REV3 Quassy

Feeling Tri-Umphant

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”

-Theodore Roosevelt

Image

 

You know how I’m always saying that “I will succeed because I am crazy enough to think I can”… Well this past weekend, I was crazy enough!   

That’s right! It’s the post you’ve all been waiting for: My REV3 Olympic Recap

It would be wrong for me to tell you that it started Friday night with the race expo because the truth is, it started loooooonnnnng before that.  It started as a little, tiny, glint-of-hope, pipe dream.  It was one of those crazy goals that I wanted to do someday.  It was so far out of my comfort zone, I never actually believed I would do it.  Yes I hoped and I dreamed, but I couldn’t wrap my mind around ever getting there.

Through countless hours of training (and regular public humiliation) I learned to swim and bike… from scratch.  Ten months later, I found myself at a safety briefing for my first real triathlon.  It would have been far too sensible to start with a sprint distance.  Instead, I had set my sights on a half and downgraded to the Olympic.  I was clearly smoking crack out of my mind.

ImageI am reasonably sure that the actual job of the race director who gave our briefing was to scare the bejesus out of all the newbie triathletes.  I found this both cruel and sadistic. I had visions of him knocking over the ice cream cones of small children for fun while he spoke.  After stressing how hilly and difficult the course was, he actually made it a point to say that the race officials would be focusing their attention on all the newbies who didn’t know what they were doing.  Well thank you so much Mr. Sunshine, because I wasn’t terrified enough already.

After his glorious pep talk, I went home and couldn’t sleep.  In fact, I called the hubs almost in tears on my way home.  He assured me I would be fine.  I made him promise that he would have told me if he thought I couldn’t do it.  I tried my best to calm my nerves, but it was no use.  I applied my race number tattoos (while second guessing where I was supposed to put them, convinced that it would invariably be wrong) and headed to bed.

By 3 am I was wide awake and still utterly terrified.  There was no peaceful calm, no get it done attitude- just sheer terror.  I forced down some water and sweet potato and headed back to the park and bike transition.  I hadn’t racked my bike ahead of time because it was raining when I left.  I did heed the advice of the director and arrived well ahead of check in only to find it completely empty.  This dramatically dropped his credibility in my book.  I tried to catch some sleep in between trying to cram last minute calories and frequent trips to the bathroom for that wonderful pre-race nervous pee ritual we all know and love (hate).  Thankfully, I was forward thinking enough the evening before to have asked one of the transition volunteers about the set up, so I was at least fairly confident arranging my transition area.

Before I knew it, it was time to head to the shore.  On my way, I saw my personal kayak escort from my open water swim!  It was like the heavens themselves opened up and smiled down on me I was so relieved to see her!  She told me I would be fine, and I actually believed her… for like 30 seconds before I hit the water.  I did take the advice of the director and do a warm up swim.  It definitely helped with calming my nerves.  Once I was confident that I could swim without having an all out panic attack, I headed over to watch the other waves start.

I distracted myself by making friendly conversation with some other first time triathletes which, thankfully, gave me a sense of ease.  In fact, I entered the water feeling relatively calm.  I knew my task for the swim would be to remain calm and conquer my nerves.  It is something I have had to do countless times being terrified of swimming from the beginning (who knew that’d turn out to be such a plus?).  I just kept repeating “I love to swim” over and over in my head and focused on my stroke.  The course went by fairly quickly, and I learned my first newbie lesson- wear tinted goggles when open water swimming.  For approximately one third (the backstretch) of the course, I could not see anything above water due to the sun.  Instead, I tried to follow the trail of bubbles in front of me and hoped that the people ahead of me knew where they were going.  Once we were back on the final stretch, it was smooth sailing.   I was complimented on my way out of the water for being the first to exit smiling- which is amusing when you consider I started in the 4th wave and got passed by a good part of the 5th (the last)… who literally swam over me.  Did I mention that was the Athena wave (ie. Amazonian sized women)?  Yea, that was not intimidating at all…

