Ironman Augusta 70.3
Sunday, September 29, 2013
Swim: 1.2 Miles (28:22)
Last Year: (29:15)
Bike: 56 Miles (3:17:12)
Last Year: (3:08:26)
Run: 13.1 Miles (3:05:37)
Last Year: (2:49:23)
Total Time: 7:03:44
Last Year: (6:36:44)
Suffice it to say, “I did better last year.”
Oh, the negative self-talk we triathletes say to ourselves. It has begun. Maybe if I didn’t do any of the same races twice… Stop it, stop it, stop it…
And let me tell you… I earned that time. And I am proud of it.
The Pre-Race Ramblings
Pre-Race Attitude Problem
I have been in a kind of slow burn-out since Ironman. That ridiculously long race took so much out of me… not as much physically as emotionally and psychologically. The fact that my body gave up on Mile 13 of the marathon, and my heart and brain carried those 200 pounds to the finish, just in time… well, that means my damn heart and mind are just worn out.
Those two tiny organs… carrying that much flesh to a finish line. Poor things.
Coach Monster had envisioned Augusta being my “A” race of the season. That Ironman Coeur d’Alene was the big race, but Augusta would be the “fast” race for me. Fast. Kind of a relative term. I was secretly rebelling against this, I think. Folks like Monster can have “A” and “B” races. All of my races are “A” – in that they take ABSOLUTELY everything to ACCOMPLISH. A. A. A.
Ironman was the “A” race. It took everything I had.
Not to mention a 70.3 is still a ridiculously long race. A. A. A. And really, I felt that I had nothing left for Augusta. Not to mention all the stress we’ve got going on in life —triathlon aside. Sheesh.
Admittedly, my attitude stunk a little. But I was trying. So many friends and SBM army members were showing up to the race – and I wanted to be joyful and put on a good, positive attitude. Plus, a smile never hurt anyone, eh? 🙂
Also, I had taken the time to get the kiddos some treats to hand out on the course. My race belt was full of candy, toys and harmonicas. I hoped that handing out goodies on the course like a circus clown would make up for the fact that I missed the kids’ “high fives” on the Ironman finish. #stillhearingaboutthat
The Day Before
The Expert and I drove down to Augusta after the kiddos had their belt test for karate. We were tired and stressed on the road. The kids were nuts in the car. It was just one of those days as a parent…
We arrived at the race hotel and expo and did the registration thing. Highlight of my day was this guy. That’s right, Dr. Miracle Man Hands.
Zoomed through the race expo. I was just a total pre-race space cadet. I didn’t even buy a race t-shirt. I always buy a race t-shirt. What in the…
I did get to spend some time with one of my athletes, Bree. This was her first half Ironman, and I was super excited for her. We had not actually met in person before, so that was very fun.
The Expert and I had two hotel rooms. Originally, my parents were coming to the race. But they too had suffered Ironman burn-out and decided to skip the race. So the Expert and the Swim Bike Boy Kid had a room, and I bunked with my fashionista Swim Bike Girl Kid. She and I had gone to sleep about 8:30, but I tossed and turned until midnight. Mostly because the little stinker was snoring. She gets that brown hair, good looks and snoring from her father.
Wake-up came early. As it always does in triathlon.
I had such a great morning, though.
After taking all of our stuff to transition, the Expert and I parked near the swim start and coaxed the kiddos into having a nap. We put the boy child in the back with his alligator (toy) and let him roar and bounce around. The rest of us got a little shut eye.
We all started off the day tired.
And the Expert… with another round of sherpa-ing to do for the old ball-and-chain… he took a small beauty sleep.
We all snuggled in the car, and then experienced front row seats for this awesomeness…
At 7:30, it was time to get out of the car.
My F30-34 swim wave was at 8:52, and there were potty stops to be made, SBM friends to meet (Sara who came all the way from Iowa!) and more potty stops.
The Swim Bike Kids totally photo-bombed every picture.
Our daughter kept asking him, “Daddy, how do you know all these girls?”
You can imagine what he said. “Oh, the ladies love me” or something to that effect, I’m sure. Silly Expert.
