Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Race Report – Lavaman 2009 – Part Three – Saturday, Prerace

I woke up Saturday morning feeling incredibly well rested.  Given that I normally don’t sleep well in hotels, this was a nice change.  Hubby and I got ourselves up and around, and decided to go in search of some breakfast, and find some food to bring back for race day morning.  About a mile’s walk and we found a Subway serving breakfast sandwiches (not bad) and wonder of wonders a market.  I picked up some bagels, cream cheese and bananas for race day and happily headed back to the Hotel. 

We were supposed to meet at the race start at 9:00AM for a lecture by a famous Ironman guy, but I figured 20 minutes was plenty of time to walk back to the hotel, change, and walk to the race start.  After all, I had been told that the race start was ‘right by the hotel’.  Uh yeah.  The race start was actually ‘right by’ the shopping center we had been at.  I was a little shocked when I had been expecting everyone to be up at the hotel and instead I started seeing them walking and riding toward and past me!  I called to one of my teammates, “where are you guys going?” and was told “We have a swim workout at 9:00”

Whaaaaaaaa!?!? I thought the practice was at 10:00!!  And why are you riding past me!? You mean the start is behind me!?

The stress that I managed to shake off during the night came roaring back to full force!  I was going to be at least 20 minutes late for our workout!

The walk back to the hotel, to the room and then back to the swim start was not a pleasant one.  All I could seem to focus on was how everything about this race seemed to be going wrong, from my various aches, pains and injuries, to my bike breakdown and now timing and scheduling.  It felt like the universe was trying to tell me “Don’t do this race!” 

“But,” I kept telling the universe, “I don’t have a choice! I can’t quit now!  People gave money, they expect me to be here, to finish this thing!”

When I found the start area I dropped my bike with everyone else’s, and looked for my team.   A short search found them not in the water, but gathered around listening to a lecture.  Whew!  At least I had one thing correct, the practice swim wasn’t until 10:00, I hadn’t missed it!  I had missed the first half of the lecture though.  I was a little bummed about that because what I did catch was really good.  Dave Scott is a fantastic speaker and had excellent advice for everyone.

Once he was finished we got ready for our first swim in Hawaii.  I think everyone felt pretty good about it.  All the practice swims in the SF Aquatic park when it was 50 degrees and lake Del Valle when it was just at 60 had made us pretty confident in the water.  The announcement that the water temp in Hawaii was a ‘cold’ 77 made us all laugh.  And even from the shore we could see how clear the water was.  

We hit the water joyfully after a few ‘new tips from Coach about sighting in clear water (much easier than the 0’ foot visibility in the Aquatic Park)  me, armed with my Hawaii celebration swim cap.  

It’s ok, you can say it, I’m a dork. What can I say, I used to be a synchronized swimmer and I just couldn’t pass up this retro cap when I found it. What better place to wear it then Hawaii!? Although, later I would regret my little flight of fancy.

The swim coarse was still set up for the kids lavaman from earlier that day so coach told us jut to follow it - a simple out and back, swim out 7.5 minutes and back 7.5.

And so we were off. First thing off the bat, I turned my head to take a breath and got a full face full of water. ICK! Nothing like swimming with salt water lodged in the back of your throat. Luckily, I'm a strong enough swimmer that a little 'spray' in the face didn't bother me mentally, but physically it was a new challenge to overcome. I soon found a good head position that managed to block most of spray and let me get clean breathes. I took coaches advice and sited landmarks along the bottom of the ocean so I didn't have to waste time and energy looking forward as often and just swam. Ok - swam and did some sight seeing. I stopped twice on the way out to check out sea turtles swimming below me.  

I felt a little bad about it until I caught up with one of the faster swimmers on our team, also hanging out checkout out the sealife. It made me feel as if I was doing the right thing, using this time to accustom myself to the water, but also using it as a time to relax my mind - and that's exactly what it was doing.

Finally I focused on my swimming, put my head down and pushed a little. I was a little surprised as how much I got out of myself. All my open water swims before had been in a wetsuit, something I hate. Without the wetsuit I found open water swimming a joy. I didn't want to stop! I was a little disappointed and suprised to look up and find myself facing a wall a swimmers. Apparently the lead swimmers had waited for everyone before turning around and heading back to shore - it was one of the best 'team' moments of the year so far. 

As a group we made it out last the little black and white post out there...

It was great pracrice because when we all looked at the 'real' course the next morning the swim that we had done on this day was almost exactly the second part of the course, it helped alot when rounding the corner to swim back out, to know that "Hey, I did this swim yesterday, piece of cake!"

The swim back to shore was a little more focused for me.  I paused, but didn't stop when I found some turtles, but for the most part I focused on form, on what was working and what wasn't, and just enjoying the feeling of swimming without walls.  I was bummed but elated to finally hit the shore, the swim was deffinatly going to be, MY GAME.

