The workouts I had the week before this race were awful. The bike and run were fine while I was doing them, but my dislocated rib hurt so bad the days after that I wasn't sure I should race. The pre-race swim Thursday went horribly, the pain was so bad for every stroke I tried that I seriously considered dropping out of the tri completely. I've never cried while swimming, but I did that night, I felt so defeated that all that swim training and form practice was for nothing. I spent the next couple days taking lots more advil, getting rest, and icing, all while contemplating dropping out of the race. My sister-in-law and best friend happened to be coming for a visit for race weekend. She's a photographer and I was excited for her to take pictures of me racing, but now I was feeling so sad about my upcoming performance. Maybe I'd just rather quit the race and hang out with her getting a coffee and some breakfast on race morning. But I knew I'd be miserable if I went one more year without racing. There wouldn't be another chance to race before June 2013. So pop some more Advil and get some rest racer girl!
Race morning was chilly (60) and overcast with a chance of rain. The water temp was 74, so it was wetsuit legal. I don't own one though, and even if I did, I thought my injured rib would keep me from getting that wetsuit off! I was happy to see lots of rescue boats on the water, I thought I may need to take some breaks holding on to the boat in order to get through the 400 meters. My cheering section (husband, my 2 boys, sister-in-law, and brother-in-law) all showed up about 10 minutes before my wave start and it made me feel good knowing they would be there if I couldn't finish the first leg of the race.
I started the race hoping I could get through the swim, hoping I could set a new bike record, and hoping I'd be able to breathe on the run. When I ran into the lake I was so nervous to jump in to the cold water and start the swim strokes that had been excrutiating a couple days before. But I'm an optimist, so I started with freestyle stroke, and it felt better! I didn't feel like I was getting stabbed through the heart when I turned to breathe, but after awhile it did start aching so I switched to side stroke. I side stroked as powerfully as I could, letting myself glide each time. It was pinching in my back, but not nearly as stabbing as it was on Thursday. And I looked around to see that I was still swimming with my wave, I was keeping up! As the water around me opened up when swimmers spread out I would switch back to freestyle. After we rounded the buoy farthest from shore and started back I was still feeling fine and realizing that the rescue boats were not going to be helping me this morning! I must have switched between different strokes about 30 times to keep from hurting my rib any further, but it was working! I heard my sister screaming for me to go faster as I neared the shore and I was going pretty fast, people definitely weren't swimming over me! When I ran out of the water and looked at my watch I was stunned and sure it must be wrong. Just over 10 minutes?! Official race results confirmed that I swam a new personal best swim, 400 m in 10:16. So all that work I did on form during the summer wasn't for nothing after all!
The run between the end of the swim and transition was a real pain! It was across docks and up the steepest hill. But I got ready fast in my new bike shoes and was off to do my favorite part! The chain came off my bike before I mounted it, go figure. But I got it on fast and probably only lost a minute. I was only cold for about 5 minutes and then the cardio got my wet body warmed right up! What a perfect ride. If there hadn't been stupid car drivers on some parts of the bike course, I could have shaved another minute off my time, but even so it felt so good to be on a REAL, fast, road bike. I seemed like all I did was pass people. Wheeeee! And the rib wasn't even hurting on the bike since my torso stays still. I could hardly believe the bike was over so fast, was that it!? I looked at my watch but I realized I didn't know exactly what time I got on the bike. What did the official results say? Personal record bike time: 12 miles in 45:12! Woohoo!
I got my bike gear off and my running shoes on quick! My sister was there snapping photos with her telephoto lens, which made me laugh – dang paparazzi! When the run started, I felt like my legs were filled with wet cement. I pushed so hard on the bike, and it was time to pay the price. The fact that I couldn’t breathe deeply didn’t help things, but I had faced this feeling before on my brick workouts the month before. I knew that it always starts shaky, then eventually I get into that running rhythm. But as I finished up mile 1 and the course made a long, gradual uphill climb I started battling with myself mentally about taking a walk break. I’ve done tris where I’ve lost that battle and taken break after break, stretching out my 5k time to 37 minutes. But the last tri I did was this exact same course, and I ran the entire thing in 29 minutes with no walk breaks. So I knew it could be done, and I knew the course was harder the first half than the last half. I also thought about my cheering section, hollering at me to go hard! So I kept going.
A lady asked me what the “A” on the back of my calf meant. For those of you that don’t do triathlons, they put your age on the back of your calf (so you can see if people are in your age group since that is your direct competition), then you get an A for Athena (women over 150 lbs.) and C for Clydesdales (men over 200 lbs). I was passing her and I explained it was so those of us at 200 lbs. didn’t have to compete against the 120 lb. girls with 5% body fat. She laughed and said, “Well, you’re kicking our butt!” So even though I was ready to take a walk break, I couldn’t stop and walk then, I had to continue kicking her butt! Lol! After the halfway point, I got to coast downhill a few minutes, but breathing was getting to be painful. I couldn’t take a deep breath because it was hurting my rib, and that fatigued feeling in my legs was turning my running form to crap. So I glanced at my watch and marked a minute to walk. I started running again and ran for 8 more minutes before I heard the crowd, music, and finish line announcer. I realized that it was mostly uphill to the finish and I glanced at my watch. I guess my hindered breathing was really effecting the life in my legs. I lost that battle of to walk or not to walk once more, but it was mostly for vanity, which is so embarrassing. I didn’t want to be limpy-hobbly-slumped-over finish line lady. I wanted to come across with my chest high and some pep in my step. So before the last uphill push I walked one minute more and then got it done the last few minutes of the run. That last uphill part was killer, D E A D legs! But I finished and hit stop on my stopwatch. It was so close to my last tri time from 2 years ago that I could hardly wait to see the results. Could I have really just bettered my time on the same race while suffering from an injury? Was it possible?
Final result: 1:32:59 a new PR by 17 seconds! Wooo!
Me after the race, trying to catch my breath with my handsome husband.
The faster swim and bike got me that new personal record because my run was 2 minutes slower than the race two years ago. My run pace was 9:24, which is pretty awesome considering I was so tortured with my breathing. I was just so glad that the two walk breaks didn’t make me miss that PR, that would have made me mad. And I finished with the same rank as the last time I did this race (although there were more girls in the Athena category this year). I was ranked 10th out of 30 in the Athena division and 525 out of 972 overall racers. Pretty sweet stuff right there!
Next season’s goals:
1. Faster swim because I won’t have a jacked up rib!
2. Faster bike because I’ll be 20 pounds lighter!
3. Faster run because of the rib and the weight loss thing!
4. At least one top three finish in my division.