I took my time in transition because I knew I could.  I didn’t want to rush and forget something.  My goal for this race was simply to finish, and I knew I had enough people behind me in the water that I wouldn’t get pulled.  I had no idea what my swim time was when I headed out for the bike. (It turned out to be 38:59) I was so relieved that the hubs and I had done the course earlier in the week as a test ride.  I felt so much more confident knowing every turn and hill on the course.  More than that, I had enjoyed the ride, and looked forwarded to repeating it.  It was beautiful with rolling hills and picturesque scenery.  There were two steep sections and a couple sucky hills, but there were also some AWESOME downhills with nice wide roads.  The best part was that the bad uphills were in the middle of the course while the fun downhills were all in the second half.  In my mind, they were my reward for all the hard work I had put in up to that point.  I slid back on my seat, tucked in, and FLEW down those stretches (On the preview I clocked just shy of 40 mph!).  I barreled past other riders- despite the fact that I managed to drop my chain on the way down.  I had to stop twice to fix it at the bottom and toppled once unclipping, but none of that even remotely dampened my spirits.  Even with dropping my chain and the stops, my bike took 1:54:39.

Image

My free finisher photo. Thanks REV3!

My transition time between my bike and run was shorter than my first primarily because I ate while running out.  The run course was hilly but completely manageable; and the miles went by quickly.  Because I knew I was in no danger of getting pulled, I ran smart instead of fast.  I picked a comfortable pace.  When the hills got steep and I thought I could walk faster than run, I did.  If ultra running has taught me anything it’s that there’s no point or glory in running when all you are going to accomplish is burning out your legs.  It’s better to spare the energy and kill it on the downs and flats.

So that is what I did, and it worked for me.  I finished the run strong- blasting through the finish (It’s amazing how much faster I can move when the end is in sight!) with a total time of 3:43.  The hubs was there waiting with one of our friends.  They had actually ridden out to meet me on the bike course and cheer, though, in truth, they met me going up while I was headed down and were completely out of breath.  I was still happy to see their faces, nonetheless! I also was fortunate to have AMAZING support from the the Waterbury Tri Club peeps volunteering throughout the course.  It was definitely a HUGE boost every time I saw any of them- and especially when I hit the aid station at mile 5 of the run and they all erupted into cheers.  I would have stopped to hug each of them had I not been so ready to be finished!!!

I can’t even begin to explain what it feels like to work SO HARD for something and then FINALLY achieve it.  Even though I still have not reached my dream of a half or full ironman, I did accomplish my goal of becoming a triathlete- and that is HUGE!  I am now officially a woman who is too badass for just one sport.  I swim, bike, and run.  I will continue to swim, bike, and run until the day when I no longer can.  There may even be an Ironman Full REV at Cedar Point 2015 on the agenda.  Who knows what the future holds.

You can bet no matter where life takes me that I will keep pushing and challenging myself.  To me, that’s what really living is.  It’s taking risks, getting out of my comfort zone, and redefining myself everyday. #thriveon

Are you a triathlete?  Thinking of becoming one?  You may be interested in checking out the ladies below for some laughs and inspiration:

Brook’s Tri Sprint Recap: The raw, [uncensored] TRUTH about my race day mistakes. – Make sure you aren’t drinking anything when you read Brook’s blog or it may come out your nose.  You’ve been warned!  Also consider joining her Sole Sisterhood while you’re there! It’s completely free.

Swim Bike Mom’s  Journey to 140.6: Week 3 of 24– Really you should just read her WHOLE BLOG and her book.  In case you hadn’t noticed yet, I’m kind of a big fan.  She speaks my language, and by that I mean snarky… oh and she refers to her lady parts as “the queen”… This may make us soulmates, but I don’t think she’s realized that yet so we’ll keep it on the DL (That’s “down low” btw)

Norma Bastidas’ Record Triathlon Brings Awareness– I first heard of Norma in reference to her ultra running, which is pretty darn amazing in its own right.  I am not going to give you all the deets of what makes her such an awe inspiring individual because I really want you to read it yourself, but I will say that this women has truly persevered beyond just learning to swim for her Mega Triathlon (woman after my own heart…).

That is all for now my loves!!!! I hope you are having a wonderful week!

Go chase your dreams!!!!

