“We must believe we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.” – Marie Curie.
To be honest, I didn’t want to write this post. I’ve been feeling an overwhelming amount of emotions, mostly embarrassment, sadness, and even some depression. I’ve thought about what happened, I’ve wondered how I let it happen, I’ve thought about people I’ve let down. I’ve swirled in the negative emotions since Sunday, but now it’s time to let them out and let them go. I have bigger dreams ahead and it’s time to focus on those.
The build into this race was probably the best three weeks of training I’ve ever had. I’ve been swimming some serious sets in the pool, finally found my speed again running, and had been doing some crazy things on the bike. I knew I wouldn’t be as recovered going into Syracuse this year but I tried to be positive and get excited to open my 2016 triathlon season.
Needless to say, all week I felt like a whale. I felt huge, sluggish, exhausted and seriously emotional. It didn’t help that it was my birthday the Wednesday before and I kept being paranoid about what I was eating, drinking and lord knows what else. I wasn’t sleeping and definitely wasn’t recovering. It was probably the most negative week I’ve had in a long time.
BTW, my birthday was incredible. I felt so loved.
Doug and I headed home to my Mom’s on friday, where we relaxed and ate a lot of pizza (yay carb loading!). Saturday I woke up feeling excited about racing, we headed to Jamesville Beach to get my race packet and rack Timmy. It was already pretty warm out at 10AM. Reminded myself to keep pushing fluids down and eating lots of salty foods.
After Timmy was dropped off, my mom and I headed to my Aunt’s/Uncle’s/Cousins’ house to help with my cousin’s HS graduation party. I had a great time, tried to stay off my feet, drinking all the hydrating beverages I could find (including my own 2L of fluids), and caught up with my wonderful family. Looking back – it’s definitely not my ‘normal’ pre race day as it was still really warm out in the shade, but I also know it kept me distracted from looking at the race. In any rate, eventually we made our way home, where I did some last minute race prep (getting bags around, bottles filled etc) so I didn’t have to think as much in the AM.
Race AM went pretty smooth, I ate a normal pre race breakfast and enjoyed my coffee. Got some puppy snuggles and before we (Doug, my Mom and myself) knew it was time to head to Jamesville beach. We took the long route – which was by far the winner – and before I knew it I was rushing solo off to transition to load up Timmy and get everything ready for the race. This is where I met Coeur Teammate, Olivia Haverson (sorry I wasn’t more talkative), our bikes were racked next to each other! Once done, I went to get in the porta-potty line and then proceeded to get my wetsuit on. Well, actually I proceeded to sit in the grass, choking down a Honey Stinger Waffle, trying to hold myself together. At this point, I had almost cried 4 times this morning and was (making myself) nauseous with anxiety and fear.
Upon getting myself together, I decided I should get in the warm up area and see if I remembered how to swim, and swim in my wetsuit. I also needed to make sure that I liked my NEW ROKA R1 Goggles. Don’t worry – I LOVED them. So clear and so comfortable. Didn’t think about my goggles the rest of the day – except in T1 because I didn’t want them to get stolen (what?) or crushed. Once I did a little swim (I’m terrible at warming up for triathlons – I get so annoyed and just want to be left alone) I found Doug and almost lost it again. His response – Just keep swimming.
Before I knew it, it was time to line up for our wave. I was in wave 4, which is a mix of AG. This is where I found Rebecca, it was so great to catch up! I think I voiced that I was so nervous and anxious, but we talked about it would be fine when the cannon went off…
Swim (1.2 miles) – 39:34 (2:02/100M), 35 AG (out of the water)
Well, the cannon went off and I tried to start, then the unthinkable happened.. I had a panic attack.. I couldn’t breath, couldn’t even get myself to put my head in the water. I floated on my back for a minute, trying deep breaths, tried to swim again (side stroke – to keep moving), tried to swim normal, couldn’t again, floated on my back.. Watched my wave swim away. I stared at the kayaks, I stared at the platform, I wondered why they didn’t ask me if I was ok (glad they didn’t, I always tell the life guards to not save me at the pool, let me suffer). I thought about quitting. I thought about quitting triathlon. I thought it was all so stupid. What’s the point in making myself so exhausted.. I thought about how my family and friends would be ok with it.. and then.. I thought about what Doug said.. ‘Just keep swimming,’ I thought about the lovely gift my ex-roomate gave me for my birthday, a bracelet that said ‘just keep swimming’. Then I decided I would get through the swim.. one stroke at the time. Oh- and this all happened between the start and the first buoy. Go Lisa.