If you need a fast swim, Augusta is the race for you. Wetsuit legal most years with an amazing current, you can’t beat it. We had the third largest women’s group (ages 30-34). Last year, we jumped off the dock and swam out and treaded water and waited on our wave start. This year, the current was too strong, so the horn went off and then we jumped of the dock – time started immediately.
I decided to sit on the edge of the dock and be one of the first in the water. I feel confident in the swim most days, and even when people crawl over me, I would rather the tiny girls crawl over me if necessary… then have the freight train of me crawling over them.
Check out this awesome pic from SBM friend, Kelly… her husband was volunteering on a jet ski and scooted in to take the shot.
The fun thing: no one crawled over me. Yay. Okay, it was still a busy swim. There was a point where I thought, “Okay, this seems like I’m back in the Ironman race.”
And check out this awesome shot. Through process of elimination and based on the fact that I’m the only fool in a full-sleeve in that position, I think…
Nothing eventful about the swim. Except it’s a half Iron swim and awesome. And splashtacular.
Staying towards the left side helps get you in the faster current stream. However, even when I start far left… I always migrate far right. Want to be close to shore, I guess. And couldn’t get back over to the left. Not sure what’s up with that.
Still had a pretty fast swim in 28:22, and knocking almost a minute off last year’s time.
Out of the water, and into T1.
I tried to move with a purpose, and I seemed to do pretty well, getting out of T1 in 6 minutes.
I took the time to put on socks because the morning was chilly. At the last minute, I decided against the jacket and arm warmers. I was hot getting out of the swim in the full-sleeved wetsuit. I would recommend a sleeveless if you have one. I’ve worn both, and definitely liked the sleeveless better for this race.
I was comfortable on the bike course, and kudos to Augusta for paving some of the roads. Definite improvement in the first 16 miles.
And what a beautiful day. Seriously, couldn’t have been better weather. Except I forgot sunscreen. Ouch.
Augusta was hillier than I remembered. The first 14-16 or so miles are relatively flat, as are the last 5-6. There’s also a good stretch of flat after Mile 35ish. But in between all that, there are some decent hills. None of which are close to the easiest that CDA threw at us, but still, a solid, hilly course. If you are thinking about doing Augusta as a newbie, get in some hill training, for sure. But don’t fear the hills. Just prepare for them and know they will be there, looming on race day. They are conquerable, but don’t be lazy about them (ah-hem, one of my lessons learned).
At Mile 16, on a climb, I swallowed a large insect of sorts. Then I started coughing and wheezing. (“OMG, was that a bee? What if it’s a bee and said bee stung my esophogus and now I am in anaphlactic shock due to my bee allergy…” …Just call me Positive Patty.) It took me a good five minutes before I was certain that I was okay. Lovely.
Right about this time, a fellow racer passed me on the left and recognized me as SBM, said “hi” and we chatted very briefly. Just enough time for her to pass and me to explain that I couldn’t really talk because I had swallowed some bug.
About 5 miles down the road, I could see the rider was pulled over.
I shouted, “Are you ok?” She had a dropped chain.
For a split moment, I was like, “She’ll be fine…” But as I passed, I heard her say, “I don’t know what to do.” Before I heard that, I thought I’d just keep going… but at that comment, I squealed to a halt and hopped off my bike. No way. Not gonna leave her there. Got her back moving again sooooo quickly – like 2 minutes max.
Two things that impacted me most:
1) I was ashamed that I thought for even a second not to stop and help. Of course, I should stop! I’m not qualifying for Kona here. She’s one of us! I was telling the Expert at dinner, “I’m sure someone would have helped.” And he said, “You don’t know that.” And that hit me like a ton of bricks. His words, plus the experience of helping someone on the course, impacted me big time. I will ALWAYS stop. What is a few minutes?
2) As we were getting her back on the bike she said, “Fixing my chain was the one thing I didn’t practice.” Which I loved about her, because she was a good student of triathlon. And that’s awesome. We both rocked. I can say that with pride. Even as she blew by me on the run and I said, “I help you with your bike and you crushing me on the run is the thanks I get?” She laughed and I was glad to see her again. 🙂 #GoUs
As far as the hills, if I could count the number of real climbs, I would say there are 5 “good” (or bad) ones. A few where you’re like, “Alright. Time to stop all this climbing nonsense.” The course is hilly, but it’s manageable.
