Thursday, September 2, 2010

Back at Iron Girl....feels like home

Iron Girl Boulder Race Report

My, what a long, strange trip it’s been. I don’t think I’ve written a proper race report in years – at least, not since I left my “Tridivas” and started anew in Colorado. Since then, I’m definitely not the same athlete I was when I left. I’ve had a knee surgery that kept me out of commission for a few months, 9 months of pregnancy, and a pretty terrible post-partum recovery.

At four months after the birth of my son, I entered Iron Girl Boulder on the least amount of training I’ve ever had: one mock triathlon 3 weeks prior, one 25-mile bike ride, a few runs on the treadmill and around the neighborhood with the stroller, and 3 days a week of P90X over the lunch hour. Insanity! Yet I still wanted to race, because somehow I needed to prove to myself that I still had it in me.

I got up at 3am, and this time, instead of throwing on my clothes, grabbing a cup of coffee, and running out the door, I had a little more prepwork involved. In order to squeeze the girls into my faithful Fiona, I had to pump for 20 minutes first! Never in a million years did I ever think….. Well, I got out the door around 3:55am, and arrived at Boulder Reservoir at 5am. Parked the car, grabbed my gear, and then checked in at the tent where I got my timing chip and bib. You know you’ve been there and done that when you skip the swag tent!

I set my things up into transition pretty quickly – not a great rack placement at all, but since I didn’t come up the day before, this was what I had to work with. After setting up, hitting the porta potties, and checking out the swim course, I headed back to the car to….you guessed it….pump one more time so that I continued to comfortably fit into Fiona until after the race.

After my pump break, I was back in transition to chat with the coaches from my old team, hang out with my old college pals, and chat up the girls from work who were doing the race. 4 people in total I was going to try to beat. On no training.

At 6:50am, they cleared us out of transition and encouraged us to go down to the swim beach. I sat on the grass and put my wetsuit on, then went into the practice area and swam for a minute….yep, I can still swim. I then lined up with my wave, and before I knew it, I was staring down the first buoy.

The swim was short – under 500 meters, so I knew it was going to be a real gut-buster because everyone would be sprinting the entire way. I lined up in the second row, and when the Aflac duck went off, I just went for it. Stupidly!!! By the first buoy, the people in back were starting to catch up, and they were grabbing, kicking, clutching….you name it. It was the roughest swim I’ve ever hard, aside from almost dying in the ocean at Pendleton. When I rounded the second buoy, I started to have a quasi-panic attack. My lack of swim training (hello, I stopped at 35 weeks pregnant and had one 800 meter swim under my belt from 3 weeks earlier!) really freaked me out when I looked at the shore and realized how far out I was. So I thought of a song – You’re So Gay by Katie Perry – and just sang it in my head….over and over and over. Somehow, I managed to come out of the water in a somewhat decent time. There was at least a 1-1.5 minute run up the beach to the timing mat, so I’d say I swam about a 1:40/100 meters?? Final time was 8:55 and put me just outside of the top 1/6thswim times. Not as good as usual, but we’ll take it!

I ran into transition and had a pretty stellar transition for me. Sunglasses, helmet, shoes, bike….and out we went. I pressed start on my Garmin, crossed the mat, and then promptly ran into a girl who had stopped right outside the mat! I fell into my bike, stepping right in the middle of my tire spokes. Shit! I was stuck. I had to reach in, take my shoe off, then put it back on in order to get out of the tire spoke. I moved my bike to a corner of the road, then proceeded to get on, but when I clipped in, there was no resistance! I looked down, and my chain was hanging off the front gears. Geeze!!! So I tried to back pedal and get it to catch, but my first attempt failed. Fortunately for me, the second attempt was a success, and over 2 minutes after this whole ordeal happened, I was on my merry way.

The course was 17.3 miles….the Boulder Sprint course, if I recall correctly. It’s a slow uphill to Highway 36 and to Neva Rd., but then a blazing fast downhill for the majority of the ride. I did the course 5 weeks after knee surgery last year in 1:01, so I knew I could finish on minimal training. How fast?? Well, that was certainly a good question. I got passed quite a bit heading up to Highway 36 – stuck at 14 mph, and secretly cursing my lack of conditioning. Granted, I did my fair share of passing, but I expected that considering most of the field started before me!

