Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Race Report: Read, Fire, Aim!

So, if you looked up my splits on Ironmanlive, you’re probably wondering what in-flight movie they were showing while I was in T2. 13 MINUTES????? Luke Bell ran almost 3 miles in that amount of time. Except by the time I was in T2 he had already finished. Natasha Badmann won the women’s race while I was there.

The main problem was my mind and my unwillingness to race anymore. (More on that later) The only legitimate excuse is that I was concerned about my hydration, the plumbing having not worked at any time while on the bike notwithstanding having consumed over a gallon of water and/or Gatorade. So, I paused at a portalet. After verifying that all the “fancy parts” still worked properly, at least in their non-recreational sense, I hit the run course.
Why can’t I feel my toes? And why do my feet feel like bricks hitting the pavement? At the time I had no idea what was going on, but thanks to TriBoomer, I have since figured out that the vibration from the pebbly surface of the bike course left my feet as numb as if I had been walking in the snow for the past three hours. For the first three miles of the run, I had no feeling in my toes and every footstrike was painful in the balls of my feet.
I still shuffled through the first three miles, walking only once for a drink between aid stations, congratulating myself for making it up a hill.
GUH! That was not a hill. These monstrosities climbing in and out of the canyon are hills. (Note to self: survey the run course next time). Being mentally unprepared there was little alternative but to walk the hills.
Aside from that, I essentially managed to run between aid stations, one of the rare exceptions being a side stitch that I managed by walking. Of course, that is the very instant that Robo-Christy saw me and gave me the “Go Greyhound” woohoos. Story of my life. I’m always at my wimpiest when a pretty girl happens to be watching.
Even when I was running, however, I was not focused and did not hit my rhythm or make any kind of pace. I walked a lot in the last three miles. But neither the pace nor the ultimate walking were caused by physical problems. Not really. Sure, I had the beginnings of a calf cramp, and sure, my feet hurt. Sure, I was tired. But I did not give my best.
My willingness to push the envelope and tolerate the pain of serious effort abandoned me when I lost focus on the bike. The loss of focus meant I did not reach T2 in time for a 6 hour finish after a 2 hour half-marathon. The loss of that target made me unwilling to hurt. I was mentally unprepared to focus for the entire distance. My little dog brain was tired.
One of the quotes on the sidebar of my blog states that “Men hit only what they aim at.” There are two thoughts in this quote. One is “aim high.” The other one is simply, “aim.” I did not aim at six hours and then fail. I failed to aim. I did not set a goal time or train with that goal in mind. I probably would have been foolish to do so on such a course for my first half-iron. I had no idea the mental stamina required for the 70.3 distance. I likewise did not aim at just finishing and having a good time. My competitive, testosterone poisoned self did not allow that attitude in a race. Afraid of failing to make a finishing time, and afraid of feeling like a failure for lack of a finishing goal, I ultimately failed to aim for or to hit any target at all.
. . . except I did hit that very important personal target of becoming a triathlete and finishing a half-iron. Since the race ended, I have come to be very satisfied with that. It is the product of a lot of hard work and a lot of tolerance by my family.
I am a triathlete. I’m in, forever. I will never go back to what I was before, and I will be back to the half-iron distance. I know how I will change my training. I know how I will change me. I will be back. And next time, I will be . . . .
Just wait and see.


Jessi said...

Wow. Great race wrap-up. I actually read your last few paragraphs out loud to my fiance - I was that impressed by them. You've obviously thought a lot about this race and your performance. Can't wait to hear what you decide to aim for!

Habeela said...

As always a great race recap!

Brent Buckner said...

My standard line is: "Everybody needs goals. Even stupid goals."

As a newbie triathlete (I've done a grand total of 4 in 2 seasons), I've been happy to go into events with pacing plans based upon HR, and to regard those as my goals. I'm feeling that next season I may want to target times. YMMV.

Thanks for your thoughtful race report.

Flatman said...

Your attitude is infectious! Thanks for sharing and you are DEFINITELY "in"!

Great race report. Congrats on tackling a tough course on a tough day.

Veeg said...

In the words of my favorite spiritual bad-ass, Fr. Anthony DeMello: "Awareness, awareness, awareness."

You know what your reactions were. You know WHY your reactions were. You know what you want them to be in the future, and you know how to change that.

A sub-6 finish would've been impressive, but I think your take-aways will have greater benefits!

Great race. Great report. Outstanding awareness.

Iron Pol said...

What's that they say? "Live and learn..."

Well, you definitely lived. Most people never even think of attempting what you accomplished. I think "Finish" was half the goal. Hopefully, "Have Fun" was somewhere in there. Worry about improving times now that you have more experience.

Your training will be better, because you know for what you must train. You know better how to make and hit a target. That really does take a lot of knowledge and preparation. Nearly as much as the training to just finish. Great report. Now, take the knowledge and do some good with it.

TriBoomer said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
TriBoomer said...

TriBoomer said...

There is no doubt you are a part of the tri-brotherhood.

Savor the personal victory of finishing the half-ironman as long as you can. You'll need that confidence in your training for the next one. Get a calendar and a red pen and circle a future race today. Calibrate your sights, take careful aim, and start loading the breech. You're damn right you'll be back. I have no doubt.

Stay tuned...

TriSaraTops said...

GREAT job on finishing your first HIM on a tough course!! You are sooooo in. :)

Hey, yeah, those dresses SURE WERE blue, huh? I have to be careful what I write on my blog...ha won't be seeing me decking out my tri gear in that shade anytime soon! hehe :)

Comm's said...

Make sure you learn the handshake before the next secret meeting. Good job on the half.

Iron Benny said...

What do you mean you'l never go back to Half Ironman? Does that mean only full Iron from now on? I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for "I will be...". The next chapter begins. Well done Greyhound.

Scott said...

Sounds like a huge win to me. Congratulations. Thanks for sharing; your posts are so well written and thought out. I bet your legal drafting is

tri-mama said...

Wow! This really resonated with me- I had a similar experience with my first marathon last fall. But, as you said, you are a triathlete! Welcome to the club (the secret handshake info will be sent later this week ) I think the hardest thing about racing is setting time goals because the conditions of the day, the strain of life in the week prior, etc are all so variable and greatly affect your abiity to hit your time goals. Then, the longer the race, the more each "slow down" in discipline is exaggerated. Two minutes slower on the bike in a sprint on a windy day compared to 20 mins slower in a half under same conditions makes a huge difference in hitting a time target. Off by 2 vs off by 20-even when it's all perspective-20 is more discouraging. ok, I ramble but that's what's fun about being a triathlete-we always have something to talk about :)

at any rate-well done

Sherri said...

okay, i just came across your blog and have spent a ton of time 'catching up' via the archives!!! congratulations on your recent race. i'm excited to see what's next on the agenda and to follow your training for it! congratulations, again!

Nytro said...

wow... that's exactly how i felt on my first sprint of the year. i was so not mentally prepared... or physically ready to do it. i didn't aim. i can't believe it took me reading this post to figure that out. i didn't aim!! i didn't have the focus. with my first-ever olympic coming up, i'm going to remember that. AIM!! AIM!! AIM!! You'll be with me on my run, mr. greyhound.