Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Swim

I woke up race morning with nerves so jittery that I could barely control my gag reflex. Food sounded disgusting, and it took me a good 10 minutes to down a few electrolyte tabs. I forced down most of a bagel and assorted tid bits, mixed up my energy/protein drinks for the bike and run, packed up my special needs bags, and headed down to the start with Elliott. It was effing WINDY (the days prior to the race we noticed that wind on the lake had to be pretty bad to make it up to our house. Race morning had the trees whipping around and grey skies. I might be an Iron-weather jinx. Suck.)

I managed to find my dad and brother in all the mayhem, who were quickly tasked with holding my stuff while I dropped bags off and stood in porta-potty lines. My brother made fun of me while I applied anti-chafe goo in some of my more sensitive areas (I was dressed, we are not THAT kind of family), I hopped into my wetsuit, and I jumped into the line of racers shuffling towards the entrance to the beach.

The line to the beach took FOREVER. Five minutes to go and there were still hundreds of people stuck on the walkway to the beach. I'm pretty sure I was on the sand for less than two minutes before we took off. Not a great way to stay calm!

I have no idea where I was along the edge of the lake because it was so congested, but I started a couple people back from the water line, figuring that would keep me from getting stuck behind the really slow swimmers and I wouldn't get run over by the fast people. In hindsight, I'm not sure it really mattered where I was.

The gun went off and everyone splashed into the water, just like we always do. My heart rate sky-rocketed, just like it always does. This time, however, I couldn't get a rhythm and couldn't call down. After maybe ten minutes (it's hard to be accurate when one is underwater) of hyperventilating I admitted to myself I was having a panic attack and sat up. It took like three minutes of treading water and "I should just turn around and go home" thoughts before I got back in a normal breathing pattern and was able to resume the race. Happily, I got punched/mauled/run over less as a person treading water in the middle of chaos than I did while swimming. I think a big part of the panic attack was due to the fact that there were sizeable swells coming toward the beach, so we got that lovely rising-and-dropping feeling along with all the insanity. Most of the time sighting was pointless because all you could see was the next wave.

Some first-lap highlights include head-butting a buoy post-panic (mental dialogue: "hmmm....wonder what that yellow rope is for? Crap!!!!"), kicking some dude in what I think were his balls after he wouldn't get off my back, having people moo as everyone turned the second corner, and feeling like a rock star riding the waves back in toward the beach.

After the first lap we had to run up the beach briefly (a la XTERRA) then run back into the water. There was a man curled up in the fetal position on the beach with a bunch of medics around him. SO not confidence inspiring.

On the second lap I managed to avoid the buoys and I don't recall having to kick anyone, but the wind was getting worse and the waves rougher, so going was slow. I remember having what I thought was a wave crash over my back at the second turn point, but I'm told it was the helicopter hovering low to get a good shot. Thanks for that, guys.

After all that, I took three minutes off my IM Wisconsin swim time, so that was pretty cool. I headed up to the wetsuit strippers, got stripped, grabbed my bag, and had a volunteer help me get dressed for a nice little bike ride....

Monday, July 13, 2009

Coeur d'Alene Race Report!!!!!

I just read Tasha's (The Thighmaster Route to Kona...over there ----->) race report and I cried and decided to get on it and start my own. Here goes...

I flew to CDA on Wednesday before the race, thinking giving myself time to settle in would be helpful. New boy dropped me off at the airport, flight was uneventful. I got into Spokane around dinner time, picked up my first ever(!) rental car, and headed east towards CDA. Ten minutes later I pulled over and got dinner because I was starving and shaking, and got the requisite pitiful looks from restaurant goers because I was eating alone. Whatever. Once I got to CDA I met up with Greg (a customer who was also racing) and his family in their RV, and spent the night in the front half with his 10 year old daughter.

Thursday we went down from the expo and checked in, getting our race numbers and all that. Working retail has sucked all the fun out of race expos since I can usually get the same stuff cheaper, so I didn't buy anything. Elliott and Co. got into town that afternoon, which was a very good thing as I was about to strangle Greg. I take the Ostrich approach to racing in that I like to pretend it's not looming on the horizon, and Greg's type-A "I must go down to the lake for the 100th time to determine the proper angle to approach the waves today" mentality was really cramping my style. Seriously people, the water's going to be the same amount of wet whether you pre-swim it or not. Might as well stay warm and dry, don't you think?

When Elliott's fam showed up we checked in to the house that we were sharing, which was special. Sharing with his fam was fine, but the house itself was a little weird. The theme of the kitchen decor was apparently "stuff as many chickens as possible into one little room." Chicken wall paper, lace curtains, statues, you name it. Plus plaid carpeting...even in the cabinets. Oy. The rest of the house was equally country-cutesy, with the exception of my bedroom and the basement. I had the joy of inhabiting the Pulp Fiction/Mohammed Ali/nuclear mushroom cloud room, and the basement was lovely in its rifles-and-deer-parts splendor, with a chicks-with-whips-and-leather poster for good measure. Yeah. It was that good.

Friday entailed picking my dad and brother up from their hotel and making fun of the house with them, eating, and making excuses when asked if I'd like to go for a ride or run. Pre-ride? Ha! No thanks, ignorance is bliss!! One of the days (I think it was Friday) Elliott and I decided to try to find a grocery store. We got lost for 35 minutes and had to ask a toothless man who barely spoke English where to go. We later found out that the reason it was so hard to find was there was no longer any street leading up to the store. While checking out we decided that geography lessons may be in order for the high schoolers in town, since the girls at the store thought Wales was either in Canada or in the South America vicinity.

Eventually Elliott's wife's parents and brother showed up, making meals a big production. Happily, all of the non-racers had done this before, so us lazy racers didn't have to do much more than change the channel and show up for meals. That there is the real reason I race!

Saturday was more of the same, along with the pre-race getting the bike ready session (where my dad insisted on holding the bike up and asking cute), and dropping off bikes and gear bags. My nerves were starting to get to me. Holy crap. Race day is near!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I promise I will write a proper race report eventually

So I finished the Ironman. It was hard. Not that it is surprising, hard is kind of the point.

I probably should be more excited about the whole thing, but I'm really not. I'm a little embarassed. I think I should have done better. I KNOW I should have trained better, but there were things I could have done or not done that would have made a difference. I feel like I want to put it behind me and move on, which is impossible since everyone wants to talk about it.


I almost have a new coach with seemed all shiny and cool because it could be my post-iron new start, but all he wanted to talk about was why I sucked (not really, he wouldn't say that) and chastise me for not training enough. Guess what? I already knew that. Let's just chalk it up to a learning experience and move right along, k?

So between now and when I have time to sit down and blog again, I will leave you with an extremely abbreviated version of my "race"

Swim: "Aw crap here we go...holy crap waves...panic attack...swim swim swim....kick some guy in the are bigger....gonna die...swim..swim...yay done!"

Bike: "Damn I'm slow...pedal pedal pedal pedal...OMG hills....OMG HILLS....OH. MY. GAWD. hills....whew!!! I have to do it again?!?! Mr. Medic, I was not throwing up....HILLS la la.....I'm done!

Run: "Crap, my legs are broken....oh look, it's pee....this is fucking stupid....power walk..."Dad, my foot is BROKEN!!! It is!!!! *SOB* I SWEAR, it's BROKEN!!!"...poncho and rain....heh Elliott came to check on me....ok, I have two hours to walk 4 miles....I can do that....ow ow ow ow everything hurts....OMG now my non-athletic brother came to check on me....can see the finish...blisters exploding like finish line fireworks...and I'm spent."

The end.

You know you want to read the not-from-concentrate version.