Saturday, July 9, 2011


Or you can call it HALF of a half IRONman.

Oh yeah - not gonna lie, still riding high on endorphins.  I've decided endorphines are nature's crack.  Serio.

I've done Tri's before but always the sprint distance.  Women of Steele 2009; Jordanelle 2009; South Country Tri 2010; Jordanelle 2010; Women of Steele 2011.  All sprint distances.  All great tri's.  All lot's of fun.

Call me crazy (I heard that), but I wanted to step it up a notch this season.  I have more than proven I can do the short, sprint distance.  I wanted to prove to myself I could do DOUBLE the distance which is the Olympic.  1500 meters in the open water; 26 miles on the bike and ending with a 10k run.  I had wanted to do Jordanelle's version, but since it's the same weekend as a different event on the calendar, I opted to try Echo reservoir.

I got up BEFORE the butt crack of dawn (4:40am) and since my bike was always loaded in the back of the Pathfinder, I grabbed my pre-packed bag, purse, keys, and headed out the door.  Since I had slept terrible the night before, I stopped at the Sev for my pre-race high performance breakfast.  A low-carb Monster, Maple bar doughnut and a bag of mixed nuts.  Perfect combination!

I watched the sun rise as I headed east up Parley's canyon to the little town of Coalville. 

Found a parking spot, unloaded my bike, grabbed my bag and headed to the race start and transition area.  I quickly discovered that I forgot my water bottles in the freezer.  Two for my bike and then my running hand held one.  CRAP!

I got body marked, found my transition spot and got all my gear laid out and ready to go.

I pulled on my wet suit, called Splenda to ask him to grab my water bottles and then headed for the lines at the porta potties.

As I stood there, I looked out at the lake and reviewed in my head my three simple goals. 
Don't die in the water
Don't get pulled and DQ'd from the water.
Don't be last

Pretty simple goals really.  But looking at the water and noticing how cold it appeared, my first two now seemed highly likely.  I did some self talk, took care of business, grabbed my cap and goggles and made my way to the beach start area of the swim portion.  Others were getting in the water to warm up and my first thought when I stepped in was that it wasn't nearly as cold as I had expected.  Perhaps, this was going to be okay.

I submerged myself, and toddled around for awhile warming up and then reviewed in my head my strategy for the swim.  Slow and  steady.  Hold back to the end of the pack so that I don't waste energy treading water waiting for the horn.

Soon enough the horn sounded and the swim began!  The process inside my head -
"Okay, here we go, this isn't so bad.  Crap there are a lot of bodies.  Keep with the bubbles so that you don't go off course like you did last time.  Swimming, swimming, swimming....... hey, it's kind a flat around here, CRAP!  I am WAY off course.  Like 25 yards off!  Dammit.  Swim back and check more often you loser.  Swimming, swimming, swimming...... don't swallow any water.  You remember what Chief told you.  Disgusting.  Hey, is this a cigarette butt I am dodging?  Sheesh it is!  Swimming, swimming, swimming.  Concentrate on stroke.  Remember what Stewy and Tawny taught you.  Gosh that buoy is sooooooooo far away.  Gosh now we headed straight in the sun!  I can't see the buoy very easily.   So sorry Lady, didn't mean to swim on top of you.  HEY!  Sneering at me while I apologize completely invalidates the apology.  It never happened.  I hope you choke on lake water.   *Choking*....breathing all off - dammit!  I swallowed some water!  I want to throw up.  Swimming, swimming, swimming...... FINALLY - time to do it the second round.  GOSH!  I'm bored of this.  Swimming, swimming, swimming......lookie I am rounding the first buoy.  This means I am almost done.  Well, not really, but I am getting closer.  GOSH!  THE SUN!! I can't see the next buoy very well.  GAH!  I'm off course again!  Not too far, get back in line.  At least I'm not alone in the water and not last.  This is good.    Rounding second buoy.   Where is everyone?  I don't remember getting passed.  Well, I am not gonna stop and look to see if anyone's behind me.  I just need to finish this.  There it is...there's the's HERE!  I can't touch bottom, keep swimming.......try again, nope - keep swimming.  Try again.  THERE!  I can touch!  I actually did it!  GOSH!!!!!"

