Triathlon Training

Where the heck is the finish line?

A couple of weeks ago I went up to Kansas City with my husband and 17 of my triathletes to compete in a triathlon.  I was very excited to have so many Try a Tri athletes competing in an out of town race and most of them competing in open water (i.e. not a pool) for the first time.

During the week, I cut back pretty heavily on my training because I was just feeling tired and heavy.  My swim coach actually banished me from 2 swim practices!  That hasn’t happened since he’s been my coach (about 3 years now).

I worked through my race prep report several times trying to get my times for each sport and the transitions between each sport correctly.  Finally, by Friday morning I had them figured out. I felt pretty good about them.  I felt most aggressive about the run.

Woke up Sunday morning after having literally 6 minutes of sleep from 3:24 – 3:30 am.  How is it that after being awake all night that I check my phone for the time, note that I have to get up in a few short minutes and then BAM I go to sleep?  Weird.  I wasn’t stressed about the race or filled with anxiety, just awake.

We stayed with wonderful friends in KC who were also triathletes.  We planned to leave at 4:30 am and arrive to race site by 5 am.  Well, we didn’t leave until 4:50 am (deep breaths, it’s OK,  it’ll only take minutes to get set up.  If your transition spot isn’t great, oh well.  No biggie.  No biggie).

Arrived at race site.  Wow, it’s a pretty big race.  Transition racks are short and I get a good spot and start seeing all my athletes setting up, talking, getting timing chips, etc.  Was really fun.  I finish setting up, mill around a bit, chat and then decided to head back to transition and get my game face on.  I pull out my ipod and my notes with my mental mantras.  I listen to a song called Revolution.  My favorite lines are ” I’m a fire, I’m a flood I’m a revolution.  I am a war already won.  I’m a revolution.”  It got me jazzed and confident and excited to race.  My mantra’s were – Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Swim – long, calm and strong,  Bike – push and relax.  Run – quick, light, quick light.

It’s time for our traditional pre race Try a Tri prayer.  I look up and see all these athletes and I’m quite emotional.  I’m excited to be here racing with them. I’m excited to pray over them and I love seeing them excited, nervous and supporting and encouraging each other.  I manage to pray and then we do our circle, place our hands on each other and yell, “long, calm and strong”  With that, we disperse to say good bye to hubbies, friends and family.

I get in the water to warm up.  Geez, it’s cold and my breathe feels a little stressed.  I stay in the water swimming until I feel confident that I am good to go.

After about a 20 minute delay, finally it’s our turn to race.  All the women in my swim wave line up all across the shore.  I’m standing next to Julie, I look left and see a contingency of TaT women further down the shore.  Then I look nearby and I see these women leaning forward like they are going to do the 100 yd. dash into the water and I think, “what am I doing up here?  these ladies are crazy?  can I swim faster than them?”  I let that little rebellious thought go.  I am FAST.

I hear ready set GO and in I go.  I don’t run far and I start swimming.  I take a few strokes, see the buoy I’m aiming for and decide to hit the hammer.  Never, have I been this bold.  But, praise God, I’m not even thinking about it.  I’m just swimming.  My breathing is fine, a few bumps from other swimmers are not an issue, I don’t even notice cool temperature of the water.  Before long, I am swimming a nice straight line with clear traffic and then make my first left to now start swimming parallel to shore.  I look up and see clear water and only 3-5 swimmers ahead of me. I say a huge thank you to God for once again, giving me these awsome clear waters.  I continue to swim at a hard pace and I’m managing the fine line between to fast and possibly hyperventilating and not fast enough to represent my capabilities.  I’m not a straight as I’d like to be so I start siting more.  I now make my 2nd left and start heading to shore.  Holy cow – it’s very choppy and I keep drifting.  I’m a little stressed.  Take a few breastrokes to see just where I am at.  I decide to start swimming like I’m trying to make a left turn and this barely holds me mostly straight.  Nearly impossible to not drift to the right.  I am stressed, but I tell myself – go, swim, go, swim.  I also know that a couple of years ago, this stretch would have frozen me and now it is not.  I will not slow down, I won’t be held up.  I’m getting out of this water as fast as I can.  I arrive on shore w/ a swim time of 16:11 (official time will be 17:14 because of timing mat location).  I know I’m slower than my goal pace, but I also know that I SWAM.  My swim coach will be proud.  As I start running to transition my awesome husband tells me that I’m 5th out of the water in my swim wave.  Yippe..there were over 100 women in that wave.  Happy.

I get to transition and my westuit peels off easily except for my left leg where the chip is.  I’m a little tangled.  I don’t stress I sit down and patiently get myself out.  Hey, pretty level headed.  I’m happy.

