If you ask a triathlete before a race what their goal is, they usually start with, “I just want to finish.” Of course they have some goals times in mind but anyone with experience knows that all bets are off on race day – anything can happen. This was one of those “I just want to finish” days for me. I had hoped to finish somewhere between thirteen and fourteen hours. In the end it took me 15:37:04.
The day started off great. The water temperature was perfect and my swim went well. I moved through the first transition and then headed out on the bike. The first few miles on the bike were fast and a bit chilly. I was sticking to my plan, keeping hydrated and eating all the food I’d packed. But the temperature started climbing quickly (the temperature eventually peaked over 100) and by mile 56 I was starting to worry.
To be cautious, I stopped at all the aid stations on the second half of the ride to take short breaks and cool down but by the time I got to the run I knew something was wrong. I couldn’t run my planned pace for more than a quarter mile at a time and it took a surprising amount of time to recover. So I lowered my expectations, slowed down and took breaks at the aid stations. By the end of the first lap I felt a bit better and was able to run a little faster. Then things really got tough!
A few miles into the second lap, my ears became plugged and they were bugging me. So I tried to pop them by swallowing and yawning real big but that didn’t work. Then I tried holding my nose and blowing and that made me super light headed. I had to sit down on a guardrail and I threw up. A volunteer called a medic and I thought they were going to pull me out of the race. In the two minutes it took the medic to arrive I felt better and started running again. I explained what happened and she let me continue. Then, a few miles later, as I stopped at the aid station at mile 12, my shins cramped up. So there I sat on the side of the road while a volunteer massaged my legs. As my shins started to feel better and I thought I’d be able to get going, my calves cramped up. I think I spent about 20 minutes there in some of the worse pain I’ve ever experienced. All I wanted was for it to be over.
Finally my legs calmed down and I was able to continue. In fact, my legs were in a constant state of almost cramping for the rest of the race and the only thing I could do was keep them moving. Seeing Rebecca and the girls at the end of the second loop was a huge boost. Those last 8 miles were done mostly alone, in the pitch dark (I didn’t expect to need a head lamp). I just though of my family, my teammates, all the training I’d put in to get here and all the people I raised money for. There was no way I wasn’t going to finish. When I finally crossed the finish line I felt relieved and proud for sure. And more than that, I had truly surprised myself. That’s rare and something I cherish.
I also feel a huge debt of gratitude to everyone who helped me do this: my family, my coaches, teammates, donors and supporters. Thank you.
Now I just want to get a little Ironman tattoo and go back to racing shorter triathlons.
I don’t know why it’s taken me more than a month to make this post. I guess I figured I’d have learned some big lesson or something. I don’t know. Certainly I wish I’d been able to finish. But really, I did something worthwhile, I raised $3000 to fight blood cancer and spent 4 months training with some really amazing people.
The race was fun although the swim was kind of weird. It was really short swim to begin with (400m) and because of the fast current they shorted it to something like 300m. So as we rounded the buoy and headed upstream it was just really crowded. There was hardly any room to swim. But once I was out of the water I think I did about as good as I’m capable of right now. That was pretty nice. All in all it was good practice for the CapTexTri next week.
I got my first real road bike the other day. It’s beautiful and fast! I rode it last night at practice. I can’t tell you how much better this is than the 40lb. mountain bike I was riding.
We got our wetsuits last night and did some swimming at Landa Park in New Braunfels. It was WAY different than swimming in a pool. I’m going to need lots of practice.
I first learned of Team In Training about 2 years ago from my friend Thomas Caleshu. We worked together and he was raising money for Team In Training as part of this triathlon that he was going to do. It turned out that he’d had Hodgkin’s lymphoma when he was 13, but thankfully he’s been in remission for the 18 years since he completed his treatment. After watching Thomas train all the time, I got inspired to start running and I’ve been doing that for about a year and a half.
I really enjoy running and pushing myself to go farther and faster. People often ask me if I’m ever going to do any races. I haven’t up until this point because I’ve never really been interested in competitions. I don’t care about racing against anyone but myself. But what I do really enjoy is a good challenge because everyone has the opportunity to win. A few weeks ago while I was out running it occurred to me that Team In Training was more about the challenge – about challenging yourself, both in endurance and fundraising, than about competition.
That brings us to today where I’m training for this triathlon and trying to raise $3000 for the The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Both seem like pretty big and exciting challenges to me. So if you can, it would super awesome if you’d donate a few bucks to help make this happen. There are nearly a million people just in the United States living with or in remission from a blood cancer.