Monday, April 27, 2009

The St. Anthony's Triathlon that wasn't really a triathlon..

They say when you race you have to be prepared for all conditions. This race was a classic example of that. What a crazy weekend. To say it wasn't full of panic, adventure, fun and disappointment would be an understatement.

My husband and I returned from the Bahamas on Friday afternoon (that's another story in itself right there) after visiting my parents at the house in Marsh Harbor. I love going over there and I hope that now we have gotten our plane back from refurbishment (we have a small Cessna 172 that we bought at auction), this will become easier. I had packed my triathlon gear but not my clothes for the weekend so it was a mad dash to get everything ready and head over to St. Pete before the expo closed for the day. Steve grabbed my bike along with my business partner, Rick's, bicycle and racked them on the back of the car. One quick shower and a few minutes to load the car, and I was on my way. Steve came over as well but he followed me several hours later in his car since he needed to get his gear together so he could leave from St. Pete for work on Sunday.

It's about a 90 minutes drive to St. Pete and I notice it was extremely windy as I made my way to the Gulf side. I looked through my rear view mirror and saw that the bikes were moving around quite a bit because of the wind. Just as I was about to pull over to tighten them down, I saw Rick's bike swing up and off the back of the car and smash into the Interstate 4 pavement behind me. My heart raced as I pulled over to the side of the road.

There are several GOOD things in this scenario. First, that the bike didn't end up in some one's windshield and hurt or kill the occupants of the vehicle and, second, that the bike on the road did not cause a chain reaction pile up on I-4 . As I exited my car, an off duty sheriff's office pull his truck behind the bike and started directing traffic as I went to retrieve what was left of this very expensive piece of equipment.

To say this carbon race bike was a mess would be like calling Hurricane Katrina a "little storm". One Zipp wheel was cracked in 3 parts. The top tube was cracked in half. The seat was opened up in several places while the shifters were completely ripped off of the handlebars. There were cables sticking out everywhere and, once I got to a safe position on the side of the road, all I could do was look at the bike in horror. This isn't even MY BIKE. What am I going to say to Rick?? I couldn't help but cry...but tears don't solve problems. I had to come up with a solution on how I was going to replace this bike in 48 hours for a race.

I called my hubby and he was totally upset. He's the one that racked the bike and figured he must of strapped it down incorrectly. I explained to him that no one got hurt..and we had to look at this from a positive prospective. What I needed was a way to get wheels under Rick in a hurry. Steve suggested calling Hector....and that was my next call.

Hector graciously offered his backup bike for Rick to ride (is this guy amazing or what!!). His partner, Don, was coming to St. Pete on Saturday and would bring the bike and Hector would fit it to Rick. I was able to breath as I called Rick with the bad news and the plan of attack. Needless to say, Rick was upset but amazingly calm. ( least for a little while)

I got to St. Pete, pulled up to the Race Expo site and Rick met me to see the bike. He took it to Outspoken to look it over and see what could be done. The verdict? The only salvageable part on the bike was the rear Zipp Wheel. Everything else was looking pretty bad.

Val, the owner of the shop, could not have been nicer. She offered to store the bike while we decided if we wanted to go ahead and buy a bike or wait for Hector's backup bike. She wasn't pushy..just kind and helpful. She could tell that I was extremely upset and seemed to really take an interest in our plight!! No high pressure..just lots of good info.

We ended up negotiating with Val for a fabulous price on a Cervelo to replace Rick's bike. We both took responsibility for the bike by the end of the weekend so we split the cost. Val and her staff went to work to get the bike ready and by Saturday, Rick was on his new ride!

I was a mess!! After Friday and part of Saturday solving the bike problem, I had hardly thought about my own race. I got up early Saturday to watch Beth's girls-Kelsey and Hannah and Rick's daughter- Jessica run in the Meek and Mighty Triathlon. They all finished strong and got shiny bling to boot!! It was great to watch such a fine group of talented kids give their all!!

We racked our bikes on Saturday and suddenly it hit. Im doing an Olympic Distance Tri tomorrow but I was still fairly calm. We went to dinner at an Italian Restaurant nearby and I hit the hay early...I was truly exhausted.

I awoke at 4am and I was ready to race. Coffee and Oatmeal made and consumed and dressed for the day, we headed out of the hotel at 5am. Geni's husband, Neal, was incredibly kind and drove us down to the transition area. I felt like a pro getting the star treatment.

I made my way into transition and started to get organized. I kept hearing the announcer say "Stay in the transition for a special announcement". At about 530am, the Race Director cancelled the swim portion of the race. Only the Pros would be swimming today. The age groupers would only be biking and swim.

WHAT?? EXCUSE ME?? Did I just hear him right, I thought to myself. No swim?? I looked out at the Bay and I felt the wind and I realized....Ok...this guy made the right decision. As the wind blew harder and the water looked like my laundry on spin, I stopped being upset and realized that, people could get hurt out there. Im a strong swimmer...but just as I struggle to run, other struggle to swim.

Many others were not as understanding. One girl near our bikes was trying to qualify for Alcatraz while another had travelled all the way from North Dakota to do this race. My heart broke for them. I was just 2 hours from home.

So I tried to get organized. The plan was to time trial start across the swim finish mat and enter transition and do the bike and run. The Race Director told age groupers that you could have your bike helmet on and your shoes if you wanted. I wanted to experience as much of the race as I could so I left my gear in transition.

