Monday, August 4, 2008

Excuse me, can you spare 26 seconds please?

I don't know why I get nervous. It isn't like I haven't raced on this course like, say, oh 3 times a year for the past 4 years. I've raced in front of my new teammates at least once already, so that shouldn't be a big deal. Yea, it was going to be hot...but so what...I'm a tropical people...I love the heat. The racks were assigned by wave, so I didn't have to worry about getting there super early to get a good (read: better than fellow age groupers) spot. I mean, this thing should be over and done with in less than an hour and half -- it's not like I'm going to be out there working my ass off all day...

So why do I still get nervous enough to send myself to the bathroom at least THREE times between arriving at the site and my wave going off??

Because this thing should be over and done with in less than an hour and half, less than an hour and 20 minutes....ideally, an hour and 15 minutes. Because I SHOULD be in the top few folks in my age group out of the water. Because, let's face it, I will be bummed if I don't beat my rivals. Because I will be pissed if the person ahead of me is ahead by 20-30 seconds and I don't close the gap.
There are expectations now when I race. Most of which I place on myself...but I know others expect certain things from me as well. And that's pressure...

It's kind of like riding roller coasters or seeing a horror movie. You know that feeling you get in your stomach when you start barrelling down that first steep hill and how it feels like you can't breathe or when the scary music starts playing and the main character slowly peers through the darkened window and you feel chills steal across your skin....the adrenalin starts to flow...and you LOVE it.

It's awesome to feel the click, click, click of anticipation and then the rush of the free fall. It's fun to scream in terror one second and then laugh about it the next. Am I an endorphin and adrenalin junkie? Yes!

As much as you hear me protest about doing a race in the 5 minutes before my wave goes off, multiply that a million-fold to hear how much I actually love it.

I'm weird. I know. Love me or leave me.

So...Jack's Generic. Number 4 in the Texas Tri Series. Here we go.

I arrive in what I thought was plenty of time, yet still had to park in the auxilary parking lot. Wow..I remember when this race just started and you could pretty much park your car right next to your bike in transition. Make my way into transition with all my gear loaded in my pink (surprise again!) backpack. Find my age group rack and immediately spot a very familiar light blue bike and post up about 3 bikes down from that. (I like to know where she's at...) I longingly admire her bike shoes clipped in already in anticipation of her flying mount and make (another) mental note to have someone teach me that crazy thing. Go about my business setting up.

Now you know I'm not a morning person and I was feeling quite sluggish (perhaps it had to do with the "training through the race" philosophy which meant over 100 miles on the bike in the past 6 days, the sprints on Wednesday and over 3 miles of swimming), so I figured a warmup was definitely in order.

Donned my shoes and headed out on the run course. Good news was my foot felt fine! Bad news is I knew I wasn't where I really wanted to be in terms of running since my 6-week running hiatus. After the run, made it into the water for some splashing around in the sea....wait...I thought this was supposed to be a lake...what's with the salty taste in the water? Ew. I figured I didn't want to know and made another mental note to really, really, really try to not take in any water whatsoever.

It was so great to see so many friends and teammates out on the course racing and volunteering. The Riverplace contingent was in full force. T3 blue was EVERYWHERE. And Rogue friends popped up around every corner! YAY!! It felt good to be surrounded by so many people I knew. It was good Ju-Ju.

The swim around the lake is my favorite because all you have to do is follow the cable up top. Just cast your eyes a little bit higher when you breathe and VOILA you have sighted. This works great for the first half of the swim...until you start to run into traffic from the previous waves...then you actually have to sight. Damn.

I lined up in my favorite spot...far outside, front row. Looked across the field of competitors. Ms. Lord. Check. Patricia Murphy? Ah hell. Double check. There's one podium spot gone. Shit. When is she going to move to the open wave anyway? :) I'll just surf on her wake as she cruises through this bad boy I guess.

Logan counts us down....And we're OFF! Little burst in the beginning to get clear of the field, triangulate in on the buoy closest to the first turn and swim. Touch, pull, roll...Touch,pull, roll...I'm gliding, I'm gliding...press with the chest...swimming downhill...touch, pull, roll, touch, pull, roll....swimming with wide arms so as not to cross the center line....glide, glide....touch, pull, roll.....touch, pull, roll. Nearing the first turn. Its just two other caps of my color ahead of me. SWEET! Can I catch them? Maybe one...but not Patricia...she is hauling ass. Buh-bye. I kept after it, but came in 10 seconds behind the second finisher and nearly a full minute (!) behind Patricia. (see..told you she was fast...).

The T3 swim exit volunteer brigade was in full force, but seemed somewhat surprised when I popped out of the water. They were like, "Hey! It's Dionn!!" You were expecting some other black female triathlete today? (Seriously...Leslie wasn't there so I was THE ONLY ONE.) It always cracks me up when someone says, "ok I'll look for you out there" and I respond "I'll be the black one!" I think it catches them off guard, but it always elicits a personal giggle. Sorry y'all. ;) I'm just messin' with ya...

