Sunday, June 11, 2006

Fresh (almost) From the Forge

First the report, then the contemplation. (See how nice I am, I won't make you wade through my brain to get to the point :)

This was a tough and dedicated field of 35 female racers with the top 14 spots finishing between 4: freakin 35 and 5:30. From the conversation in transition I knew I was among seasoned veterans, mostly Ironmen, Kona competitors and the like. It's early in the season and only serious athletes need apply. Listen and learn Trimama, listen and learn. There were a few newbies like myself, laughing when in my nervousness I put my wetsuit on backward, and the veterans were instructive and calming in a way only triatletes can be.

I was 27th out of 35 women, 116 out of 136th overall and 7th out of 9 age group.

Ballet Toes and Bananas:

Thanks to a tip from Fe Lady and stocking up on potassium I escaped the swim without cramping, learned to draft and most importantly swam in a straight line. I've also decided that I'm not going to spot my fellow age groupers time in the front end by entering the water with such hesitation. I won't be swimming over anyone anytime soon, but I'm also not going to give up those few minutes getting into the water and starting the stroke. My one goal for the swim was to stay straight and on course. I did. Even though it took plenty of extra sighting. I realized I have the ugliest stroke in the lake when Trihubby was able to distinguish me from the other pink caps by my spastic left arm. Can anyone say stroke clinic? I stripped my wetsuit in the lake and went to transition, which added to my swim time as the timing mat was at the entrance to T1.

38:11 But I'm guessing the actual swim was more like 34 and change-it would help me a lot if I didn't reel like a drunken sailor trying to get out of my wet suit :) and if time mattered I might have run up the ramp-but time wasn't on my mind today.

It was a cold 58 degrees and windy, so T1 included long sleeve shirt, padded shorts (which are just nasty to put on over wet skin) socks, shoes, gloves, nutrition, helmet etc) 3:40 My race plan called for a slow transition to ensure I biked out with everything in place

Bike 25th out of 35 in 3:26:22. I covered 18.7 in 59 minutes. Want to guess what happened at mile 27?

flubflubflubflub. I've never flatted so I didn't know what to make of that sound emanating from my back tire. But then I started to feel every pebble in the road. I travelled another mile flub, flub flubbing at 14 mph as the air left my tire, but I was looking for a SAG truck, of which there were none-anywhere-the entire day.

I rode to a main intersection and spotted an official looking guy and pulled up asking for help changing my tire. He had a whole bag of stuff and his companions proceeded to help-with the caution that I would get a 4 minute penalty for outside assistance. Let's see, taking a half hour to change a tire, or taking 15 minutes with help in a race I just want to finish upright. I'll take the help. So, I'm giving myself credit for a 3:11 bike in terms of actual exertion (AE) which is pushing the 17.8 mph average that cyclometer was reading. Given the wind (again) and hills I'll take it. I've also learned the invaluable lesson of knowing the course. There were a couple rough hills on the double loop course, including dead, decomposing skunk hill that stunk literally and well, literally. My other biking goal was to never allow my speed to drop below 11 mph-mission accomplished-except for the flat. Those hills dropped me to 8 or 9 mph six weeks back.

T2 4:16 What the heck. It must have been the time I took eating Nutter Butters in transition. I thought I was faster. I stripped out of my padded shorts, biking shirt and added my running shirt. Oh, Oh, Oh, I called Trihubby to let him know I'd flatted and was heading out on the run.

Double -double- this- this, double- double- that. Double- double- this- this double- double that.

The Tribe has some new hand game they play whereby this mantra is repeated as they go through hand motions. That damn cadence repeated a million times as my feet flopped along the pavement on the run. My goal for the run was to keep my pace between 9-9:30 minutes walking the water stops for a 10:00 min/mi overall pace to finish in 2:10. I also wanted to keep my heart rate around 150, and determined to walk any hills that pushed it to the 165 or so level.

Run time 2:14:05 with the best part of the day awaiting at the finish line. The Tribe was there and came running towards me, so we did a Florida practice down the shoot.

I felt good and strong at the end. I had more in me, which is exactly where I wanted my training to be. I didn't want a demoralizing, awful finish, with Ironman on the horizon. No second guessing-I'm ready to move forward to the next level of training.

Official time 6:26 ATM 6:11. I thought breaking the 6 hour mark would be cool, but I knew with the wind that wasn't going to happen, a solid 70.3 in the bank.

So now on to the contemplation-it might be worth a cup of tea, this post has been simmering for a couple of weeks. (to be honest, I don't expect too many of you to read this-having exhausted your attention on the race report. Yes, that is intentional as this part is more for my benefit than yours.

