Thursday, August 10, 2017

You know I'm back like I never left...

Whistler 70.3

You know I'm back like I never left 
Another sprint, another step
Another day, another breath
Been chasing dreams, but I never slept
I got a new attitude and a lease on life
And some peace of mind
- Macklemore

Was it really three years ago since my last triathlon? Holy crap! 

After Sun Mountain 50K in May I wanted to take some much needed time off from schedule and training. Training and schedule. Walking the dogs was the only scheduled training for two weeks. 

Race morning: headphones in with the biggest grin on my face listening to “Glorious” from Macklemore over and over. No fear. No nerves. Just this feeling of Some MF’n Fun is going to be had today!

Training wasn’t great for this race. I had some outstanding injuries from swimming that showed up like clockwork after 20 minutes in the pool or OWS every time. The ongoing saga with the bike and hip was a hassle not cleared up until just weeks before race day. 

Being injured going into training camp I was on the fence about my excitement level of doing the race and my level of endurance. Feeling severely under trained I just didn’t want to have a meltdown or extravagant shitshow happen. So slow and easy, and ignore that voice in my head of saying, “You should be up there, riding with them, pacing with them, blah blah blah..”. I wasn’t and I couldn’t. I was at peace with that and that really set the stage or mindset for the rest of training.

The major take away from training camp was that I was able to run off the bike with no hip pain. My bike fitter - Erik at Velolopez had me which out crankarms for shorter ones and put me in a more aggressive position. For the first time I felt like I could apply power into the bike rather than pushing it in front of the bike. More of a running feel, than a walking up stair steps that are just a bit too tall. The hip pain during and after the bike has really been the reason for staying off the bike the last 2-3 years. During camp I had no pain from either ride and at the time I just ignored it and figured it would come eventually. 

Side note - The run at training camp: fakus! 

At the swim start I had three things rolling through my head.
  • The swim is the swim. Get out in 40 minutes or your shoulder will fall apart.
  • There are fun places on the bike today, you just need to ride out to them.
  • Everything on the run.

Got into the swim line for the rolling start and found myself standing next to Tom Lee of all people. I love the randomness of it! 

Rolling start was great, found some feet and did no effort for the first 20 minutes. A bit more effort on the way back just to keep up with the waves from the wind and take advantage of the extra speed. Heading around the last buoy I swam wide right about 6 feet as to not get crowded with the 4 people I was swimming with, the left turn put us swimming parallel to the waves about 75 yards from shore. In that half second of making the turn I went from swimming with four people to about two dozen. 

The wave I had been lifted on had stood up a group just in front of me. “OH, SHIT!” flashed through me and as soon as I hit the water I started swimming full gas to get away from the group and get through this section as soon as possible. I slapped down hard on the water at least every other stroke, but tried to swim as fast and as close to the water as possible. Swam until I hit the shore passing lots of others walking from about 50 feet out. 

I burned a lot of matches in that last 5 minutes. My heart rate was so high and I didn’t want to bring that on the bike with me so I got ready to go then looking at my watch I made myself sit in the chairs for two solid minutes. Reminding myself that this day wasn’t about the swim or the bike. I wanted sub-2 on the run. 

Our run during training camp was one full loop of the course in about 90 degree heat on tired legs. I took it out steady then pushed the pace staying at 8:10 pace +- 5 seconds. That run put that feeling of ‘This is what I want, this is what I want to give.’ This is where my race starts and the mental fight I’ve been training and looking for. 

Goose racked up
Goose ready to roll!
Rolling out on the bike, man what a feeling! I remember three years ago getting on the bike and within 2 minutes the shoulder screaming at me and knowing it was going to be a long hurtful day. This year however, I saw Alley as I rolled out and everything was feeling great.

Fun was priority #1 on the bike, layup and enjoy, I figured I’d give up 10 minutes on the bike staying around 75% perceived effort until the turn around back into town. That’s where I felt the real fun and effort could start. I love climbing. Climbing on the bike is just about the most humbling thing ever. Swing up to a group, work through, look for the next group on the road, make a surge to cover the gap and work through that group. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. 

