Tuesday, June 21, 2011

We all start somewhere...

There was a day when I had not run more than 1 mile in my life. Everyone starts somewhere right? Where will the journey take you?

News from my dad:

"You know that great picture of Amy finishing the Ironman Louisville last year? She had her arms up and was smiling. I put up my arms and smiled too this morning when I finished my nonstop 2 mile / 25 minute run. Everyone in the gym was wondering "what the h*ll is that guy doing?" It wasn't an Ironman (26.2 miles running/2.4 miles swimming/112 miles biking) but I felt great about finishing it anyway. A 12:30 pace. From now on I will run for 25 minutes or more. I will work on improving my pace time and distance in each workout."


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Live, Laugh, Learn

Right after KS 70.3, all I could think was that this day happened for a reason and I'd learn whatever I need to from it.

Here are my random musings about being bummed out during my race and for 30 minutes afterwards:

I'd find things to laugh about. Like the pre-swim chat the announcer was having with our swim wave as we waited to go in the water. He said he had made a mistake announcing that there were no coed heats...ours was the only coed swim heat of the day so maybe we could make some dating matches. The only thing was....we 35-39 women were paired with the 18-24 men. I called out, yeah we could date these guys...if we're Cougars! We could have been the Cougar swim heat. Then the announcer said to each wave when the gun went off...see you back here soon! Me, not so much!!!

A bad race can make a good story.

I think about the girl on the run course with the really huge smile on her face. After we finished and were picking up our equipment, I told her that I really appreciated her smile when I wasn't feeling good, and asked her what she was thinking about. Pizza, she answered. Awesome.

Thought about the awesome volunteers from KC Multisport and everyone cheering. They made a lot of effort to be out there. The volunteers were there before 5 AM.

Another club that made a great impression was Columbia (MO) Multisport...they had a camping site and were out in full fun force cheering on their members. And they cheered for me too...which I really appreciated. They were really cool. I think we should do a club mixer with them!

I wondered if this Half Ironman was actually harder than my Ironman, and couldn't decide. Okay probably not :).

Thought about all the really serious issues in the world, which this one was not. Perspective please.

If I had quit, I would not have FINALLY received my finisher medal from Ironman World Champion Chrissie Wellington. That alone was worth any bad day. If you quit, you could also miss out on something amazing.

Mind over matter is a very very interesting exercise. It's weird.

The bad days make you appreciate the good ones a lot more.

It's not good to sell yourself short. You have to believe in yourself and do your best (whatever that is) any given day and let the chips fall.

You can't be too hard on yourself or think one bad performance totally defines you as a person. It doesn't. Life goes on and you figure out how to go from there.

I need to figure out what my goals are and should be for the rest of this year and next year.

I need to figure out a strategy for better dealing with power swimmers pummeling me.

Need to have some FUN, and I think that means some group training and trying new things. Also, some new scenery which I will have for my last two triathlons of this year.

Be happy for your friends and celebrate their success! If you are feeling down, it will make you feel better. How would you feel if a bummed out friend didn't feel happy for you?

It's also funny, because in this experience a few friends shared some of their heinous race experiences...and I have to say mine is not as bad!!! There were PLENTY of bad things that didn't happen to me. No flat tires, no bike wreck, no vomiting in the water, no major equipment malfunctions. Maybe I feel more lucky after all.


Winners never quit, and quitters never win

Kansas 70.3 ~ Swim 1.2 Miles; Bike 56 Miles; Run 13.1 Miles

2008 was the inaugural year for KS 70.3 and the race was cancelled during the run due to lightening. I had two miles left to go, so my total time didn't reflect the complete distance. I was hurting that day, and can only project that my final time would have been approaching 7 hours.

I learned a lot about what it took to prepare for the event (I wasn't) and came back to give it another go in 2009 where I took a bit under 3 minutes off of my swim, 5 minutes off the bike time, and maybe 20 minutes off of the run. Finish time was 6:37:05, after adding more time for transition was ~23 minutes better than 2008.

2010 was a great season. I completed the Kansas course in 6:10:38, 27 minutes faster than 2009. Every segment except transition #1 was a personal best. I took 2 minutes off the swim, almost 16 minutes off my bike time, and over 7 minutes off of my run. I appreciate that day more now.

Now 2011...possibly the worst race ever in my 11 years of triathlon. Okay, that might be pushing it..."one of the worst". Top 3 worst? Whatever it was, it was not good.

This was my fourth time at Ironman Kansas 70.3. That could be the first clue that there is something wrong. After completing Ironman Louisville (Swim 2.4 miles, Bike 112, Run 26.2) last fall, I probably should NOT have signed up for this race. Most of my Ironman friends (or maybe 90%) were re-charging this year and doing other things. I needed to mix things up a little bit and take a break, but I didn't. Instead, I decided to try to break 6 hours for the half Ironman! That would be a lot of hard work. I've been doing triathlons since 2000 and put a lot of pressure on myself to improve race after race, year after year.

