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I never saw that coming!

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Race “Reports”

Riding the Wave: “Failure” and Success

I’ve been quiet for a while!! Work has been busy, life hectic and, I’m not going to lie – training somewhat non-existent.  But!! That’s about to change. Time to get back on the wagon before it gets so far away that I can’t catch it.

I’ve got three races under my belt so far this season. Two half-marathons and one Sprint Triathlon and they’ve been met with mixed success. I’m having to learn how to work with this new, slightly broken, body. My gait has changed and certain muscles have weakened since by battle with Vestibular Neuritis and its been a “fun” little game trying to get back to full strength.

The good news: Failure is becoming motivating. The motto of “embrace the suck” is pretty much the name of the game but at this point it causes as much laughter at myself as it does frustration.

Here’s how things have gone so far….

 

Race #1:  The “HELP ME!!!” Half Marathon really called the Winnipeg Police Service Half-Marathon

It’s a nice day in May. A little windy but not too shabby. Which is impressive for Winnipeg where you never really can predict what the weather will do in this crazy Canadian city.

I’m running with a friend from work.  He’s faster than me but not enough for me to worry about it. I should be able to pace him fairly well. I tell him that I am not going to miss my goal of under 2 hours by 26 seconds again because that would just suck.   We’re off and running at a steady 5:21/km . I’m feeling good and we are joking a bit about how work is going to hurt the next day.

And then it hits. The attack of the IT Band. Barely 10 km  in and I can feel the pain creeping up in to my knee. I mentally tell my body to piss off because I do not have time for this and there is a long damned way to go.  I let my running buddy run ahead so I don’t screw up his time and I push as best I can.

I walk.

I grunt in frustration.

I text my best friend who is out with an injury and she tells me to “EMBRACE THE SUCK!!”

I walk. I run. I cry. Damn does it hurt.  About mile 11, a woman runs along side me as I am dragging myself up a small incline. She puts her hand on my back and tells me I’m ok. And I cry some more out of pure frustration.  Just after mile 12 I see a guy sitting on the ground with the medics around him and I tell myself “THAT WILL NOT BE ME”. At mile 13 the end is in sight but I can no longer bend my knee at all. I’m barely jogging and even that .1 seems insurmountable.  A man runs along side me, put his hand on my arm and pulls me along with him. He keeps pulling me until I tell him that “I’ve got it. I’m good.” Runners are truly amazing and supportive people.

I crossed the finish line at 2 hours 5 minutes… well, I DID say I didn’t want to miss the 2 hour mark by 26 seconds.

I embraced the suck.

IMG_7189[1]
My very supportive colleague waited for me at the finish. Notice my awkward stance as I can no longer use the right leg 
Race #2:  The Triathlon that Hates Me really called the Triple Threat Triathlon in Birds Hill Park.

So, one rarely expects their first tri of the year to be fantabulous but this race seems to be out to get me. Last year I dubbed it “the race from hell” because everything that could possibly go wrong, went wrong and this year wasn’t leaps and bounds better.

The disorientation from the vestibular neuritis kicked me in the butt in the swim and I had to stop more than once to try to reorient myself. It was a crummy swim.  My sense of panic was high because of the disorientation and I just couldn’t seem to get myself back under control.

Now, my goal is always to beat my best friend, Sandra. She is fantastic and about as competitive as me. In theory, her long legs should allow her to kick my butt. Our athletic therapist has said that she is like a gazelle and I’m like a bulldog (woof?). And, while I’d much prefer to be compared to the long, lean, graceful gazelle (especially considering I’m a dancer), the bulldog seems about right some days (although I hope I’m not as short and stumpy as that implies) .

Imagine my surprise as I come in to transition, annoyed with myself for screwing up the swim so badly, and find the Gazelle still getting herself ready for the bike! ALL IS NOT LOST!!! I manage to get out of transition mere seconds behind her and now the race is on!! I hit that bike course like…well…a bulldog. I pulled away from her and used every ounce of my being to make sure she didn’t catch me. One loop done and as I’m heading out for the second I pass her on her way in.  Panic sets in that she’s going to catch me and I hammer down convinced that every athlete coming up behind me is her.

