Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Pictures from the triathlon

Bike setup and transition area.

Swim start, you swim around the giant buoys. The buoys are so big so you can site them and stay on course.

Me running towards the end of the race along the beach. Notice the nice alignment of my head to my body. I have pretty decent running posture. Unfortunately, I still swim crooked.

Sunset at the hotel

This isn't me but it is how I look with my shirt off now. Seriously. Sort of.
I'll have my own pictures organized and uploaded soon.
Go here and enter my lucky race number 278 in the upper left hand search box for my official pictures, or look around for general photos: http://www.printroom.com/event.asp?domain_name=photoman&group_id=54

Monday, April 6, 2009

The race

We woke up early and headed down to the transition area. It was full of triathletes, go figure. They weren't smelly though, not yet anyway. I waited in line to get my number stamped on my arms (278) if you want to play the lucky three and then returned to my bike to pretend I knew what to do next. I did a short run, put on my swim cap, and headed down to the water. Nerves, sweat, excitement, good lucks and other such rah rah go teaminess happening.

First out on the swim: professionals. I was in the 2nd wave, men 39 and under. I waited. We started. It was chaos. We were supposed to self seed ourselves so faster participants would be in front. It was chaos. We weren't even 1/4 of the way through and I ran into someone floating on his back. Really, less than a 1/4 of the way through? People kick each other, push each other, I heard rumour of someone biting (might have been a shark in goggles though hard to say). In time, I learned to push, kick through hands on your feet, and you learn to tell the difference between a grab and an accidental brush. It's rough. But I saw a turtle! Maybe the same turtle, still floating between the coral and the sky, watching 900 two feeters (turtle slang for humans) swim overhead. The course was an M shape so as I got tired about 1/2 way through you can hear the crowds chantings, a great motivator. It was also when the women started to catch and pass me, also a great motivator. When you move slow, you can see a lot under water during the stroke, but I digress. I finished the swim 35:40, which I was happy with.

Remember in my last post when I promised myself no water for 15 minutes? I ran up the beach and grabbed a water and a gatorade. And I drank them both. Nutrition plan be damned. I threw the cup, missed the trash can, walked on lava rock to pick up the cups, and nearly passed out when I bent over. I always have a little adjustment after the swim. I got to my bike, put on my shoes, almost fell over again multiple times, remembered they told us to sit to put on our shoes, almost fell over again, the rest room, got my shoes on, and headed out. A 4:29 transition, the winner had a 56 second transition. I might need to work on that.

I got on the bike and I immediately started drinking more water I was out on the road and I noticed my finger was bleeding. My mentor passed me and after cheering me on said, "Oh and you have blood all over your face." I screamed into the wind, "A shark attacked me" but she was already gone. The bike out was great, people passed me, I passed people. Lava fields on the left and right, ocean to the right, rolling hills. Beautiful. Not even 1/4 of the way and I'm almost out of water and my stomach is water logged. Right, that's why I don't drink water right away, now I remember how it feels. Slow down on the water and eat a cliff bar. I hit the bike turn and head back.

No wind. Yeah! I make it to within about 4 miles of the resort and 30 mph head wind! Ok, prepared, keep pedaling. At this point, I'm looking at my watch thinking, I can break 3 hours if I really push it. I figured it would take 1 hour for the run. It's close, so I start pedaling harder into the wind hoping this won't cause quad or calf cramps during the run. I make it into the bike to run transition at about 2:08, 1:29 transition because all I had to do was put my bike up, no fancy bike shoes for me.

50 minutes to break 3 hours, my best case time. I run hard, hit a spot with no wind and realize it's hot. I'm in HI! I'm getting close to finishing my first triathlon. I feel strong, I speed up. My quad cramps up. I slow down. I drink gatorade at mile 2. I feel strong. My quad cramps up. I drink gatorade at mile 3. I figure if I run really hard I still have a shot at 3 hours, feeling great except for the quad cramping, but I seem to be working through it. I pass a few teammates. The last mile or so is through the resort, over a lava rock path most people walk to avoid ankle sprains, past sun bathers, another lava rock path, I can see the finish line down the path, through some trees, and along the beach. If I sprint, I can break 3 hours. Have you ever run on sand? It's horrible. Seriously. All sorts of muscles hurt, especially at that point. But I think about why I'm doing this (Leukemia and Lymphoma S), the pain other people feel, donors and people who believe in me and ultimately I remember that things like this come down to mental toughness. I'm tough. I stop crying like a 7 year old girl and keep going.

