very easy. It was a nice, smooth process and nowhere near as chaotic as picking up for the Oly at Ironman’s Lonestar 70.3 last year.

After we checked in our bikes we participated in the athlete meeting then headed back to the hotel. Our family and friends and 1 of our coaches, Melanie, were due to arrive at the hotel. We planned an early dinner then early to bed. Everyone arrived and I was glad to see Hubs and Cass. Incidentally it was Cass’ birthday!

Let’s just say the best laid plans can fail. I’m not sure why we thought getting a table for 9 was a good idea on the Friday night, before the race, at an Olive Garden restaurant right near the race host hotel. Us and 1,000 other triathletes were in search of carbohydrates for dinner! We called around and found that Zio’s had no wait. We drove 4 miles down the road only to find they also had a 1:30 wait… they misinformed us on the phone. We waited a while, but by now my sugar was getting low and my stomach was getting nervous. I could feel the wave of low-sugar and nerves coming over me. I had a nervous stomach most of the day and really didn’t eat well – that’s not to say I ate crap, I just didn’t get my calories in. By the time we were seated, half of the group (understandably) ordered to go. I had to stay; we promised Cassie a birthday dinner all week long… you know, the kind where you’d get a special dessert! In her world that’s a big thing – bigger than a 70.3. She was such a good girl on the long trip to OKC for Daddy we just couldn’t let her down. We told everyone we needed to stay, but that they should feel free to go on. As soon as they ordered their food, a table was ready! We all went in sat and had dinner. Everyone else was finished before our food even arrived… it was just a mess, but Cass was happy. So basically my pre-race dinner was 3 bites of pasta and 3 bites of chicken. I know I should have done better, but my stomach wasn’t having any more of it

I finally made it to bed by 10:40 (also not in my race plan).

Thankfully I got up at 4am without issue. Everything was ready to go and I felt way better than I did the night before. We made it timely to the race site and setup smoothly in transition. I checked and rechecked everything and headed out to meet up with Melanie and Jim to start eating my breakfast. I knew it was going to be important after not eating much the night before. I was able to get everything down except 1 banana and ½ of my Ezekiel muffin. It would have to do.

Me, Hombre (my training partner) & Denise
Shortly thereafter we all squirmed into our wetsuits and waited. When they started corralling everyone I all of a sudden felt a rush though me; it was time to rock and roll! I said my good-byes and headed back to transition, then to the corral to find the pink caps. Whoohooo, this was really happening. Here we go!

The Full Iron wave started and we noticed there were many people wading through the water because it was so shallow – it was curious to see. When it was time for my wave to start, I was super excited and not really nervous anymore. I felt good and knew that today was going to be a good day no matter what. I knew my training and best effort would get me through to the Finish and that it wasn’t a question of “If?” only a question of “When?” I was the 2nd pink cap in the water I “claimed my space” in the very front of the pink. By the time they got us all together in the water they told us we could swim inside the buoys (because the water-level in the lake was so shallow), but that we had to go outside of and turn around the corner buoys. I decided I would swim a straight line from buoy-to-buoy. No cutting or adding distance. I came there to swim, not walk. And swim I did!

Hombre, me & Denise
My swim start was a little rough at first, but only because my heart was in my throat after the gun went off. I was waiting for other athletes to swim over me, but that never really happened!? Once I realized I was in the clear, I was able to relax and get my heart rate down. My plan was to swim the first third easy and keep my heart rate in check. On the next 1000m, pick it up and on the last 200m go easy on the way in and get ready for the bike. I don’t think my 1000 was all that much stronger as the current kept wrapping my zipper cord around my arm. I had to keep fumbling with it to get it out of the way, but I never could get it to stay in place. My bad for not doing it properly to start! I never had the issue before. Later, I would realize I had one angry chafe burn under my arm. During the swim It was hard to tell how I was doing relative to everyone else because I never stopped to look behind me. Finally, I saw that I had caught up to some of the guys in gold caps in the wave before me! That was a really good feeling!! My swim time was 46 minutes, for 2:22 pace for 1.2 miles – that’s an improvement over my 1 mile swim pace by about 14 seconds per 100m. When I got out of the water I saw my peeps and heard them cheering… I was so glad they were there!

I deliberately took time in transition to dry off well and get sun screen on. In 4 minutes I was off on the bike. I felt good. I was excited and happy-happy!