Later hubby told me that Dave Scott had also been swimming with us!  He said he looked great in the water and honestly still looks pretty good in a speedo!

I know people who would like to look like this in a speedo now - never mind at 55...

And then it was off to change and ride our bikes!

I threw on a pair of bike shorts, my TNT shirt, socks and bike shoes and I was ready to roll.  But first, the moment of truth... my back tire.  It 'felt' ok - I walked it over to coach and he verified, it had held air overnight! yay!!  A little 'top up' of my front tire and I was off!

Now it was time to face the deamon.  We had felt the wind all day, but how was it going to effect the bike?!

The ride on the side streets wasn't too bad, but as I approached the highway it could feel the wind start to take my front wheel.  The worse part is it seemed to be really catching on my areo bars!  When I finally hit the turn to the highway I couldn't believe how bad the wind was, I actally had to face my tire into the wind, opposite the way I was turning, to make the corner!  Once I made the turn though everything was alright.  The tail wind made the hills feel like NOTHING.  I coasted up one hill and then another.  Even though I was enjoying 'flying' with the wind, I KNEW I wouldn't like going back.  I found a turn around spot and headed back to our temporary transition, and as expected the wind HIT.  It was like trying to plow up a hill only you couldn't look forward to reaching the top.  I've never had to pedal in lowest gear DOWNHILL before.  And to top it all off - I didn't get to use my areo bars once - all they did was act like a wind catcher and keep trying to flip my front tire the wrong way.  It was such a relief get back into the more sheltered roads.  

As I came into transition I carefully unclipped both feet.  I had a history of bad falls at practice when only unclipping one foot so I had developed the habit of being ready on both sides.  I slowed and got read to make a left turn toward my stuff when I caught movement out of the corner of my eye.  One of the other bikers was coming up fast on my left!  I braked to avoid a crash and then coasted to my spot.  I joked about 'not using my blinkers' to the others around me and then leaned to the left preparing to dismount only to discover... my left foot was still clipped!!! apparently when I had braked I had clipped my shoe back in without realizing it!  

Hubby said later that it was a pretty 'graceful' fall.  I pretty much rolled to the ground and managed to not bang myself up too bad.  The worse of my injuries was a road rash on my left leg.

(what's left of my rash today - 11 days later)

I had certaily crashed harder during practice.  Still it hurt the pride a little to go down like that, in front of everyone.  

I waved off everyone's concern, put on my ankle wrap and running shoes.  The ankle wrap (more like a brace) was my 'secret weapon' against the tendonitis in my foot.  I had worn it a few times while walking and found it really helped to midigate the pain.  I had yet to run with it though and was a little nervous about what I would discover.  The run was a big question for me still.  I was still having trouble just walking from my office to the bathroom some days - how would I handle 6 miles!?

So off I went, with my lumbering run/walk testing the brace, the wind the heat and wondering how I was going to do this tomorrow.

The run was just 10 minutes - 5 out and five back but it told me a lot.  The brace was doing it's job.  It was managing the pain and I wasn't limping.  The run on the lavarocks that was the start of the run course, wasn't going to be easy.  I'm a poor runner at best.  I don't lift my feet high and I have trouble with uneven surfaces.  Plus my ankle is in a brace.  So imagine a path, and on this path someone had taken rocks the size of fists and smaller, and they've covered the entire path with it.  Then, they roughed them up so they grip each other (and your shoe) a little better, but if you do happen to stumble and fall you're going to be a MESS...  yeah - it became apparent to me that even if I had the energy, there was no way I was running the first bit of the run course.  But that was fine, I usually had rubber legs after the bike anyway and the excuse to walk would be welcome :)

The overall feeling after our short practice!?  I was going to make it - I could do this!  Only an act of God could stop me now! :)

After changing up in the room it was time to pick up our race packets.  I went through the various 'stations' picking up my envelope, t-shirt and the like.  As I walked away, bag in hand it fianlly hit me.  I was doing this! I was a 'competator' I was a triathlete.  My three year dream of toeing the starting line was finally coming true.  I stood there choked up for a reason I couldn't really explain.  I have no idea why that was the most emotional point in the entire weekend, but it was.   And I rellish the feeling of pride still.

I spent a lot of time relaxing after that.  Hit to pool for the first recreational swimming in 5 months and enjoyed being on 'vacation'  It felt good.  Went to the race meeting and it ended up being a lot of fun.  I'm sure in a year I'll be sick of pre-race meetings, but for a newbie like me - it was great to have.

Then it was the Team in Training pasta dinner.  Good friends, good company and another lecture by Dave Scott.

After that I hit the room, packed all my stuff for the next day and amazingly enough, fell right to sleep!

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