It’s not exactly recycled blog content because I never published it here… for your reading pleasure, here is my shit show report from Timberman 2009. Slightly edited. And no, I don’t know why I insist on summarizing my races with haikus.
The short of it:
“It’s a perfect day
Nothing standing in my way”
Was stuck in my head
It wasn’t perfect
But that’s ok because I
Finished the **** race
My swim was perfect
My bike had its ups and downs
And I walked. A lot.
But I achieved my
Goal. Next time will be better
At least I hope so.
1) don’t die
2) don’t end up in the med tent
4) attempt to keep swim + transitions to one hour, keep bike to 4 hours, survive run
Walk unknown, and no clue as to overall time, probably around 8:27 or so. Timing mat was gone when I finished, and I’m currently listed under possible DNFs. I have an email in to the race director.
Total Time: 8:25:59
The long of it:
Well, this has been a tough summer for me in many ways, and any plans I had for having a good run off the bike at Timberman went away months ago. We’ve had to bail on far too many workouts due to the construction in the tenant unit, and I’ve also gone into way too many key workouts without really recovering since we do way, way too much. Between that and the bike crash that had me not running for almost a month, plus my latest stupid medical issue with my legs, I really wasn’t thinking that I was going to be tearing it up out there. I just wanted to get through the race and have a decent day.
We headed up to NH on Saturday after sleeping in a little. We dropped the dog off at my ILs, and then sat in traffic. We went up to Gunstock for packet pickup and the (useless) mandatory pre-race meeting, then down to Ellacoya where AdCo fixed his bike computer mount and we dropped the bikes off. We played tag with Cheryl the whole time as she said, when we were at Gunstock she was at Ellacoya, and vice versa. We then headed over to our weekend crash pad (courtesy of a friend… we got to stay at her family condo with them, a mile from race start, for free. Way better than the $200 hotel room we had reserved 30 minutes away). We chatted for a few, then headed out to drive the well-marked bike course. There wasn’t anything that looked too scary, except one hill where AdCo and I drove around the corner and we both literally said “holy crap” as we saw the hill. It was steep, but turned out to be short, so no increased panic. We then headed out to a late dinner, then back to the condo where we got our race stuff together, I went to sleep, and Adam hung out with our hosts.
Race morning, we got to “sleep in” until 4:40. Then we grabbed our bags and walked over to Ellacoya… down a very steep hill. We got bodymarked, then went to set up transition. Adam had been acting all secretive for a couple of days, turns out he’d complied some of your supportive comments etc into a sheet for me to read while I was getting ready. That was the first time I cried on Sunday. It would not be the last.
Got my stuff ready, choked down some breakfast (turkey bacon and sushi rice), and found out that I also had a surprise from Adam that I wasn’t allowed to look at until the run. Hmmm.
Saw friends at my rack. Tried not to FtFO. Headed over to swim start early with Adam, as he was in wave 4 (I was in wave 13, 45 minutes after him). Got wetsuited up, swam a very little in gorgeous lake, then hung out with him until it was time for him to go. We watched the pros go off, and the first couple waves, then I kissed him goodbye (and cried) and wandered down the beach looking for people I knew. Saw more friends, and hung out with them until it was time for me to go. Much thanks for keeping me from going completely nutty.
The swim – 44:38:
Lined up right (inside) and partway back, as I don’t mind contact but am not fast. Heard someone yell for me – that made me smile. We were off, and I just focused on gliding (my new swim focus, thank you Sara), and trying to swim in a straight line. I just ignored any incidental contact and held my line. Got in a good groove right away… thought a little bit on the way out about the kind of day I wanted to have… told myself that there was nothing standing in the way of a perfect day except my attitude. That promptly got the song from the opening scene of Clueless into my head, where it stayed for the next 4 hours. I just focused on gliding, swimming straight, and enjoying the perfect water (clear, and the perfect temperature for me), the weather (cloudy with sun peaking through a little bit), the fun of swimming up and down swells, and sang to myself. Every time something worrying or negative popped into my head, I “sang” louder. This was by far the best swim I have ever had. I didn’t want to get out of the water, but my hand hit the bottom and I had to keep moving forward.
Yes, that’s long. But I give myself permission during my first attempt at a new distance (or my first race of the year) to really not stress about transitions. I’m not to the point where I’m going to win/not win because of them.
So I head up the beach and over the longish run to the wetsuit strippers. I wasn’t going to use them, but I figured what the h*ll. I then learned my most important lesson in all of triathlon, ever. TIE YOUR SHORTS. Luckily I caught them about an inch and a half before flashing the entire crowd with my naked butt and other parts. I yanked up my shorts, grabbed my wetsuit, and headed to my rack laughing my fool head off. Then I spent some time making sure I had everything how I wanted it and headed over to the bike mount. I got on my bike, and headed out.
The bike: 4:04:12
As I got on my bike, I realized Cheryl was about 25 yards ahead of me, thought briefly about trying to catch her to say hi, then decided not to be an idiot and stick with my game plan of taking it easy for the first 10 -12 miles, slightly less easy for the next 32 for the out-and-back, then survive the last 10 – 12. I spun up the first hill and focused on enjoying the day, singing that stupid song to myself, and keeping in my target effort level (HR 145 – 150, survive hills). I reminded myself about 16 million times that I’d ridden this far before, and I was just out for my normal weekend long ride, it was just unusually well supported and busy. I ate and drank on plan (3 peanut M&M’s every ten minutes, chased with Gatorade endurance, plus water). I was doing well, then I got to the Marsh Hill Monster. Let me say that I’ve ridden up way worse, way later in rides. I made it a 1/3 of the way up the hill, my quads were on fire (that would be the stupid medical issue I’ve been having), my HR was 180 (over my LT), I was in my lowest gear…. and I decided to walk the rest of the way up the hill. I tried to walk briskly, but my legs REALLY hurt and I couldn’t get my **** heart rate to drop (it was 168). I stopped at the side of the road once I passed the devil lady, tried not to puke, and just stood there for 3 or 4 minutes, crying. I decided that I was done, that I was quitting, that my legs just really didn’t have anything that day. Then I decided that I could give it ten more minutes and see if I felt any better, and got back on my bike. I ambled along in my granniest gear for a while – then decided that I was going back to focusing on positives, I actually said to myself that “today is your day to be sally f*cking sunshine, so suck it the h*ll up”. I decided that I would keep going, but I wasn’t going to let myself stress out about what gear I was in or how fast I was going. I started singing to myself again.
