Sunday, October 13, 2013

TRI again next year

My road to Triathlon has had fits and starts, hasn't really been very easy, has made me ridiculously nervous, but after backing out of my June triathlon, I made a full commitment to do a local one in October. I finally put some real time in on my bike, and hired a friend to help me with my swimming, which needed the most help out of the three disciplines.

The race I chose to do was a 400 yard pool swim (much less anxiety in a pool than open water), a 14 mile bike (not too short, not too long), and a 4 mile run (exactly the right distance for my comfort). It was the third race in a series of sprint triathlons at the Georgetown Rec Center, and many of my triathlon group friends would be competing.

Many weeks leading up to the race included 3 swim workouts, as this was my weakest sport. I focused on my form over and over again, increasing the distance in my workouts, up to 2000 yards, concentrating on getting comfortable enough in the pool to feel okay about 16 laps while people watched me (never really developed a huge amount of comfort, but I knew I was ready). I still have trouble with swimming continuously without much break, but I knew I could focus on improving that before triathlon season next year. Just getting me to finish my first race was the most important thing this year.

I don't have a lot of speed on the bike yet, but I'm fairly comfortable with it and knew I could put real effort into 14 miles without wearing myself out too much for the run. My main focus during the bike portion would be to learn to get comfortable racing around other cyclists and developing some steady speed.

I knew I could kick some butt in the run. I have pretty good legs coming off the bike, and my head is good about thinking "it's ONLY 4 miles." I can maintain an uncomfortable threshold pace for a good hour, so running hard for about 34 minutes wasn't scaring me. Plus, it was a 2-loop course, and that would mentally give me a boost going into the second loop.

Fast forward to the week before the race. That Saturday was my scheduled 16 mile run. I started early before my training group to knock out 8 miles prior to the 8 miles the group would be doing. About 6 miles into the run (in the dark, on an uneven dirt path), I took a very hard spill and hurt myself pretty badly. No muscle strains that I could tell, but I was bleeding very badly and had probably bruised myself up. A 1/2 mile walk to the nearest water fountains and parking lot, and then my running buddy ran back to the cars to bring one back to pick me up.

Right after I fell and got the bleeding to stop

As I assessed the damage in the next two days I started to worry I wouldn't heal up before the triathlon. I was in a lot of pain, I had lost a lot of skin, and the trail rash was awful. I couldn't get into the pool and I couldn't bend my knees enough to bike, plus my hand couldn't handle any pressure on it.

2 days post-fall. Swollen and ouchie.

The bright spot was that my running was okay. I ran three days after the accident and it was one of my best runs in awhile (the weather certainly helped). But I still needed to heal more. Thankfully, by Thursday I was able to swim as my wounds had scabbed over enough and by Friday I had enough mobility to have no trouble on the bike.

Have I mentioned that during all this I have a sick husband I've been trying to avoid for a week?

Now we had to contend with the weather forecast for race day. In the days leading up to the weekend the forecast kept getting worse and worse. It called for steady thunderstorms throughout the weekend and naturally, some pretty bad humidity. I was having trouble with my asthma this month, so that was going to be something to watch for. I was hoping that by Saturday there would be a forecast shift and the rain would either come early, late, or just pass us by (which made me feel guilty, because we really need the rain). As I went to bed Saturday night, after preparing all my race gear, I continued to hold out hope but it wasn't looking good.

Around 2:45 in the morning, I awoke to the thunderstorms and never fell back asleep. The rain wasn't stopping. There's always a chance it can clear enough to race, so I loaded up the car and drove to Georgetown ready to kick some butt anyway. But at this point, I knew in my heart the race would be cancelled.

Sure enough, at 7am the race was cancelled. After reviewing all the weather models, consulting with USAT and the police department, and putting the racers safety first, the race director had to deliver the bad news to us. It was the right call. There was another system coming in around 8am, and we couldn't even start the race until at least 30 minutes after the last strike of lightning (pool rules). By then it would be too late to hold the race.

I admit I almost cried. I really was ready to race, despite all my nerves. I knew that once I got in the pool and calmed down it would have been fine. I probably would've swam faster than expected, I would have had fun out on the bike, and as long as my asthma was kept under check, my race legs would have kicked some major butt on that run course. My first triathlon would've exceeded my expectations and I would've made Georgetown Triathletes (my club) proud.

I didn't realize just how much I wanted it until I didn't get the chance to achieve it.

But it wasn't meant to be. And I'm thankful that we got all this glorious rain.

My Venti Starbucks Mocha enjoyed with my teammates was my consolation prize. I'll take it.