The funny thing about being a relative "newbie" to a sport like triathlon is that no matter how much you experience, how much you read, there is always something new waiting for you-in training, in racing, in life. I mentioned in an earlier post that I had this epiphany moment a few weeks back whereby I realized I am no longer afraid. I can't pinpoint exactly what I might have been afraid of before, it was more a subtle current that ran through the core of who I was. I didn't even know it was there because it didn't seem to impact my life in any overt way. It just occured to me that the fear was gone, and I felt different. More genuinely confident, more "me" in the way that God would want "me" to be. A person is a slave to anything that would have mastery over them, and perhaps there is little irony that I would find my freedom on the path to Liberty 70.3.

We are given the gift of mentors, friends, and parents to shepard our souls through this life. Abusers don't shepard souls, they own them, they enslave them. They strip you of security and confidence while convincing you that only they can replace what you have lost, all the while neglecting the obvious point that they raped those virtues away in the first place. Somewhere on the path to Liberty I reclaimed what was mine. Reclaimed in the truest sense of the word. This was not "borrowed" athletic swagger that elevated the value of performance and competition in pursuit of accolades meant to feed an insatiable ego, who then bastardized those achievements to bolster his own sense of rightness and self esteem, only to leave me bankrupt when the next round of violence erupted. Every athletic dream I pursued was done with the sole purpose of raising my currency in a system that had no logical rate of exchange. Eventually I figured that out and I quit competing; I left the system. But the system did not leave me. It lay dormant for ten years. Because I had spent those interim years solidifying the ground beneath my feet, when I entered the world of triathlon I was able to apply a more matured personality to the training and races and have a great time. But there was always that subtle, "make him proud or else" This in spite of knowing that there was precious little pride and much unspeakable "or else" driving that current. A current that almost swept me away at Twin Cities Marathon last fall with fear and flashbacks, in part because I received an "or else" phone call two days before the run. I had neither the talent nor training to excel at a marathon, and fear of failure almost consummed me, but for two things, The Tribe, and Florida. My integrity on the line with The Tribe if I quit what I started and this quirky idea that a marathon was the doorway to Florida compelled me past the "or else" fears to the finish line from which I spent six months feeling a failure with my "slow" time. Understand? Abuse twists and torments long after the abuser is removed. Fast forward a few months to when I began my training in earnest for Liberty. It was winter and all pool and bike trainer all the time. I did change my routine and stick to running outdoors through the winter which was a small step in and of itself. No surprise, I liked the controlled enviroment of the treadmill. I should emphasize here that I'm not a controlling person in the sense of annoying everyone around me, I work to control one thing, my mental and emotional stability. House rules forbid tipping your hand, and house of violence rules dictate severe retribution for the kid who let's on to the family secrets; control is survival. And to be honest, counseling your way through some of this stuff compells you to believe you're going to "drop your basket" so to speak, so control is sanity. I had no means to assess my ability to take on mental challenges, so intially I proceeded with caution, seeking to avoid tipping the scales. Now I realize I was no where close to tipping, but when you don't know, you don't know.

Experience and positive reinforcement bring confidence, control is no longer necessary.

So unnerved was I by the thought of biking outdoors, I seriously contemplated my entire training on the bike path that travels within a six mile radius of my house, since I could always walk home if something went wrong. That path held one virtue, it is flat and it is boring as hell; a four hour ride on that loop would drive me insane. So, on my first long ride I set out and rode 62 miles, away from home, alone, plotting my own course, taking responsibility for my needs and my pain management. Having control of pain management is monumental, I believe it achieved the single greatest blow to that core fear. I quickly learned that pain is manageable and mental fatigue is easily defeated by a shot of Gatorade. If only all of life's woe's were similarly tackled. I was simultaneously racking up the yardage in the swimming pool, so when it came to swimming in the lake, "I survived so I can survive another swim" gave way to "I can do a mile, a mile is nothing, I will swim this". Aahh, confidence. I almost quit the sport last year when the cold water and newbie reaction to the constriction of a wet suit threatened to cement me in permanant swimming phobia at the Buffalo tri. That was only 400 yards. I spent last season refusing to warm up for the swim in fear that I only had 600 yards in me at the most and any warm up would cause me to drown.

Confidence vs control- no contest.

Finishing Buffalo Olympic this year put an exclamation point on "I am no longer afraid".

When I bike now, I let go on the downhills, I fly. It goes without saying, when you learn to fly on your bike, you soar. When you don't worry about flats and crashes and speed and what if's, you soar. You bike and you experience. You take in life and nature and the majesty of your Creator, rather than obsess over balance and possible threats. Fear breaks down when threat isn't crouching at every corner. Just ride. And suddenly, 70 miles away from home is nothing. 56 miles is half iron, baby.

I had moments yesterday when "make him proud or else" hovered on my shoulder to which my response was "get over yourself" Then I began to think about all of the people in my life, The Tribe, friends, family, bloggers and I said a little prayer for each person I thought of, and I drank some Gatorade and I soared.

Well until my tire went flat :)

But there was help when I needed it.

