Monday, June 11, 2012

Just DU it!

The past month has been mentally challenging.  The run-up to RnR was mentally & physically exhausting, and post RnR I was just not mentally engaged.  I truly just wanted this season to be over with.  During my phone chat with Lea last week, she reassured me that this is normal & that I’ve really earned my downtime over the next couple of weeks.  But, she also reminded me that I was prepared for this upcoming race.  I know, too, that our seasonably wet NW weather was part of the problem…and that sun is just around the corner to re-warm my soul!

Tuesday night, I had my last pre-race training with the tri team at Get Bold.  I was the only one not intending to do the triathlon, but that night’s training was just bike/run, so I was looking forward to it.  We did a relatively easy 10 mile ride followed by a 2 mile run.  As usual, I was the last one in, but I felt strong about my performance that night. 

I had a relatively light training week planned, but my last workout was the Fit Right NW’s First Thursday Urban Adventure Run.  It’s a really fun event – this was my third month.  I look forward to the camaraderie in the community & I’ve recruited a few coworkers to join me.  This week, however, the weather was terrible, my attitude was terrible, and if I hadn’t carpooled with another participant that day, I’d totally have bagged!  However, about quitting time that night, the weather broke, the sun came out, and I was dressed to go.  Coworker Mike (as opposed to Iron Man Mike) picked me up & we ran.  The fun evening reminded me why I’ve chosen this new lifestyle – and that my fitness level isn’t all about planned workouts & PRs – but about being able to participate in the “fun stuff” in life.  I’m so grateful that things turned out the way they did, because my attitude did a complete turnaround & I was so prepared for this weekend’s event – the Blue Lake Triathlon/Duathlon!

Saturday morning, I woke up ready to roll.  I truly can’t remember what I had for breakfast – lol – but I did grab my prerequisite soy latte on the way to the race.  As I was loading the bike on the car, my husband (E.T.) came out dressed & ready to go.  I was shocked!  Though he has supported my efforts, this is not really his thing.  And, with the exception of Warrior Dash last year, he has never come to a race.  I don’t blame him – if you’re not into the event, it can be quite boring, waiting around for three hours hoping to see your loved one passing by – once or twice at most.  (I love being there, regardless, and like to volunteer – but understand it’s not fun, if you’re not “into” it.)  We have a good understanding here…he supports my choice to participate, and I don’t expect him to be bored out of his mind.  So, having him come along meant the world to me!  He knew I’d been struggling, wouldn’t have anyone there to take photos (my Get Bold mates were busy running their races), and hoped he’d be able to see me a few times.  I think he also wanted to see what this is really all about.  It really made my day to have him there!  (And, I’ve made sure he knows it!)

So, we got to Blue Lake in plenty of time for me to figure out where the transition area was, where the Run Out/In, Bike Out/In, etc. areas were, make the requisite potty stops, and all.  I felt very calm by the time I needed to be getting race-ready.  E.T. had found a place to park right in front of the transition area (he has disabled parking plates – so has a slight advantage there), and set up with his “keep busy” stuff for the day.

This might sound silly, but one of the things that made me really feel like the rock-star athlete I’ve been working toward was getting the body-marking done.  Left calf side – race number, right side calf back – age.  (I still don’t understand the age thing, but LOVED watching the numbers as people passed me…oldest was 69, youngest 10!)  After body-marking, I set up my race area & found my Get Bold friends.  We had a few encouraging words, as I watched them tug on their wetsuits, and went our separate ways. 

One thing I’ve discovered in training & at other races is that it takes me about ½ hour – or two miles – to really get in my groove, and be able to run rather than walk.  Since it was a cold morning and I had plenty of time, I worried less about being worn out, and more about being ready.  I spent a good ½ hour walking, doing short sprints, stretching, and getting my body warmed up in general.  (This might seem like a no-brainer to some, but was “new” to me.)  I think it really helped me get going faster.  I took in a gel (Chocolate Agave #9) about 10 minutes before the start.

So, we heard the first swim wave take off, and it was time for all of the duathletes to start our first 5K in a mass start.  (There were only ~80 of us total.)  I found my spot mid-pack, and struggled for the first ½ mile or so, since the run path took us through wet grass & mud – something I wasn’t prepared for.  But, I kept moving.  I was pretty much mid-back of the pack through the turnaround, but quickly found myself at the back of a pack of about 5 people on the way back in.  With ½ mile to go, I found myself in last place.  There was a nice, older gentleman who was sag support, and rode clear to the transition with me, chatting with me all the way.  (I LOVE the volunteers, and this is why I love to volunteer myself!)  It was really encouraging to see, as we approached the lake, that there were still swimmers out there & I knew I wasn’t starting the bike leg in last place!

As I came into transition, E.T. spotted me – jumped out of the car – and got some really good photos.  I was again so appreciative that he came along.  It was really easy to spot my bike, as the duathletes were separated from the triathletes and the relay teams – and mine was the only one left in the racks! J  But, I changed shoes, took a big swig of electrolyte, and started the long, muddy run to the bike mounting area.  (Another thing I hadn’t anticipated – how far, in the mud, uphill it would be to the bike mount.)

The bike ride, though extremely windy, was a long, flat ride, and I had no problems. Get Bold coach, Elba, called out “Go Rockstar” as he passed me…which I needed to hear. I took in a gel (Chocolate Agave #9) at the turn-around, and managed to drink a little more than one bottle of electrolyte during the ride.  I was thankful not to be one of the two “casualties” I’d seen on the course (one injury, one flat tire).  Coming back into transition (again, a long way from the bike dismount) it was a bit more difficult to re-rack my bike, as the other athletes had been less than careful about making sure there was room for one more.  I also learned not to be so haphazard in my transition area – everything of mine had been run over and muddied.  Lessons learned.  E.T. missed me coming in, but was able to wave as I headed out for run #2.

Having already run the course once, I was able to anticipate & plan my second run.  Planned to walk to mile 1, then run as much as possible.  However, “run as much as possible” was relative – I was TIRED!  I really enjoyed, though, seeing all of the athletes on the course, and the encouragement that those you passed in the opposite direction gave.  The closer I got to the end of the course, the more encouraging people were.  I wonder if it’s because we all were “back of the pack-ers” or if it’s just the way it is at a multi-sport event.  Regardless, it was great.  I saw a couple of gals from my Get Bold group – they had later swim starts, so were just behind me starting the run, and a couple were just ahead of me finishing it.  E.T. was at the mile 3 marker to take my photo as I readied to take the last hill to the finish line, and the Get Bold team was waiting for me –so we could all have our photos together. 

We stuck around for some post-race food (strawberry shortcake, sans shortcake J), and enjoyed the atmosphere for a while.  Then, we headed to our planned post-race Mongolian grill meal.  (Meat and veggies!)

Having been in such an end-of-season funk, this event was surprisingly my favorite event I’ve done so far.  Warrior Dash was fun in its own way, and each race has been unique – but this is my first multi-sport event…and the kind of event that is my end goal – and I TRULY enjoyed it.  One of the most enjoyable parts was seeing the kids in the “try-it” division of the triathlon – and I have dreams of encouraging my 7-year-old nephew to try it with me soon!

I am moving on to the next phase of my training year – “strength building” – after a couple of weeks of mental & physical recovery.  (Not doing nothing…just very little.)  I plan to spend some time enjoying physical FUN- swimming, playing ball, hiking, biking and other summer activities.  I’ll be concentrating on getting myself ready for the rigors of training for my first full marathon.  And, above all, I’ll be LIVING MY FIT DREAMS!