Back in to transition, rack the bike, still don’t see the Gazelle. Start running. Now, I should mention that I have Raynaud’s Disease as well. It’s a lovely little circulatory issue that causes my toes and fingers to go numb. Usually this happens when I’m cold but I’ve noticed lately that hard bike rides or strenuous runs can bring it on as well.  And, it rears it’s ugly little head and for the first kilometer my toes are completely numb. I wiggle them, I shake them, I curse them, all while trying to maintain a reasonable speed. EXCEPT!!! That courtesy of the neuritis, I am under trained.  The under training begins to show and the knee aches slightly but I am quickly distracted from the IT Band issue by the horrible cramping in my left quad… oh crap.  It’s two kilometers in to the 5k run and I’ve cramped up. This is a first for me. It sucks. I don’t recommend it.  I stop, massage, run. Stop, massage, run. Bear down and grunt in pain and aim for that finish line!!

Failure comes in that I was a little slower than the year before when it was the race from hell but…. I still manage to beat the Gazelle.

 

 

Race #3:  The “Singing in the Rain” Half Marathon really called the Manitoba Marathon

It was rainy. It was cold. It was like 15 degrees cooler than it should have been on a June day. It was a nasty start. I was supposed to meet Sandra, who will now forever be called “The Gazelle”, and her husband before the start of our waves. He was going to start in wave 1 and she was seeding herself in to wave 2.  Unfortunately, that never happened. I waited for almost an hour to catch the shuttle to the starting point, had to sprint to drop off my bag and wave 1 was underway before I was anywhere close to settled. I managed to get in to my wave and find a pace bunny with just minutes to spare.  I happily followed the 1:55 pace bunny (who I am convinced was going slightly faster than that pace). I wondered if I would ever find The Gazelle.

At the earlier part of the race, we passed the cemetery where my Dad is buried. It was Father’s Day and I felt the emotion starting to build up. I waved at my Dad as I ran past and asked him to help get me through a race where I probably shouldn’t, according to the athletic therapist, have been running.

I got a fun little game going with another runner in the 1:55 pack. He may not have been playing but I certainly was. I would run past him and settle myself in to a spot, only to have him come racing up and past me, so, I would race up past him and the game continued for quite some time. Somewhere a long the lines, the 1:55 pack moved a little further away and I heard another runner comment that they were definitely faster than the 1:55 pace.  I didn’t care. I had my goal and I was going to, hopefully, get there.

The first 10k flew by, which was a nice surprise, and I was still pain free.  I heard a voice call my name and I turned to see The Gazelle beside me on the course. I had caught up to her and was comfortably moving past. We chatted for a minute about meeting up at the end and I continued at my pace… and then the pain began again. Luckily, when the twinges began it was at about the 15km mark. I did have to pull over and adjust my IT band strap and allowed myself short, less than 1 minute, periods of walking to try to deal with the pain.  I was always trying to be aware of my time. I didn’t want to miss my goal time by 26 seconds…again… the last 2 km were excruciating and I wondered if I had lost my goal time. I hadn’t seen the 2-hour pace bunny pass me but I had been distracted by the pain.  My pace was dropping and I was worried about the time but I kept pushing. I told myself that I would be able to deal with the pain later and just to keep on moving.

As I came around the corner and in to the stadium I made the decision to just give’er! The my watch and the timer indicated that my goal was in sight and I raced for that finish line with every ounce of my being.

I cried but this time from the incredible emotion that comes from meeting your goal. 1:59:08. That’s under 2 hours and I will happily take it.  I’m sure my Dad was with me as I struggled through the end and it was fitting that I made that goal on Father’s Day.

 

And, now it’s onwards and upwards. Time for a new half marathon goal and to get ready for the Hecla Triathlon….and maybe to let that IT Band heal a little.

 

Kenora Krazy

Last weekend was the Kenora Borealis triathlon. I have never been so happy to be a sprint distance athlete.  THAT HILL! But we will get to that…

Here’s the break down of how things went:

The night before…. my friend Sandra comes out to the cabin so we can go together for the race. We make the decision that I should change the tube on my bike because the patch won’t necessarily hold and after the “land of broken training sessions” I don’t want to risk it.  So, they laugh at me while I struggle and struggle and eventually get it (the next time I had to do this was better…and yes, there was a next time). As we are pumping the tire, things don’t seem right and the tire won’t stay in the rim so my husband takes over and then two minutes later –VOILA– tire ready.  We’ve done this inside because it is, again, raining.  Out goes the bike and 5 minutes later…BANG. The neighbor screams, we jump and the whole community stares at our place. Well, good thing I have another tube to replace the one that just exploded.  We spend the rest of the night waiting for the thing to blow up again. It doesn’t. Thank God. I don’t think I can sheepishly go down and apologize again to the rest of the lake community.

