Monday, December 11, 2006

Polar Bear Triathlon - Lessons Learned

I told my husband I'd let it go, but I guess until I work through it here I can't let it go.... be forewarned this may be long.

Lessons Learned:
1. Don't try anything new during a race (this should be a Duh!, but I had a blond moment).
2. Full pedal stroke = efficient power; hardly full pedal stroke = serious lack of power and extreme rage.
3. Listen to that little voice in your head that says - "I'm not too sure about this..."
4. In the grand scheme of things.... its just a race against yourself.

I was not nervous. I've thought about it a lot since Saturday morning, and I realized that I was not nervous before the race. Even while waiting in the security check point line forever... even during the security check point line while waiting forever when I got a yucky nose bleed. My husband started to get a little nervous... but I just made a mental note to take a bunch of tissue in case it started again during the race.

It was probably mid to upper 30's, overcast with a very slight breeze that had a chill, but it was not cold! Yeah! I set up my transition area next to Drew Cary and his not participating pals. Walked the path to the pool, found the ladies room, listened to the pre-race briefing, walked back to my transition area and got kicked by Drew. Yes kicked. He was doing some knee-jerk type stretching and kicked back his foot right as I walked up. Smack into my shin. He apologized and I said it was my fault for walking up behind him (behind a mule is what I thought, but I'm not Geek Girl, though I imagine being more brazen like her.)

Wandered over to the pack congregating at the run start. Noticed two or three girls wearing a lot of pink. One girl - I wasn't sure if she was a competitor or spectator as I thought she was too "put together" to be a competitor, but who am I - I can't even remember if I brushed my teeth before we left the hotel. The proverbial "Go" was shouted and I started in the middle of the pack. A first for me, since I figure I'll be in the back anyway might as well start there. Not this time, as I was feeling confident and decided to start in the middle of it all. Sure I was passed by probably the majority of the crowd, but I felt good. It wasn't very long into the run when I realized I was keeping pace with one of the pink girls. Louisa was only wearing a pink sweatshirt and not trying to win a modeling contract so her company was a nice distraction. She was nice and chatty, didn't seem to mind me not being the chatty type, but I did good and tried to respond with intelligent sounding noises. We kept pace together through mile two where I bid her farewell and picked up the pace. Yes I wrote that right, I picked up the pace at mile two. I felt great, exhilarated - think I actually had an epiphany at least as far as my overall thoughts and feelings about running. I passed at least three people and ran into transition with a smile on my face. Jeff said I looked a lot better, no red face, no stiff running form I keep trying to focus on that and not the next part... Oh yeah, and Drew was sitting next to his bike eating a bananna - Dude this is a race, lets go. I'm sure he passed me on the bike though, because almost everyone passed me on the bike... I'm trying to let it go.

The bike. I came into the race knowing that my bike leg would not be as strong as it has been for me in the past. I focused on the run during the last 8 weeks of training and just tried to maintain on the bike. I knew it would be slower. I did not know it would be this bad.

Okay - I come from a mountain biking background. Mountain bikes have a quick release on the seat. The reason is really for adjusting your seat per your terrain - not for taking it off and putting it in your locker (so I've heard). Anyway one day before I got my bike carrier, I was trying to stuff my road bike into the back of my Jeep Cherokee without putting the back seats down because I had to haul my bike and my toddler boys at the same time. I got it in, but the seat was an issue - if it had a quick release... are you following me here. So I ordered a quick release binder bolt, it arrived last week. I opened the box and immediately installed it on my bike. I had trouble getting it tight enough (first warning sign). I worked on it more and felt okay. Didn't really think about it anymore until Saturday morning in the hotel. I've been having a bad rash of flat tires lately, and was more worried and preoccupied about having a flat during the race, so I spent the little free time I had on Friday before we headed to Las Cruces, changing yet another flat and making sure I packed enough CO2 cartridges to get me through the race. At the last minute I grabbed the original seat binder bolt and packed it (the fact that I thought about this was my second warning sign).

Saturday morning before we left the hotel room I asked Jeff if he could move the seat of my bike. He's a big, stout boy and he said it was fine. The fact that it was bothering me that morning was my third and final warning sign.

The beginning of the bike leg was a long downhill, and I was feeling good. I was worried about getting cold on the bike leg and was realizing that this was not going to happen. I passed a girl on a mountain bike right before the first hill. She immediately passed me on the hill, and I started wondering if something was wrong. A few miles later I really started to feel like something was wrong, but I could quite figure it out. I kept glancing down at my tires checking for flats, but that was not the problem. A couple miles later I wondered if maybe my seat had slipped. I stopped and sure enough it had. I pulled it out and re-tightened and started again. Only for it to keep slipping. Do you know how hard it is to pedal up a hill when your seat has bottomed out. Not only does it hurt, it is the most frustrating thing in the world. You pedal your heart out with no results.

I think most of the last half of the 30k was a long, gradual hill. One of those hills that looks like it should be flat, but must be a hill because you are working so hard with no results. About mile 15 I was so angry with myself. I was envisioning stopping, picking up my bike and hurling it into the ditch. I got over myself and didn't hurl my bike. I just accepted fate and kept doing the best I could do in the circumstances I was in. I finally made it back to transition where my anxious husband was waiting. Even he knew something was wrong... Although I was not cold, my feet were both numb, so after stripping down to my shorts and sports bra I hobbled to the pool.

Oh the relief! The water was so warm. I jumped in and swam a relaxed 400. I concentrated on my stroke and not my time. I did not get out of breath and I did not have to resort to breast stroke.

Final unofficial time 2:18:something. This one is definitely on the race calendar for next year. I may weld my seat post in place for it, but I'll be back. Oh and you are all invited to my melt down party. One little quick release binder bolt has crossed the wrong Shytrigirl!


Unknown said...

Bummer about your seat post! Good for you for sticking it out.

I really hope to race this one with you next year.

Unknown said...

one more comment - I have just recently learned something that resembles breast stroke, but I find it to be very difficult and am always intrigued by comments like "I did not have to resort to breast stroke"

ummm...RESORT to breast stroke? I'm still not sure why anyone would chose to do that if they had a choice. or maybe i'm just doing THAT WRONG that it seems so difficult. ???

Herself, the GeekGirl said...

Oooohhhhh. Seat issues! Those succckkkk! Good job despite that! I hate the "hill" too. See you are the next race! PS: I'm only brazen in my head. And on my blog. And to people who don't know me. Other than that, I'm pretty low-key.

jbmmommy said...

Nice job, especially given the seat technical difficulties. That would suck. You dealt very well, though, good race to start your season.