Half Iron is about the slow burn. You can’t go balls out as a beginner. You must go slow-ish, and keep the ability to finish strong. It’s a tough place to be. I think you earn it or lose it on the bike. Still a great bike course.
Glad as always to get off the bike. I moved a little slower in T2. My nutrition was not super on the bike. And I wasn’t feeling that great. I was also beginning to feel very hot. I hadn’t bothered with sunscreen. Not sure why. I am pasty by nature, and I know better.
Augusta has one of the best run courses out there.
As I looked back on my time for the run, I fell out of my chair when I saw my first mile was a 10:12 pace. I wasn’t trying to run fast. (And for the record, 10:12 may not be fast for you… but 10:12 is like a world record for me). Of course, this speed drastically fell off the planet pretty quickly…
On Mile 2, I had a bit of a problem.
During this race, I wasn’t very… me.
I didn’t feel super excited. There was none of this “yay, I love triathlon” and “wahooo, I love this stuff,” and little “yay, swim bike mom.” Instead, I was having more of: Why in the hell am I doing this? I hate this. I am miserable. I hate this. I HATE THIS.
At that time, someone ran by me: “Swim Bike Mom! You’re the reason I’m out here doing this! Thank you!” I smiled and hugged her and thought, “Crap. I have to keep going. Me and my stupid blog.“
This happened over and over again. I would start to hate every second, and someone else would call out to me. It was incredibly humbling . Incredibly humbling. And motivating. The “Army” reached out and held up its so-called Fearless Leader. I was weak, and you guys got me through the race. And I am thankful. So thank you.
I actually stopped no less than 10 times and walked/hugged/cheered/greeted SBMs on the course.
It was so awesome. SO awesome.
I have no other thoughts about the miles….
Brought the run home with a huge relief, and a third half Iron under my race belt.
1) Attitude of Gratitude:
The positive self-talk and outlook really does matter in a race. This might be the first race where I felt terrible and negative inside my head, and man, it made the race that much more difficult. Why not err on the side of gratitude? A question for myself.
So much to be thankful for…
2) Hugging the Family:
While I may have finished 10-15 minutes faster without stopping and hugging and handing out treats, I am pretty sure no one out there is trying to let me onto their Pro Team.
The few moments I spent with the kids – I think they’ll remember that. (“We went to Mommy’s race and she stopped and gave me a giraffe!”)
At least I hope so. Augusta had FIVE times for me to see the munchkins and Expert on the run course. And I stopped each time, and hugged and talked and handed out fodder from my race belt.
Was totally worth it, and what a boost I received!! To get kid kisses in a race? Awesome. Especially when Stella goes, “Mommy, you look good, but you kinda smell bad.”
Then, I loved when people shouted out, “There’s the Swim Bike Kids!” Hilarious.
3) Listen to the Lessons:
My son, James, was so impressed with this triathlete’s “robot legs” and Stella could not stop talking about him on the way to school this morning. What amazing lessons triathlon can teach.
I love the Expert for taking this picture and taking the time to explain to the kiddos what an act of awesomeness they witnessed.
I was on Mile 8 when I had the pleasure of seeing this amazing paratriathlete.
And it made me reconsider the constant whining that had been happening in my head. Seriously reconsider my attitude. And I turned it around right then and there. Perspective is a hard thing to learn and keep on a consistent basis. But it’s so necessary to try.
4) Respect the Race:
I harp on this all the time. And I failed to respect the race as much as I would have liked to respect it. Now, trust me when I say that I did not underestimate the pain/distance/horror that is 70.3 by swim, cycle and foot. But I didn’t give the distance the reverence and pre-planning that it deserved. Which is because of the next lesson….
5) Respect Yourself:
I had spiraled into a good, solid few weeks of self-sabotage. I wasn’t caring about my diet. I wasn’t caring about my attitude. Just a bad few weeks. Which we all have, from time to time. And I am learning that a few bad days/weeks is okay. That it doesn’t require, “Meredith, you are a big fat sad sorry stinky loser.”
I deserve more than that.
We all do.
It’s about the journey and the steady progress over time.
The Expert likes to remind me of this… he being a scientist and all that… and the fact he likes graphs. He is forever “plotting” my progress on imaginary graphs in the air, and making me look at them. Yes, I ate crap and didn’t do so great for three weeks.
