Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Photos from Florida 70.3

Finished the Florida Ironman 70.3!

WOW! I did it! I finished my first half Ironman! What an experience to say the least. To be honest I was not even sure I was going to be able to start. However thanks to a friend, I was able to confirm my entry and pick up my packet on Friday afternoon.

To say that I was intimidated would be an understatement. When I arrived at packet pick-up, hundreds of triathletes were in line to get their packets and none of them looked to be as scared as I was. I know I was not the only first time Half Ironman at the race it just felt like it.

Packet pick-up was relatively easy and went without a hitch. I received my chip and cap and the race numbers I would need for the bike and run and I was done. Off to the expo. Have I said I love EXPO's? I love looking at all of the merchandise, actually buying it is kind of fun as well. However this time I resisted. I have a fear of buying any merchandise when I have not completed the event. So I resisted all urges to buy out the place and made it safely back to my car.

Now I am nervous. LOL! I had done the all the distances in training but this was a race. Well for me it was just supposed to be a training day but you could not tell that to my brain. I kept having visions of forgetting how to swim, crashing on the bike and getting lost on the run. Just what I needed for pre-race motivation.

Since Missey was also racing this weekend, we checked into the Wilderness Lodge hotel with all of our support crew, the kids, all of our gear. You would have thought were were going on a safari. Friday night we all dressed up and went to Timpano's ChopHouse to celebrate Vi Auld's birthday. It was great fun and took some of the worry about the event away.

Saturday morning we were up bright and early as my daughters as well as Rick's daughter Jessica were going to compete in the kids splash and dash. We went over to the race site, registered all of the girls and then set up their transition area. They were so cute. All excited!

Hannah's age group was the second group to go, she just took off. It was funny watching her swim/run through the water. Out onto the sand and up to transition where she put on her race number and shoes, off on the run. Back down to the water for Kelsie's age group start. She swam and ran her way through the water as well. Then up the sand and into transition. After putting on her race number and shoes she was off on the run. I ran over to the finish line just in time to see Hannah getting her picture made as she finished the run. Shortly after Kelsie came across the line. They both loved the race and asked when they were going to be able to do the next one. YEAH!! I think I have champions in the making. We waiting for Jessica to finish her run and then we were off to the pool for a day of swimming and sunning.

By dusk, I was beyond nervous and scared about the race the next day. In my mind I felt like I could finish but there is always some doubt especially when the race is over 70 miles. I switched rooms to be with Missey the night before the race and attempted to get my race gear together. Our bikes were already over at the transition area. All I needed to do was pack my race bag and I could go to sleep. HAHAHAHA!

After packing and repacking I finally laid down about 10pm. I tossed and turned most of the night but I think I was able to get a couple of hours of sleep. Wake up call at 4am. Took a quick shower, ate some oatmeal and grabbed my stuff to head out.

As I walked the mile and a half to the race start, all kinds of fear and questions were running through my mind. I pushed everything out of my head as best as I could. Entered the transition area and laid out my stuff. I put air in my bike tires, my fluid and food on my bike, laid out my shoes and socks, hat and glasses and went to body marking.

Body marking is the fun part where people get to write your race number and age on your body in permanent marker since you cannot wear race numbers on the swim. After this was done and everyone could see I was 39, I headed down to the beach to wait for my wave to start.

Here are the times I wanted to finish each event in.

Swim 1:00:00
Bike 3:30:00
Run 3:00:00

Here is what actually happened.....

The swim went better than expected. I was out of the water in 51:42. WOW I was shocked and really happy. I knew I would not finish any faster as I am just not a great swimmer yet but I was very happy with this swim time. I ran up to transition with a smile on my face. I put on my bike gear and headed out. T1 time 6:31 OOPS! I need to work on that.

The bike course was fun. There were lots of straight aways where you could get speed up but there were also rolling hills and some sharp turns. And to make things worse, there was rain! I have never ridden my bike in the rain so I slowed down quite a bit to make sure I did not crash, I saw people sliding all over the place in front of me. I was drinking and eating pretty well I thought. I was able to do the bottle exchange without crashing which was awesome since I had never practiced that. I did have to stop at mile 35 to use the bathroom. Hindsight that was a mistake. It was raining and it took me over 10 minutes to get my tri-suit back on. Lovely. The rain quit after a few miles and the sun came out. Other than slowing down to get on and off of a sidewalk, the rest of the ride was pretty fun. However it according to my GPS, it was 57.2 miles long instead of 56. Final bike time 3:51:51. If you subtract out the bathroom stop and the extra distance, I was not too far off my original goal. In to transition only to find that all my gear was soaked of course from the rain. Switched socks and shoes, grabbed my hat and fuel belt and I was off on the run. Okay I was walking out of transition but atleast I was moving in a forward direction. T2 time 5:25. Yep need to work on that as well.