I turned around but by now I was in the trees and all the Sprint swimmers were lining up.  I said to them as I plodded past them to shore, "Please tell me there are more blue caps in the water"  "Sure, sure", several of them said.  I replied, "Thanks for making me feel better about myself"  And the one man said, "No really, there are like  6 or 7 still out there"

Okay, YES!!!!!  I showed YOU Echo reservoir!  I won't repeat what I said to another gentleman as he cheered me up the ramp and to the transition area.  I said it last year at Jordanelle.  I don't need to brag about saying it again.

I raced to the transition area and by now was feeling my bladder FULL.  I even thought to myself, shoulda just peed in the lake.  But as I was peeling off my wetsuit, I was grabbing some water and telling myself that I would take the extra few minutes and hit the porta-potties as I headed out with the bike.    Making this transition was a little harder since I was trying to get out of my wetsuit, dry off, get my clothes on, shoes on, helmet and gloves on and NOT PEE MY PANTS.  Tricky.  I'm pretty tricky.  I grabbed my bike and ran for the OUT area, sadly, it didn't go NEAR the porta potties.  I had no choice but to wait.  Once I got cycling, I figured I would be okay. 

I quickly downed a Hammer gel and wished like crap I had water.  Usually I carry two on the bike and use this portion to fuel, hydrate and make up some time.  Fueling happened, but no hydrating and no catching up time.  The first 6 or 7 miles of the course was the same place I ran in Ragnar 2010.  My nighttime/second run.  It was beautiful then by moonlight and beautiful now with the sun high in the sky.  Beautiful course.  The bike portion was pretty uneventful.  I played leap frog with an older gentleman a couple of times, but because I was at the back of the pack, it was pretty lonely.  No music, no people, just riding.  It was an out and back, so it was easy to gauge where in the race I actually was.  I knew my position wasn't good, but I kept reminding myself of my 4 main goals.  Two had been accomplished already.  I pushed as hard as I could, but the reality was my dehydrated muscles were rebelling.  They weren't functioning like I know they can.  They wanted a drink.  My bladder wanted to be emptied. 

As I was approaching 3 miles from the turnaround, a frustrating thing came into sight.   Some clarification first.  This is a USAT sanctioned Tri and they are extremely specific with the rules.  I love rules and I will make sure that I follow every single one of them.  I don't want to be DQ'd because I didn't obey the rules.  One of the biggest rules in the bike portion is NO DRAFTNG.  NO IPODS OR MUSIC.  Very clear about this.  So what do I see coming the other direction?  A huge draft line.  8 -10 people, with the last one blaring music from an onboard ipod player.  REALLY?!?!  I was seething. Here old man and I were leapfrogging and changing our paces to stay out of the draft zones as we were passing one another, and here was  a whole group blatantly doing it.  At the start of the race, the reviewed the rules, so it wasn't a matter of they didn't know them, they were CHOOSING not to follow them.  And the kicker?  The top finishers qualify to go to Nationals in Vermont and represent Utah.   I hope if any of those people qualified, and go, that they can feel good going as CHEATERS!! (If they weren't all hunched over hiding their bib numbers, I would have reported the ones I could have seen and remembered)

I ate another Hammer gel on the turn around and with 10 miles left, called Splenda to let him know and to tell him where to meet me so that I could give him my camera and he could give me my water bottles.  Those last 10 miles were hard.  I was so thirsty, my muscles were screaming for water, and my bladder was extremely unhappy that it was forced to carry the extra weight and be held in for proper body mechanics.

I finally reached the transition area and spotted Chloee and Splenda.  I grabbed some water and guzzled it as fast as I could.  Then grabbed my hand held water bottle.  I made the transition pretty quick, and off I went.  This time the run DID go out by the potties so I made a quick detour and took the 2 minutes to make my bladder like me again.

