Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Nation's Triathlon

Finally! A Race!! There are quite a few triathletes who will train all year for one race. There are others, like me, who would race every weekend if time and finances would allow. It has been since May since I have been in a race and I really have looked forward to this one.

The Nation's Triathlon is one of the largest triathlons in the US. With 6000 participants signed up, I arrived in Washington to find a transition area that looked like the "south forty". Just to give you an idea, my bike was at the end of row 38...and there were at least 42 rows in transition. This transition area was in the West Potomac Park and stretched 3 city blocks.

I traveled to the race with the Central Florida Chapter of Team in Training. 11 athletes total on our team with many newbies doing their first ever triathlon. I was so proud of them. All finished. All did well. All followed the rules and were not like SOME triathletes that did stupid things like ride in the middle of the road three abreast, swim the wrong direction on the course (yes, I saw this over the weekend), and ask if they really needed nutrition on a 26 mile bike course. Our team was sharp and well trained. I tip my hat to Coach Clint Carbonneau-an Ironman triathlete who coached his athletes to act like this was their 50th triathlon instead of their first.

For me, it was my 49th outing on a tri course. I went to Washington with the visions of a PR dancing in my head. The weather was cool and perfect. Since I had to ship a bike, I decided to keep the Cervelo at home and ship my road bike. This was a major error on my part as my bike was almost 20 minutes slower than St. Anthony's. The course was also hillier than I expected.

As I approached a hairpin turn and proceeded to climb uphill back towards our nation's capitol, I made a stupid move. I came out of my clip on the left hand side. When I went to clip back in, I got the pedal caught behind my foot and pulled my shoe and sock almost completely off. In the process of untangling the mess, the pedal scraped most of the skin off the back of my heel. At first I didn't feel it but then...sweat got to the wound and OH MY...I definitely could feel it.

At transition, I assessed the damage. I didn't think it was a big deal so I continued. By mile 3 of the run, I couldn't get the stupid injury to stop bleeding. I ran into a rest room and stuffed toliet paper in my shoe. By mile 4, I had gone to a walk because I started to think I had really done something bad that might require stitches.

I finished the race and I as I approached the finish line, I saw my entire team waiting for me. Ever single one had not left to go to the comfort of their hotel but had waited for me. Tears welled up in my eyes. I was touched and embarassed. Here is the "future Ironman" limping to the finish in an Olympic race. They ran with me as far as they could and then I crossed.

I finished. I PR'ed the swim. I struggled through the bike and limped through the run. Is this REALLY an Ironman in training doing this??

I celebrated with my teammates but deep down, I started doubting my abilities. I shipped a bike to Washington I had not ridden in 3 years. I felt like a whole new set of muscle groups were at work during the bike and I had no power at all. I couldn't get into aero on this road bike because the geometry was so different than my Cervelo. I let one little injury play with my head as I was concerned that I might do damage if I pushed it.

So many little time left to Ironman. I have had a little pity party since I have been home but now I need to SNAP OUT OF IT!! Not ever race is going to be perfect. Not ever attempt is going to go well. I really need to learn how to overcome issues on the course and push past them. I could have done so much better at this race.

To my team....congrats. You guys kicked some SERIOUS asphalt. Thank you for waiting for guys are just amazing!!

Onward to the Atlantic Coast Triathlon at Amelia Island-a Half Ironman on October 3rd. I am going to right all the wrongs on that day!!



We are opposite spectrums when it comes to racing. As I say in my blog, "I race to train so that means one race per year". I use the race as the reason to train. "Wouldn't want to ruin a perfectly good training day with a race, you know"

I completely understand the comraderie in wanting to race with your buddies during the course of the year, but if I were your coach, I would tell you to do nothing but training on the weekends for the two months leading up to IM.

But that's just me and I did sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night.. :))

TriJenPB said...

Don't sweat it. Every race is a learning experience. If you had your bike that you'd been training on, you would have probably had no issues. It is tough to ship your baby. I trained with TNT for Chicago Tri last year. My bike got there minus a small box of parts: pedals, front axle, bike bag, tubes, etc. Yeah it wasn't fun running around the expo trying to find someone with a front axle for my bike! You did make the right call leaving the nice bike behind, just next time sneak in some training on the old bike :)
By the way, I LOVE the new TNT uniforms. They look soooooo nice!!!!