Monday, June 10, 2013

Esprit de She

91 miles of swimming for 11 minutes of racing.  It seems rather easy. It wasn't. 

Back with my Tridiot teammates to kick some ass at Esprit de She triathlon.  Last year was our first try at this.  We were clueless.  This year we were back to be better.   This time I trained.  

I've been swimming since January.  As in I actually had a coach.  Someone who for some unknown reason wanted to help me.  He provided me workouts, answered all my dumb questions, put up with my whining, was a smartass, and most importantly encouraged me when I felt overwhelmed.  With workouts. With life.  He was the first to tell me to ditch a workout and go on a date instead.  I felt as if I was quitting.  He made me feel that it was necessary to be happy and live my life and not be a slave to workouts that may have been weighing me down.  He was right. 

I had some pretty high yardage months.  I was feeling really good.  Pretty strong.  It felt good to feel so great in the water.   Back at my swimming roots. Then as we moved closer to the tri date I started picking up running again.  Coach was VERY insistent that I stay off the feet for a few months to REALLY heal after my multiple broken situations.  It felt great to be back on the run.  It felt great to be out of the pool a bit more.  Be on the running paths a bit more.   I was starting to feel a bit burned out with the pool.  Tired of feeling like I was dragging myself to the pool each time.  It was nice to be outside.  Running. 

I was feeling ready for this race.  Well, up until a few days before when I saw a cool weather forecast predicted and learned that the water temp would be on the cool side.  Then learning on the race Facebook page that most people were planning on wearing wet suits?  Ugh.  I felt immediately defeated.  I didn't have a wet suit. I wasn't about to go out and buy one either.  For those who don't know not only does a wet suit provide warmth, it helps with buoyancy.  Therefore, less energy is needed to stay afloat.  Thus making it easier to swim. 

I freaked a bit and asked Coach what I should do.  His reply was for me to stfu and just swim faster than everyone else.  It was a short race.  I had no experience swimming in a wet suit.  If I had one it would probably be a hindrance to me.  Arrrrrighty then. 

Race morning Sara (bike) and I got there around 5:30 am.   She dropped me off and went to get her energy drink at a nearby store.  I set up our transition and then sat by myself.  Sara eventually arrived, then took off again to change.  Lisa (run) arrived but had to still pick up her packet and the race bib she needed to run.  She did so and texted me that she was on her way back to transition.  However, at this point I needed to be in the water for warm ups. So, I hit the water on my own.  

It was cold.  No doubt about it.  But, I just dove in and got that shock over with asap.  I felt good once I started moving.  I swam about 400 yards (half the swim course) and got out.  As I exited the water I almost fell.  I felt dizzy and off balance.  Wtf.  I have no idea why.  I don't know if it was the cold or something else.  But, it freaked me out a bit. 

When I exited the water Lisa was waiting for me.  We walked back up to transition so Lisa could put on her bib and I could drop off my clothes and towel.  Within a minute we were being kicked out of transition as it was closing for race start.  So, Lisa and I hustled back over the the start so I could get in my wave (#3) which would start 8 minutes after the Elites took off to start the race. 

Just as I was about to get in my wave my sister, my niece (Ironkid) and my nephew ran over to hug me and wish me good luck. It was nice to see them. Ironkid gave me some huge words of encouragement and lots of hugs and kisses.  It was fun to have the tables turned.  

I got up front in my wave and waited for race start.  Everyone around me was in wet suits.  Ugh.  That kind of freaked me out.  Oh, well.  It was what it was.  

The Elites took off.  Wave #2 was the cancer survivors.  There was a woman in her 30's in this wave who was standing right in front me me.  As she moved up to start I saw that she was shaking and crying.  I asked if she was ok.  She said, "I don't think I can do this."  I told her that she had been through things MUCH harder than this.  That she most definitely could do this.  I gave her a hug and wished her luck.   She put all my silly nerves in perspective.  It was just a race.  Just a race.  What is there to be scared of? 

Our relay wave moved into the water.... countdown to our start.  I somehow caught my family in the crowd and shared a wave and a smile.  That made me relax.  All of a sudden I was diving in going out full force.  As fast I could. 

Coach had sent me a pretty inspirational email two nights before the race.  He basically told me to go all out and leave nothing on the table.  He knew I wanted to win the relay portion of the swim.  He told me that if I wanted to win I had to give everything I had.  Leave nothing behind.  So, I did as he said. 