By the time I hit the trail, my legs were working albeit a little slower than I had hoped, and gauging by how many bikes were left in the transition area, I knew I was one of the last people to finish.   

I realized that perhaps my one goal of not being last might not get realized.  I decided that since I was not going to go home with any formal medal or award, I was going to be the BIGGEST cheerleader!  From that moment on, every single person I passed, every volunteer I saw, I thanked them, told them good job, gave encouragement, whatever seemed appropriate. 

The course was another out and back and again, it gave me a sense of where I was in the pack, but now we had Sprint runners with us too.  It was hot, dusty and hard.  Even though it was fairly flat, it was on packed dirt (good), but uneven in many places (not good).  I could feel my ankles and shins kicking in to help stabilize my feet. By the turnaround, I was dumping cold water on my head, drinking about every 2 minutes and thinking about the massage that I knew I was going to get later.  It helped me to ignore the shins and ankles, because I knew Cass would work them all out.

As I neared the 4 miles mark, the medics came by on their bikes. I thanked them for their service and we began chatting.  It helped a mile go by faster.  It was awfully lonely by now.  I finally rounded the bend and could see the balloon finish line. 

In my head, I was ecstatic!  I did this!  I really, really did it!  That euphoria gave me enough to sprint the last half mile in and as I crossed the line, I frantically looked for the clock.  No where to be found.  As the volunteer was removing my timing chip, I asked where it was and was told that they had already taken it down.  SERIO?  I'm THAT slow that they have started to dismantle everything?  I found a cop standing nearby, asked the time and did the calculations.  3 hours and about 40 minutes or so. 
I didn't even care.  I was just so happy that I actually had done it!

I found Splenda and Chloee and grabbed some water and some food.  We watched the remaining few people come in and the awards ceremony get underway.  I checked the results table and in my age group 5 women had already come in and I obvio wasn't one of them.  It was getting hot now, so I grabbed all my crap and we caught the shuttle back to our cars.

All appropriate adjectives to describe how I felt.  This was big for me.  Maybe not for others, but for me it was big.

On the way home I had lots of time to think about it all and the lessons learned.

Rules are good.  I love rules.  I love to follow them and I get ticked when others don't.  I like competition to be fair.

I can do hard things.  I can do things with my body that I don't give myself credit for doing.

I will never tease Ana again about packing for an event.  Not only did I forget all THREE of my water bottles but also my sunglasses.  Which was fine except for the bike portion.  My eyes are KILLING me right now

Humility.  You know for all intents and purposes, I should have died in February 2008 (I discuss it slightly here).
But I didn't. I am alive and in better health than I have been in years.  Although lately that seems debatable since there seems to be one strange thing after another, but overall, I am doing things I never dreamed of doing before.  The fact that I am alive and competing in all kinds of different races just makes me absolutely grateful.  Beyond Grateful.  Not sure I have the right word(s).    So today, when I finished something that was new, hard, and never before done by me, I was awed and humbled to be here to do it.  I will never take for granted the desire, and drive I have for these kinds of things.  Or the fact that I wake up every morning alive and able to enjoy another day.

Gratitude.  Splenda wasn't able to get up there for the start so hence the lack of picture, but darn if he and Chloee aren't at my every finish line.  I am so thankful for that.  Even when it's hot and boring waiting for me to come in.  They wait.  They play.  They wait some more.  For me.  I love them for it!

So final stats:
Total time:  3:33:42
Swim: 42:07
T1:  6:25
Bike: 1:35:23
T2:  1:09
Run: (not posted but if you do the math): 1:03:37 (but I don't claim to do math well - feel free to correct me)

Out of 6 women in my division - I took 6th place. 
Out of 72 women who finished the Olympic distance, I was 67th
Out of 197 overall competitors in the Olympic distance I was 190

Dead last?  Okay FINE - in my age group.....but overall - no so my goal was achieved.

So now what?   Looking to do a Half Ironman next season.  That is DOUBLE the distances that I did today.  Can I do it?  Yeah, I think so.


