This was a weekend I was really looking forward to for a while. The team travels up to Santa Rosa and we spend the weekend practicing on the Vineman course - doing the entire swim, entire bike and most of the run over two days. I knew that this would be a great and hard training weekend for me and help me feel better about race day.
I left work early on Wednesday and drove up to my sister's place in San Francisco. I spent the evening racing the GPS lady (safely), she thought it would take me nearly 7 hours to get there, I disagreed. With a couple of needed bathroom breaks (trying to beat the gps lady while staying hydrated for the weekend proved to be interesting), I still got there in 5 and a half hours. Perfect. Thursday I had some time to run some errands (going to one of my favorite stores, Sports Basement, among others), get my workout in and repack all my stuff for the weekend - cause it wasn't well organized.
After a lovely swim in the Russian River, so nice and peaceful and warm (seriously, I could swim in this river every day and not get bored - although I really love swimming in the ocean too - and I'm so glad I got a sleeveless wetsuit, much better for this water than the full sleeves) we headed out in a caravan to chalk and mark the bike course for Saturday. My teammate Troj rode with me and kept me thoroughly entertained and laughing the entire time. We may not have been paying super close attention to the course. Whoops. But the inappropriate conversations and laughter kept me going on Saturday.
At 7:30 my swim wave set off and I was quickly in front of everyone. I was basically alone the entire swim. I had tucked a gel in to my wetsuit and took it about half way through. I should have done that on previous swims of this length, lesson learned. That peanut butter gu was amazing. It recharged me for the second half of the swim. I never pushed very hard in the swim (I do this a lot, probably part of the reason I was in wave 1) and I really need to pick up the pace. As one of our coaches says, I spend too much time "strolling." I have to stop doing that. Anyway, I got through my swim, seriously without really ever swimming next to anyone (I guarantee race day will not be like that). I got out of the water and all the bikes were still racked. A couple of teammates from our 70.3 team were out of the water, but no one doing the full distance. I was the first person swimming 2.4 miles that day to get out of the water. I win! (I may have had a head start, but it still totally counts - besides, wave 1 is elites, right?) Swim time: 1:40 (I can DEFINITELY swim faster than that).
I swear I did not get out of the water and walk. Apparently I swim kinda crooked though.
I started to strip off my wetsuit and get ready to head out on my bike (slowly). More 2.4 mile swimmers started to get out of the water. I finally, like a million years after I got out of the water, headed out of transition (the 70.3 teammates who finished the swim before me and one 2.4 mile swimmer were the only ones who got out of transition before me). I figured people would start catch up to me pretty quickly, as I left transition I saw a number of my teammates getting out of the water.
Every time I turned a corner I was pedalling in to the wind. How is that even possible? I was tired and angry and just wanted to stop. I was coming up with a variety of scenarios in my head about how I could stop this nonsense. There was a large ditch on the side of the road and I figured if I could ride my bike in to it every one would believe I fell and I'd get to stop. Then I thought they might make me continue. New plan. I was heading down a hill in to Geyserville and I decided to go as fast as I possibly could. If I got hit by a car I would definitely be able to stop. Seriously, this is what I thought. I'm not joking. Not even a little. I was in a very very dark place and could not get myself out of it (I realized later that this was the same as hitting a wall in a marathon and what I really needed was some caffeine and more calories, instead I wasn't thinking and stopped consuming everything, fail.)
Then I got a text message, from my sister. That text message made me realize that I need to keep going. It was a message about a donation to my fundraising from her uncle (she's technically my half sister). The message said he was so proud of me and what I was doing and he had been inspired to get out and do another triathlon again after a 2 year absence. I couldn't believe that I had inspired someone.
When I pulled in to SAG I hadn't been eating or drinking anything for at least 45 minutes and was pretty far behind, so I ran in to the market there and got a small bottle of coke and a Gatorade. I drank half the coke and poured the cold Gatorade in to one my bottles. So, I didn't quit and I set off on my final leg of the ride, if other people can believe in me, I can certainly believe in myself. And, as I set off the people I had seen at special needs (and was trying to stay in front of until Geyserville) were pulling in, so I set a new goal for myself - hold them off until Chalk Hill, at least. It kept me going. It was one of the few things that kept me motivated at this point (thank you Raul and Melissa for chasing me, seriously, you probably didn't know it at the time, but knowing you were back there and could catch up to me at any moment was motivation to keep going as fast as I could).
I got to Chalk Hill and had already gone through more than one bottle, so I stopped and refilled one, just in case. Other than this stop and the mandatory check ins in Geyserville and at special needs, I never once got off my bike. I was pretty proud of that, because I just wanted to get off of it and throw it under a car so it would get crushed. I got to the top of Chalk Hill and neither Raul nor Melissa had caught up to me, I kept setting new goals for myself, get to x mile before they catch you, get to x road before they catch you. It worked. I kept pedalling as hard as I could.
Exactly. Although, I'm not gonna lie, that hill did not feel good the second time around.