However, I lost steam early.  I think the cold knocked the breath out of me at first.  I faded.  I almost felt like giving up.  But, then I remembered that Coach told me that it was only 10 minutes of giving everything I had. 10 friggin minutes.  I could suck it up for that, right?  I turned around the first buoy and was able to see two pink relay caps in front of me about 10 yards ahead.  Damn it.  I wasn't in first.  I was third.  I felt a bit defeated by this at first.  Disappointed.  But, then I told myself to not give up just because it was likely I wouldn't win.  I could still be better than last year.  I could still kick ass. 

Once I told myself this I relaxed a bit and got a strong steady pace going.  It was still hard. I was still struggling.  But, I kept moving.  

For those who don't know, open water swimming is hard.  Really hard.  You cannot see in front of you.  You cannot see where you are going.  You easily can swim zig zag all over the place.  You swim into people.  People swim into you.  You get kicked.  You get clawed. It's a free for all.   This year I had an easier time swimming through people.  Not sure if I had a better strategy by swimming around them or what.  But, I felt like I made it through the maze of swimmers in front of me better this time.

All of a sudden I was on the last switchback.  Dug in and gave it all I had left.  Soon I could see the bottom of the water.  I was able to stand up.  And run.  Out of the water.  Into the sand.  Up the hill.  Through the entire parking lot.  To our transition spot.   It was pretty exciting to see all the race teams there.  Waiting for their swimmers.  I was the third one in.  Just behind the leaders.  All the teams were cheering me in.  It was pretty cool. I quickly passed off our chip to Sara and she was off on the bike.  

I was SO relieved to be done.  I was exhausted.  But, I was happy.  I had no clue what my time was.  but, I did know I was third.  And, I was ok with that.  My family was waiting just out of transition for me to put on clothes and then I joined them to catch up to cheer Sara on the bike.  Ironkid ran up to me and gave me a HUGE hug.  Told me she was proud of me.  Told me I did great.  She was all excited to give me the play by play of my race.  It made me smile. 

We caught up to see Sara come by on loop one and we all screamed at her as she rode by.
 Then back to transition to find Lisa who was awaiting Sara on the bike.  Lisa was nervous waiting there by herself.  She had been sizing up the competition of the other relay runners.  I told her to just run her own race.  Go kick ass.  Sara came in looking very strong.  SO strong.

Last year Sara was deep into chemo treatments and her body was weak.  Even though she did great last year she really pushed her body.  This time she looked strong.  And happy. As soon as she came in I ripped the timing chip off her ankle and put it onto Lisa's ankle.  Slapped her ass and told her to RUN! 

Sara and I then headed to the finish to wait for Lisa.  We watched other teams finish.  Then we saw Lisa's pony tail in the distance.  Sara and I flanked each side of the finish chute, grabbed hands with Lisa.  Once again, the Tridiots crossed the finish hand in hand. 

I'm so proud of my team.  Everyone did so awesome.  We each Monday morning quarterbacked our legs.  Silly girls.  Everyone did fantastic.  We were one minute faster than last year.  We finished 8/52 relay teams. Fantastic. 

No, I didn't win the swim like I wanted to.  I finished third once again.  However, I swam 30 seconds faster than last year (.5 mile, 11:13, 22:26 pace).  With a bit more result stalking I also learned that of the 1281 that swam (Elite, relay, and individual) I finished 37th.  Not too bad if I say so myself.  Only two of those people ahead of me were older than me.  Most were MUCH younger than me.  That made me feel good.  

Post race my team, Ironkid and I hit the SWAG area.  We had such a blast grabbing all the free shit.  Free manicures?  

Uh, YES PLEASE!  Omg... best post race SWAG ever.  Getting hand massages and our nails done.  All we needed was booze.  We danced a bit to the DJ.  We got silly.  We got free plants.  Food. We smiled.  We talked to other inspirational women who did the entire triathlon.  We had fun.  We will do it again. 

The sign Ironkid made for me post race.  My heart melted. 
I'm happy with my effort.  But, I will be better next year.  

I have to give a huge shout out to my Coach.  I cannot even begin to thank you for helping me prepare for this race.  I have no idea why you did it.  But, I thank you.  Very much.  Damn, it just got awfully dusty in here....

A few weeks off serious training.  Then I somehow have to figure out a marathon training program.  Hope I don't break.  Once again.   Pfffft... yeah, we all know how this will end. 

But, first, I chill. 


Suck it cancer. 

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