Monday, October 25, 2010

"are you still breathing, than you can keep going"

I don't even really want to talk about it because I'm disappointed but here's my first Olympic Distance race. 

On Friday I left for Vegas with Christian Chiappe, also a fellow Triabetes athlete.  The drive there was great, talking about the organization and about the betes, training with it and living with it.  On the way we talked about how hard the course was supposed to be, it didn't really sink in until we got there.

After packet pick up and dropping off our running gear at transition 2 for the point to point race we drove on the last part of the bike course down to Lake Mead.  (If you have ever been to the Hoover Dam, it's the road from Boulder City to the lake.)
This is the elevation.  Even though the map shows how the hill goes up for the last 15 straight kilometers, it's even worse in person.  It...just...keeps...going...UP!  (And the elevation height?  Those numbers are in meters, not feet.)

Come race morning, Christian did the Half-Ironman that started at 7AM, so I was alone until 8AM.  Just enough time to start freaking out about the swim and allowing my blood sugar to rise.  I worry about my swim because frankly I'm bad at it.  I called my parents with thirty minutes to go to just calm myself down and think about something else.  I didn't tell them until after the race why I called right before.

In the water... Panic... I had a bad swim until the turn around, when I thought about what Jamie told me.  Just sight the buoy's.  After that I followed from buoy to buoy and I was fine.

Out of the water... 28:02... I'm very happy with that for my first Olympic race (1500 meter swim)...

Transition... 3:49... That will only get better as my swim improvements, I definitely took my time as I was trying to get my barings from the swim.

The bike started... Of course it started with an uphill but really a lot of triathlons do as you leave a park or lake until the road.  This was the moment that I swore I would join a master's swimming group.  I was so disoriented from the swim that it makes the first four to five miles of the bike difficult when it shouldn't be.  When I say difficult, I mean I didn't drink or eat anything because of the water I swallowed and the disorientation.  My heart rate was far too high at 169 when I first climbed on the bike as well. 

The bike was going well once the disorientation went away.  Although it was a hilly up and down course, I could catch up on the downhills.  Then that 15 kilometers happened.  Just UP!  It was like it was never going to end, NEVER.... I started to get a cramp in my hamstring but it went away and I was fine...

Then I felt it in my back...

As soon as I stopped at the dismount line, I pulled up and BAM... back cramp.  It was so bad that it wrapped around my right side to the front.  I could hardly breath.  I walked my bike in transition, twisting in hopes it would go away.  Bike time: 1:39 over the 40k.  Actually, as slow as a time as that it (average 14.7 mph), considering the course when compared with other official times I did pretty well.

I was trying to get my cramp to go away but when I bent over to put on my running shoes, it really locked.  That was the worst, it just locked.  I started to limp out of transition.  I passed over the timing mat and just sat on the curb.  I tried to stretch, it wouldn't go away.  I thought about stopping... Then I thought of the video I had just uploaded on Jamie's profile, it's about a handicapped individual who trains for an Ironman.  In the video he says "are you still breathing?  than you can keep going".  So I did. 

It was the worst thing physically I had ever done.  Worse than Mr. Olson's 400meter sprint as a fat eight year, worse than the hell week that Coach Verdugo put us through in college.  I just limped, for about two miles.  My visor was in my mouth half the time from the pain.  After two miles I would say it started to loosen up or maybe I just accepted that my time was going to now be awful.

I went through a lot of emotions at the time.  It almost seems silly now even thinking about it.  At the time though, it hurt so bad and I refused to take a DNF ("Did Not Finish").  I wasn't going to do that.  I tried to run at about the half way point, made it about ten steps.  Locked up, the visor went back in the mouth. 

I finished though, I finished.  I was so upset at the time but now in reflection, you know I made it.  I got myself through that. 

Total time: 3:50:34
Run split: 1:39.14 over a 10k

Although I hate the time, I learned a lot more about myself than if I would have finished.  My blood sugars were pretty good the whole time too.  I really think it had to do with sitting awkwardly on my triathlon bike while trying to climb so much.  I would never do an overly highly course again without a road bike.  I also believe I am such a heavy sweater and such a heavy salt sweater that I need to take in more electrolytes during the bike.  That goes into my swimming, not drinking for awhile after the swim hurts me a great deal. 

And the master's swimming I said I would do while on the bike?  Ya, I emailed them.  I'll start that when I get back from home next weekend, need a little break and recovery.  If I want to be good at triathlon I need to do the things that will make me better at it.    



  1. Good job. Good blood sugar management. Mental toughness that will serve you well in races that aren't as hard on you.
    Figure out what happened with your back, and fix it.
    Congratulations on a successful race.

  2. Wow man! You know, it's funny the things that can inspire you. Glad you found a few things during your race to get you through it. Congrats man! Good luck the rest of the way, too.