But I also failed to respect all the hours and days and weeks of hard work that I have put into triathlon for three years. I was like, “Eh, I blew it.” In three weeks. Because I didn’t bother to respect myself and my journey … I carried the yuck into my race, which impacted my respect for the race. I almost felt as if I hadn’t trained for the race and didn’t care. Horrible. And I know better.
So much of my self-worth is wrapped up in what I ate today. And yet, I’ve never in my life been thin and super-fit and 145 pounds. EVER. So basically, I have spent my entire life beating myself up for… being me.
And I can’t acknowledge that I look just fine as I am, and I can do half Ironman races, and that’s pretty damn awesome. It’s a battle and I want so badly to get over it. So part of my next lesson is to do that…
I have never been capable of acknowledging when it’s time to step back and breathe and take a break.
Augusta taught me one big lesson: it’s time to step back and breathe and take a break. I need to figure out what I want out of my life, out of triathlon and find a balance. I want to spend some time supporting the Expert in his goals. I want to take my kids to some kid races (Stella is stoked about racing; James, not so much. But either way, it’s a good lesson for them to see these types of things). (As of tonight, I have already a GREAT one planned with the kiddos- super excited!!!) ….but, I want to find a happy place within myself, my inner yoga room, and stay there for a while. I want to live in my own green grass and not give a crap what’s happening over in Green Lot #45 next door.
For instance, today I had the day off work. And I didn’t touch the laundry.
I came in from Augusta last night at 8:30 and jumped immediately into laundry and cleaning, and then I thought, “WHAT AM I DOING?” Take a damn break, Mere. Breathe.
So today, I did.
Woke up. Put on dirty clothes. Took kids to school. Came home. Formatted photos, worked on race report. Had lunch with Sweet Red. Came back and worked on my race report. And had dinner with that handsome man of mine and the kids.
I’m slowing down. Period. Somehow.
7) Nutrition & Hydration:
I didn’t do a great job on this Sunday, but that corresponded to my failure to fully respect myself or the race. “I feel like a loser, so I will deny myself Salt Sticks.” Idiotic, I know.
8) Finding the Happy Pain Cave:
One of the best places in any race, for me, is when I start to hurt so badly that I completely disappear inside my brain for a span of time. Then when I emerge, often several miles has passed. I call it the Happy Pain Cave.
When I saw the amazing paratriathlete on Mile 8, I was able to find my smidgen of good attitude and go in to the Happy Pain Cave. I emerged around Mile 11. Holy Smokes, only 2.1 miles to go!
Interestingly, I made the discovery that, in order to get into the Happy Pain Cave, one is required to pay a toll.
And the toll?
Once I recognized the good things and the blessings… the Happy Pain Cave said, “Thanks for your deposit, and you may now enter.“
9) Enjoy the Finish:
Something about this finish was equally as sweet as Ironman. I think because I remembered to stop and hug the kids. Which was the sweetest thing ever.
But also, because this final race of the tri season represented a heck of a year —-not only for me—- but for my entire family.
We have experienced everything from job loss, moving (twice!), litigation, a hell house, maritial difficulties and more. To cross another finish of a 70.3 was a nice, solid exclamation point on the year. And as the Expert said, “Continuing to do triathlon amidst the difficulties is what makes the real life changes. That’s what the kids will see and remember.”
Gosh, he’s a wise one. Dude needs to write a book.
10) I’m Sorry:
Finally, I apologize if this race report is less than inspiring or stellar. Working through stuff in my head is tough when I want to say happy things. I am proud of my finish. I still think 7 hours to travel 70.3 miles is super great. So I am not discounting that. Trust me.
I love you guys and I hope you know that I am working through my negative nellies.
And YOU ROCK!
“You can spend your whole life building
Something from nothing
One storm can come and blow it all away…
….Build it anyway
You can chase a dream
That seems so out of reach
And you know it might not ever come your way
…Dream it anyway…”
Everyone has a story.
Thank you ALL for the well-wishes, the inspiration and the support.
And CONGRATS to so many of you out there on the course… fighting the good fight and your own battles and reasons for tri-ing. What can we do? Oh that’s right…
Just Keep Moving Forward.