Monday, June 11, 2012
There are no pictures of this section. Use your imagination.
This out-n-back takes us into town and back again. We were on normal roads, not closed to traffic although there were police at intersections holding back traffic. I was so grateful that I spent so much time training under similar conditions.... except for those hills. Hunter is in the Catskills. We had driven the course the night before and I started to have a panic attack, “oh my god, this is so far!” My sister, who is a biker and hiker talks me down “You dont have to get all the way there, you just have to get to the next tree, to the top of the next hill. It's gotten me through some pretty tough hikes!”
I'm slow on the bike too. This was the leg that I anticipated being my toughest.
Off I went. The Race Director warned us. The road out of the campground has been marked with cones where there are occlusions, potholes and serious cracks in the road. Some have been filled in with stone dust. There are no branches or leaves, but the light rain has me feeling grateful for my normal tires instead of racing slicks. Mindful of the need for hydration, I take mouthfuls of my 50% Gatorade mix.
The first mile is reasonable ups and downs and then there is a long mile downhill. I'm grateful because it gives me a chance to finish catching my breath from the swim, but in the back of my mind, I know I will face this hill again. At the end. Going uphill.
Pay attention. This hill will be important later.
At mile 2.1 I start to see the Elites on their way back in. I call out positions to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd placers. I call out thank you to the volunteers that I see. I hug the right when I get passed and wish them good luck.
Then there is the first major uphill. Its some incredible grade, where if you lived on it, you would have to have stairs into your front door. Its about half a mile and I spend more time in 1st gear than any other time on my bike – possibly combined. At one point my chain popped … but God must have seen me, because it spiraled itself right onto the next gear and I never had to get off the bike. And I never walked.
I never passed a soul. The only person I passed was someone who also popped her chain and had to put it back on. Then she passed me again on a flat bit. I was passed by loads of people. I wanted to feel jealous, but I was really just working too hard.
Its difficult to describe the physical/mental/emotional tangle that was going on during the bike portion of the race. Physically, I was going as fast as I could. Physically, I recognized all the same feelings as when I trained. Sort of like a comfy pair of sweatpants. I'd like to go faster, but I just cant seem to move my legs any more. It is my biggest area for improvement.
The kicker was when some old guy passed me. “Can you believe these hills?” he said as he passed. And I was thinking of doing this on my single gear!” Well, at least I know I'm not the only one feeling it.
Finally I come down that uphill. The breeze is wonderful. There's a pretty strong turn at the bottom, but I enjoyed it while it lasted.
Then there was that less steep, but longer uphill that I knew was waiting for me. I start pedaling again. My running sneakers bend, melting over the pedals, my toes jammed into the front. I feel my heart start to pound. I check in, it assures me that its working hard, but “We got this. You keep going.” The uphill continues.
“It feels just like when you're at 90% on the HR monitor. We're ok for now.” Still more uphill. The pounding in my sternum moves up so now I can feel the arteries in my head actually thumping on the inside of my ears.
“We're not going to die, but is there a top to this hill sometime soon?”
I start heaving like an asthmatic and pleading with God & my Body: “I can see the top. We're almost there. If it's flat, we'll have time to recover. If there is a downhill, we're golden.” I really dont want to walk. That would be defeat.
Plus, I know my recovery rate. Within 10 seconds on a flat, my HR would be back down out of the painful territory. If I get so fortunate as to be on a bit of a downhill, I could really begin to get my wind back.
Finally, I crest the hill. There were no fireworks, but my pulse came out of my ears and I stopped worrying about heart damage. A few more up and downs, then I see the big “Stop and Walk Bike” sign. Only I misjudged and ended up skidding the tires for a few inches in order to stop on time. I walk in trying to shake the worst of the Brick feeling from my legs.
Proof of how slow I was? The woman in the stall next to me? She's cleaning up to leave just as I pull in for T2. We exchange pleasantries as I park, “ Could you believe those hills?” she says to me.
Since I'm already wearing my sneakers, there is nothing to this transition. Park and go. My sister has taken refuge from the sporadic showers under one of the volunteer's tents.
Only the run to go. Triathlon, you are mine, BITCH.
Monday, June 11, 2012
After deep but short sleep, its time. The alarm found both me and my sister waiting in anticipation. I had laid out my clothes the night before. So I sling them on, my sister applied my tattoo numbers, we brush teeth and hit the door.
The transition area is a hive of activity. Some good advice the night before said I only needed to arrive one hour before. So we didn't dawdle setting up my stall.
Remember I said mornings were cold? I'm wearing 2 shirts.
We hit the catering for a light breakfast. There are some that can do this type of race on just coffee, but I've found that a little something makes AM exercise a lot more pleasant for me. Half a bagel with PB and Apple Butter, a handful of grapes and some more water and I'm ready to go.
About 20 minutes before the gun, I put on my wetsuit. I was able to have one practice session on my own. The trick is to peeling it *on* to me.
The Race Director gathered us for some final words and reviewed the course one last time.
I am wearing a black wetsuit and a yellow swim cap. Can you see me?
(That was irony.)
