Sunday, May 31, 2009
Hawaii 70.3 Race Report: A Lesson In Perseverance
I don't even know where to start?? How 'bout with this... MAMA GOT A SLOT TO KONA!!!!
Ok, so I just ruined the ending, but look at the bright side... now you don't have to read this whole darn race report. You already know how it ends. ;)
Moana was a traveling champ all weekend. She's really such an easy baby. I'm amazed all the time at how flexible and cruise she is... The airplane didn't phase her, the new portable crib in a new room didn't phase her, all the people and noise and excitement didn't phase her. Lucky for me, she's just like her dad in so many respects~ 100% adaptable and entirely pleasant.
We rented a condo near the race hotel for the weekend. I booked it through a website www.vrbo.com (Vacation Rental By Owner) and we were very pleasantly surprised at how nice it was, and how close to the race finish it was as well. When booking it, I swear all I was looking for was the cheapest one in the area, hence, the nice surprise at the granite counter tops and master bathroom that was bigger than our bedroom here at home. The whole weekend kind of went like that- everything just seemed to work out in my favor... mostly just little things, but when you unexpectedly find kombucha at the Foodland right near where you're staying and the electrical tape you thought you forgot to bring shows up in a plastic bag after all, it starts to feel like you're living out The Secret.
Anyway, Moana and I had fun getting ready for the race on Friday afternoon. She might take after me and be a swimmer.
Or a cyclist.
Ok, maybe not a cyclist. Baby doesn't look so pleased wearing the pointy helmet. But I promised her it would make her faster so she humored me and wore it for the picture.
I felt remarkably calm all day on Friday, and even Saturday morning. Truth be told, this was a huge race for me. I'd been training a lot, much more and much harder than I even let on here on the blog over the last few months. I felt like my training had been perfect- certainly enough to get the training effect I'd wanted, but not so much that I was jumping off of any overtraining cliffs either. I've definitely got Jen to thank for that, because she did reinforce rest and recovery a lot more than I would have been able to do for myself. Inherently, I think we all know we need to rest in order to adapt to the training, but in practice that's so hard, because if you take a day off you'll losing every bit that fitness you worked so hard to gain, right? Yeah, I know the feeling.
Anyway, my major goal was to get a slot to Kona. And again, I didn't make that public here on this blog, but many (ok, all) of my friends outside of the blog world knew that was the goal. As if you need another reason to hate me for living in Hawaii, here's one more... State slots. At Hawaii 70.3, local residents don't need to win the age group overall to get a spot to the Big Dance in October. We just need to be the first one in our age group from Hawaii to get ourselves across the finish line. And since it's such a small island, we all know each other and have been racing each other for years (have to prove residency for 3 years before you can apply for resident slot). Anyway, I knew I had a good shot at getting the spot if I had a good race, and this was my only chance to get it. And this year meant more to me than any other because seriously, how cool is it to get to participate in the Ironman World Championship Triathlon before your baby even turns 1? So it was now or never for me, which is why I'm amazed that I could even utter the word calm this weekend.
So, onto the race. We really couldn't have asked for a better swim course. With light winds, the water was as calm as ever, with visibility up to like 200 feet. I swear, swimming in 75 feet on water I could have seen a safety pin in the sand on the bottom, had I been looking. I did look a little, but mostly all I saw was white water bubbles because the guy I was drafting off of was kicking so hard. I got a great start by lining up right behind all the pros. This race is so cool in that we all start at the same time- the pros don't even get a head start! The bad news about lining up where I did was that I think all the fast people had the same idea, so throughout the swim I saw so many people ahead of me... I really thought I was having a bad slow swim. I knew I couldn't go any faster, so briefly it occurred to me that maybe I was having a bad day? I put that thought out of my mind as quickly as it came in and told myself that the swim didn't matter... even if I was having a bad swim it was still going to be fine...
So imagine my pleasant surprise when I got out of the water and saw 28:23 on the clock! Niiice. And then the announcer said 'Luis de la Torre' and I looked behind me and there was the former pro who is a complete bad ass (in the red in the pic). Ok, I was not having a bad day. I was having a great day.
Onto the bike. Control yourself. Control your heart rate. Up the hill. Stay calm. Settle in.
Or... screw all that and just keep flying!! You're rocking it!! Pass that chick up there!! Go GO GO!!!!
No no... settle in. Just relax. You're doing fine. Don't blow your whole race right now...