I managed to spot my cousin Kristen and her hubby Greg coming down from their apartment off 36th, so I waved to them and told them this was the dumbest thing I’ve ever done. J Then I motored off and that’s when the downhill started. I was holding 26mph the entire time, and it was a great feeling. Lots of farmland, horses, and shade along the course --- it made me happy that I’d decided to do this race, because I do love the bike. And I had fun changing positions with another racer the entire bike ride. She was a solid climber and downhill rider, but sometimes she’d peter out and I’d pass her, but then she’d pass me right back 5 minutes later. I got her in the end, but she took off on the run and I never saw her again!

Coming back into transition, I was pleased with my time. Sub 56 minutes according to my Garmin. 58 minutes according to the race clock. Damn fall. Hooray for auto pause! My Garmin says my average was 18.3 mph for the course. You know what? I’m going to chalk that one up to “pretty damn good” on no training. I’ll take it!

I had a great transition – dumped my gear, put on socks, sneakers, grabbed my hat and race belt and just boogied out of transition. I felt strangely good at this point, so I ran up the hill and put my hat and belt on. And then I felt it. The shortness of breathe…… Lack of cardiovascular training. And then I had this mantra float into my head, “you are four months postpartum. You have an excuse!” And somehow I allowed that to justify my walking breaks. Yes, I did try to run off and on……but I kept telling myself that just being there was enough of an accomplishment, so that really took the desire to go until I vomited and squashed it. Friend from college #1 passed me right before the turnaround, and at that point, I decided to try to get my act in gear. She was 5 minutes behind me – how in the heck did I give up that much time? Shame on me! So I picked it up, and tried to run…..but it wasn’t pretty.

There’s something about pushing a baby out of you for 3 ½ hours that kind of makes it hard to run for a good long while. Your lower pelvis area feels as though it’s been kicked really hard; you feel as though if you continue, your insides will pour out of your gut! Yes, it’s that weird. So sometimes I get a little “gun shy,” if you will, and back off. So this is what happened in part during the last part of my race. My hips hurt, and I was out of breathe.

Yet I did manage to sprint the last 1/8th of a mile to the finish line, and I still remember the rush of that “kick” I managed to find. The announcer said my name and I was like, “YES! I am BACK!” Of course, the race clock was at 2:06 or something ridiculous….people had finished before I even got to the run……so it wasn’t like a “yes, I am back and I am good” kind of exaltation. More of a “thank goodness I can bear children and still exercise! There is hope!”

No vomit at this finish line….and nobody there cheering me on, either, but I was okay with that. Grabbed my water, my disgusting Gatorade substitute (they had it on course and I barfed it up the whole way), and then headed for a little walk in the shade. Was joined by college friend #2, who I HAD managed to beat, but not by much, and only because she had an upper respiratory infection. We chatted for a while and then talked to her sister, who had beaten us by over 10 minutes….. and then I left them to go force myself to eat something….where I met up with the work girls. One had beaten me by 10 minutes, and I had managed to beat the other.

So, 2 out of 4….could’ve been worse, right? I was something like 50/120 in my age group and 220/660 overall. I was slightly disappointed, but then I thought to myself, that’s not too bad for racing cold turkey when you are 20 lbs above your racing weight and still trying to recover from childbirth.

And with that, I am going to try to be happy with this race. Because it proved to me that with a little grit and determination, you CAN do anything, and even though a baby makes it harder, it’s certainly not impossible. Next year? I’m gonna beat 4/4, so watch out!

Of course, now that I've seen the official race photos, the site of my fat body makes me want to vomit and I am all the more amazed at what I have been through now. Tomorrow: starvation begins, with or without the milk supply.

1 comment:

SixTwoThree said...

Yay! Congrats girl! You're back at it. I would've been ecstatic, over-the-moon with those swim and bike times! Interesting way to get pumped up for a race, huh?