Saturday, April 28, 2012
I've trained for the swim and run; the bike was my biggest concern. Then, there is always the weather...
The water temp yesterday was at 76, still wetsuit legal. Known concerns on the bike route, like cattle guards, were somewhat resolved - the first one would be covered with plywood, as it was to be on the run route; the next two would be left open (yikes!). The route had also been changed a bit; but, there was still one short stretch across a main highway that would become treacherous when the route was re-opened to vehicular traffic (double yikes!).
The morning began a little blustery, but cool-ish in the mid-70's, and thankfully overcast. My coach was in the Sprint, so we were able to watch her come blowing out of the water (she won 3rd overall for the Women's Sprint). Then, it was our turn, the green caps of the Olympic Distance women so well-organized and attentive, treading water until we heard the starting horn blast. We were still concerned about having to make a tight turn across the buoy at the starting point to do the second loop; we'll see what happens...
Don't start out too fast...I had aligned with the first buoy (250m) and headed out as calmly as I could, keeping my strokes as steady as I could. In spite of feeling as though I was being targeted by someone who doesn't know how to spot, I made it to the first buoy, slowly, but I made it. On my way to the next buoy (250m), my chest felt as though someone shoved it into a vice. I turned over on my back to ease up, then decided to side-stroke a bit before resuming my freestyle. Next thing I knew, I couldn't breathe, no matter what. Back onto my back, repeat, no way was this going to work. I'm not a quitter, but, I'm also not stupid...I was not going to make this loop a second time. So, I called out to a kayak and they sent the jet ski for me.
My Tri was over. When I got out of the water, I doubled over, unable to breathe. What went wrong? My wetsuit? Anxiety? My lungs? One of my team member's husband is a healthcare professional and he came to my assistance, I was wheezing horribly. I found a race official, told him what happened and gave him my timing chip. He said I could do as much of the rest of the race as I wanted, since I wouldn't get a time, anyway.
So, I got on my bike and headed out. The hilly route is challenging, but, not really that bad; and, I've ridden similar routes. While on the umpteenth climb, my left hip, which has been bothering me for over a week, and my lower back when out. It hurt enough to bring tears to my eyes. I was toast.
So, I doubled back (downhill is much more fun than uphill), caught my breath and pulled on my running shoes. What the heck, I might as well do the Sprint run distance. At least I would have done something, rather than have quit entirely. Yes, my back and hip were screaming, but, I can run hills. My mom and I were staying at a hotel where she could see the cyclists and runners pass by, and she was out there when I came bounding up the hill. I moved toward her and let her know that she could head over to the finish area, then, continued up another darned hill! She told me that I looked good, but, she had no clue how badly I was hurting.
It took about 40 minutes to finish the 5K (I had to double back to retrieve my cap that blew off in a gust of wind and stopped to tell my Coach, standing on the sidelines near the finish, what happened earlier). She had yelled out, "Don't stop!" But, to me, it really didn't matter; I was just trying to make whatever effort my miserable body was going to let me.
The Finish Line
As I crossed the finish, a lovely elderly lady tried to hang a medal over my neck. I just let her hand it to me and said that someone had already taken my chip. She just shrugged her shoulders, probably not understanding what that meant. I felt guilty about accepting the Finishers medal, after all, I really hadn't finished what I had started. I just shoved the medal into my jersey pocket and headed toward my coach.
The Encouraging Words
One of the fellows who hangs out with our Tri team is a US National Champion, now 63 (he placed 3rd overall in today's event). Mom had filled him in on what I had gone through the past few weeks and he asked how I felt. I told him that I was beaten up all over, but just didn't want to feel as though I completely quit. He assured me that he has gone through the same problems and crashes, and also has a health issue to deal with, and said that he admired my gumption; what a nice compliment!
One of our team members, whom we refer to as "The Specimen" (he's the picture of the perfect athlete), told me he struggled with the swim, as well, and felt the same problems - and he was doing the Sprint. I told him that I appreciated his telling me that; it made me feel better and less alone. Someone else also said he had trouble (another Sprint triathlete). The guys seems to share encouragement more than the girls, go figure.
Well, my coach agreed with me that I need a lot of rest and recovery; I've been pushing so hard for months on end. I know that I need a lot more physical therapy than I'm currently getting to deal with my hip and lower back. My doctor had changed my appointment to next week; so, I'll have to wait getting my lungs checked...again. There is definitely something wrong (the sort of asthmatic attack also occurs after a half or full marathon) to make me feel as though I have chronic bronchitis.
There will be another Tri...next weekend, actually. But, I don't know if I'll attempt it; my body wants rest. Perhaps I need to build up from the bottom, again, to get my body used to the routine. Perhaps I need to decide whether to focus on multisport, or continue coaching in the marathon/HM training program. I have come to love multisport, and the great people I meet.
There will always be another Tri...