Beth, Geni, Rick and myself stood around for quite a bit. Rick started at approximately 740a while our wave did not start until 845am. All I could think was...that's going to be one hot run!!

Into transition and onto the bike, I was pumped but that feeling was short lived. It was just so hard to get focused when the race wasn't really a race anymore. I did push on the bike but I think if I had been able to swim, I would have been able to really get excited about the bike!! The first 10 miles were great and I love the technical aspect of the course because I'm good in the turns..but the wind continued to kick up making the last half of the race a bit challenging.

As I exited my bike, I looked at my watch and realized that I was 1 minute and 30 seconds slower than last year. I tried not to think about it as I made a solid transition out to the run. The first 3 miles were pretty good. I ran my plan and stayed focused. The last half was brutal. Four blisters opened up and both heels began to bleed. By the time I got to mile 4, I was down to running 3 and 1's...and my time was shot. I got to mile 5 to find Hector waiting. I actually looked up and groaned. Oh God...this is going to be a tough mile.

Hector pushed me...and at this point, I needed the push. I freely admit that I'm nasty at this time in a race. I'm hot, I'm tired, I'm frustrated and I'm fighting all those negative thoughts in my head....but God love Hector, he never stopped...he kept pushing...and encouraging..and pushing. As I approached the end of mile 5, I saw a sea of Red and Black uniforms and realized that it was the Central Florida Tri Club. They were all there..under the tent drinking beer and having fun...but they all stopped and they cheered...LOUD. At first I was embarrassed. " I know."..I thought..".I'm last....again."...but they were wonderful and I can't thank them enough for their screams and applause. And then there were the chapters of Team in Training that I had talked to before the race....they saw me and a roar went up. I was so overwhelmed...I started to cry.

I made the turn into the finishing chute and saw all my friends....Beth, Neal, Lisa and the girls. I was down to a walk/run but determined to run across the line. Lisa took pictures that I just can't wait to see. I must have just looked terrible.

My run was 12 seconds slower per mile average than last year and my bike was a 1 minute 30 seconds slower than last year. My transitions were about the same. It was so hard to get focused about this race....the race that wasn't

We celebrated our finish at The Moon under the Water Restaurant in the hear of downtown St. Pete! I love that feeling of being with friends after you have accomplished a task. Although I am very disappointed with my bike and run times, I know I can do better.

Next week was suppose to be a sprint distance race at Tri Miami but I have switched to an Olympic Distance since I didn't get to do a real "race" this weekend. Hopefully, I will see good result there :)

I had a wonderful friend and former coach send me these "thoughts" to consider after reading my blog from several weeks ago.

You cannot have a goal of a fit body, and also have a belief that exercise is hard work.

You cannot make wise food choices to enhance your health if you also tell yourself that healthy foods are not tasty.

So, in short, pause for a moment and assess. Do you have any conflicting beliefs or values which hold you back? If you find they exist, get to the root of the negative belief and learn why the conflict exists. Once you do, you will quickly find yourself moving towards your goals with a smile on your face.

Hmmm...wise words...after a tough emotional weekend. Note the smile on my face :)

And as always..more to come soon....


RBR said...

Whoa. What a weekend. I am so sorry to hear that happened to you and your friend, but as you said thank God no one was hurt. Bikes can be replaced.

Way to tough out a hard race. I can totally understand getting your race mojo thrown off by the tri turning into a du. (although. I must admit I secretly I have dreams that the swim at CdA will get canceled for some reason. Shhh. don't tell anyone)

The Running Girl said...

Oh my! I can't believe what happened to your friend's bike. And I'm sorry that part of your race got cancelled. Way to hang in there and get it done.

Sarah said...

OMG. That is my worst nightmare. It sounds like you guys recovered and found a way to make it work.

I had a really great conversation this morning with my therapist about my dread of being last. You know what she told me? That comes from childhood and a fear of judgment. But if we can turn that around to joy and think about what we are doing, and how much fun it is and how powerful we are, we can quickly turn it into a positive. For me, I have this crazy fear that I'm being judged as slow, and somehow, worthless. But it's really just a story that I'm telling myself. In reality, I have never seen a more supportive environment than tri. I'm really going to focus on that positive thinking during my long ride on Sunday and all season long as I get ready for Ironman. I thought you might be able to identify since you mentioned being the last member of your team to finish. You know what? They probably all just thought you rocked. I do!!

Kate said...

Hey lady! Just a small comment. Ok, so you were 1 min and 30 seconds slower on the bike than last year... but last year you weren't riding in 25 mph winds with gusts. And so you were slower on the run than last year, but it was probably still windy AND um, you just rode 25 miles in 25 mph winds. Perhaps the quantifiers aren't exactly the same as they were last year. I think you did great!

Sarah said...

Listen to your coach. That's what his job is - to look out for you. Focus on the long term goal - Ironman. Do what it takes to get you there!!!

I had to give up my half this year so that I can focus on my primary goal, it's hard, but knowing that it'll be that much sweeter when I get to the ultimate goal softens the blow.

Kathy said...

Wowza! I've always been paranoid about my bike flying off the car. Lucky thing no-one was hurt!

What a drama filled weekend you've had, but once again you made it through. Good job!