So, we get up the next morning, brave the wall of mosquitoes to load the bikes and we are off for the drive in to Kenora. The whole time I’ve got two thoughts: 1) what have I forgotten? I’ve had nightmares for weeks about things breaking down/falling apart/being stolen (I dreamed that my bike was stolen mid bike course once. Don’t ask me how that happens.) and 2) please don’t rain..please don’t rain.

And then we were there! Got the bike tires checked for pressure, got set up and then spent about 15 minutes debating whether or not I wanted to wear the wet suit. Race time was approaching and I was texting the husband, looking for the husband and not finding the husband. He overslept…… and then we were off!!!

THE SWIM

FiNALLY a swim without panic. I took the advice I got from “beginner triathlete” and sang in my head.  A little “Uptown Funk” base line kept me focused and going. I probably could have gone a little harder but the plan for this race was to find a way to swim without freaking out — don’t go out too hard. At one point, I thought I was way behind everyone so I had to mentally keep my game going by reminding myself that the success of this race was not panicking and having a strong swim. I figured I can fix it a bit on the bike and the run. Out of the water, I realized that the person in front of me was my friend and that swim a was a little faster than I thought!

On the way back in to transition I hear my neighbors from the lake screaming out my name. It turns out that they had woken up the husband and they’d come down together.

THE BIKE

I got out of transition, forgot my race belt, and then was back out and on the road. The first part of the cycle felt amazing. I passed my friend and was pushing well and then the hill hit.  OH MY GOD THE HILL!!!  Now, remember, I’m a prairie girl. I do get to ride the hills at the cottage but those hills are nothing like this hill…this hill went on and on and on and on….my watch registered the incline at about 100m. It was brutal. I passed a couple people and was like “YES!!! I’VE GOT THIS!!” and then I looked at my speed and started laughing. I might as well have been going backwards.  Don’t ask me how some people managed to fly up that thing. They must have legs of steel and feel zero pain. I yelled at one guy as he came racing by  “you make it look so easy” to which he yelled back “oh hell no”…while moving at double my speed.

The way down that hill was a blast. I wish there wasn’t a head wind because it would have been awesome to figure out just how fast I can go. On the way back in to transition I joked with the volunteers that I wouldn’t forget anything this time.  I can hear the neighbors again screaming and yelling out my number, which they were enjoying way too much (I was “blessed” with number 69…never going to hear the end of it). It made me laugh enough that it pumped me for the final leg.

THE RUN

BARF. At least I thought I was going to for the first 5 minutes. Thank go that passed. The run wasn’t quite where I wanted to be. Mentally, I wanted to go faster…I really did…but my legs were just refusing. I was flip flopping from speeds that I was happy with and speeds where I was like “GOOOOOOOOOO”. Uptown Funk rhythms helped refocus me a bit again. I came across the finish line strong because I didn’t want the lake friends to think I was wimpy and then I was done!

THE RESULTS

Not going to lie — I was totally disappointed.  I was 6th in my age category and two minutes faster than my sprint last year on an easier course so I should be happy…but I’m competitive and really wanted to place in my age group. That being said — I looked at the times….the women in my age group were just insanely fast!! I was about the same speeds as the men in my age range but those women must feel zero pain to be able to get up that hill at some crazy speeds. But, as my friend reminded me, I was faster than last year and faster than her….and nothing fell apart, unlike the “disastrous race”

 

The Disastrous Race

There’s always one. Sometimes you see it coming, and sometimes it just sneaks up on you when you’re not looking…the race from HELL.

brrrrrrr!! cold!

In the style of Sophia from Golden Girls….”picture it, Birds Hill Park, Manitoba, June 12, 2016……”

It was a cold, rainy and miserable day. Not what one would expect in June. A chilly 12C, the rain was pounding down, the wind was pulling tents up and over to the point they were being dismantled and put away. The thunder and lightening in the background created an addition enhancement to the atmosphere. And there we were, a group of crazy triathletes, all in our wet suits, huddled together under a tree, trying to escape the torture of the weather and anxiously awaiting information from the race director.”It’s going to be a great day! Just wait! The clouds will be clearing in about 10 minutes!” Came the booming voice over the loudspeaker. I looked at my friend, pointed out that they had said the same thing 30 minutes ago and continued to shiver. The debate was on…could we just do the whole damn race in a wet suit? You could totally cycle and run in it, right? We watched a couple of (smart) people head in to the transition area, grab their stuff and leave. A few minutes later the instructions came that we would be delaying the start and the Olympic and sprint distances would just be starting closer together. In the meantime, we were to go to our cars to warm up. Yup, that’s right. It was miserable enough that we were sent BACK to the cars because it was too damned cold to be outside.My friend and I huddled in the car, laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation, wondering if, perhaps, we really were insane, drinking coffee and cranking up the heat until we stopped shivering. And then it was time. We wandered down for the pre-race meeting. We figured it was as good a time as any to test the water and see how brutal it was going to be to swim in. Turns out, the water felt wonderful and all the athletes were hiding in it to stay warm. During the meeting, we were dragged out of the water and danced on the sand, our feet freezing to it with every step. As soon as that meeting was over there was a mad rush to get back in to the warmth of the water. The dark cloud and distant thunder loomed in the background, reminding us that we were, indeed, going to do this race soaked, whether we liked it or not.

