Tri Diva Reunion Event? Hell, yeah!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Redman Olympic Distance

I have this list I've been working on... it's my 35 x 35 list... a list of 35 items to complete between now and before I turn 36.

#23. Complete an Olympic distance triathlon.

See the full list here.

The race was the Redman Olympic Distance Triathlon in Oklahoma City.

So the beginning of the story is this... I have this idea in my head that I need to do these physical challenges. And I honestly don't know if it's me trying to prove something or me trying to get better or me just not understanding myself at all... but at the end of the day, I'm not your typical athlete. I'm in pretty awesome cardio shape, but I carry extra weight. I'm not thin, I'm not tall, I'm not the typical runner shape, I'm certainly not the typical triathlete shape, none of it comes easy to me... but yet, I keep setting goals higher and higher and strangely enough... I keep meeting these goals. And it surprises even me.

That brings me to the fact that joining a group usually makes it easier to achieve my goals. I'm not saying everyone has to be groupies... but having people around to laugh, get advice from, comiserate with... goes a long way to getting me across a finish line... so while it's my race at the end of the day, I wasn't without a considerable amount of help getting across that line.

I don't have all of my pictures... but a few... and I will add later... I'm just afraid if I don't write it down now, I will forget the feeling... especially since my mind is already onto the next thing and the next thing and the next thing.

At the hotel room, I layed out all my gear... just checking to make sure I had everything.

(transition towel, body glide, sunscreen, wetsuit, swim cap, goggles, garmin, transition flip flops, bike shoes, socks, bike gloves, {the helmet was already in transition with my bike}, jersey, bike shorts, sports bra, tank top, compression shorts, water bottles, jacket, race belt w/number, sport beans, running shoes)


Now here it is in the actual transition area... it was dark. We got there about 6:00.


So one of the bad things about this Oly distance was they were running a sprint distance too... and the sprint took off about 7:00... leaving us to wait and wait and wait until about 9:00 before we could even start our race. That was a lot of time to kill... and we weren't allowed back into the transition area after they closed it for the sprinters. So for two hours, I stood around, barefoot, wearing less clothing than I typically wear in public, carrying my wetsuit and holding my swim cap and goggles so tightly in my fist (for fear of losing them somewhere) that I almost got hand cramps.

I also had to use a porta-potty... barefoot... and it was sloping down a hill... and I slid in my barefeet on the floor of that porta-potty... and I will try to never think about that again.

Bodymarking occured... and see my number? It's 3355... When I first saw my number I was like why couldn't it have been 3535! Wouldn't that have been a neat little coincidence?




I stood around and looked for my mom for an hour. And it was strange because while it wasn't that big of an area, I just couldn't find her anywhere... and I knew she was going to send me off into the water and watch me get out and transition to bike. I looked and looked and looked... and watched part of the sprinters transition to their bikes... and finally, I saw her... over by the water... I saw a flash of green and a flash of blonde hair and thought, that's my mom and booked it over to her. And it was... and I was about to cry before I even started... just so glad to have my mom there. (She hasn't sent me her pictures yet. And now that I think of it, I should have had someone take one of me with her. oops)

So finally it's our turn to get in the water... and I was really glad for the wetsuit... I think the water temp was about 73°??? They said what it was, but all I know is that I stepped into the water and it was cold for a minute... like, oh dear, what's this coldness. This is my swim wave... I'm in the rectangle. That's me!


Right about that time I was splashing water on myself trying to acclimate and thinking... "This is your race to finish. A finish is a win. This is your race to finish. A finish is a win." Over and over and over... and then they hit the air horn... and I tried like hell to move... and couldn't. It was just a second or two... and then I tried to put my face in the water and had a panic. It was pretty short lived though... and soon enough, I was headed for the first bouy. I was swimming next to a girl for several minutes and she kept swimming into me. I finally figured that she was swimming right and I was swiming left, so with her on my left and me on her right, we were destined to keep hitting... the thing was, she never noticed... because I kept correcting before I'd hit her... so finally I got smart (duh) and moved over to her left side so I could quit correcting to her and start correcting to the bouy.

