That’s one good lookin’ forecast for the 5150 this weekend!!
After a good week of training last week, I feel ready. Nervous but ready. I have to trust in the fact that I’ve put a lot of work in, I’m definitely fitter than I was for the NYC Triathlon and I’m better prepared mentally.
Hopefully this forecast holds, I love racing in warm weather! Plus, just in case the water isn’t wet-suit legal I just ordered a race-suit.
I mean…how bad-ass is that?!
Continuing towards my total domination of Least Photogenic Triathlete EVER!
Doesn’t that look peaceful? It was 5am and I was one of the first people into transition. It was chillier than I expected, and I was (momentarily) happy I’d remembered my long sleeve sweater and vest. And then…the rain started. A moderately chilly 62 degrees quickly turned to cold to the core, it rained HARD for about 20 minutes and there was no where to hide out. I was shaking so hard when it came time to put on my wet-suit I could barely do it.
Backing up momentarily, at 3am I went to pickup my ZipCar from the garage down the street. Arriving at the garage I realized I’d forgotten my membership card that’s required to “unlock” the car. ARGH! Also, the garage attendant had apparently fallen asleep and wasn’t coming to open the door for me. Not a good start. Thankfully the ZipCar customer service is INCREDIBLE. Not only did the guy I talked to call the garage and wake the guy up, but they smartly stash a spare card in the trunk of their cars for occasions like this. Within no time he’d activated my new card and had me on my way. You don’t see customer service like that very often, especially at 3am!
Back now to the cold rain. I decided to put my wet-suit on early, figuring it might keep me a bit warmer. My one good decision of the day. But I was still shivering uncontrollably, worrying now that I was burning energy with all the shaking. I was in the very last wave to go off, which certainly didn’t help matters. To top all the pre-race fun off, in the wave prior to mine a gentleman had to be rescued after panicking in the giant waves of the ocean.
Thankfully open water swimming doesn’t make me nervous in the least, especially when I’m in a wet-suit. Salt water + wet-suit = flotation! But the waves were so huge that I knew it wasn’t going to be a particularly fun or easy swim. At the gun I timed my run into the water to avoid one huge wave, only to be smashed by another one right behind it. Wouldn’t have been a big deal had it not knocked my goggles to the side and made them fill up with water. Salt water in the eyes…awesome. But I figured the harder I swam the sooner it’d be done. Aside from there being a serious lack of visibility due to the waves, it wasn’t a bad swim. 0.3 miles in a little over 8 minutes. Not terrible.
As I came up onto the beach I realized one of my contact lenses had come out because of the water in my goggles. I quickly took the other one out to match, now I could see nothing! Terrific. The rain hadn’t let up but thankfully the ocean was pretty warm and I was no longer shivering.
In and out of transition with no issues, I was out on the bike course. Hmmm…what’s wrong with my legs? They have no juice. Oh well, I thought to myself, I’m sure they just need to spin a bit to wake up. Well…5 miles in with a tail wind and my legs were still burning. At the turnaround I soon was faced with a brutal headwind and pelting rain. Awesome. My speed lagged and with it, my confidence.
In reading Chris McCormack’s latest book he talks about the times when the negative self talk comes up, and I’d yet to really experience that in a race. Until Saturday. It came, and it was nasty! Why are you doing this? How are you this bad? What’s wrong with you? You’ll never finish. Do you see how slow you’re going? McCormack suggests being prepared with positive images and thoughts in a kind of memory bank that you can draw on at these times, I couldn’t find any, and I felt myself start to give into the negativity. If you haven’t experienced that, it’s hard to explain, but it feels like shit.
11 miles in on the bike and I headed out on my 2nd loop of the course. Knowing that I had the headwind for the next 5 miles I tried to really put the heat on, but my legs just weren’t responding. With a tailwind on such a flat course I should have easily been able to crank out 22mph or higher…and I was struggling to stay above 20. I couldn’t figure it out and the negative talk came even stronger than before. Why didn’t you just stay in bed?!