Did I mention that the half Ironman costs $225? So I went through the motions of training thinking that I was still going for this goal. But my heart wasn't really in it. A week before the race I had a burnout meltdown and decided to try to focus on trying to have as much fun as possible and on general fitness. And that I'd still do the race.

So off to Clinton Lake I went on Sunday June 14. My pre-race plan went flawlessly and smoothly. I put on my wetsuit and talked to other racers. The water didn't look that choppy.

Getting into the water was quite the rude awakening. It is hard to say if it was worse than the Kansas City Tri the last two years...the swells were quite large. Swimming out the long rectangle buoy course, the waves were coming at us from the left (east). Up and down - if you get seasick it wasn't a pretty picture (yes, people vomit in the water). I could deal with that, but when the wave of muscular 35-39 year old males came up behind us churning and powering through the water I totally panicked. I have recovered from panic before, but getting bumped, kicked, grabbed, and mauled was too much at the time. I felt claustrophobic and started hyperventilating. So for the first time ever, I grabbed the nearest boat and seriously pondered quitting. I had a LONG way to go still and it wasn't seeming super fun. It seemed kind of dangerous actually.

The people on the boat gave me a pep talk and I closed my eyes, calmed down, and stopped hyperventilating. I thought surely I could find a way to finish this. So off I went.

This time, I'm swimming further to the outside so I have my own water. I feel relieved and finally turn the corner to get halfway. But then the waves were coming right at us, which is much worse than if they are from the side. They were literally smacking me in the face hard when I turned to breathe. That was just insulting! Another wave of 35-39 power males were coming through and I panicked again. I tried to make it to the nearest boat but they were going away from me helping someone else. So I just tried to tread water and/or breast stroke and figure out how I was going to calm down again. Then the other boat came over and I could hang on there to do that. I looked at my watch...halfway through it was 30 minutes and my goal time was 40 minutes or less. Sigh. What did my time matter at this point...the swim PR wasn't going to happen.

So my next goal was, I could get through this swim and then decide if I wanted to stop. So I started swimming again. I could see the buoys to my left and thought, awesome. The only problem was, they were the wrong buoys. The waves had pushed me across the entire course back to the first buoy line. A gal in a kayak let me know I should go back to the other buoys. Sigh.

I made it to the finish...over an hour in the water. 22 minutes slower than my goal. I didn't run through transition like I normally would. I tried thinking that maybe I could still *kind of* salvage this. Or maybe it could be like a training day and I could just try to enjoy myself as much as possible. So off I went on my bike.

The bike was probably my best segment of the day. Sure I was 13 minutes slower than my best time but that was WITH stopping 3 times to stretch out my back because the seat I had been trying out (and should have taken back off!!!!!) was KILLING my lower back. It ached bad. I relaxed at times and was cruising back into transition thinking...well I don't HAVE to do the run. I can still quit if I want to.

I knew that as soon as I got off the bike, my back would be fine. I still could relax and just not worry about my pace. So off I went. The first lap I did a training pace and actually felt decent.

Then the second lap started. By that time, all the earlier heats with fast people were finished and it looked like EVERYONE was leaving. And "EVERYONE" was wearing their medals because they were finished already. That was annoying, and kind of depressing. I should have been finished by now.

I had already come that far though, why not just finish? Crossing the finish line would still be fun. That is always a good feeling. So on I plodded.

I walked quite a bit on the run and threw myself a pity party. Reminded myself to buck up (get some perspective for gosh sake...there are people out there doing this race with serious physical disabilities, what about my friends that would love to be out there and cannot be because of injuries, etc) and would have moments of clarity and get moving. I mean really, let's put this into perspective. Life will go on, this is not a major problem, and my time for that event would not define me as a person. So maybe it's kind of a hitting rock bottom kind of day (relatively speaking)...so what. I'd still get a big medal and I didn't waste my $225.

During the second lap, I saw Ben Schloegel at his campsite and told him I was having a bad day. He walked with me and gave me a pep talk, asking me if I was giving the best I had in that moment...I answered no. But I could still do that for the rest of the race. He gave me a slap on the tush and off I went. I thought...did that just happen? and ran the rest of the way. Funny.

I sprinted down the finish line and tried to look okay for my finisher photo. Then I looked up and saw who was going to put the finisher medal around my neck. It was Ironman World Champion Chrissie Wellington. I started crying again. The past two years...I missed her at the finish line because of bad timing. She signed my poster in 2010 "See you at the finish line" when I told her that I missed her in 2009. But then I missed her again. Not this year...after all of that she was there!!!! Hours after her finish, she was there to give finishers their medals. She could have been back at her hotel chilling. But she was there for us. I was blabbering something like "It's you, you are really here!!!" and gave her a hug. She is the coolest, nicest, most excellent Champion.

Thank God that my friend Kristen was right by the finish line. She helped me just by being there, and also distracted me that I could feel happy for her and her super awesome finish. She had a very short time to make a big life and economic decision about whether to claim her championship spot. It would be a further huge time commitment, and expensive to travel across the country to do it. And then thanks to Lindsey...she helped me brush it off.

I need to re-evaluate how to have some fun and mix things up...11 years of racing is a long time.

It's all good. More about what I learned later...