Thursday, July 4, 2013

Syracuse 70.3 Race Report

But those who have patience and trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31
I'm not a very religious person but this quote, displayed on a church marque during last years IMLP,  has stayed with me all year. It was just after the start of the climb into Wilmington and where I first started to feel my back. I thought it was meant to give me hope to get through the bike and then I'd be ok on the run. Little did I know at that point that I was going to have to be patient for a year. When I reference the quote, there doesn't seem to be a version that has the word patience in it, but I swear it was there - I don't know, maybe I made that part up. Nevertheless, I hoping that it is a part of the miracle I am relying on for July 28th.
I spent a long weekend in LP at the beginning of June with a group of women I didn't know - many training for Syr. 70.3.  I hate biking with a group - you'd think that it would be the group part that makes biking fun, but for me it's just frustrating. I am slow as a turtle and ALWAYS last. This time was no different, and because it was a training, a staff member stayed back with me - nice, but totally embarrassing. My personal trainer once said to me that it I were sitting at a table with a group of triathletes, I would see every one at the table as an athlete except for me. He was right. I tried hard to put myself at the table all weekend. It was the butterflies that helped. I saw hundreds of swallowtails (my favorite) on the course ride that day. At one point I put them together with the patience part of the quote - you know the cocoon thing; it's got to be rather frustrating for that damn catapillar to struggle to get out of there. But when she is often referred to as a miracle - right?!  When I went into town that night the woman in my favorite LP store raved about the "beautiful butterfly tatoo" I have on my back. No one had mentioned that tatoo in years - in fact I often forget that I have it. That was also when I saw the plaque that read "don't believe in miracles, rely on them." That confirmed for me that I was suppose to be paying attention.
So what does this have to do with Syracuse 70.3 race? I was so frustrated about that race the day after. The swim was clean and I was on my own almost the entire way, but it took F-O-R-E-V-E-R!  I looked at my watch when I stood up and thought - WTH?? The slowest of my three Syr 70.3 swim times. And I was exhausted! I didn't even attempt to run the 1/4 mile to transition.  Turns out, the swim was 1.4 not 1.2 miles as it was suppose to be. I know that is only a few 100 yards but when that's not what you are expecting you feel it. Also turns out I was fourth in my age group. Some good things come with turning 50 - smaller age groups! :)
I was nervous about the bike, especially the climbs. I kept myself upright as much as possible and made it to the top of Sweet Road in my usual time. I love that the hill on 80, that I had to WALK my first year, didn't make me feel like my heart wanted to pound right out of my chest - progress!  My nutrition was ok. Aid stations uneventful. No bathroom stops - that's a first!  Still I was feeling tired and, while not struggling, just couldn't get into a rhythm. My feet were cramping like crazy and I kept taking one side then the other out of the clips on Apula Rd. in prep for the run. When I dismounted I looked at ML who was waiting there for me to come in and said "I have never been so fucking glad to be off this bike!" Clearly I wasn't thinking about the dozens of other people standing there but they seemed to get a good laugh out of it.  Results - a bike time that was the slowest of my three Syracuse races. So frustrating knowing how far I have come to think that this effort was worse than my first nearly two years ago.
So, did I mention it was hot? I used the half bottle of water that I had left on my bike to dump over my head and down my tri shorts before heading out on the run. Couldn't wait to see my coach to tell her that "I didn't have to make a bathroom stop" (right Beth?) and then filled my fuel belt bottles at the aid station. Even though my swim and bike had not been PRs, I could still have an overall PR with a good run split and relatively easy based on how I had been running. I guess I hadn't really realized on the bike how incredibly oppressive the heat was, but it didn't take long to feel it on the run. When I got to the hill past aid station 2, EVERYONE was walking. It was like that most of the rest of the way. I kept dumping water over my head and grabbing ice. The first loop was the longest 6.5 miles I'd ever done - bye, bye PR. As I headed out on the second loop the rain began. I was so thrilled. The next two miles were much more of what I had been hoping. And just when it was picking up for me - boom! Thunder and lightening and they called the race. I was a little more than a mile from the turn-around. Those that had made it there and finished were offical. But I didn't take a ride back. I finished a couple of miles short and got my medal but also another big DNF. So frustrating!
This was suppose to be a HUGE PR race for me. Disney was supposed to be a HUGE PR race for me. Mountain Goat was suppose to be a PR race for me!  My running has improved by as much as 3 -4 minutes a mile in training but no one would know that but my coach. All three races were a struggle. And in large part it was because all three were so hot and humid. One of the pros at Syracuse indicated the run was worse than running in the lava field at Kona. 
So what now? Patience - still time to get out of that cocoon to "run and not grow weary."