Connie said...

Yay!!! What an accomplishment! This is so awesome and I am inspired by you! I find it so interesting to read all about your trials during the event and your successes. I can relate to a certain extent.
Since I'm training for a half marathon I've been running 4 times a week. On Tuesday I had a 6 miler to run. I didn't feel well but went anyway. By mile 2 I had blisters on my heels. I pulled my socks up a little more and kept going. At mile 4 I rolled my ankle and fell! I couldn't believe it. It made me mad and I was determined I was going to finish that 6 miles if I had to crawl!

Some days are better than others.

CONGRATULATIONS - you olympian distance triathlete!

LKP said...

awe-some!!!!!! while i was doing my measily 5k today, you were totally in many thoughts! luv u. so proud of you. BTW, by the end, i was thinking that (provided i keep my inhaler by me just in case) i may just like to start running more of these! i enjoyed running way back when, and loved track. however, today was my most athletic ANYthing in over 6 months. so i was scared. but i promptly went and started a gym membership after. so we'll see how strong i get, and if i can fully catch this running races bug! *grinning ear-to-ear* thanks for being my inspiration!

Mrs. Organic said...

Yes you can!!! That is so freaking awesome - good job! I didn't know about your PE, scary stuff.

tammy said...

I know I've said it before, but you are amazing. Pretty sure I would've died in the water.

I hate it when people blatantly don't follow the rules too. Like at parent pick-up at the school.

Jewls said...

You're seriously amazing! Way to go lady!

wendy said...

Rule breakers, phooey.

WOW, double WOW, I am in awe of your athletic abilities. I can barely swim, as I am afraid of getting water on my face, so scratch that idea. I kinda dog paddle and float around.
Bike riding...I always fall.
Running....well, um, maybe,

I think it is JUST WONDERFUL to even have a goal, then go for it, last or not, you are only competing with yourself sometimes. So if you accomplish what you set out to do, then you are always a winner.
I hope you got that massage, and perhaps another maple bar.

Pedaling said...

breakfast of champions! ;)

swimming in a lake is difficult..makes me super dizzy.

you did awesome, and look at you- stepping it up, even more...1/2 iron man? Wow, you go!

Congrats. Happy day!

Jenny P. said...

You are so completely fabulous. You know this, yes? I've been debating whether or not I was going to do another tri at the end of the summer. Thing is, I am utterly and completely incapable of being an athlete and a writer at the same time. My writing schedule is so completely incompatible with my training schedule. And with five kids at home all the time, training has been tough. I can't have nothing to train for though... I need goals! And motivation! I think when my husband does the tri at the end of the summer, I'm going to do the open water mile swim that's right after. Swimming is my best event, so I think I can do it with less training and less stress. I've done an open water swim that long though, so we'll have to see how I feel about it closer to the event.

All of that info, however, has little to do with how awesome I think you are. Which is all I really wanted to say in this comment. :)

Jenny P. said...

I mean... I've NOT done an open water swim that long...

Mae Rae said...

FYI, I am reading but trying hard to type comments when necessary. This time I think it is necessary.


As ages seem to be parallel as well as so much more, i am so impressed and in awe that you did it. You won, whether last in your age or first, in my eyes and heart you are the winner here!

Amy said...

You're awesome. I think my friend does the Echo Triathlon.

Mom of 12 said...

Very impressed! I don't think there is any way I could (would want to) do that. Hey, come look at my baby pics...

Sue said...

Oh Yes you Did!!!

So proud of you. You have such determination and self discipline. (ok maybe not when it comes to doughnuts, but everything else? YES!!!)

you are one amazing woman triathlete.

Garden of Egan said...

I don't even know what to say.
You are SO my hero.

I love your grit and detemination to get through physical and emotional "hard things" You inspire me.

DesertHen said...

I am simply going to say...YOU ROCK!!!!!!! =D

Natalie said...

That is an incredible accomplishment!!! I am so proud of you!!!