Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Catching Up and True Confessions

WOW! Did this last month fly by or what?

The days are micro-mini now -- leaves are or have peaked -- summer clothes have been put away and sweaters are in the drawers (just in time for Indian Summer!!).

Ironman WI 2010 (IMWI10) feels like a blink ago, though, and Ironman Wisconsin 2011 (IMWI11) feels like a long, long, long way away.

I've had plenty of time to examine, slice, dice, examine, re-examine and post-mortem exam my day, which add up to this short summary:

I was a bit off from the getgo that day. I was a bit crabby on the way to the race; was pissy about the "happy people" that were sharing my transition rack (and even pissier when I spilled Infinit all over my aero bars as I was filling up my bottle, so they got sticky); my swim ended up being the easiest part of the day (surprise, happy, happy surprise); I had a hard time getting comfortable on the bike going out to the hills; used a new bento box that would not stay properly on my bike, which annoyed the crap out of me; the first loop of hills went surprisingly well; the second loop did not; and then, there was the run:

As I mentioned earlier, I got off the bike and my nutrition plan went all to pieces. Nothing appealed to me, so I really got very little calories in. It was just a matter of time before the "no energy" got me to that very ugly space in my head which I was really unable to get over.

In talking with my coach a few days after the race, we really discovered that my nutrition meltdown started before I got to the run. I thought I had had enough while on the bike, but I was short on calories. Way short.

He told me though, that I really did have a lot more gas in the tank than I thought -- or would give myself credit for -- or would allow.

He and Pam, another super, great triathlete he coaches, had been following me and Nat along the course. When I was out on the run, they knew exactly what my pace was. At one point, when I was doing the "how much time left before midnight" math in my head and unable to get it to add up, Pam sprang out of now where to tell me that if I could pick it up by about a minute per mile, I'd have the race.

I ended up picking it up by over 2 mintues per mile for several miles. I got to the half way point with time to spare, but not much time. One of the race officials came up to me as I was making the turn and said "You know you are cutting this awfully close....".

"Yes, I know".

"Well, keep going. You have a little more than an hour and a half to get to mile 19. If you get there, just keep going. If you see me there waiting for you, you know your day is done.".


And then I got in to a very dark place.

So, if I honestly assess, the real problem was my head.... was the fact that I just couldn't get the negative stuff out and away.

At one point about mile 14, the pace bike was behind me. I was the last person out there that they considered having a slight chance of making it. I turned to him, with my feet moving forward, and said "What happens if I want to quit?"

The man on the bike said "You just stop and we take your chip and you are done".

I kept moving forward.

By that time, though, I had pretty much convinced myself that I was only going to go until they pulled me off the course.

I just kept moving forward. Walking a lot; running a little.

I got to Camp Randall for the second time and there were only three people in the stadium: two officials and Bill.

Bill had been the last official finisher at IM WI 2009 and I became his personal mission. He was determined to make me make the cut off.

I was having nothing of it.

Although in retrospect, and I was able to tell him this during the run, he was doing a very kind and noble thing by trying to encourage me to run faster, walk quicker, take less breaks, and that "I could do it", all I really wanted to do was to make him go away. Far away. Far, far, FAR away.

And yet, I kept moving forward.

By the time I was between miles 18 and 19, knew I was very close to the cut off.

There was a huge part of me that didn't want to miss the cut off and a part that wanted to just be done.

My coach found me again at this point and followed me (on the sidewalk). He was a much better motivator than Bill was (who was also still out there pushing me along).

As I was running up State Street to mile 19 (and I was running), I saw the race official...and I was bummed. I got to him at 10:32, missing the cut off by 2 minutes -- and the finish by seven miles.

I turned to my coach and said "It's okay. It's really okay".

He told me he was very proud of me and that next year would be my year.

Bill? He dissapeared like a thief in to the night to who knows where, although I'm pretty sure he just went to find his next mission, who was probably a little bit ahead of me on the course.

There was another man behind me that got to mile 19 about the time the official was taking my chip off my ankle. He got pulled from the course too and we both got a ride back to the finish.

We rode past Natalie, who was less than a half-mile from the finish line. She was looking very strong still. I was incredibly proud of her. I called out to her and told her my day was done and that I'd meet her at the finish line.

The very nice volunteer who drove us to the finish area dropped us off at the Med Tent and I walked to the finish line, where Hubby and a couple other friends were working the finish line as catchers.

One of my friends saw me and then told Hubby I was behind the finish area. He came up to me and gave me a huge hug and told me that he was sorry I didn't finish, but that he was proud of me.

And then we saw Natalie finish. She rocked it! I was -- and am -- so very happy for her!

I was very mad at myself and very okay with what happened all at the same time.

I'm not sure why I couldn't just buckle down and get it done, but I just couldn't (didn't?).

But you know, there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

Stay tuned for Part TWO....


IronSnoopy said...

Glad to see you back. :-)

Nutrition meltdown + dark thoughts are devastating. BUT you're heading back for round two, and it sounds like you're doing a lot of autopsy on your race. You'll figure it out. Waiting for round two...

Badgergirl said...

Such an honest post.

Sorry to hear about the failed nutrition and dark thoughts that plagued you during the run. But it sounds like you've kind of come to terms with it and by September 2011 you'll be ready for round two.

Looking forward to hearing about the next part of your journey.

Beth said...

So glad you are back! Not enough calories will do anybody in, but you fought hard and accomplished so much! Your swim was great and you hung tough on that hilly bike course. Now you can take all you have learned and think about next year. It will be yours!

Sunshine said...

Congratulations on what you did do!!

Tom said...


Cutoff or not you are just amazing. Like it or not, this was your first experience with this race. Sounds like you have plenty of motivation, and should be more comfortable in 2011. Heading back says a lot more than this year's result.


shenx said...

Welcome back, glad to see you back. Thanks for the great post.