I knew getting off my bike that there was no way for me to finish the race in under 2 hours now. That was a bad moment…a moment where I thought that maybe I could just stop and no one would notice. Of course, I kept going, but it was a bad moment. My running shoes were dry for approximately 10 seconds into the run, when I stepped into a huge puddle by accident and was now running in two heavy wet bricks. Curse words did not fail me.
I was running nearly 9 minute miles, and I was angry at myself. I was feeling defeated and pissed off, not a good combination when you still have 30 minutes of a race left. My legs were not coming to me, usually half a mile in they come back, but they were dead. Did I not eat properly? Not hydrate enough? Is my training bad? All these thoughts were going through my mind. What I should have been thinking was, suck it up and get going!
With just one mile left, I found them. I found my legs, I started to feel good, if not great! And I did that final mile in around 7:30. What. The. Hell.
All in my time was 2:08. Blahhhhh. I was so incredibly disappointed. This race was supposed to be a tune up, a confidence booster before Iowa in 2 weeks. Instead I left there feeling demoralized, depressed and upset with myself.
"Never regret. If it’s good, it’s wonderful. If it’s bad, it’s experience."
– Victoria Holt
However, dwelling on this result now certainly won’t help. I need to figure out what lessons I can take from it and put the rest behind me. So what did I learn?
1. ALWAYS bring a rain jacket! There’s no underestimating the benefit of staying warm and dry in the early morning hours leading up to a race.
2. Bring a change of clothes for after the race. Cold, wet, and angry in a car after a race are not the best combination.
3. Sleep is crucial. I didn’t get enough sleep the night before or the week leading up to the race. It matters.
4. Don’t race if you aren’t going to take it seriously. I took this race super lightly because it was a short one, that was a mistake.
5. Build up your positive memory bank. In the heat of a race I couldn’t think of the good positive things to get me moving when all the negative talk came. I need to have memories and thoughts on the ready should that happen again.
I’m sure there are many more lessons to be learned as I continue this “hobby”, but hopefully they present themselves in a slightly more positive way in the future!
2 weeks to Iowa!
19.2 avg! I have been feeling really pretty strong on the bike as of late, and was super happy to get a great ride in earlier this week and push my average speed up above 19. And I think there’s still room for improvement!
Over a year ago, when just started riding in Central Park, I used to skip Harlem Hill. It was too steep and I was scared I wouldn’t be able to do it. Then the first time I went up it, my speed was in the neighborhood of 6 mph. Yes, that means that runners were passing me, it was awful. My legs burned, my lungs were on fire, I was wildly wobbling back and forth with each labored pedal stroke. At first I thought that people would laugh at me, then I realized it was actually just pure pity I saw in their eyes. Just horrible.
But now, I average around 13 mph coming up that hill. And while that is by no means fast and I still get passed by a lot of hard core cyclists, it is a huge improvement. It still burns, but now it’s manageable, and my lungs don’t give out on me like they used to. I can actually just bear down and push through the discomfort and keep that 13 mph speed the whole way up. It’s pretty cool.
I think if I’m feeling good this Saturday, I could feasibly finish the 22 mile bike portion of the race in under 65 minutes. I think that if I can average 19 on the hills of Central Park, I should be able to average 20 on the flats. We shall see!
Also, the nausea issue…I think I may have figured it out. I used to ALWAYS drink a cup of coffee first thing in the morning before doing anything else. Sometimes I’d eat, sometimes not. But always the coffee. Then I ran out of coffee last week. No coffee in the morning before my workouts, and I haven’t had nausea. I wonder if it’s connected?? Only time will tell I suppose.
Despite the social events planned for this past weekend I actually managed to have a decent training weekend too! But when my alarm went off at 6am on Saturday after an evening filled with friends, wine and food, I most certainly had to argue with myself to get going.
But as I flipped through my email, this quote was in my inbox:
"People usually fail when they are on the verge of success. So give as much care to the end as to the beginning."
And I’m laying there all lazy thinking…how am I going to feel if I slack off this weekend and have a poor result in Iowa? It’s only 3 weeks away, so close I can taste it, I need to push through to the finish line!