huddled for warmth

The Olympic athletes were off and our time quickly approached and before I knew it we were off… and I was blind. Anti-fog spray my ass!! I flipped on my back for a bit to try to fix them, breast strokes a few times to get my bearings and then back in to the swim…and then fogged again. Can’t see a thing. No idea where I am on the course. Better fix this…. and then it strikes…

DISASTER 1: The strap lets go. Half way through swim and I no longer have goggles that will stay on my face. CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP. I wear contacts to continuing with my face in the water just doesn’t work. I shove the goggles in my teeth and start breast stroking with my head up through the course, cursing in frustration the whole time. My friend is going to beat me due to goggle failure.  I go racing up in to the transition area just as my friend is leaving. Good, I  can catch her on the bike, it’s not over yet!

Shoes on…jacket on… helmet on…grab bike and GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!! I can see her in the distance and I’m gaining on her. My legs are strong, I can do this. Closer and closer…I just need to adjust my gear and…

DISASTER 2: Bike chain drops. CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP. I thought this problem was fixed!!! Hop off the bike, cursing wildly, pop the chain back on. My hands have a coating of grease that matches both the weather and my mood. It’s ok… I can still catch her. PUSH AND GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. She’s still in my view! I can do this!!! and then… well, they say things come in threes….

DISASTER 3: I can feel the twitching in my hamstring…the tightening of the muscle as it fights the cold. The muscle that may not quite be as healed from the tear in October as I would have liked. No, no, no!!! Not today! Not now!! No seizing!! And I can feel it. And… CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP. I’m off the bike, using it as support to get this damn muscle to release. Good enough. I get back on the bike and tell my leg it’s just going to have to suck it up for a while longer. I look up. She’s gone. Defeat sets in.

First loop of the park done and she sees me as she heads for the second loop. She hoots and hollers, celebrates and laughs. I cry. She has no way of knowing the disaster that has been my race. I head out on the second loop a defeated and frustrated athlete. The rain starts a little again, this time, in ice format, pelting me at every turn. The dark clouds and thunder are closer now.  What’s the point? I’m so far behind I must be dead last in the whole race — totally irrational thought as I have CLEARLY been passing people despite everything going wrong. The downfall to the Birds Hill course is that you can end up quite isolated and I assumed I was so far behind. And then I gave up, slowed down and felt a little sorry for myself for a few minutes. And then that passed.

Eff-it. LET’S GO! In to the transition area, I see my friend just heading out on the run. Holy crap. I wasn’t that far behind after all. Damn. I could have caught/passed her if I hadn’t been acting like such a baby (when the results are posted I discover we were a mere 10 seconds apart in cycling time).  Rack the bike and head out on the running course. I’m a fast runner. I can catch her. I’m running, my legs are seizing, it’s freezing, and then the rain dumps. Full out downpour. You have got to be kidding me. At this point, all I can do is laugh. One of the course officials is cycling along side me, also laughing at the ridiculousness that has been my race but giving words of encouragement as I approach my friend. Along side her, I tell her that I don’t know if I can finish. I can feel the twitching in my hamstring again and I think I’m going to seize. But my slow and icky run suddenly shifts. The muscles in my legs loosen a bit as I pass her. WHEEEEE!!! I’m running, I’m moving, I’m going…. there’s the finish line!!!  WOOOT~~~~

And now all I can do is laugh. And when the results are posted, I’m DFL in my group. But I beat the race that wanted to beat me.

(and still snuck past my friend in the last few minutes)

messy and gross post-race

Oh –and on a side note, I ran the relay with my friend in the Manitoba Marathon this weekend and CRAP was it humid. I thought I was going to pass out the whole time. That means I’ve had a race that was so freaking cold that I could barely stand it and one that was so freaking HOT/HUMID that it was making athletes collapse. That means the next one will be perfect, right?

dead effing last

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