Advertisements

Adjusting My Sails

“I can’t change the direction of the wind,

but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”
Jimmy Dean

Image

 

So before I update you all about my latest big decision, let me fill you all in on the latest going ons of the week.  No big surprise that’s it’s been a busy one!  Let’s break it down shall we:

The Good

On Saturday I went for a Daffodil Group Ride with some peeps from the Tri Club which entailed a very scenic 26 mile ride through the countryside.  It was loads of fun, and I was able to keep up this time without any real trouble.  It also was a great opportunity to meet some new people and get some mileage in on my bike.  Due to the frequent stops for photos (and chatting) it was terrific practice for clipping and unclipping too!

Image

 

Lately, I feel like every time I get on my bike, I get more and more comfortable… and consequently that much better.  I have been extremely fortunate to have joined an exceptional Tri Club (through our local YMCA) with members who have been beyond supportive.  I was so afraid initially of people getting annoyed with me for being too slow or a giant chicken, but in reality everyone has been nothing but encouraging.  The group ranges from elite athletes (who –ahemwin Ironmans) to novices… to train wrecks like me.  Sometimes I feel like the only newbie in the group, but I think that is primarily because I am always trying to push myself to do the harder rides and workouts.  At no point, though, have any of them made me feel like I don’t belong or am not good enough to train with them.  I have truly enjoyed getting to know every member I have met so far.  

Plus, I have found that group riding has done wonders for my comfort level with cycling.  I am so much braver when I am with the Tri Club peeps.  I think a lot of it has to do with being distracted by the company.  Making conversation with the people around you is a great way to relax, as it turns out.  Who would have ever guessed?  

Anyway, the ride was by no means easy.  There was a long steady climb for a good part of the way out and lots of quick winding downs coming back.  I spent most of the trip trying to catch the two gentlemen ahead of me, which was perfect for motivating to move faster without getting freaked out about it.  They were both very warm and friendly, and the fact that one of them happens to be a minister only added to my ease about being around them. (I told him I felt much safer riding with a minister.. maybe that’s why I worked so hard at keeping up!)

I definitely came off the ride on a high note.  I managed a moderately difficulty route… (Did I mention all the left turns, traffic, and intersections (ie cycling hazards) at the beginning?) AND I wasn’t even that tired at the end.  Mostly I was hungry, but that seems to be my biggest issue with cycling.  I suppose I will have to work on balancing well enough to eat without stopping… mental note to add that to my goal list…

Image

The Bad

Now that we’ve covered the highlights of my weekend, let’s recap where it all went down hill, shall we?  

Having conquered my Saturday bike with dignity still intact, I was feeling pretty optimistic going into my first open water swim.  After all, I am a swimmer now.  I go to the pool and turn out laps like it’s my job.  I just keep going, and all is good and right in the world.  

Enter the wetsuit…

I thought it was a great sign that I scored a great deal on The Clymb, and that my wetsuit came in time for the first session.  However, I was slightly nervous having read all the horror stories about first time experiences with open water swimming and wetsuits.  I expected the suit to feel tight.  I expected to feel anxious about not being able to see more than a few inches.  I even expected the water to be really cold.  Somehow, though, I did not expect to struggle as badly as I did.

Image  On the bright side, I did have a few things in my favor.  The first is that swimming, in general, causes me anxiety and makes my heart rate skyrocket.  In that sense, I am very accustomed to having to calm myself, slow down, and get my heart rate under control.  This came in handy when the discomfort (and resulting anxiety) associated with the freezing water and tightness of the wetsuit caused my my pulse to quicken.  I spent almost the entire first half of my swim doing a modified version of breast stroke (speaking of strokes… Coach M may have had one if she saw my technique) so as to keep my face out of the water… which just happened to be a cozy 64 degrees.

Being completely stupid and delusional a glutton for punishment, I had decided to forego starting simple and went straight for the half ironman course instead.  After all, if I can swim over 2 miles easily in the pool, then 1.2 miles should be no problem, right?  Yeah, not so much… There was a point when I considered turning around sooner, but I knew there was a dock waiting at the turn around for the HIM where I could get out and warm up before heading back.  Had I done a shorter route, defrosting was not an option.  