So out the door I went. And while I didn’t do a super long ride, just 18 miles, it felt good to get out there. I really love cycling…I love that there’s times when it’s SO hard (up a steep hill for example) but then there are the super easy and exhilarating downhills. I finally feel like I have a handle on the bike to the point where I’m not death gripping the handles and I can really just push hard and enjoy. As I was out there with the fresh air of central park in my face, I was so happy I’d not stayed in bed.
I felt like I’d ridden somewhat slowly, there was a bike race taking place and I had to continually slow up and ride in the recreation lane with the joggers. However I was surprised to see that I’d finished in exactly 60 minutes. Funny, I used to struggle to finish in 63 or 64 minutes, and now 60 seemed like a cake walk.
Sunday morning, there was NO chance of anything happening. I did get up to watch the Olympic marathon, but then went back to sleep once it was over. After a nice brunch and some time outdoors I finally got it together and headed to the gym in the early evening.
My favorite spin class is the Sunday evening one at Equinox Columbus Circle. The instructor plays this percussion heavy music and encourages it to be a sort of moving meditation. It’s so different than other classes, and it’s a really nice change. After the 45 minute class I switched shoes and headed out for a jaunt in the park. The 5 mile run felt surprisingly great. I forgot to wear my watch, and felt like I was moving slowly, but actually ended up finishing in right about 40 minutes.
The best part of my workouts this weekend…no nausea!!! The only downside is I’m not 100% sure why. I didn’t eat before my bike on Saturday, and I ate 5 hours before my workout on Sunday, so maybe that’s the key?
Less than 3 weeks now until Iowa! I want to make this a really tough training week…because after this I’ll have to start slowing down a little. I have a practice race this Saturday out in Long Branch, but it’s a shorter Olympic. Just a 600yd swim (the Iowa race is nearly 1600 yards), 22 mile bike and a 5 mile run. My goal time is 2:00:00 but that’s really pushing it! I’d need to have a perfect race…but the swim is really short…and the course is flat…so it’s possible!
I just got back from a few days in Dublin, Ireland. What an incredible city! While I was there for work, I did get to do a tiny bit of sightseeing and visit the Guinness Factory. What I didn’t get to do however, was a whole lot of training!
I did manage to get up on Wednesday morning and hit the gym in the hotel for an impromptu BRICK and some core strength training. It wasn’t a long workout but I went hard and am actually still sore today!
Now that I’m back home, and it’s just a little over 3 weeks from the race, I need to get serious! I need to make sure I get good quality workouts in, but I also need to make sure I take care of my nutrition and sleep. Which will start Sunday…since it’s my best friends birthday pool party tomorrow. ha. (For the record I still plan to get up early tomorrow and blast myself with a killer workout beforehand)
I’m starting to get nervous about the race in Des Moines…it’s a big race and I’ve trained harder for it than I have for anything in years. I have to remind myself that there’s really nothing on the line though, I just want to go out there and push myself as hard as I can and perform to my personal best. Plus I’m in the best shape I’ve been in probably since college.
Also, some really awesome news, my Dad is going to be meeting me in Des Moines! He hasn’t seen me compete since college (and our basketball team was pretty terrible) and it’s going to be so fantastic to have him there cheering me on. He knows how hard I work and how competitive I am, I’m really looking forward to sharing this experience with him.
I was at a work conference in 2002, a few weeks before I ran the London Marathon. The conference conversation was so stimulating that I started chatting to a colleague about running. He looked me up and down, and said ‘I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you will never be a good runner. Your Q angle is too big.” A nice way to urinate on my fire. I still haven’t got a clue what such an angle is, but, regardless, I feel I have since managed to defy his ideas of what was possible for me and my big Q to achieve (as well as perhaps demonstrating his lack thereof of any high ‘I’ related ‘Q’). And I am sure many of you have been in the same boat. Others place limits on what they think you can do, or maybe you cripple yourself with self doubt about what you think you are capable of. Your bar is set limbo-esque low, rather than being pole vault high. This then becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. So, is it our body or is it our mind that places the greatest limitation on performance?