Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Playing Catch-Up

Ok, ok... I've fallen behind in my "blogging." I have been busy (really, who isn't?), but I've wanted to report about all these things! Now is the time - this post may fall short of my usual detail, but I need to get back on track.

"Playing Catch-Up" a good title for this update... and an excellent way to describe my performance at the SC 1/2 IM.

My game of catch-up began approximately 20 meters into the swim, ha ha. That's about how long I stayed with the lead pack. I would like to report, however, that I was not the only person to deviate from the elite bunch. Once again, in Lake Greenwood - we were swimming right into the rising sun! I couldn't see buoys, couldn't stay with the fast swimmers, and yup... I went off course. It seemed to take forever to get to that 1st turn buoy. As I made that 1st turn, I was convinced I'd already put in an extra 200 yards or so. Well, I kept my pace steady and reminded myself that it was going to be a long day... no need to stress in the first 15 minutes!

After the 1st turn, I could finally see... and I was headed for the orange straight-away buoy. ***note: you are required to turn on the outside of the turn (yellow) buoys; the straight-away buoys (orange) are for sighting aid, you can pass on either side**** So, the orange buoy passed on my right side and I continued on. The next time I lifted my head to sight, a kayaker had positioned himself right in my path! He was yelling for me to STOP. HUH?! What?!
"You need to go back to that buoy and go around the right side," he shouted.
Well, I put my face back in the water and continued on.
Oh no... he stopped me again... I would have swam right into his boat.
"What is your number... go back to the buoy NOW!" he yelled to me.
"We only have to do that for the TURN buoys... learn your rules!" I yelled back, before I resumed my game of catch-up.

After many many many more strokes... I was able to get out of that darn lake.
Evidently not too worried about transition times (oops!) I jogged to my bike. Had some problems getting the wetsuit off; took a drink from my water bottle; put on socks; made sure the shoes felt comfortable; put on cycling gloves (not easy when you're wet); sunglasses; strapped on the helmet; grabbed the bike.... and then, finally, I left T1.

The next 56 miles are becoming a blur in my memory. Throughout the first 20 miles, I kept feeling like I had to burp... don't know if it was the lake water, or maybe the Red Bull I'd had before the race, maybe a combo of the two? So... I burped/threw-up a couple times. It wasn't nausea... just fluid coming up. Yuck (tmi, sorry). It wasn't a big deal - until I realized that I wasn't taking in enough fluids. I grabbed for watter at the aid stations. Eventually, the burp problem went away.

The ride felt great! It's a pretty rolling (sometimes hilly) course... I was glad to feel strong the entire way. The final stretch of road (heading back to transition) was a mad headwind. I tried to get aero and spin out my legs, preparing for the run. As I got closer to the park, I could see leaders already running... including the lead female - very far ahead of me. As I rode toward T2, I heard someone tell me that I was 12 minutes back. Ok: good news = I'm the 2nd female... bad news = she's 12 minutes ahead.

Well, I had started this race with no "placing" expectations. Finishing amongst the leaders would be icing on the cake. I still had a 1/2 marathon to run! No time to begin goal setting now... finish STRONG!

Running actually felt good. I was not suffering. It felt nice to pump my arms and be upright. My legs were tired, but they responded when I asked them to run. Soon, I found myself behind Jay Hewitt (who I ended up following the whole run) and Pete Edge. I settled into a pace and made it to the 1st 5K mark ahead of schedule. Water, gel, keep running. *The run course at this race is essentially two times out and back.

Turned around and made my way back to the park. Now, I could feel the heat... I wasn't hot, but dehydration was beginning to set in. I started to think about how little I consumed during my ride. I think my body paid for it on the run! If depleted, my legs are prone to cramping... and I could feel the signs. Oh no, please not now!

I'm sure my pace slowed slightly after mile 8. Hum, it was either go a bit easier... or succumb to cramping. Because the run was a straight out and back stretch X 2, I was able to spot people many times. I saw Peter right behind the lead guys... and I saw the lead female, getting closer each time. I was chipping away at her lead, but I was in no physical shape to surge & close the gap.

The last mile was tough - inside the park - and up that AUGH! awful hill to cross the finish line. I had been talking to my legs, asking them to hold off on the cramping. Well, RIGHT when I stopped, they seized and I pretty much couldn't walk. I was smiling, so glad to be finished! AND, proud of myself for coming within 1:30 of the 1st female (making up some serious time... mmm hum, that catch-up game!)

They helped me to the medical tent. Got me hooked up on an IV... and as I was lying there, Peter came over to my cot. He congratulated me on a great race, then asked what I had ordered?! What? He said, "I highly recommend the IV bags, they are Great!"

So, it turns out that a lady, not racing in the Elite division, had a fast day. Therefore, I ended up 3rd OA! I was honestly so excited about the whole day. And I won some $$, not bad.
Lessons learned:
  • seriously, become a faster swimmer
  • learn to sight (sun, what glare? ;)
  • duh! Transitions are part of the race too!
  • drink, don't burp, get fluids down the hatch and keep them there.
  • keeping fluids down on the bike could prevent walking through drink stations on the run.
  • I will do this distance again!

Other happenings since that race:

I realized that I'm way too dependant on Microsoft Office Outlook. If it's on my calendar, I plan for it and show up. If it's not on my calendar, I probably won't be there. If it's noted on the wrong date... I might almost miss my Best Friend's Wedding!

*Ok, a story for another day. I'm going to go clear my head with a short run.... might do a half marathon this weekend.


Alicia Parr said...

Congrats on your race at SC Half! One thing is for sure, I can't keep up with Kelly McLaughlin on the swim either!

Anonymous said...

Ok, Ash...NICE job again on your 1/2 IM. Let's get back and re-focused on #1.....the swim. LOL
:) Jenny

Sally said...

Great race Ashley!!!. I loved reading about it. A couple of important lessons: pushing yourself really helps one grow! lessons are always out there to learn and triathlon friends are GREAT! Congratulations on an outstanding first Half IM - all that hard practice really showed. We're very proud of you. love, Mom