Monday, October 3, 2016

What happens in Vegas

Ends up in my blog

Going into this race, I had so many ups and downs that I almost didn't even bother.

If you are a regular reader, you know what the last (almost) 2 months have been like.

This race was supposed to be a mini vacation with Mr. Tea. Because of everything going on, he decided to stay home. It will take him awhile to feel comfortable leaving. The doctor told him no more than 20 minutes of walking. Going to Vegas and/or a race would mean quite a bit more walking than that. 

I drove to the race. I love road trips. Normally, they help me clear my head. Unfortunately, the day I drove through Utah, a cold front moved in. It was 5 hours in the pouring rain. I stopped every hour to take a breather. At every stop, I thought about turning around.

Have you ever been emotionally and physically exhausted? I was battling guilt of leaving....I shouldn't's not fair that I go on vacation and have fun.

Eventually, I got to St George. St George where the weather is completely different than every other city in UT. The sun was out, and it was 95 degrees. I decided to stop to eat for an extended break. I walked around in the sun, and my mood just picked up immediately.

Believe it or not, even when I got to Vegas, I was still doubting that I'd do the race. I was tired from lack of sleep. I had a headache. This race wouldn't mean anything.

The problem was there was a voice in my head that kept can win this race. I had looked up finish times to give me an idea what the course was like. This was a standard sprint. Yet, finish times for the bike and run were considerably slower than a regular sprint. I entered my bike data into BBS. It told me that i could expect about a 38 min bike time. I knew then that the bike was tough. I assumed from the run times (and I checked all age groups) that the heat and hills were going to make this a tough race.

Do I do the race? Do I just take some time off and relax in Vegas?

And I thought about regrets: what people regret the most. They regret *not* doing something. Not *doing something and failing".

For some reason, the race was pulling at me. I wanted to be pushed. The average bike time for this 12.4 mile course was 45 minutes. In my age group, it was 47 minutes. Yet, BBS was telling me I could have a 38 minute bike. 

Would that be possible? Could I actually do that?

I had to do it. Had to. I wanted to prove to myself that I really had something with my bike ability....I wasn't just making up this shit. I'm fucking good on the bike. Let's see how good I can be.

With all that, you might think I'd be nervous....pressure to perform and all that. It was quite the opposite. This was the most unbelievable year I've ever had. I told Liz that I wanted this race to simply be a celebration of the most unexpected year ever.

After a long day of driving, a great dinner and a fun night of Thursday Night Football in the booking room........I decided the race was one.

The next morning, I was in a particularly chipper mood.

I did an easy ride, an easy swim. I pretty much did whatever I wanted. I ate ridiculous amounts of foods that weren't good for me....all weekend long.

I set the alarm for 3:45 Sat. I ordered room service to arrive at 4am and went to bed.


That morning, I had more confidence than I've ever had. No nerves. Nothing. This would be my celebration race.

It really lived up to every possible way.

That morning, I met a woman in the 50-54 ag. I certainly didn't know it at the time. We got along great and hung out all morning. She gave the probably the single most greatest piece of advice EVER. (I later found out she won the 50-54 age group and had been at Nationals this past year. 

As the swim was getting ready to start, I lined up right in front. My goal: Be first. Period. I am capable of doing this. At the last minute, the swim course was changed. My understanding is that Lake Mead often gets some crazy weather and questionable swim currents. Nevada had a cold front coming in, and the winds were expected to get pretty crazy. 

When we started, I immediately pulled to the front. There were 3 women ahead of me but I didn't care. As soon as we made the first turn, we were swimming into the current. This was the longest stretch.

This is where my swim strength comes in.

One by one, the women dropped off. I looked up and saw the previous waves. (They started 10 min before us). I picked up my effort. I wanted to get through the sea if swimmers as fast as possible.

As I came up to the swim finish, I knew I was in first of all women +40. (I was 3rd overall on the swim and 1st in my wave which was all women +40).

The run to transition is a challenge. It's a rocky terrain. I brought the worst flip flops ever. My feet were slipping all over the place. My run was more of a stumble. Still, I was joking with the volunteers and other athletes.

Today was my day. I was enjoying ever step of it....every slip....every stumble. For those are the moments that make up triathlon. 

Now it was time. I had something to prove to myself.

I jumped on the bike. I had it set up in the smallest gears, knowing that we start climbing immediately.

I glanced at my speed (10mph). I glanced at my power 250 watts. Don't worry about your speed. BUT HOLD THOSE WATTS. No one can keep up with you if you do that.

This is a hilly course. Going out was uneventful. It was up and down, up and down.