Going out in the water wasn't bad at all... the wetsuit worked like a dream... and after the initial freak out of face in cold water *note to self: don't splash the wetsuit and your arms next time before you start, splash your face!*, I was never cold again. But the back side of the course was difficult. It was a triangle, sort of... and the back leg was the longest portion of the triangle and the water on that side was choppier... and the longer we swam, the choppier it got.

The thing about open water swimming I don't understand is... how can we have a whole damn lake and still manage to swim on top of each other? I don't get it... but I still swam into and got plowed over several times... the men's heat had gone off before us and they were passing us by the time I was on the far side. I did watch a very hilarious moment though... the bouys were giving me so many issues... everytime I came to a bouy, I was having a hard time swimming around it... and then when I finally started making decents turns, I had about four swimmers on top of me trying to make the turns too... so too many legs, a lot cussing and then just getting back to it... but this one lady was coming up on my left side, and I was cutting it around the bouy really short... but she just swam right into it. I started cracking up in the water... to see this woman swim right up, almost underneath, the bouy and then look up totally suprised. It's so something I would have thought I would do.

Two laps in the water. My shoulders were starting to get tired... but the swim went well... As I was coming out of the water, two volunteers helped me get my wetsuit unzipped... and basically made sure I wasn't going to fall over... I was a little worried about the transition from swimming to standing... I've run the gamut of weird ankle cramps to dizziness... but the only problem in the water, bodywise, was a slight cramp in my calf that started as I was making the final turn to leave the water.

Out of the water... there were several men standing over a mat yelling at me to see if I wanted them to strip me. (MY WETSUIT!) They told me I had to lay down, but as soon as they said that, I figured, I'd better not lay down... so I was actually able to strip my own wetsuit... if I'd had long sleeves, long pants on... I'd have needed help... but yeah.

Running to transition area... one of my running ladies was there as well... I heard her say, "You're not the last one out of the water!" And I mentally shook myself... because I was really glad for that... and then I saw my mom running over too, snapping pictures and yelled "MOM!" That was pretty much the only thing I said when I saw her all day. "MOM!"

Got to the bike... and I'm not a fancy mounter... I've seen the videos for a flying mount, without shoes... and let me tell you this... I'll probably never get to that... I will put on my shoes and run/walk my bike to the mount line and I will step over my bike and then start riding. I will not try to kill myself with a mount or a dismount. Seriously. I may be a triathlete, but chances of me being a "good" triathlete are pretty slim.

The bike was four laps... and it was a little bit of a mental struggle... because all along I'd thought it was going to be closer to 24 miles (40k), but it ended up being closer to 28 miles... as soon as I heard that, I pretty much knew I wouldn't have a sub five hour race... and I just went out and did the best I could... but that four additional miles just added too much time to a crunch to get under five hours. But you know what? So what? I still got out there and did it, right?

The bike was very difficult... more difficult than the time we went over there a couple of weekends ago... the wind was different and throughout my ride, it was constantly changing... up on the dam, riding into the wind and then down and around and up a few hills... the course finished on an uphill... and while it wasn't a huge incline, between the wind and the incline it was rough. And four laps of the same same same same stuff... well, it was good because I knew what was coming at me after the first lap, but I also knew what was coming at me after the first lap... and that end of the loop was tough. I got through it by saying to myself "you only have to do this two more times, one more time, you're done, you don't have to do that again" over and over and over. And there were tons of people who passed me... some I knew, some I didn't... but I kept hearing a steady stream of other people saying "you're doing it, keep going, you're doing great! You're awesome, great job!"

I finally made it back to the dismount area... I stopped my bike several feet before the dismount line because one of the things I hate most is hearing someone yelling at me "DISMOUNT BEFORE THE LINE!!!!!!!!!!!" It's just too ragged after everything... and you still have to change your thoughts to running... I wish the dismount area was a little more calm, but it's filled with people everywhere and excitement for you and because you're 2/3 of the way through... and it's a big emotional area that scares me a little.

So I'm standing a few feet from the line... and I realize... I'm so tight, I'm not sure how to get off the bike. My hands were clutched around the handle bars like they were holding me up (maybe they were)... and my legs were starting to go jelly. My feet were asleep. My brain was chugging... and I told the volunteer who ran up to me... "I don't know if I can do this." Meaning, I don't know if I can get off my bike... and he asked if I needed help... but I just slowed down for a second... stepped to the side, dropped my bike, and stepped over it... as he cheered me on and I ran/walked into transition for the last time.

