Thursday, September 22, 2011

VERY LONG Race Report

Park City Mossman Olympic Triathlon
August 21, 2011
.9 mile swim
25 mile bike
10k run

2011 was supposed to be the year I did a half Ironman. I had one in mind. August 21, 2011, I would do the Timberman half Ironman in New Hampshire. It would give me about a month after my move to do the race, but I had decided due to my health and my move it was not the year to do a Half.

Before I even moved I talked to Darlene about coming out to the East Coast to cheer me on at my half. She talked to work and arranged a week off to come on out and cheer me on. This was before I decided that a half was not going to happen. She was still coming even though I decided not to do the half.

Once I decided that I wasn’t going to do a half I knew that I had to put a race on my calendar, so I did some looking around on the web and found the Park City Mossman Olympic Distance Triathlon and it was also on August 21, 2011, so Dar would still be able to cheer me on. It was in Bridgeport, CT, which would not be too far from my new house, so I signed up without hesitation, let my coach know and then continued to get ready for my July Half Marathon and my move at the end of July. Life was busy. I had never really read the details of the race until after I moved. That’s when the panic set in.

The swim would be in the Long Island Sound. Um, that sounds like the ocean. The bike was 5 loops, and the run was 2 loops,very flat. I liked that part, but I didn’t like the part about SWIMMING IN THE OCEAN. I brought this up to Keith and he said, “Um what part of East Coast didn’t you understand? That’s the ocean.” HAHA.

So I tried to push this out of my mind and continued to train, run a half marathon, and then move. I asked people after moving about the Long Island Sound and they reassured me, that although it is ocean water, the sound makes it very calm. Also, people told me that I would love swimming in salt water because of the buoyancy. I still wasn’t convinced about swimming in the ocean, but there was no turning back now. Before this race the only swims I had done in triathlons were in a manmade reservoir in Naperville and swimming in Lake Zurich, once. I was determined to put my fear out of my mind and take this challenge head on.

The best part about this race is that I would have my best friend, Darlene, there with me. Darlene is the one back in 2005 that told me we should do a Sprint triathlon in 2006 and we did and I’ve been hooked every since. Thanks Darlene. It was also great to have her here because I was really missing home. We hit the road and got to our hotel to begin our girls weekend of triathloning.

We got to our hotel and then headed out to packet pick up for the race. I got there and found out there were only 300 participants. I started to feel anxious because the last Olympic Distance Triathlon I had done had about the same number participants and they wanted to close the finish line and no one basically besides my family, my coach, and my friends were at the finish line that I had to beg them to keep up. I was having flashbacks to that race, but I had emailed this race director before the race letting them know my estimated time to finish and talked to them. They assured me I would have a finish line and that they never shut down until every participant finishes.

Here I am in line waiting to pick up my packet.

Here I am talking to the race directors and getting all the details worked out. I was also finding out where I could go to get a swim in the day before, so I wouldn’t have so much anxiety about swimming in the ocean.

Once I was all checked in Darlene and I went for a swim in the ocean. I was a little nervous, but then just went for it. I had her bump into me, grab my legs, and then we just had fun swimming in the ocean. It was great. Here is a shot of the ocean where I would swim for the race.

Here I am about to go in the ocean.

Here I am in the ocean. It went really well and in about 5 minutes of swimming all my anxiety was gone. I’m so glad that we did this.

We headed out to dinner and then I got to bed early to get well rested for my race.

Race Morning was here before I knew it. I had everything I needed, so we loaded up the car and headed out.

Here I am in in transition, all set up and ready to go. This would be my first race on my new Road Bike. I couldn’t wait.

Here I am getting body marked.

Well setting up transition and getting body marked I was being eaten alive by mosquitoes. It was horrible. I could not wait to get in that water. I now know for next year to pack bug spray. Somebody working the race had some and I was able to get some relief, so I headed to the beach.

The sun was just rising. It was so beautiful.

We listened to the worst rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. When the lady messed up the words she said, “Oh My God, I just messed up. Let me start over.” I wanted to yell, “Noooooooooooooo!!”

Here is a pic of me and Darlene before the race.

Then it was time to line up and start racing. Here I am right before the race started.

