Sunday, September 30, 2007

(Close but no cigar) times 2

A couple of weeks ago, I participated in the Music City Triathlon here in Nashville. I really didn't have a time goal in mind; I just wanted to do the race because a) the people I had coached all summer were doing it as their big finale and b) it was my birthday and I figured that would be a great way to start the day. I had a blast - I was with all of my friends; all of my triathlete newbies crossed the finish line with smiling faces; I felt the race went well for me despite my inability to get my wetsuit off of my right foot and the rain that we had to deal with during part of the bike ride - but when I got home and looked at the results, I was a little disappointed. I came in 4th in my age group. They gave awards out to the top 3 in each age group. I missed it by a little over 3 minutes, and the girl who got third is a friend of mine who drafted off of me during the swim. Ugh. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride. Here are the details:

Swim: 31:35 - the swim was a little long, and boy, I felt it!
T1: 2:52 - couldn't get my wetsuit off
Bike: 1:10:45 - this could've been faster, but when the course started doing its out and back thing, I started paying more attention to the athletes going the other way so I could make sure that all of my trainees had made it out of the water and onto their bikes
T2: 1:20 - if I could learn how to focus in transition, I'd be much better at it. Coming off the bike, I had this conversation: "Hey, Richard, I heard you had a wreck recently. How are you doing? Man, that sucks. Well, see you later!" WTF??? Keep in mind that at the Memphis in May triathlon several years ago, I stopped on my way from the swim to my bike to talk to a friend of mine who had had a panic attack in the water and had to be pulled out. I consoled her until I remembered that I had a race to do.
Run: 49:58 - I surprised myself with this time. My first mile was 9:25, but my second was under 7:30. What a way to pick it up! I ran decently yet still had it in me to say hi to friends. The course may have been a little short, but nobody has confirmed that with me, so I'm going to pretend it wasn't.
Total time: 2:37:47

After Music City, I turned my focus on preparing for the Big South Fork 17.5-mile trail race. My SO* and I drove to Big South Fork Friday afternoon, set up camp, enjoyed a couple of little hikes, ate a good meal, then sat under the stars and drank red wine until we were ready to crawl into our sleeping bags.

Me at the Twin Arches in Pickett State Park

John under the North Arch

The next morning started a little chilly, but it didn't take long to warm up. I was glad I decided to put my big girl panties on and ditch the idea of starting out with a long-sleeved shirt on over my tank top. That would've come off within the first 10 minutes and since I was in the woods, it would've had to have stayed tied around my waist for the rest of the race. I didn't expect any stellar time - after all, this was a trail race, a long one at that. When you start to get tired, you have to pay extra attention to picking your feet up so that you don't get bitten by the root and rock monsters that live in the woods. I did have a small goal, though: to break 3 hours. The last time I had run this race, I was on pace to do that until Mike rolled his ankle badly around mile 6 and I stayed with him while he suffered to the finish line. Yesterday morning I was running really well. For 2 days I had battled a little tweak in my abs that was result of doing fly kick on my back with fins on in swim practice Wednesday morning, but fortunately it was gone by race time. I looked up occasionally to marvel in the beauty that surrounded me, but overall I focused on the trail. I was doing great until I fell around mile 11. Lots of people fall during this race, but in all of the times I had done this before, I had never fallen. Guess there's a first time for everything. My fall was very graceful, though - I rolled then jumped up and got right back on track. Not a big deal. Unfortunately I fell again about 30 minutes later. This one was a little worse, but no blood was shed. I just got really dirty on my right side and now have a couple of cuts on my knee. Soon after that I stumbled pretty badly, coming oh-so-close to biting it a third time. I decided then that I really needed to slow down. The trail was very rooty and rocky at that point, and the patchy sunlight that was coming in through the leaves was making it really tough to see. It was more of a blind run, and I just started hoping that where my foot landed was going to be an okay place. I ended up meeting my goal - my time was 2:56:25 - but when they did the awards and I found out that third place in my age group (a girl from Nashville who is dumb as a box of rocks and has the most annoying voice on the planet) ran a 2:50:12, I was disappointed in myself. If only I had been able to keep my pace up. If only I hadn't fallen, especially that second time. I looked at the race results this morning, and I didn't come in 4th this time, but 5th. So close again.

On the drive home, John and I decided that I'm going to have a breakthrough year next year. I'm focusing on short, fast races that'll teach me how to push past the pain, a pain different than Ironman pain. Ironman races are super tough, but that's because the distance is ridiculous. You have to grind it out for the entire day at a slow/maintainable pace rather than going balls to the wall at an intensity that makes you want to pass out. I have to learn the art of increasing my pain threshold and getting to the point at which I feel like puking. Over the winter I'll do short foot races, mostly 5Ks and 10Ks with 1 or 2 half marathons thrown in. And come next year, I'll be building a shelf for all of my trophies! But first: Disneyworld in less than 2 weeks!

Can you tell that a certain little 7-year old boy is excited?

* - My SO is a term of endearment and nothing more. He's just a really close friend. My DH is totally cool with it. Don't want anyone getting any weird ideas that I'm a skanky, cheatin' ho.

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