So I started swimming, really terrible at first, breathing to my right every two strokes (which my normal is 3). I started gaining on people. I tried to go 3, and started to panic, so went back to 2. I did this until the turn around. I started catching people. At the first turn, I thought about how stupid I was, how I cost myself my race, how I cost myself my goals, and then I decided I was just going to focus on the here and now, and just keep swimming.
By the next turn buoy, I started getting competitive. I started fighting my way. I got into my natural swimming pattern, despite the awkward chop on the way back in. I tried to find fast feet, but I was swimming faster (tried to not get disappointed in myself again, knowing I let all the girls go). I just kept counting the buoys and just kept swimming. About 2 buoys from the end of the swim, I thought about how I just wanted to do another loop and pretend I had more time to catch people and just practice my swim for placid, but clearly decided against that 😉 Before I reached land, all I could think about was my panic attack, that I’m sure Doug was wondering what the heck happened and was wondering if I should even continue.
I eventually hit land and started moving. Yelled at the wetsuit strippers to not worry about my watch or my wetsuit and just rip it off so I could get going (sorry!). I yelled to Doug that I had a panic attack and waited for feedback where he just said don’t worry. I finally reached my bike and had a heavy heart when I saw that there were hardly any bikes there, but focused on just getting my stuff together and just be ready to ride hard.
Swim positives: my sighting was awesome (best I’ve done), I felt strong (once I got myself completely under control).
Gear: BlueSeventy Reaction Wetsuit, Roka R1 Goggles, Garmin 920xt.
Bike (56 miles) – 3:04.57 (18.4 mph), off the bike 10 AG, 9th fastest bike in AG
Got on the bike and just started eating and drinking and reminded myself it was time to get to work. The first ~14mi on this bike course are all uphill, a pretty steep uphill, so it’s hard to eat and drink. I’m always aware that I need to just start right when I leave the park. Then you climb, and you climb and you climb some more. The first half of the bike is the same as last year, the last half well.. is a lot harder compared to the previous course ha.
It was my first race using power as a metric along with HR, so honestly, I ate, I drank, I watched my power (which kept dropping) and watched my HR. I kept it in what ‘felt’ like 70.3 bike effort. I make sure I was following the rules. I made sure I looked around at the beautiful country side. I played leap frog with another women for almost the whole ride, that was fun and really helped me stay focused. I thanked policemen and volunteers.
I enjoyed riding around DeRuyter lake, especially after having to scream at the top of my lungs on a crazy downhill for a guy to get out of left of lane as he was just monkey-ing around. C’mon man. That’s dangerous. Another guy thanked me for it. Above all, I tried to stay positive. I tried not to think about the swim, I tried to focus on catching the women (and men) in front of me. I tried not to get negative again when my goal bike split came and went. Instead I ate and drank more and prayed that others were riding about the same speed. I prayed that my run legs would be there every incline when my quads burned. I also prayed that when there was a speed cap, I didn’t get a penalty. Wasn’t sure what I would have done if that happened too.
Finally made my way back to T2, tried not to cry as my swim didn’t go well and I really had no sense of how my bike was. It looks like the Bike was ~700-1000 ft more of climbing than previous years (based on other people’s Strava files, my watch is also broken). Again, I thought about calling it a day. I felt like my bike sucked and just was over the race. Then I thought about my athletes I coach, and my athletes in the race. I sat on the ground (to pee in the grass – at least I drank enough!) and put my stuff on and decided to go see what my body could do.