Confidence vs Control

One makes life oh so much sweeter, oh and it comes with it's own token of appreciation.

If you hung in this long, thanks for stopping by, and thanks for how you've inspired me to soar.


Fe-lady said...

Oh and soar you did my fine young lady. Your post brought tears to my eyes...and I am so proud of you right now!
(Glad you didn't cramp at all BTW!)
So if the Olympic was the exclamation point...what was this 70.3? A star maybe? A smiley face? A sigh of relief?
Yes, when you let go of the control, things DO go much better and smoother..and things DO work out don't they?
Hey, you started with a great race #-so how could you have a "bad" race with double sevens?
(double-double this..this!)
Hope you had a great picnic celebration with your friends and family! And yes, we WERE (at least I was) thinking about you and how you were doing and sending good stuff your way. I guess it got there OK! :-)

Fe-lady said...

(And DOUBLE double thanks for blowing up the finish photo! It's a keeper!)

Heather said...

Absolutely beautiful.

Trimama, you inspire me.

Susan said...

You did it! Congratulations again. I love the last photo.

Habeela said...

What an amazing post! I got a little teary-eyed. The journey of triathlon definitely takes you places you never dreamed you'd go before. Your path is and will be more and more beautiful - thanks for helping us to soar as well.

Habeela said...

Oh. I also wanted to say I like your attitude about finishing the race today with plenty left in the tank. I was not feeling good about my well-fueled finish this weekend before I read that. See - soaring! :)

tarheeltri said...

Congrats on a great race!

Tri-Geek Kahuna said...


Iron Pol said...

Great race, great post. I think I would have taken a four minute penalty when my chain snapped.

Congratulations as you head towards the Ironman race. We all face those little fears in a new race, and your comments about lessons learned, both past and current, help. Every little note left by another "newbie" goes into the file as something to remember.

Flatman said...

What an awesome post. The race report was great (congrats on becoming a half-ironman, by the way!), but the second half is what I like... Your journey has been enlightening to follow and I thank you and your family for the entertainment, laughs and inspiration. Keep up the hard work. It's all coming together and you are going to soar at IMFL!!!

the poet said...

Thank you for taking us along on this wonderful adventure and discovery. Yes, God has made us for soaring and has given us a creation that is a beautiful work of art to play in and find Him. Your pursuits are insiring to us all and drive us all to look more closely at the world with His eyes. Thanks again for your glow and searing honesty. It is good for us to see a true heart soaring and flying for God's glory. Swim, ride, and run on!

Spence said...

GO TRIMAMA GO!!! YOU ARE AMAZING!!! Loved the report and especially loved the are a total inspiration to all of us out here. Doing it for yourself...that's what it's all about. Congratulations on your SUPER finish and on all the amazing hurdles you've cleared. Keep on keeping on!!!

greyhound said...

I love your story. We each have different experiences that we carry with us over the distances, but the swimming, the biking, and the running are about so much more than the three activities. We all started at our own start lines, and the finish line that day is only the visible destination.

Veeg said...

I LOVE reading the contemplative part, about what becoming a triathlete has meant to you. You are so amazing, and strong. And I'm glad that you have found, in triathlon, a forum in which to showcase that strength!

stronger said...

the second half was worth far more than a cup of tea. You've absolutely captured the feelings of abuse- the fear, the dread, the resentment. As most would see an abused as a weak person- you know the mental strength it takes to endure, to overcome. You've got FL in the bag based on mental strength alone. I am so proud of you. You are a source of stength and hope.

Kewl Nitrox said...

That was a bit of a splash at the left arm entry... but you look great on the bike. :)

And thanks for bringing us in your journey of building strength and confidence. Indeed control is irrelevant when we have faith/confidence.

God Speed!

christine said...

great report and especially enjoyed the contemplation. like so many have said before trimama, you are inspiring and bring so much to the tri community.

Comm's said...

I got all gushy reading your two times the punch post with the race report and fear thoughts.

I can't wait to see you all in Florida.

the Dread Pirate Rackham said...

Wow - congratulations on your fantastic 70.3, I'm proud of you! Well done, mama!

and also more than a little surprised about how much I can relate to the gushy part of your post...sniff..sniff...

Bridget said...

Thanks for the wonderful race report, and your inspiring message at the end. Your times were terrific, and it sounds like you have learned a lot since training began. Enjoy the summer with the tribe!

marz_racer said...

Your report was great. Flats suck!!! Your story is an inspiration to me. I am trying to face the fear you speak of. With a 70.3 coming in August I am getting a little concerned, actually really scared. Reading your words makes another day of training possible.

Wil said...

"Experience and positive reinforcement bring confidence, control is no longer necessary."

You are so right. I think this is what stood out for me the most in this post. Seems that the longer I go along in this the more this exact sentiment rings true for me, too. I think one of these days you and are are going to have a lot to talk about... :)