Came into T1..Patricia was long gone...but the second place swimmer was still there..SWEET! I made a speedy T1 and beat her out of transition. YAY! Turns out her T1 was 2:21...mine, 1:42! WOOT!

Hopped on my bike and took off on my super steed. (Yes, Drew, Stacey and the boys at J&As..it IS in desperate need of a bath...I'll clean 'er up...) I wanted to have a strong bike, but leave some gas in the tank for the run since I knew I was going to need some help on that part since I haven't been running much.... but then there was this chick that came by me...and she was in my age group...didn't look like the swimmer I had passed in transition...must be the 4th girl out of the water..

(Tell me y'all do all this mental craziness when you are racing too...right? It's not just me? right? anyone? anyone? Bueller?????)

She and I played leapfrog for probably the first 8 miles or so until I finally let her go. I was burning up a lot of fuel hawking her down and she was just a stronger cyclist than I was...even with my race wheels...sigh...I've still got a lot of work to do...

So mental calculations, 3rd out of the water, passed one in transition, that put me in 2nd, got passed on the bike, back in third. OK. NO ONE GETS PASSED ME NOW. Well..no one from my age group...as this super studette 47 year old went flying by me like I was standing still...uphill..into the wind...seriously.

Went barrelling into the dismount line and got off my bike cleanly. I can't say the same for the gal next to me as I heard a small scream and looked back just to see her struggling to clip out, not make it and crash to the ground. ouch.

Into T2, hurled my bike onto the rack and heard something like "I'd better not see you getting beat by 20 seconds...move it..move it!" YAY ERIN!!! :) Grabbed my gear and headed out onto the run.

Legs felt ok. Not great. Not bad..but ok. I wanted to get to the turn around at the 1.5mile mark in 12 minutes or less and then negative split the second half. That was the plan. I could see the second place girl ahead of me and she was moving steady and strong. I just wanted to reel her in slowly and steadily.

Several times I felt like the gap was closing, but then it would get farther. I didn't have my garmin on, so I'm not sure if I was the one slowing down or she was speeding up. Didn't matter, I kept chugging.

Hit the turn around, quick glance at the watch 10:40. Cool! But I was getting tired. I also wanted to note the time so that when I saw Ms. Lord on the other side I could calculate how close she was...saw her pass by, watch check: 11:40. Ok..math time. (this could be a good or bad thing...) If she continues to run the same pace and it took me a minute from the turn around to get to her...doesn't that mean I have two minutes on her? I couldn't think if that made sense or not..kinda thought it did, but kinda didn't because I don't know what pace she was running, right? If she's currently going faster than I am right now, she'd make up that distance in a less amount of time it took me to do it. Right?

If one train leaves San Francisco traveling at 95 mph and another train leaves Chicago headed towards the other train......

Oh yea...I'm racing...shit...just shut up and run, D!

I looked ahead and #2 looked about...oh....25-30 seconds away from me. Yea. I know EXACTLY what 25-30 seconds away looks like. DAMMIT. I wanted to close it, but I just couldn't muster it. I was hot. and tired. and pissed at seeing 25 seconds. AGAIN. That would be a negative on the negative split. dang.

Just finish strong D. Hold it together and let's have a good strong finish. I mustered up the Don T. Bonk hill, rounded the corner and headed for the finish. There was a gaggle of guys in between me and the tape. Uh, I don't think so fellas. Sorry. Chicked them at the finish to cheers from the T3 team. Mo later told me he knew I sped up at the end so I would have a good finishing picture with all those guys in the background! I can't wait to see if he was right!!

Final Stats:
Swim: 8:22 (1:40/M) -- I think that's a swim PR! YAY TPR!
Bike: 42:20 (19.6mph) - respectable, but not stellar
Run: 24:22 (8:07/M) - not my finest moments

Total Time: 1:17:48
AG Place: 3rd
Gender Place: 17th

I'll take it!!!

Oh...in case you were wondering...2nd place time? 1:17:22. Told ya.

And again a big thanks to all the volunteers out there: Shorey, Tim, Carri, Erin and the T3 team. Y'ALL ROCK!!

6 comments:

Shorey said...

Great report! You probably think too much while racing. JUST RACE, and that 20-30 secs that always plagues you will vanish.

Oh, and I'm sorry (again) that I slapped your ass so hard during the run...

Erin said...

you know, 26 seconds is actually a long time in a race. nice work... and now you get to be on the t3 wall of fame! :)

Erin said...

Hey Dionn, it's the other Erin :o) You did a fantastic job, kudos on a great race and a top 3 finish! All of that on legs that went 100+ miles on the bike in the week prior, whew! I would have been toast. You are awesome!

Tri to Be Funny said...

Your pre-race description is freaking dead-on!! Hell, I had to hit the bathroom twice just reading it because you got my tummy all in knots!!!

Great race and way to represent our age group!!

IP Maggie said...

wow! awesome job!! reading what goes thru your head cracks me up!
way to go on the speedy T1, and the swim PR!! and a big congrats on getting hardware!

....and...oh...I've never thought to sight off the cable!! brilliant! I'll have to try it next time!

Spider63 said...

great results, great effort!