And so the mental battle continued for about 10 miles. Then I truly did settle in and just felt like a rock star. So may great thoughts went through my head. I knew there were so may of you out there online and cheering for me and~ I'm not kidding~ I felt your energy! Climbing to Hawi was out of this world... I felt like my bike had wings!
It was at this time that it crossed my mind that it really wasn't fair that those other local gals in my age group had to compete against me for the Kona slot. None of them have been though pregnancy or labor, so clearly I had a massive unfair advantage. Because climbing to Hawi yesterday was supposed to be hard but instead it was the easiest thing I've done in a long time.
Right before the top of the climb, my training partner, Motorpace, caught me and passed me. He gave me some encouraging words about what a great race I was having and I was like Monica from Friends, "I know!!" I rode legally behind him for much of the downhill. I was actually right near Bob and Marc at this point as well and I just couldn't believe it had taken them all so long to catch me. But I wasn't complaining. I was feeling your energy, Cat!!!
Anyway, I finished up the bike in good shape. 2:38. Sweet. I'd managed to take in all of the calories I'd planned, drank plenty of fluids, taken some electrolyte tabs, and was envisioning a 5 hour flat finish time. Yeehaw! Go Mama! But when I dismounted my bike and ran it down a little hill toward the rack where my running shoes were waiting, both my quads just seized up on me.
I sat down in the transition area and as I pulled on my socks (yes, I said socks) I reminded myself to stay calm. This race was mine. Just stay calm and settle down and I was sure my legs would come around and I was going to be just fine.
My mind continued on with these positive thoughts, while my legs wholeheartedly disagreed. My quads were both just completely seizing- like you could see the muscles tightening up into little balls- until I just had to stop. I couldn't even walk at this point. Oh no. I have to at least walk. I have to keep moving forward. Those girls were going to catch me if I didn't keep moving forward. Move forward!!
I'm not a stranger to cramping at the beginning of the run in long races. In fact, it happens a lot, especially when it is Africa Hot and Humid like it was out there yesterday. Typically it just takes a couple of minutes and then I settle in and get my legs back. So I did not panic. Drink water and gatorade and coke at the aid station. Take a powergel (yuck). Swallow a couple more salt tabs. Move forward.
And so it went. I can't tell you a whole lot about the run, except that it was painful. I ran as much as I could, but had to stop and walk quite often to relieve the cramping. And my legs never came back. I battled cramping with every. painful. step. of 13.1 miles over a brutal hot and hilly golf course. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.
In good news, there were several out and back sections of the course where I had an opportunity to see who was behind me, and I could tell that none of the local gals in my age group were close, so I had some buffer. Phew! Cause I needed it! By mile 6 I knew that all I had to do was continue with my walk/jog/slugfest and make my timing chip beep at the finish line mat and I was going to get the Kona spot.
A funny thing to me was when spectators on the course would say something like, "Try your hardest" or something dumb like that. Um, ok, this was not a matter of my brain giving up and me just being a wimp. This was a matter of some sort of hydration or electrolyte imbalance that was causing my legs muscles to stop working. It was not like mind over matter. It was more like Mama's gotta get this hydration thing figured out so I can run like I've been training to run. So I can run the way I know I'm capable of. My heart rate wasn't even high on the run because I couldn't make my muscles work hard enough to get it up.
Anyway, I got through the 13.1 miles in 2:04, which was disappointing in many respects considering how hard I'd trained on the run and how much I have improved over the last several months. My run time yesterday was slower than it was last time I did this race 2 years ago, although the run course this year was different so I guess you can't really compare. But still. That part was disappointing for sure.
But you know what?? Mama's going to Kona! So slow run time... whatever!! I had a great swim and a great bike and it gave me enough buffer to slug through the run and still accomplish my goal. And at the end of the day, 5:16 is not a bad time. It certainly wasn't my goal time, but it was still 6 minutes faster than what I did 2 years ago, so I'll take it. For sure.
And check out how excited Moana was to see her mama finish the race!
After the race, Scott was so awesome... grilled some steaks on our backyard BBQ... Nalani and I celebrated with 'Guiness Floats' (her idea~ I'd never had one but I tell ya what, they're yummy!)
So now, it's Ironman training for me! Yippee! I love training long. Kona this year will be my 9th Ironman. Moana's first. Sweet. I have much more to say on all this, and I'll have plenty of time this week while I'm recovering to get it on down on computer screen. For now though, it's off to bed where I can have some sweet dreams... and hope that maybe I'll be able to walk in the morning.
Posted by Michelle Simmons