I have this thing I enjoy doing. I’ll admit it’s kind of an asshole move. But not really. I hate seeing people draft and I hate seeing people (guys) speed up just to not letting others (women) pass. Seriously, if your ego is that fragile that you can’t let someone (a woman) who’s in better shape than you pass?!?!? Whatevs….lame! 

So if I see this happen, like I did and I see the guy crack from trying to not let the woman pass I’ll speed up and yell ‘on your left’ going by at a much faster pace. I usually hear the swears, and grumbling, but not over my laughing. I on the other hand, love being passed on climbs, mostly because I love watching different styles and how different people settle into a climb. Anyways...

The last climb just past Green Lake I dropped a chain after grabbing and going through a group. I overreacted for about a minute, yelling at myself to slow down and don’t try and catch them again, then calmed down. It was super fun racing back through Whistler Village. I could hear Phil and Paul commentating: “He’s taking a bit of risk going around the course just knowing he’s going to get that little bit of respite in T2” I can’t remember ever being in a race and feeling that much control over effort on the bike. Legs. Felt. Amazing! 

Off the bike (Goose) I saw Alley and yelled over to her, “I remember ALL of this!” 
In 2014 I lost 25-30 minutes of memory  between T2 and mile 3 of the run.

In the morning I was listening to Glorious by Macklemore, as soon as I hit the run I had: “Hey! I'ma keep running. Cause a winner don't quit on themselves!” playing over and over in my head from Beyonce. Just heard the song for the first time about three weeks ago. 

I told Alley I needed to ease into the run so our plan was that she’d be at the 5K mark at 30 minutes into my run. No sooner. If I missed her there I might not see her until the finish. So slow and easy, drink, eat, shake out the legs. 

5K - 29:45 high five and gotta go - BOOM! 

Now I had 10 miles to cover at 9 minute pace. Ran comfortable at about 8:35 pace, with the heat I stopped and walked through the aid station, seemed a needless risk to not worry about the heat. One rookie move, was that I forgot to put a hat in my run bag, so I ended up carrying a buff through the swim and bike just to have for the run : ) ….it’s been 3 years. 

The run was everything I wanted and waited for, I was passing people at a really fast rate and even slowed down 15 seconds per mile thinking I shouldn’t be passing people so easily. But I had fresh legs and my pace was 8:45 and I wanted this. At the turn around I saw Kirsten just behind me and got a huge lift, emotionally it was what I needed at that point. About five minutes later I felt the pangs of my IT Band start to pull, down the leg across the knee, makes me want to throw up. 

Even though I haven’t had IT problems for over a year I wore a waist belt that was just for holding a IT strap that I brought just in case. I stopped running, calmly put the strap on, jogged a bit, adjusted then took off running again. The strap dulls the pain by half and gives me some control of my leg. My thought was, FUCK YOU! “I'ma keep running. Cause a winner don't quit on themselves!” Today is my day!

I knew I could count on my legs. At least 2-3x a week I would find that that was a mantra that rolled through my head: Let your legs get you out of trouble.

I finished with just over a minute to spare on getting my sub-2 on the run. My one and only real goal of the day. All trained up and on a flat course I can pull a 1:31 stand alone half marathon. I’m at peace with that not being this day.

From start to finish I never bought into the dark places that a mind can take you: You’re not trained enough, you’re not fast enough, you’re not an athlete. Why are you doing this? When the IT band pulled it wasn’t the usual fear of having to walk 4-5 miles and my race being over, it was this feeling of background noise. I never had the feeling like I was going to have to stop running. 

Over this training year my attitude on my endurance changed, for the better.  My levels and goals for myself are nowhere etched in stone. I bring the day I want and don’t lie to myself. If I’m not at a level where someone remembers me being at that’s on them. I’m pretty much at peace with it. I want more day with the feeling of “Some MF’n Fun is going to be had today!”

Thanks to the TN family for support and being out there. Also to Alley, how in a day of spectathleting she put in 13.5 miles running around course supporting and checking in on race peeps. And to my brother who followed me around Green Lake in his kayak after I injured my arm so I’d have the confidence to get back out there swimming again. Such a great group of inspiring friends.