Gear/Nutrition: Coeur Sports Race Kit, Rudy Project Aero Helmet, Smith Pivlock Sunnies, Shimano shoes (idk what they are!?), 5.5 bottles of Osmo, 2 sleeves of Clif Shot Bloks, 1 Honey Stinger Waffle, Base Salt Lick every 10 mi.
Run (13.1 miles) – 1:47.16 (8:11/mi), 7th AG, 2nd fastest in AG.
Starting the run, I felt terrible. Strangely, I thought of Jennie Hansen’s blog and how she always feels terrible off the bike. Doug told me not to worry about the bike, as everyone ran slow. He said I was 35th out of the water (which I was glad I didn’t know prior to getting on the bike) and I didn’t hear where he said when I got off the bike. I groaned when I saw B. Jackson and he reminded me of Kona – all I wanted to do was cry, thinking my dreams were gone. Instead, I put one foot in front of the other, took gatorade at the first aid station (literally all I want when I get off the bike), forced some Honey stinger gummies down knowing I need to practice eating even when I didn’t want to (nauseous, anyone else?), put sponges on my shoulders and ice down my top. Did this routine this at every aid station.
Rather than worrying about my pace, I reminded myself to be a runner, not a shuffler, and look for women. The men out on the course had already started cracking and I was determined to be strong. This run course is tough too, not to mention it was getting hot. Fortunately, I didn’t really feel effected by the heat, I just kept doing my thing and focusing on what I could control and prayed that I would fall apart less than others.
Before I knew it, I was at the turn around for the first loop, which is also up a massive hill, and gave a hoot. I got a couple strange looks, but knowing that I had already ran up the toughest part of the course once and only had once more was exciting to me ha. Running back I focused on seeing familiar faces. I saw Dave, Lynn, Rebecca, Olivia and kept a look out for my athlete/best friend Alex (although I knew I’d only see her once on the second loop – her swim wave was almost an hour after me).
Back through the turn around I saw that I had made up more ground on the women in front of me and just keep chugging along. Once I hit mile 8, I started counting down the miles. It seems like a lot, but for some reason – 5 miles to go or one hand to go, is relaxing to me. Kept shoving ice down my top, water on the back of my neck and gatorade down my mouth. My multitasking in aid stations is awesome – I wish I could do it more regularly. I hit the turn around again, walked through the aid station making sure I could get as much in as possible – then really started moving. I was paranoid the girls behind me would start catching me and I did NOT want that to happen. So I moved and I wanted to be done. The last strip went by fast. On the downhill, I finally saw Alex, and had to hold it together. If you don’t know – she had a baby 4.5 months ago, was racing, put in serious training and then her back flared up in the beginning of taper. So seeing her on the run, being in my emotional state was all I could do to not cry.
Before I knew it, I was back on the annoying grass part (you know what I’m talking about), back on the paved path and in the finish chute.
Gear/Nutrition: Coeur Sports Race Kit, 3/4 pack of Honey Stinger Chews, Gatorade at 5 aid stations, Smith Pivlock Sunnies, NB 1500, Feetures Elite Cushion Socks.
Finish: 5:38.35, 7th AG, 23rd F
I struggled the rest of the day, fighting feelings of disappointment, failure and all the other negative emotions. I went to my dark space – of hating my body, all the insecurities I have reared their ugly head. Who am I kidding, I’m still struggling with those feelings, I’ve cried – a lot (mostly alone), I’ve walked around with my head down feeling defeated. But I’m ready to let it go, it’s time to let it go. I know I wasn’t fully rested for this race, I know this wasn’t the race of my potential, I know I have more in the tank. This was the hardest 70.3 I’ve done to date. It’s also my 2nd slowest. This wasn’t the race I wanted/needed to give me confidence, but I know that I’ve been putting in the work. I need to trust that it’ll be there on race day in Lake Placid. So I’m keeping it real and I’m going to let it go.
I can’t thank my friends, family and teammates enough for the support, luck, love and encouragement, it really does take a village. Here’s to my overload weeks. Someone pick me up off the floor when I’m done.
“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”—Christopher Robin to Pooh, A.A. Milne