All week, the news was taking about the Vegas cold front that would bring strong winds. The winds started picking up.

I had a plan for the wind. Go aero. Go as tight as I could and ride as hard as I could. BBS said that I would maintain 18.3 mph on this course. (My actual speed was 19.4mph. I have had a jump in bike fitness, but we have not tested recently because Liz and I are working on other things).

One by one I was passing the men from the previous waves. I didn't see other women, but I knew they were ahead of me.... How many? No idea. I didn't even know if someone in my age group was ahead of me. Although, I was pretty certain I was in first.

I stayed tucked and drove through the headwind. I was going faster and faster. My speed was increasing. My watts were increasing. My legs started burning. 

Then I saw a guy. I decided to catch him. The headwind was beating on us, but I took the lid of my watts and gave it everything I had up the hills. I didn't coast on the downhills. 

I catch the guy. On a huge downhill, were start big deal.... We're only going about 40 mph.

He was the nicest guy. We dismount and start running.

During the run, I hear someone behind me saying, "hold this pace. You got this. You are in first. I'm going to try to stay with you." It was bike guy. He told me his birthday was coming up. I told him MY birthday was coming up. We have the same birthday. He is turning 47 and me 49. I told him as soon as we make it to the top of this 1.55 mile hill, it's time to turn on the speed.

At that point, I lost him. I took off with whatever I could muster on the rocky terrain and steep hill. I almost fell 3 times.

I ran as fast as I could.

It was a risk I had to take. I was not going to be passed in the last half a mile again. It wasn't going to happen.
Then, I caught up to a monster of a guy. I struggled to catch him. He looked like a body builder. I said, "you move awful fast for a big guy". He laughed and said he weighs 250lbs. Ridiculous. He was like a gazelle. I was running 8:15 down the hill, and he was running faster.

It's weird being in the lead. It's weird because you don't see any women. Only one women passed me. She ended up coming in second 30-34..... But my overall time beat hers. The only time I saw other women was after the turnaround. Even then, they were minutes behind....I knew they wouldn't be able to catch me, if they were in my age group.

That didn't matter though. I wasn't going to allow them to catch me.

At this point, it's hot. (Later in my car, my phone weather app said 98 degrees). I had fueled well enough. I made all the adjustments for the heat and wind. (Wind dehydrates a person faster than no wind).

All day, I kept saying "this race will be won by the mentally strongest person."

I didn't let the heat bother me. I grabbed a cup of water at the 2 aid stations. One I drank, one I poured over my head.

When I crossed the finish line, I didn't know what my overall time was. I felt like I could do 1:35. It was tough though. It's hard when you don't know a course or the weather. Still, without being cocky....I thought I could do sub 1:30, without really knowing what the conditions would be like.

I finished the race in 1:29:44.

I had the 3rd fastest swim of all women.

I had the 2nd fastest bike split of the day. First on the bike was a woman in the 35-39 age group.

I was 3rd in my age group on the run.... Officially, the best ranking I've ever had coming off the bike.

I had a 6.5 minute lead over second place and never knew it. Run like you stole something....I gave it what I had for this race.

When I crossed the finish line, I looked for my bike and run guy. I could find him.

I went over to pull results and almost fell over.

I came in first.

For a race that I didn't even know was going to happen.... At a race that came after weeks of taking care of Mike and working every bit of my schedule around his needs..... At race that happened after taking care of EVERYTHING to keep a house and a business running...I broke down. 

I did it. The cards weren't in my favor, but I didn't care. I was going to fight for every bit of that course. When we turned into the current on the swim, I said, "you're a fucking swimmer. Let's do this!"

When the wind picked up and rocked me around on the bike, I thought, "You can fucking do this. Everything you have RIGHT NOW"

On the run, I paced that hill and when I got to the was game on.

Two more things (I know this post is getting long).

1.) Lake Mead, Nevada is an amazing place to race. This whole race was absolutely awesome from the triathletes to the volunteers to the RD (who does a number of races in CO).  I highly recommend any of the races. If you are a flatlander, be warned.....this is not an easy course. If you live in CO, you probably already train on hills. Of course, training has a lot to do with it. Liz had me doing some pretty tough strength building bike workouts. The result was I flew up the hills.

2.) Being away for the weekend and not having to take care of anyone but myself was really awesome. As it turned out my friend Eric was also in Vegas. He did the St George marathon in a smoking 2:38. 

Time alone: I had a lot of time to think about everything.  I looked back over my season,  I have accomplished what I wanted to at the short distance. I'm ready for the next step.

Get ready for something BIG.