I don't even know where to start. The run if you want to call it that, I would say shuffle myself was a cross between the Bataan Death March and a long run inside a Sauna. I alternated running and walking but I was certainly doing more walking than running. My whole crew was cheering me on but I just did not feel like I had it in me. Hindsight being 20/20, I realize now that I had not eaten enough on the bike and was starting the run quite low on energy. As I went along the course, I noticed everyone was alternating running and walking and everyone was having a hard time. There were aid stations every mile. I stopped at each one taking sponges, ice, gatorade, cola and whatever they offered just to make it another step forward.

I have to be honest with you guys. The first lap of the three lap run course was almost my undoing. I really did not want to go on. There were several times I wanted to quit. On that note, Thank you Hector Torres and Mike Auld. If it were not for the two of you, I can honestly say I would have quit. You both had some great advice and it kept me moving. Thank you Debbie, Karen, Sandi and Vi for cheering me on. I don't know what I would have done without you there. Thank you Joy and Rick for entertaining Kelsie and Hannah during the race, if you had not done this for me I would not have been able to even do the race in the first place.

On the second and third laps I found my groove. That is not to say I was moving fast but at least I was not wanting to quit. I knew I was going to finish and I did. Final run time 3:37:41. Final overall time 8:33:09. Yes I know I might have the slowest finish time in the record books but I did finish.

Will I do this again? Of course!!! In some very sadistic way I loved it. I actually have already forgotten how bad the run hurt. Must be that same selective memory that makes you forget the pain of childbirth so you will have another child. There are 23 weeks until the IMFL and yes I have a lot of work to do. But I will do it and I will be at the starting line on November 1st 2008!

Thank you to my awesome support crew! Thank you to my awesome coaches! Congratulations Missey on another great finish!

Ironman Florida here I come!


Thursday, May 01, 2008

Sportsmanship is still alive!

I read an news article on NBC Sports today. Here is the link: http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/24392612/

At the conference championships, a player hit the first home run of her career ever. Not only was it a home run but it went over the fence. As she was trying to tag first base, she blew her knee out and collapsed. The first base coach stated that if anyone on her team helped her, she would be called out. The umpire stated they could send in a pinch runner but then the hit would only be a single. That is when the most amazing selfless thing happened. The first baseman, who herself is the state home run career leader, asked if she could help her. Remember this is the player from the opposing team. The umpire said there was no rule against it. So this first baseman and her shortstop came over, put one of the injured players arms around each of their necks and carried her around so she could tag the rest of the bases and then to home plate. This was the winning run and the girls who carried the injured player around the bases were part of a team that was now eliminated from the play-offs. As she crossed home plate her team was crying. The first baseman said later, “In the end, it is not about winning and losing so much, It was about this girl. She hit it over the fence and was in pain, and she deserved a home run.”

As I read the story today, it brought tears to my eyes thinking about the girl who injured herself and the two girls that sacrificed their game for the good of someone else. These days stories like this are almost non-existent. Parents are being ejected from games for being too aggressive. Kids are taught to win at all costs. We live in a fast-food society where the most important thing is our own selfish happiness. If we don't like it give it back. If they won't take it back sue. If we don't win put up a fight and if that does not work sue.

As a mom myself with two girls who would rather be shopping for themselves, I know how hard it is to balance the desire for your child to be the best with the ability to teach them how to be selfless and put others' needs first or at least equal to their own. In competition I want my kids to be the winners but more so I want them to come away knowing that even if they have lost they played their best and the effort not the outcome is what matters.

I am a runner and now most recently a triathlete. Those sports in and of themselves are selfish sports. You are out there alone and it is your physical and mental efforts that will get you across the finish line. For this very reason, I joined Team in Training over 11 years ago. I wanted to be able to give back to those people who could not run a marathon or bike or swim. For those people who lost their battles to cancer. Now I am a coach and when I am at an event, I cross the finish line last. It does not matter how long it takes, I am out on the course until my last person crosses the finish line and then and only then do I cross myself.

I don't do this because I want to be seen as some sort of martyr, or a hero. I am a coach and I care because I can. Because I want everyone else to know what it feels like to be a winner. And for me, being able crossing the finish line of whatever race you start whether it is physical or mental makes you a winner in my book.

So I congratulate those women! Thank you for being a positive role model for my daughters.