Grab my bike and I’m off to my favorite part!  I head out and have really no idea what the course will be like.  I’ve been told, flat with 1 hill.  Ok, not exactly true but oh well.  I’m feeling good, passing a few riders, looking at my speed and seeing 20+ mph.  I feel good and settle in. I want to keep my heart rate over 163, but I keep relaxing a bit too much and I’m seeing 157 a lot.  I’m having fun.  The course is twisty, turny  – kind of fun but not all that easy to build up speed on.  I look at time and miles and think “geez, I’m almost done.”  It’s at this point that I realize that my intensity hasn’t quite been high enough for this short distance.  I should have been more focused on keeping that heart over 163.  I look at my avg. mph and see 19.4 – that’ll never do.  I press down and ride a little harder, but alas, it’s now time to put the bike up.  I know I left something out on that course.

Run,  I get my shoes and stuff and strat trotting out and there’s my CIT.  I follow her out of transition.  In my usual way, I think I’ll never keep up with her on the run, she’s a better runner.  WHAT?  What kind of thinking is that?  I know, but it’s my thinking.  She’s focused and I don’t feel like running beside her is the appropriate thing plus I’m not sure I can keep up with her and don’t want to blow up on the run.  That feels weird.  So, I follow behind her and give her only so far to get ahead.  Ok, my tempo trainer is beeping, my feet are moving, I’m looking at my watch and seeing things like 8:21, 8:30 and a few slower times on short and tiny hills. But, I’m keeping up.  At some point, I decide to see how much I can relax and still hold this pace.  Well, what a lesson.  I can relax and hold this pace.  Then, in a blaze of tan body parts and a red jersey comes one of my atheltes – she hollers out that she’s hurting and for me to keep it up.  Ok, so now I’m going to try to keep her and CIT in my sites.  This is kind of fun.  Do I have the desire or the thought to catch them?  No, I do not.  I’m right on my number and I’m happy that I am there.

2.48 miles, 2. 78 miles…I’m still on their tail.  No women have passsed us..this must be good I start thinking.  Then we come up and I see them running and I think that doesn’t look right.  But, I follow.  Then I see one of them go through transition and I think , “nah, not good”. I ask, which way for the finishline for 5k?  dumb question (should have asked where to go for the sprint distance run finish). Someone figured out what I was trying to say and he told me to turn around.   So I did.  Then I get to another spot and I say, “which way for 5k runner?” and someone tells me to turn around the way I came.  Then I see CIT go through transition.  I know it’s wrong, but I decide that no one really knows so I’ll follow.  Let me tell you, it is amazing when you are going that fast what information you can’t process.  I felt like a mouse in a maze.  I go through transition, come out and look around (I didn’t see much, certainly not the finish line)…I ask again where do I go?  and they point to this grass area and tell me to run there.  Now, I’m mad and frustrated.  Never have I not been able to find a finish line.  What the heck?  I follow these cones, can’t tell you what I saw or heard..wasn’t much..a big blur.  I finally see the finish line and give it whatever I have left  to finish.

Now, here’s the honest truth.  My behavior once I crossed that finish line shocked me, floored and embarassed my husband. I was mad, frustrated and a little embarassed at looking so amateur as to not find the finish line.  I said, out loud, to no one in particular that I thought this was the worst marked course I’ve ever seen ( this was like my 19th race, so I’ve seen a few races).  A few of us end up talking to the race director.  He’s not pleased that we are vocally displeased and is asking us to settle down.  I begin to realize that I NEED to settle down.  That he is in authority and that the real issue now is to fix the issue for the racers behind us so they don’t have the same frustration.  Now, I am feeling terrible at my anger and that it just came flying out.  We pray and ask for forgiveness.  Tell the race director sorry and beg him to understand how confusing it is and do something about it.

This outburst is highly unusual for me.  I’m not prone to being angry.  As I settled down, talked to people, cheered more of my athletes in I didn’t know that yet another test was coming.

I knew based on my time that I had placed first in my age group.  They started the awards ceremony and began calling out the age group winners.  They got to my age group and announced third place, then second place then first place. And first place wasn’t me!  Oooh…insult to injury.  But, I stayed calm!  I was not going to be angry again.  I was just going to go politely ask them to fix the mistake.  So, I went to the results tent.  Told them the issue.  The woman came out, apologized, told me how the error happened and went to get my award for me.

I’m so glad that God forgives…because I needed His forgiveness after my outburst and the finish line.  I’m so glad that God gives “do overs”..but I must say, this was one of the fastest do over opportunities I’ve ever received from Him!!


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