I'm running strong again, tears are again streaming down I'm so happy and tired, the turtles are out watching me, whales breaching, a sea gull shatted upon a competitor for me, people take pictures, people cheer, I feel strong again, I finish in just under 3 hours and I'm so happy! I see two camera men for my great finish and I just stare at them as I cross the finish line and they snap my picture. The pictures are horrible, I have almost no emotion in them. I'm like a robot. I should have been like a 7 year old girl. I'm a fool.

Ah well. I have a good happy picture on the bike a moment on the beach locking eyes with a sea turtle before he was so inspired by me he went out and mated. It was a nice day, one of us should have. I finished the run in 50:16 for an official time of 2:59:36. I'm awesome!

Afterwards, I was happy. I ate cookies. I drank beer. That night we danced and drank and we might have kept dancing. It was a great experience and I want to do another. Thank you all for donating and reading this and just being the best yous yous can be.

Go team.

Saturday, 1 day before race

Saturday was our last day to prepare for the triathlon. Dave Scott was a pioneer of the Ironman in the late 70s and 80s and spoke to us for about 1 hour. He gave us advice for open water swimming (since the water is clear, you can orient yourself by looking at the sky when you breath. Not sure how this helped, but I did and it worked. Might have been mental but I'm a smart guy...Our coach confirmed this helps but only because of the clear water in HI and not in the murky bay near San Francisco, which is weird to me because it seems to mean disorienting yourself down in the water and up to the heavens, but I'm a new triathlete and willing to give it up for Zeus and Poseidon if necessary). Anyway, he also kept talking about electrolyte drink this and electrolyte drink that and I thought, hmm, I wasn't planning to use a sports drink. My very carefully thought out plan was swim, wait 15 minutes into the bike ride, drink some water, eat a cliff bar, and take gus/sports chews every 30 minutes thereafter. He said we might want to rethink this as drinks have more sodium which we will need if we sweat a lot. Guilty. Food plan - out the window and mental note to buy an electrolyte drink.

After the talk, our team did a short swim/bike/run. During the swim, I passed over a sea turtle just hanging out over some corral. I slowed down a bit but kept swimming until I heard someone scream, "Turtle! Turtle!" as half the team gave up the swim and hovered over the turtle. We then rode our bikes out of the resort onto the highway, following the actual course. I was flying on the bike thinking I was just going to cruise through the 40 KM ride. I was behind a friend and when she turned all I heard was, "Holy f(#&*#(&ng sh@(*&$t!" which I thought was bizarre. I turned my bike and thought, "Holy f(#&*#(&ng sh@(*&$t!" I was flying with the wind. I was destroyed turning around into it. That's when I started getting nervous, 12 miles into a 30 mph wind? What was I doing?

We did a quick run, tire change clinic, rest, pasta dinner, and mental preparation for the race. This included buying a sports drink and rethinking my nutrition plan and promising myself "No water for at least 15 minutes after the swim" because your body has to adjust to be vertical again. If i drink before that, I get an upset stomach. You have to know your body and trust your nutrition plan. I mentally prepared myself to complete the swim, bike in the wind, and rock the run. I was nervous but ready.

Arrival in HI

We arrived in HI on Friday around noon. It was overcast but beautiful as traveled highway 19 to our hotel. The resort was huge and annoying and there were three ways to arrive at our hotel room: walk, train, or boat. As my friend said as we walked our bike to front lobby for about the 50th time, "How about a f@(*ng bike lane?" as 800 or more triathletes walked bikes back and forth. Maybe I'm not a resort guy.

I had a terrible $18 sandwich before a friend and I walked outside the resort, passed the pool then passed the other pool to sit by the ocean. We saw 2 whales breaching (a new word to me, breaching seems to mean whale jump) and walked into the water. I cut my foot in 3 places on the hard rock, which in retrospect might not have been a great idea. I just thought of the crazy tropical fungus I got in the middle of nowhere Honduras when I could hardly walk and thought, hmm, hopefully. not. Three of us rode our bikes to the store to buy basic supplies, mostly bread to eat before the race, some wheat thins, and of course beer and wine. We drank beer by the ocean and watched the sunset when I saw the first of 3 turtle sightings. There were two turtles just off the shore swimming around, one even flippered out (a term I just made up for when a turtle puts his flipper out of the water) then a turtle put his head out and looked around. A good sign. We biked back to our rooms and called it a day.