I racked my bike, took off my bike shoes, put on my run shoes, grabbed a water bottle and started walking out of transition. They were already dismantling the racks for the sprinters... so I was dodging poles and people everywhere.... I asked a girl... "That way?" and she didn't hear me... so I said "MA'AM! Run out that way?!" And she heard me and said "Yes! Keep going!"

And for the next two hours... I put one foot in front of the other. It was two loops... about a mile and half out and back... and it never felt like it took so long to go a mile and a half. My Garmin was messed up when I tried to change from bike to run and I had no idea how far I'd gone. I luckily kept my other watch on, so I had a general idea of how long it was taking me and how long I'd been on the course.

But the run volunteers were awesome... because they actually have some time to talk to you... coming out of the swim, you're so dazed and focused on getting to the next thing, that it's hard to talk, the bike, they can talk, but you might not hear them, but on the run, they're just kind of right there with you... and every volunteer I passed said something... great job, keeping going, you're doing it, proud of you... and I was running with other athletes too... and our names were on our run numbers... so I was able to say "keep going Stacy, you're awesome Allen, etc... as well as them being able to call me by name too... it's comforting in that situation....

As I was walking out of transition... I started wheezing... so I didn't immediately start trying to run... I got myself calmed back down... I passed several people I knew (they were finishing the run as I was just starting it)... got my breath back and started landmark running... run from here to that light post or that bench... but then decided I needed a better plan... so I started a run/walk at a 1 minute interval... I kept that up for most of mile two and three... but by then, I was really fading... I should have eaten something else, but I couldn't stomach any of the nutrition I had on me to eat... so I just kept walking. At that point, it was hot and there was no shade on the run... but I put one foot in front of the other and just kept walking.

As I was rounding the final corner, I saw all the red netting that was the finish line chute.... and I almost started to cry... and then I wanted to run, but I just didn't have it... and a lady who was just walking, not racing, that day... came up beside me... she asked "Is there some sort of event going on today?"... I told her what we were doing... and she mentioned that she was going to walk to whole resevoir that day (about 9 miles)... and she asked "Am I distracting you?" And I laughed and told her I wasn't moving any faster than how fast I was going and that no, no distraction, it was nice to talk to someone... but she turned up her speed and was ahead of me before I knew I wasn't keeping up.

I finally rounded the last bend into the finish line area... and I was really near to tears at this point... five hours, tired, hungry, sick to my stomach, proud, sunburned, infinately proud, and happy, and nervous and everything all mixed up... and I hear the crowd... everyone still left at the race was lining the chute... My mom "MOM!", stepdad, several of my friends, people I will never know... all watching me and cheering for me as I walked into the finish area... they held out their hands for me to high five, they yelled for me... I was biting my lip at first trying not to cry, but then I just started smiling and couldn't stop and smiling made the tears go away, so I cheezed it up the whole time... I passed my coach... and then... I started running... it was about 25 yards to the finish line at this point... and as I started running the whole crowd just went up into this huge cheer! I crossed the finish line running, hands high in the air... pretty much never more proud of myself for finishing something.

One of the run volunteers who had been out on the course was back in the tent... he came running over and hugged me and said "I KNEW YOU COULD DO IT!"... I still don't have a clue what his name was... but I will remember that forever.

What an awesome experience. I was the final finisher... but someone has to finish last... It's just the way life is... but just because I finished last didn't put me in last place... because at the end of the day, that was my best race ever... I set a PR (personal record) because the first time you do any race is a PR... I did it. I finished it. It was a long day and I made it through... I didn't drown, I didn't wreck and I didn't fall. I made it across the line running, with people cheering for me too.

I did it.

5 comments:

Feener said...

awesome job !!!

Lynnderful said...

Julie I am in awe! You are amazing! I'm so proud of you!

Donna said...

I am so proud of you! Your stick-to-it attitude will get you far. :) Great job, triathlete!!

Jenn said...

WAY TO GO DIVA!!! :) :) :)

Courtney said...

You're a rock star, J! :)