I kept going and going for what seemed like an endless amount of time. The miles were slowly ticking off. 100...101...102...103...104...105... Good lord, where is the end?!? Finally, I got on to the road the high school was on. I was so frustrated and angry at this point. I was an hour over the time I had wanted to finish in. I was pissed. I pulled in to the parking lot and some of my teammates started cheering for me. I yelled at them to stop (I hope I didn't sound mean, but I was tired and irritated). I just could not deal with that at that moment. I had some bad, very negative thoughts go through my head at that moment, like, shut up, you've all been done for HOURS, you don't know what its like to be on a goddamn bike for 8 and a half hours. Leave me alone. That's what I was thinking, I didn't say it, a moment of good judgement on my part. I cried for a minute when I got off my bike and then put on my shoes and did my very slow transition run, feeling so awful for myself. (The only good thing was the people I was trying to stay in front of - I did - the whole time!)
I was not proud of that ride. I was not happy with how it went or my behavior at the end. I was just angry and I just wanted to curl up and hide. When I was done I came running back in, to cheers, and again didn't want to hear it, I just could not take that in that moment. I stopped and sat down by my car, away from my teammates. What I am proud of is finishing a 112 mile bike ride - longest ride ever - without quitting.
Coach Brad came up and asked how I was, I said fine and he told me not to lie to him. When he went off to find my transition bag so I could get my recovery drink out of my car Coach Dave came up and sat next to me. He told me all about how training weekend went for him last year - also poorly. And, how he had wanted to quit. We talked for a bit and I finally started to feel better. I was just so pissed about the day. It had started so well and gone wrong so fast and for so long. That conversation helped me so much. Thank you Dave.
The craziest thing about Saturday is the number of people who said to me that I kicked ass and did so well. I thought it was miserable and I did poorly, finishing an hour later than I wanted to, but all these people thought I did well. Were we witnessing the same thing? Cause I felt like it was a train wreck.
After waiting for the rest of the team to get in we headed back to the hotel. I drank a ton of water, a Pepsi, and a bunch of Gatorade, trying to re-hydrate myself. I had a sandwich from room service and went to bed. Another early wake up call and a 20 mile run loomed large on Sunday. But, I wasn't overly concerned about the run. My running mojo seems to have returned and I was excited for a good day.
We got back to the high school, and no open bathrooms and I sat on the curb for a bit sipping water. I told Andie to go without me. I finally went back out and every person who was behind us on the run passed me. I got about a mile out and sat down on a curb. My insides were in knots, I was cold and clammy, I couldn't consume anything but water, it was all bad. My teammate Bobbi stayed with me for a bit until Coach Brad came up. He had me head back to the high school with him. I sat in the sun there sipping water and put on a sweatshirt because I was so cold. Many of my teammates were finishing their runs and I had only done about 10 miles - very slowly - at this point. They were all putting cold, wet towels around their necks and I was doing everything I could to stop shivering.
Before I started to feel like crap
My teammates Amy and Holly finished their runs and went to look for a bathroom, so I went with them, hoping that would help. Unfortunately I only peed. I was still not feeling great, but when we got back to the high school I told Coach Brad I wanted to try to run again. He told me to run out to where he had found me (about a mile away). I set off and was still not feeling great, but my stomach was settled enough. I got to the mile point and decided to keep going, I didn't want to keep doing endless out and backs. I saw a teammate and told him to tell Brad I was feeling okay and going to keep going. So I went.
I saw Andie and told her I was feeling okay and was going to keep going. as well. I kept looking at my watch and calculating what my total mileage would be. 14 miles, not enough, keep going a little further. 15 miles, nope, still not enough, keep going. 16 miles, maybe enough, starting to feel a bit hungry, but go a tiny bit further. Finally at what would be 17 miles I decided to turn around. I knew I was going to be pressing my luck by going any further. I was hungry and didn't want to take a chance on another Gu. I headed back and wound up finishing up my run with my teammate Kristy. It was so nice not to be out there completely alone, cause for a while I definitely was.
On my run out I was actually trying to get to a specific point - a tree at the bottom of a hill that apparently has the initial EWS carved in to it (about half my team calls me EWS, as those are my initials). I didn't see it the first time I passed it and was hoping to see it this time, but just couldn't get there (I only know its there because a bunch of my teammates saw it). I guess its something to look forward to on race day. And, obviously, this is the race I'm meant to do, my initials are carved in to a tree on the course! On my way back I caught up to my teammate Kristy and ran the rest of the way with her - making it significantly easier.
Finishing the death run. Thanks for running with me for the end Kristy!
After the weekend I headed back to the city for a day and then home.
Nice tan lines, right?
View from my sister's place
I'm still trying to hit my fundraising goal and have plenty of miles to be sponsored. Just a $15 donation will get you a mile of my race. Please consider making a donation today. This is so important to me, please, help show me not quitting was the right decision. Click the link and hit donate now:
Oh ya - 135.4 miles is how many I covered this weekend (including Friday's swim). Next stop 140.6. 30 days.
PHOTO CREDITS: 95% of the pictures from training were taken by my teammate Marvin, the ones from the city and my bad tan lines are mine.