Then its down to the water for the start! The paved walkway is hard on my feet. I hear the Ironman's words in my head “walk, dont run to the transition after swim.” Its not going to be a problem!
I position myself in the middle of the pack. I dont want to get run over or feel like I'm being left behind. The first wave, all men, plunge in and 3 minutes later we go!
The water is not that cold. I would call it “fresh.” The adrenalin of the moment makes me swim at first with my head out of the water. Then I realized what I was doing, and start doing my proper freestyle/ crawl like in practice. But what I didnt anticipate was the mild anxiety attack that I had facing down into the black waters. I flipped onto my back and backstroke, catching my breath. I take about 3.5 seconds to make my peace with backstroking the course and make my way around the 2 buoys into shore. As I am headed into shore on the last leg, I felt the last of my anxiety leave me. I can do this!
Up the hill to the transition area. My stall is one in from the rail so my sister can support & photograph me peeling off the wetsuit and putting on my clothes. The day is overcast and it has spat a few drops of rain, but I choose sunglasses anyway. Helmet, trot to the door and exit. I'm off on my bike.
Up next: The tough get going .. up a hill.
Sunday, June 10, 2012
Triathlon (1 of 5): Prologue
To say I was nervous before this weekend was an understatement. Unsettled, anxious, jumpy, frayed are also words that spring to mind.
I made a list and checked it twice. I spent 2 days packing. Worried about what to do and what to eat, I tapered and carbo-loaded, neither with tremendous success. I was going to only do a 2 day taper, but crap weather all week made it difficult to even get out for any type of exercise. After a full week of inactivity, I broke down on Friday morning and ran around the block twice (only 0.6 miles, but there is a mondo hill) which was enough to take the edge off. When did I turn into an exercise junkie?
Finally realized: This is like Opening Night Jitters. My family are all gigantic Theatre Nerds. We've all been to multiple shows, my sister has a degree in Music: Vocal Performance, my father was in a community theater group when I was younger, I directed plays in college...you get the pictures. So I know what Opening Night feels like. Once I understood it was the same emotion, I was actually able to harness the energy and channel in a productive manner. I will not be ruled by Stage Fright.
This was my packing list:
Swim: Wetsuit, swimsuit, Goggles
Bike: Bike, Helmet, Shorts, Tshirt, bike bottle, socks, sneakers
Run: Hmm. No special equip, here
Etc: Big towel*, Small towel*, Dishpan, Big waterbottle, gatorade, racing belt, Bra, camera, parking pass, Chair for my sister/support team, hairbands.
My sister/ support team decided to stay locally the night before, so I also need personal items: toiletries, pjs, etc.
*Optimist, she's such a hoopy frood, she always knows where her towel is.
What I should have brought: Sweatshirt. Mornings are cold.
It doesnt sound like much, but I had 2 additional lists, following the Tri was a Saturday night birthday party at a relative's house so I need additional clothing for myself and Child. Logistics and planning were key for getting through this weekend.
Friday night was the Athlete's Dinner and Meeting. The event is much smaller and lower key than anticipated. I mindfully consume lasagna, vegetables and salad.
The Race Director welcomed all the triathletes (about 60 of us there) and asked for a show of hands for 1st timers. About half the crowd, which makes me feel better. He reviews the course and we toddle off to go look at the transition area and the lake. I dipped a toe in, it doesnt feel too bad.
I love this man; he was carefully removing all goose poop from the beach.
I dont mean to scare you, but I will. That orange pillow was our starting point. See the little blotch WAAAY in the distance? That's 250 meters. It *looks* really far, but as you read in the next chapter, is not as far as you think.
We got back to the B&B by 8:30 and relax with some drinks on the patio. Seltzer for me, beer for sister. Bed by 9:30 and lights out at 10. The alarm is set for 5.
I *could* still chicken out...
Sunday, June 10, 2012
I am the #1 finisher for the HITS Hunter Mtn Sprint Triathlon in the Athena 39 and under!
Does it count if there was nobody else in the category?!
Tuesday, June 05, 2012
I was going to title this "High Carbing and Feeling Gross" but that is a sad title dont you think? This one is much more optimistic.
Normally, I keep to a higher protein diet with lower carb numbers than the tracker says. (Its constantly yelling at me.) It just seems to work better for me. However given my pending date with Hunter Mountain and what I have been reading about carbo loading, it seems to make sense to beef up the carbs at this time.
This morning: waffles with cottage cheese & blueberry, tabbouleh made with barley for lunch (I may never go back to bulgher wheat) an icecream with the child after mini-golf, and some barley & beans for dinner. After I entered all the food I realized: I was a vegetarian today. Ok, my protein is low and my fat is wicked high from the icecream, but I didnt eat any meat.
Unfortunetly, while I'd like to celebrate this, I feel really bloated and disgusting. I dont know if its the carbs or the richness from the icecream or an aftereffect of yesterday's lunch Denny's run: I had the Cheese burger Flatbread and blew my calories out of the water - almost blogged about it too, but I decided my SP friends dont need another self-flogging blog.
Tomorrow, more tabbouleh, more beans but perhaps eggs for breakfast instead. Thursday is PASTA!
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