Monday, April 29, 2013

My "Not so Boston" Race Report (AKA Tri Charleston 1/2 IM)

Erik Erikson developed a theory that assumes that as people age, they enter different stages of life.  If you have ever taken any basic psychology class, you will be familiar with him.  If you have not, look him up and see where you fit. For about six or so months, I have felt myself going from one stage to another.  When you start to enter a different stage of your life, you can feel it, and I have to admit, it is a bit painful and exciting all at the same time. 
This has changed how I view my family, my job, and mostly....My running!
Go back several months and three marathons.  
Thunder Road Marathon 2011!  My goal was to qualify for Boston 2013 with another 3:45.  Hey, I have done it before, so it should be easy....Right?  Wrong!  I get up that morning and just don't feel right.  However, I choose to run the marathon anyway.  My running partner, Michelle Larson, and I line up with Ed and the 3:45 pace group.  By mile 7, I was still on pace but not feeling well.  By mile 13, still on pace, I finally confess my issues to my running buddies and here is where everything falls apart. I finish this marathon with a disappointing 4:02.  Seventeen minutes from my Boston Qualifying time.  I was angry!  I was disappointed! I was embarrassed!
Fast forward to Boston 2012!  I was prepared to qualify for Boston 2013 at Boston 2012!  How cool would that be.  Well, there was nothing cool about it.  We started with temps around 88 degrees and my plan was modified.  I had a blast at Boston, but no 3:45 today.  It was out of my control.
After Boston, I decided to cut my miles back a few notches and just enjoy myself and refocus.  I decided to run Thunder Road 2012 and just see what plays out.  I vowed that if I did not break 4 hours, I would look into changing up my goals a bit and do something new.  I came in again at here it is.  I will hang up my marathon goals and look into something else.  I lost that loving feeling for running and needed something big to help get it back.
My buddy Holly Townsend had finished two 1/2 Iron Man races.  For anyone who does not know what a 1/2 IM is... here is the breakdown: 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run.
On November of 2012, I signed up for the Charleston 1/2 IM. I was also able to persuade Holly to do the same.  I knew if I didn't go ahead and sign up and get Holly on board, I would chicken out.
She wrote up a plan and 12 weeks before the race, we started said plan.  The weather obviously did not care about our training though.... Holly and I have trained in wind, rain and bitter cold.  It was brutal.  All the while, I was trying to come to terms with the fact that I was not training for a marathon.  I felt very conflicted about this.  On one hand, I was very excited about this new challenge where there is no pressure on me to reach a certain time goal.  Then on the other, I was saddened and guilty that I had "stepped out" on running.  Weird, I know.
The Monday before my inaugural half Iron Man, I found myself tracking all my friends at The Boston Marathon.  I worked a very busy 12 hour day, but took time to personally celebrate for each friend who crossed the finish line.  I was so excited and so wanted to be running with them, alas, it was not to be.  Then it happened.  Holly texts me that everyone was fine from our running group, but there has been an explosion at the finish line.  I was with someone at that point, but noticed my phone started going crazy.  I finished up, saw the message, went to my computer and sat there in stunned silence while I looked at the live pictures.  I had run there last year and had planned to do it again this year.  It is amazing how fast excitement can turn into that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach.
Sometimes I try to fight God like an ignorant child fighting a wise and loving parent.  In that moment, looking at the chaos, I remembered how upset I was that I had not qualified again for Boston.  I apologized to Him.  Not because I was ever angry at God, but because I thought my poor performance in a race defined who I was.  I had carried around something I thought was a failure, when in fact it was God's hand of protection.  
So now to the report.
I went into this race very calm.  I wasn't sure I could finish it, but I was determined that whatever happened, I would have a great day.  And I did.  This was 6 hours and 16 minutes of pure fun.
The set up:  Holly and I drove down, picked up our packets, and went to look over the race site.  We decided not to leave our bikes in transition 1 because a huge storm was being forecasted.  So we had to set up everything the morning of..... in the pouring down rain.  Well we got everything sat up, however everything was still in baggies because I had no intention of starting each leg of the race with soaking wet gear.
The Swim:  Right off, let me say that I AM NOT A SWIMMER! So keep that in mind as I celebrate my very slow swim time.
Right before we start the swim, the rain stops.  I am a bit chilly but once I get into the water and it seeps into my wetsuit, I feel fine.  The gun goes off and we start swimming.  My goggles immediately fog up, my heart rate goes up, and I cannot breath.  The magnitude of this race hits me in the face and, for the first time, I am paralyzed with fear about the race as a whole. So this is what a panic attack feels like.  OK.  I tell Holly I cannot see to site, I cannot breath, and my heart is about to I'm quiting.  She wouldn't have it.  She said some motivating words to me (that I cannot repeat) and I decided to swim to the first buoy. I will not think too far ahead in the race.  At this point, I will swim buoy to buoy.  I had to stop ever 200 or so yards to "defog" my goggles, but other than that, not too much else happened.  Because I stink as a swimmer, my goal for the swim was 1 hour.  I completed the 1.2 miles in 52 minutes.  I know this is slow, but all my panicking is included.
T1: I get to T1 and have to dig through all my packed up gear.  This took forever... I hear someone say there are 12 people behind me.  That does not set well with me.
The Bike: I jump on my bike and I'm off.  I only think about riding 10 miles at a time.  My heart rate goes up again, but I figure this was sort of normal and would happen each time I changed sports.  I decided to wait about 20 minutes then I get to start on my buffet of Sports Beans and Stinger Waffles.  Not one person passes me on the bike, I feel great the whole time, and I'm actually having fun.  At mile 46, I realize I only have 10 more miles to go.  I really start eating the rest of my stuff.  I know once I start running, it will be harder to eat because my stomach will not like me.  My goal was 3:30 but it only took me 3:10 to complete 56 miles.
T2: I get into my 2nd transition area and everything is rearranged.  A guy reads my number and directs me to the location he thinks my stuff is in.  I thought it looked wrong, but the thought occurred to me that I could be delusional. So I go where he tells me and do not see my stuff.  I go to where I thought it was...and I was correct... but this costs me precious time.  
The Run:  I have been waiting all day for this, I feel great, and I only have 13.1 more miles to go.  Ive got this.  It is a 3.5 mile out, 3.5 mile back, double loop.  There is standing water at least 4 inches deep on most of the course. But no one passes me on the run and I finish feeling good and knowing I will do this again.  My running goal was under 2 hours.  I did it in 1:59.
So as I move into a new era of my life, I embrace it.  I morn for the ones who lost their lives or their dreams at Boston.  I celebrate my friends who ran and finished and are back home safe.  And I look forward to the future and I know I will someday have the courage and strength to run a marathon and qualify for Boston.

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