This relentless forced positive attitude got me through the rest of the bike. Every time I started getting negative, every time my legs hurt or my bits hurt or I was hot or bored or whatever, I just kept singing to myself and finding SOMETHING positive to say, even if it was just “hey, the scenery is awesome, how lucky am I to be out here”. I had all of you with me out there, I thought about things people had said in race reports and to me directly. I saw Adam headed inbound (he asked how I was… I wonder if he expected an answer). I heard John yell my name too, then saw Cheryl and yelled for her. Stopped at the portapotty at the turnaround, then headed back.
I was flip flopping with a couple of people, so we were encouraging each other, yelling at the idiots who were blocking, and telling each other that we had this, we were all going to finish.
The last 10 -12 miles sucked. Badly. The sun came out and it got hot. I lost my relentless positive focus here, but I went to “relentless forward progress” instead. Walked a short hill (which was not the crazy steep one, that one I made it up. Zipped down the downhills as fast as I could. Started getting a little teary when I was almost back at the park and saw all the people out on the run.
Down the last hill, and…
I really didn’t want to run. I really, really, didn’t want to run. I wandered back to my rack, and hey! Cheryl was there! She talked to me while I slowly changed shoes and stuff, and it was very helpful in getting my brain to refocus. I grabbed the “gift” Adam had left for me, and started ambling out to the run. My garmin had just beeped that the memory was full, so I should have just left it at my rack, but I wasn’t that smart.
time? No clue. 3:23:50
I headed out the run out… and then around the long way to the actual timing mat. CS had told me to run as long as I could before I started my run/walk plan, and I did. I ran one whole half mile. Then I started walking. I ended up really going with more of a walk plan, with occasional run breaks. I just had nothing. I was tired and hot, and I had no go. I pulled out my little gift from Adam, and it was a series of laminated notes, sorted out by mile, on a little twist tie so I could flip them over. I read a couple, and started crying. Again. Then I started running again for a while. I walked, and ran, and read my notes at the mile markers for the first 3 miles. Then, between the sweat and the hoses I’d run through, the ink ran too much. I just tried to keep moving, walking as fast as I could, running the downhills, but walking way, way too much. I shoved lots of ice (and snow!) down my bra at the water stops. I had lots of company on the first lap, but it was so depressing to watch them all turn off to the finish chute. I cried the entire time I had to run through the park to head out on loop two.
Loop two. So lonely. On the way out, lots of people heading back…. but no one heading out, really. Finally caught a couple of women and walked with one for a while, she was having a pretty rough time so I ordered her to finish. I stayed with her for a while, the lost her when she stopped at a portapotty. I really felt like if I stopped, I was done. I needed to pee the last half of the last loop, but I was afraid that if I stopped and sat down, I wouldn’t be able to get back up and I’d be stuck in a portapotty for a very long time until someone came to find me.
I ran more on the second loop – I don’t know that I felt better, I just was so done with being out there. At the little stretch on the main road, Michael Lovato passed me (at least I think it was him, he had the same race number) riding his bike with all of his stuff, and he said some encouraging things. It was actually pretty cool, all the cars leaving were honking horns and yelling out the window to me. It made me cry, again.
At mile 11, I told myself I was going to run the whole downhill – I ran for a decent amount of time, then switched to a two phone poles running, one walking (and pretended it was back to couch to 5K time). It started to rain about mile 11.5 – I was pretty bent that it had taken that long to start raining, but it made it easier to run rather than walk. I took a walk break again right before the turn into the park so I could run the whole finish chute, walked down the now-slippery 5 foot hill, then ran as fast as I could (not fast) down the finish chute, crying. I high fived some people (I was just so happy that there were still people there, in the rain), saw AdCo (my new official finish line photographer, since the real ones were gone), crossed where the mat should have been, and started crying for real.
I saw Cheryl (who said something… I’m brain-free the first couple post-race minutes), and just wandered down the chute. I walked right by the chip people, who had to actually grab me and take my chip. I got my water bottle and towel, realized I had a finisher’s medal on, walked over to the completely empty post-race food area (where I realized that not only were there no volunteers, but there was no food). Woke up enough to see Cheryl and yell thank you to her, then AdCo came over and I cried on his shoulder a little. I told you there was a lot of crying.
Then we collected our crap and headed out. Poor AdCo had to walk the mile back to the car up the giant hill while I sat with our stuff.
I met goal #1 – 3. I almost met goal #4, my bike time was over 4 hours but actually pretty much only by the amount of time I spent crying on the side of the road.
Other than that? I survived. I learned a lot. I know what I need to do over the next 11 months before IMLP*.
And seriously, THANK YOU. I could NOT have done it without you, you were there with me every step of the way.
And a shout out to the world’s best husband, who not only shares my love of this crazy stuff, but went out of his way to make my race day an amazing experience. AND walked back to the car, up the giant hill.
*Or, you know, not do IMLP, which turned out to be the much smarter decision.