Hubs, me and Cass
Now we had taken time to drive the course in the days leading up to the race and I knew the directions from memory. It was surprising how comfortable that, in it of itself, made me feel, because now I only had to worry about navigating the hills. After the day we rode the course for a few miles, I kept trying to visualize how I’d go about each climb, but really wasn’t sure because I just couldn’t figure out how challenging each climb would physically feel. It was more of a challenge than I anticipated so I really made it a point to ride by heart rate, even though there were places I could have rode faster. I just kept thinking about that run later. The long climbs were tough if they weren’t steep, and the steep climbs were hard if they weren’t preceded with a good downhill. At times I felt like I was flying and had moments of greatness shifting gears precisely as needed, but then other climbs I miss the technical queue and the climb would suck it out of me.

In the end I gave it my best, smart, effort.  My nutrition was great and really, I wouldn't change thing -- except practice more on hills pre-race!  Everyone was very friendly on the course and very encouraging. Several athletes commented to me about having a good ride, which made me feel strong. My first lap was done somewhere around 1:40 and the 2nd lap quite a bit longer for a total ride time of 3:46 for 14.9 mph average. I was really hoping for 16, and was surprised how badly the 10 mph climbs impacted my overall average speed. But now I know what I need:  more hill training if I’m going to do Redman again. As bad as that second lap left my inner thighs burning, I was still having fun, and having my pink tutu wrist band was a great reminder to stay present and really enjoy what I was doing… and I did just that.

I came off the bike and made another 4 minute transition to the run. Here’s where I started to get a little nervous and really had to dig deep to keep it together because I realized I was still on track to finish under 8 hours. I pushed through the first 3 miles struggling to keep my intervals. My legs were spent, but I just kept saying, “They’re going to feel better in a little bit.” Melanie greeted me on the run and it was nice to see her smile! I really missed seeing everyone on the bike! It had gotten hotter by now and there really wasn’t any cloud cover. My 139 HR felt like 160 and I knew I wouldn’t last at that rate, but I just kept trying different things to get everything in check. Eventually I figured that power-walking for 4 minutes and slowing down for a minute was covering more distance, faster than my running was at the moment (Thanks for planting the idea Cathy!!!) Plus, I could keep that going for a while. I figured when I got to the part of the course with some shade I could try to run again, and it would get cooler too and work in my favor. In the meantime that chafe from the swim came back to haunt me with a vengeance. It didn’t bother me on the bike, but it was screaming mad on the run. I had to stop at every aid station after about mile 4 for Vaseline and fresh sponges to pack and hold under my arm as I ran. Let me tell you, that chafe hurt worse than any single part of my body.

I can’t even tell you how good it felt to see friends and family on the course. I know they thought I wasn’t having a good time (they all say I get too serious, but that is my happy-pretty race face!). In my head I was thinking back to my very first tri, a relay, at which I was 300 lbs and I rode a bike on the Danskin bike course (very much like the Redman course this year!), but now I was going 56 miles and not 12! Plus, I swam before and now was running too? How freakin’ lucky was I to be able to get my health in a place that I could make the choice to do this!

I was almost through with my first lap and Melanie came out to find me. She told me everyone had something very special waiting for me at the turnaround. When I got there they serenaded me with Bon Jovi’s Living on a Payer… “Ooooooh, we’re HALFway the-re… oooh-oh, living on a prayer.” And that’s just where I was… half-way there. 1 lap down, 1 to go! By this point I just couldn’t stomach another swallow of Gatorade or Water with Nuun – I dumped my fuel belt off with my husband (in hindsight, a bad call) and kept my gel. I didn’t want those fluids anywhere near me. I tried to take a swig of G’ade at every other aid station, but was really only drinking water and was doing my gel. The plain water felt clean and refreshing. Since I never tried anything else other than Cytomax and G’ade I was hesitant to try something else. “Nothing new on race day!” kept running through my head, when I considered trying some solid food.

I was still tending to my chafe at every station and one v’teer commented on my pink tu-tu bracelet while helping me. I told her what it was about, and about our loss of Elysha. Even though it made her cry, sharing was a good reminder for me as to enjoy the day and not forget to have fun. Elysha would have been reminding me at me to lighten up!

On the last 3 miles I was able to pick-up and run again, but was delayed by GI issues. I had to stop 2.5 miles from the Finish to “address” them, which was kind of a bummer, but after, I was feeling much better. I saw Mel and she pretty much helped run me in. Still though running at a HR of anything more than 139 was leaving me feeling dizzy and light-headed – probably because I had no more electrolytes in me. Mel tried to get me to eat. I did choke 3 dry pretzels down though! I just couldn’t drink anymore; my stomach had it.