The swim waves were starting every 2 minutes and before I knew it it was my turn to line up. I got in the water, which was VERY warm and we were off. There was a little big of bumping, but nothing major. Darlene had grabbed and bumped me worse in our practice swim than anything that had happened in the race.

I was keeping a steady pace and pretty proud of myself at this point. At last years Olympic Distance, I was dead last out of the water. My goal this year was to do my swim in under an hour and to not be the last one out of the water.

I kept going and out of the corner of my eye I could see a young girl, maybe early 20’s, having a hard time and panicking. I swam up to her and asked her if she was ok? She told me this was her first triathlon and that she was really panicking in the swim. I told her to take some deep breaths. I knew that the next wave would be coming up behind us, so I told her to stay on the outer edge and also told her that it was ok to use any stroke. She thought you could only do freestyle. I told her she could grab onto a kayak if she needed to. She didn’t know any of this. She thanked me and told me she was ok and that I could keep going. It made me so happy that I have come far enough that I am able to help someone.

I made my way around the first buoy and that’s when I noticed a man every time I breathed to my left. He was really having a hard time. In fact a kayak was keeping tabs on him pretty close. It was at this point I knew I had at least two people behind me and it was just the boost I needed. I didn’t slow down at all. I knew I wouldn’t be the last one out of the water. I’m not saying I’m happy they were struggling, but I sure was happy they were slower than me.

I turned around the last buoy and I just had to make it to shore now. I picked up my pace a little, but was feeling a little tired at this point. I could hear Darlene on her air horn and other people cheering us in. I had finally made it.

One thing that really bothered me is that just in front of me is that there was a guy (not the same one as before) who had grabbed onto a kayak so he could take a break. This is fine to do as long as the kayak is not making any forward motion. I noticed that the young girl on the kayak was still paddling forward. I thought to myself, maybe the guy was dropping out of the race, but no, as he got closer she said, "Ok, you can stand up here now." He stood up, ran to shore and continued the race. He should have gotten a penalty for that, but I let it go and was just proud of myself that I NEVER had to hold onto a kayak for assistance and that I was not the last person out of the water. :)

Here I am coming out of the water.

Here I am in transition getting ready to head out on the bike. I don’t know if it was the salt water or what, but it was hard to get on my biking stuff while being wet. I really struggled. I had a new biking jersey that I was wearing for the first time in a race. I had trained in it, but never did a brick from swim to bike while wet, so I learned that I need to practice even things like that. I use every triathlon and experience as a learning experience and this is one thing I took away from my slow T1 time. It was frustrating. I’m thinking of biking with no socks as well, so I don’t have to deal with them after the swim. What do you all think about biking with no socks?

Here I am in Transition.

I headed out on the bike. It was right along the coast line and was beautiful. The course consisted of five 5-mile loops. I loved that it was a looping course because you don’t feel so alone even though you are last. Everyone was very encouraging.

This was the first race on my road bike and man could I tell a difference in speed. I love my new bike, however, I had not had it long enough at this point to have spent a lot of time in the saddle, so after about 15 miles certain areas were hurting very badly and also at this point my lower back was starting to hurt.

The last 10 miles were very hard and by the last lap my back was spasming and I was crying for almost the whole lap. I just couldn’t NOT cry, but I knew I was ok to keep going. There was no way this far into the race that I would quit. My back hurt, but not enough to stop. I kept going and everyone was cheering me on.

Something I learned out on the bike course is that it was time to start working on strengthening my core, so my back can handle being in the aero position and just in the road bike position in general. I also need to keep focused on my weight loss as this will help in all areas of my racing.

Darlene was there for me all 5 laps cheering me on with her air horn and words of encouragement. It really helped me stay focused and really encouraged me to keep going at times when I didn’t think I could. Thanks Darlene.

As I headed into T2 I fell over trying to dismount, between my back giving me issues, being tired and still learning to clip in and out of my new pedals I was quite the sight. HAHA. At least everyone else was out on the run course at that point. I scraped up my elbow pretty good and hurt my right hip. Great, just what I needed before a long run. You should have seen the bruise the next day on my hip. It was EPIC.

My transition from the bike to the run went a little faster, but at this point I was in some pain and needing some nutrition. I had lost a water bottle out on the bike. I drank some, ate a gel, and headed out on the run while eating a banana.