By the time I reached the dock, I was managing 6-10 strokes at a time before my heart rate would climb.  I considered this a major victory.  I was very grateful to have my own personal Triathlon Guardian Angel looking out for me (the same Tri Club member who offered reassurance and called me a rockstar at the duathlon).  I hadn’t realized that he kept an eye out for me the whole way, and I actually felt guilty that I had caused him to stay in the freezing water so much longer than he would have otherwise.  He kept telling me how great I was doing and meant it sincerely (which is especially amusing when you consider that I probably looked like I was drowning).  In the beginning, he tried to swim beside me and give me advice on sighting and my stroke.  Eventually he gave me space to sort it out on my own.  It wasn’t until I saw him at the dock that I was aware of how long he had been keeping tabs on me.

Once he saw I finally had the hang of things, he headed back.  Meanwhile, I only stayed out of the water long enough to warm up enough to breath before hopping right back in to start the swim back.  Because they were already taking down the course, I had my own personal kayak escort for the entire stretch back (sort of the equivalent of the running sag wagon).  I am proud to say that I did at least front crawl the entire way back.  I only stopped twice briefly to change strokes and catch my (frozen) breath.  I finally was getting the hang of sighting and was kicking harder than I probably ever had in my life to get to that shore (and my fleece pants!).  

Even though I should have been proud of myself for sticking it out, I wanted to cry.  My half ironman dreams seemed so out of reach at that moment.  Here I had invested so much time and effort, but it did nothing to prepare me for that swim.  The open water swimming was a whole separate beast.  It was yet another hurdle I needed to overcome, and it made me realize how badly I wanted it.  

I was surprised when I got out of the water that I was greeted not just by other people, but by some cheers.  I thought everyone would have already packed up and headed home, but instead they were there encouraging me.  They said they were impressed by how much I had swum (especially given how much extra I did going off course) and were surprised when I told them it was my first open water swim.  I think one woman’s mouth even dropped when I told her I had only first started swimming in October.  So all in all, I guess it was not as epic a failure as it seemed at the time.

The Ugly

As I said, I am a glutton for punishment.  I think we are all well aware of that by now.  Any normal person who had an exhausting morning of fighting a wetsuit in freezing water would probably call it a day, but I needed to know if the REV3 bike course was doable.  I had heard it was hilly and challenging, however, I also have heard that triathlons tend to be less hilly than regular cycling.  I convinced the hubs to ride it with me, and within 10 miles I was ready to turn around.  My body was exhausted, and to be 100% honest- I WAS SCARED $H%TLESS.  The course was all up or down.  It was really steep at parts, and the wind was so bad it was literally knocking me off balance.  Since the last miles of the course are a repeat of the beginning anyway, we basically covered over 20 miles of the course.  I felt completely defeated.  I couldn’t believe I had worked so hard, and yet I was light years away from what I needed to accomplish for this race.  

Being the most supportive husband on the planet, the Adam rode the course on his own yesterday to see how bad it was.  He biked all 56+ brutal miles just to see how long it would take and gauge if I could do it.  I had no idea what he was up to until I saw him this morning.  He finally agreed with me that there was no way I would make it through in the allotted time.  He is a FAR superior cyclist than me and it took him 4 hours.  He said he had every faith in me that I could handle the course, but didn’t think there was any way I would do it fast enough for the cut off, especially after swimming.  It must have been far worse than I ever could have imagined for him to concede this.  He did finally admit that it only became progressively harder throughout the route.  

The Silver Lining

Obviously, I was disappointed, but he only confirmed what I already knew in my heart.  The race I have had my heart set on for the past year is a greater monster than I ever could have imagined.  I am not giving up on my dream to finish it one day, but it won’t be this year for me.  Instead, I went ahead and registered for the Olympic Distance.  Given that I am still scared to death, I am pretty sure I will still be challenging myself… which also means I should be able to live with this decision without being too disappointed.  As Swim Bike Mom likes to say, the important thing is to Keep Moving Forward.  

I may not meet my goal in the initial timeframe I set for myself, but I am also not giving up.  I still want to do a half ironman this year, and I still want to do the REV3 Quassy (someday).  In the meantime, I will continue to take steps to get there- even if they are baby steps instead of giant leaps!  Right now, the next step is the REV3 Olympic Course.  

In the words of Diana Nyad (my idol who I tried to channel during my freezing, anxiety provoking swim):

 I will find a way.