I have to say Mel and Chris have a unique sense of humor. The things they say/ask/do to get you feeling more optimistic at a given point in time is sometimes insane, but it generally works. Mel tried with “So what’s next on your schedule?” Or something like that, I said “Nothing!” I wasn’t playing along. Really, I was trying not to become overwhelmed with emotion and lose focus, because I knew I didn’t have far to go. Mel is so encouraging with, “You’re going to finish, it’s going to be great!” “Look at you; you’re doing it!” “I’m so proud of you!” All I wanted to do is stop and cry! But you know no one can breathe, cry and run simultaneously! I even had to shew her off a couple times to pull myself together because she is the best at making an already emo girl all weepy when she’s about to accomplish the biggest thing she’s ever done in her life! Gotta love their optimism, and I do!

She thinks she “lied” to me and told me we were ¼ mile from the finish. I knew we were a little further, but I was ready to get it done. I started running again and it was actually less painful to run at this point than it was to walk! I just kept my pace down and made my way, right-left-right-left-right-left to the Finish. My only regret was that crossing the finish I was looking down at my feet the whole time! I never really saw the “Finish” sign until I saw the pictures after. I did hear the commentator give shout-outs to my family, BAM and my coaches, Chris and Melanie. I did smile when he said “She says this is just a start and that she’ll do a full one day.” because I immediately thought, “Yes I will!”

My Daughter Cassie and me!
I crossed the finish in 8:36 to my family and friends and I could hardly believe I had done it. My coaches, my training buddy, my family all helped me do this and I’m so grateful for the chance to do it and to have the ability to do it. Several years ago this wasn’t even an option for me, so no matter what my overall finish time was, it really doesn’t matter. It’s just a start. To go from not being able to run past the Boeing building on Bay Area at the beginning of last season, to finishing my first 70.3 this year, is okay in my book.  And even if I’m not the fastest, I’m still on my way to reaching my full potential.

You might think this is end of the story, however…

I could go on about how it took 7 people in the medical tent to tend to my chafe burn. Really, it was 7! I counted!!

Or, about how I lost it and boo-hoo’d when they didn’t have a women’s Finisher’s shirt left. Really? Really. In their defense, they did take my name and address to send me one – they were short overall.

The Happy Finishers and Coach
Hombre, Melanie, Me and Denise


Or the guy from transition who remembered I was the women who boo-hoo’d because she didn’t get a women’s Finisher’s shirt, and nicely offered to fetch me a men’s shirt, so I’d have something to wear that night (I still get my pink Finisher’s shirt too). He rocks!

Or all the volunteers who were awesome, friendly and supportive… and sooooo many of them! They really were fantastic! One told me, “Redman is the longest day of the year for me, but I wouldn’t give it up for anything.”

But, really, there was the text I received at 4am the next morning, when the race day alarm I set, was never disabled. I couldn’t help but look at my texts and saw I had a new one from a number that was unknown!

“According to the results BAM as a first place finisher: 
Donna T., Athena-Master!”

Yeah, I was the only one in my division, but I still had to cross the Finish to get it!

Me and my BF, Beth

9 comments:

Christine said...

You did it! Awesome!

Be proud of all you accomplished.

sharla said...

awesome, awesome, awesome...I'll come back and write something a bit better once I stop crying from reading this 9 I'm a geek that way)

Olivia said...

You are such an amazing inspiration. Woohoo and congrats! :)

Mel said...

So, so wonderful!!! Congrats to you for ALL of your amazing accomplishments!

silken said...

way to go!!!!!

triathlontrainingblog said...

Congratulations!!! Can't wait to read about the next one! ;)

Christy said...

Hey, I've just recently stumbled onto your blog via a friend. First off congratulations!!! I know this is several months since but I was the one that had to tell you there weren't any shirts and let me tell you it was devastating to me!!! As a fellow athlete, Athena warrior, it was heartbreaking!!! I was glad to see Buzz came up to give you the guy’s shirt and wished I was the one that had been able to do that (I wasn’t the one in charge). But I hope you got your Woman’s shirt!

P.S. I'm doing the full Redman this year, how about you? It will be my first Ironman distance two days after my 40th birthday!!!

Donna said...

Hey christy! I couldn't reply to you regularly because your profile is unavailable on blogger? Anyway how cool it is that you found me. I am coming back tom do the full aqua bike this year. It's kind of my test run to see how much time I'm left with for the run before i take on a 140.6. Thanks for not taking my tears personally. I was a wreck after that race. Kind of embarrassing now! Be sure to send me a link to your blog if you have one. Would be glad to support another Athena!

Christy said...

Hey Donna! I think I fixed it now where you can see it but just in case my blog is
http://nutrigirl08.blogspot.com/

Looking forward to reading your blog and seeing you this year at Redman!

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