The run was a two 3-mile loops. I was heading out on my first loop, jogging and walking and not feeling well, when this young, in her early 20’s, girl ran with me for a minute. She said, “Hey, it’s you. I just wanted you to know that because of you I’m finishing this race. I’m the one that was panicking in the water. Thank you so much. Stay strong, you can finish this.” I told her no problem and then she headed off to finish her second loop. It was a great feeling to know that I had helped her, so she could finish her first triathlon ever. It's all part of my journey. Help others in the process of helping myself.

There were a few people out there finishing up there second loops and then there was me. All alone with just my thoughts and at this point they were not good. No matter how hard I tried I could not run. I got to the aid station, downed some Gatorade, and headed back it was then that this guy appeared, out of nowhere it seemed. He asked if I wanted company. I said sure. Hi name is Eugene and he said to just do what I needed to do and he would just be there for me. He was racing and doing well when he had a bike malfunction, so he couldn’t finish the race. He decided to stay and cheer people on to the finish line. I really don't remember much of what he said or I said, but it really did help me keep my mind off of the difficulties I was having at the time.

We got to the point for the turn around to start the second loop and there was Darlene and other people cheering me on. It was amazing that so many people were still there to see me to the finish line and I still probably had an hour left at this point.

Darlene snapped this picture of me and Eugene coming into the turnaround.

Someone handed me a cold rag for my neck. It was quite warm at that time. Eugene grabbed a few extra and we headed out for loop two. I told him he didn’t have to, but he did. At some point another guy joined us telling me that I inspired him ALL DAY and he wanted to walk with me for awhile. I would jog at some points, but mainly just walked.

The first Olympic Distance I did in Illinois I finished in over 5 hours. My goal for this race was to do it in 4:30. As that time came and went my goal was to just finish in under 5 hours. We got to the aid station and Eugene and I stuck our heads in the coolers of water and we had some Gatorade and we were back on our way. Only 1.5 miles to go.

At that point the other guy had to go. I thought I was getting close to the finish line and picked up my pace and realized it was a BBQ and I still had a ways to go. It smelled so good I was ready to quit right then and there and join the BBQ. HAHA.

I had to stop a couple times and sit down because of how I was feeling, but I knew that if I did that too much I wouldn’t be able to get up and go, so I just pushed forward jogging as much as I could.

I told Eugene at this point that I didn’t want to talk anymore. He could talk all he wanted, but I was just going to finish and finish strong. He did keep talking and honestly I don’t remember much of what we talked about.

I didn’t think I would ever finish and I was mentally not caring anymore about whether or not I finished, but in the fashion that I have become accoustumed to I pushed on and FINALLY could see the finish line.

At this point I had no idea how long I had been out there, but I pushed as much as I could. Eugene told me he was going to let me have the finish line to myself and he disappeared for a few minutes.

Here I am crossing the finish line in 4:55:20. It’s not the time I wanted, but it was under 5 hours and for that I was and am happy.

Darlene was there and about a dozen people to cheer me in and celebrate with me.

Here is a pic of me and Eugene. I was not expecting him to put his leg up. He is a really fun guy.

After that pic he went and got a trashcan of VERY COLD ice water and dumped it on me. It was so cold. I have never felt anything that COLD ever, but it was fun and probably helped with my recovery. I still get chills when I think of this or look at these pictures.

After we were done at the race, we went and took some pics with the lighthouse in the background. Enjoy.

Here are my times:

Swim: 45 minutes and 55 seconds. In my first Olympic Distance my swim was just over an hour. I really improved here and had 3 people come out of the water after me.

T1: 5:55. It felt a lot longer.

Bike: 1 hour 54 minutes. First race was just over 2 hours.

T2: 4:17

Run: 2 hours and 14 minutes. I am not happy with this.

Total time: 4:55:20

1 comment:

Debb said...

Nice job on the race. Trust me I know how it feels doing these things when you're one of the larger people there and worried about time cut offs etc. I used to be 300lbs also, and I still am over 200lbs. Now I do HIMs and I've done most of Ironman Wisconsin, (long story).

Not everyone will agree with us doing these things now (not being at an ideal body type) but life is to short to wait to live your dreams, and I think it's fabulous you're still working your way to where you want to be despite the set-backs.

Anything IS possible!