I've been SO busy at work its been hard to find time to sit down and write...But last weekend we headed out of town to Monroe Michigan and Sterling State Park, the new venue for Racing for Recovery. This was a sprint and 1/2 IM triathlon. I of course was in for the sprint, Kevin, the 1/2 IM. Got into town and picked up packets on Saturday, its a small race... about 200 sprinters, 178 1/2 IMers. The guy that puts this on, Todd Crandell, was at one time a full blown drug and alcoholic. He has written a book about his experiences of which I've read so I was intriqued to do this race. Well had NO clue he would be there to greet competitors at packet pick up... had I known, I would have brought my book and had him autograph it. I really have to admire what this guys life was like and where he is now, to turn his life around like he has is NOT easy.... believe me I know the draw of drugs, been there done that, somehow managed to not get to that level, but have had friends that were not so lucky.
Anyhow we got packets picked up then checked in at the hotel, then headed back to the location to take a swim in Lake Erie... Well I sure the heck was pleasantly surprised at the water temps... its not like it was bath water or anything but it was easily 65/68ish degrees, which with wetsuit is fine... in fact I think I could have easily dealt with water temps without wetsuit but that ole rubber suit does help keep me afloat. So of course the first time you put that thing on its like getting use to it all over again... it took some doing but I did do some swimming.. the water was not rough but not flat either... I realized my sighting skills really suck cause I kept getting off track.... So after an hour or so we headed back to hotel, changed and went for some dinner.
So race morning we had to get up and be there a bit early because there was no racking bikes the night before. They had an area for sprinters and a seperate bike area for 1/2 IMer's - previous races they would not let anyone back into transition until all were off the bike and onto the run, well if your a sprint racer, you could be hangin' round a long time waiting to get your bike - so they changed it up this time round. So we get that done, get marked, potty stops, then down to the water.
Well let me say I've swam a mile in the pool and I was fine but when even half that distance is now laid out before me in one long stretch, you really see how far it is. I was saying to myself man I'm glad I'm doing the sprint cause I don't think I could handle the 1/2 IM swim... 1000 meters for the sprint race laid out in front of me looked long enough. And of course I found myself doubting the ability to swim that far - lets face it open water swimming is entirely different from pool swimming. So we get the instructions on the different courses and then its time for the 1/2 IMers to line up and off they go... Well they would not let the sprinters start until the others were at the turn around. the 1/2 was an L shaped course, they swam out to a FAR marker, turned, came back toward the sprint course... the vertical part of the L was the same course for us sprinters... So now its really starting to warm up, wind is picking up, and I'm getting freakin' warm in my wetsuit - so sticking me feet in the water helped. Finally we sprinters get to go... Well for some reason I totally panicked... I swam a while face in the water, bilateral breathing, no problem, then I got kicked and lost it - rest of the swim was face out of the water, I was totally freaked out and with the wind picking up, the waves were getting a bit larger... so after stroking what seemed like HOURS, I make it to the turn around point... whew 750 down, 250 to go - well the 250 was straight into the waves and wind - I'm sure I drank a bit of nasty water, which panicked me even more. Ah finally I can touch bottom, off with the wetsuit IN the water. It was a little bit of a long transistion and I was tired, so screw it I walked... nothing like seeing a guy bent over the ropes throwing up to keep ya going... I think he swallowed more water than I..
The transition area was tight but I got done what I needed to then off to the bike, my FAV. part. It was a flat course but some areas of the road were not so smooth. The wind was pretty wicked and I could feel myself being pushed sideways on my bike from the winds. All in all I was pretty happy with my bike leg specially when I saw that I avg'd 16.4 mph even with the high winds... I felt bad for the 1/2 IMers 56 miles in 30+mph winds makes for a long bike. Back into transition and off on the run.
The run was a loop around the lagoon in Sterling State Park. It really was a very nice run path and many parts of it were shaded which helped a lot in the 90+degree heat and humidity. The 1/2 IMers also shared this run course so it was stocked very well with water, hammerheed and bananas... I did get a bit concerned that I missed a turn for the sprint athletes though when the only mile signs I see are for the 1/2 IM athletes. And it didn't help when the kids manning the next water stop really had no clue if this was the sprinters course also. I just thought OH well if not, I'm in for a very long run. I really wanted this to be a good run, but I was beat from the swim, tired from peddling against the wind, and the heat and humidity weren't making things any easier... I just did what I could do and kept plugging along.
I'm really ok with not being first in my age group, and while NO ONE wants to be last, I logically don't care about that either (emotionally nother story) - I just keep saying 'hey you are doing something 90% of women 42 yrs old would never consider' and I kept thinking of my friend Nancy and my ex Mike...
See Nancy was celebrating her 49th birthday that day and her 1 yr of sobriety (I'm so happy for you Nancy) so I had Nancy in spirit cheering me on... and my ex Mike, who I remained friends with was truly with me in spirit.... Mike passed away on Oct 20, 2007 - he had a massive heart attack and while cornor results said no drugs were in his system... I know in my heart (and from my life with Michael) that this heart attack was a result of drug abuse, drinking, and being overweight. My thoughts of them kept me putting one foot in front of the other.
THEN I see the finish line... AH I love FINISH lines - they represent a sense of accomplishment, they take away all those doubts I had 2+ hrs ago standing at the foot of the water questioning what the hell I was doing there - I always seem to be able to pour it on at the finish... And when I was done I got my finishers medal and a nice ice cold water soaked towel... and since Kevin was still on the course I didn't have anyone to welcome me in... I just walked over the to shaded picnic/bathroom area, sat down, thought of Nancy and Mike and finishing on a very hot day, and cried... cried cause I was tired, cried cause I wish Mike was still here... I think the heat was getting to me. Once I gained my composure, I headed back to the hotel, showered, packed up, then headed back to see Kevin finish. I knew it had to be a hard day in those conditions for the 1/2 IMer's, but eventually Kevin comes up to the finish and does a little dance on his way in - he can be a nut sometimes.
All in all I'm happy with how I did, of course I always WANT to do better, who doesn't, but I'm just thrilled to be able to be fit enough to do this sport at all. Then came the 5 hr ride home, I think after being in the sun and then a long drive home thru some nasty downpours made me a bit testy... somehow I missed 80/94, wound up on 90, which is ok... but I just wanted to be home at that point. I've decided if a race is more than a 3 hr drive, we stay over the night of the race too. I just think its smarter to go back to a hotel, shower, eat and get a nice sleep and drive home leisurely and well rested. And after Kevin doing the 1/2 IM I was not letting him drive home, he was more beat then me.... I think the sun takes it out of everyone but when your fairskinned and redheaded... it just beats the hell out of you, even with 30+ sunblock.