Twice in my life I’ve felt such an overwhelming negative/depressing emotion that it rendered me speechless and empty inside- confused on whether to cry, yell, punch something, or just lay down in silence.
The two events/circumstances that led to this feeling are very personal and irrelevant to this blog of mine which centers on my life as a triathlete.
Unfortunately, Saturday’s race moved the count up to three.
When I crossed the finish line as everyone else, I had done, however slowly, 70.3 miles in hot hard conditions so for the first hr or so I moved in a rather emotionless state to hydrate, change clothes, gather my things, and kept repeating in my head “good training, good training, you stuck it out”.
The reality of the Buffalo Springs race for me was that I didn’t get to race except for the first hour. I’ve received many notes from friends and family saying “good effort”, “way to get top 10” (in Honu), “your day will come” etc. While I greatly appreciate their intention and care, I am also humiliated by these remarks. That was not me giving an effort, I am not proud of that top 10-out of like 10, my day won’t “come” I am responsible for bringing it, this was my day, I am there/ready damnit!
Like all athletes aiming to be at the top of their sport, I am extremely competitive and I hate, hate, HATE to lose. That does not mean I can’t accept anything but a win or a podium. It does not mean I am a “sore loser” or a “bad sport” because I am perfectly okay with getting beat- and there is a BIG difference between the two.
If I finish a race and I know that I was able to throw down my best effort to my potential/fitness on that day then I don’t care if that gets me 20th or 1st because any person that BEAT me on that day was simply the better athlete. What I cannot stand is handing over what in tennis you’d call unforced errors, or a birthday present to your competitor. When YOU lose your own battle and cannot do/show what you have on the day, well that just blows.
For instance, at Galveston this past April, I finished like 28th out of a stacked field of athletes- my performance was one of my worst half Ironmans, but I was happy with my race. Why? Because I had spent Dec- Feb simply wrapping my head around even riding my bike for extended periods of time, I was just starting my season, and what I swam, biked, and ran was all the fitness I had on that date. I expected to get my butt handed to me, and I had a plan for the rest of my season to get myself in the shape I need to be in contention.
The last two races however, have been extremely frustrating. In Honu, after my saddle fell a smidge I failed to take the 1-2mins to flag bike support and raise it, and I also violated the number one rule before a race: don’t change anything. With this past weekend yielding the same excrutiating low back pain 30mins into the bike, which I have never ever before experienced in my 6 yrs in the sport nor ever in training, I have narrowed down the culprit to switching over to the Specialized BG trivent shoes (the ones with that varus wedge). The most frustrating part is I don’t just want to go back to my old regular shoes for a few reasons: 1) there has to be a race factor that is only making this pain come out in an event 2) my feet and knees love them- I’ve always struggled with alignment on the bike since my accident in 2008 and the varus wedging immediately felt amazing and both my knees tracked straight and I feel so much more power to the pedal- I really really want to make this work!
Without a long post because I really don’t want to relive any of it- I am home now and heading over to my chiropractor this morning to figure this thing out asap and just move on- here’s the short bit of BSLT:
Swim- fine, I don’t like wetsuits swims and that swim should’ve been non wetsuit at least for the pros, but I wore my awesome TYR sleeveless so I didn’t overheat. I sat on I don’t know who’s feet the whole way and came out a bit back from the group I would’ve liked but it’s a long day and it wasn’t too far back.
Bike- I got out of that first climb from t1 and my legs felt amazing, the hill felt effortless and I just continued to push hard from there and the plan was just to keep building up pace and if any girl came up behind me I would not let them go. Christine Anderson came up once into the flats (before the first roller/hill) and I kept her in sight and passed her back 1-2 times. That was the end of my bike. Shortly after we hit the first pitch and once aero again my low back began to hurt. Let me explain this pain… it’s not “oh my back is achey wahhh”…it’s “omg get me off this F’ng bicycle my back is going to explode!!!” It burns, I can’t put pressure on the pedals because it gets tighter and the pain increases to a point that it doesn’t LET me push the pedals with any force. My bike then turned into a mix of standing for relief, some sitting up, and soft pedaling dying to get to t2 and wondering constantly if I should just quit. But I hate to quit more than I hate to get dead last or walk to a 6hr Half Ironman.
Run- I thought maybe I could run well since in Honu I got off and the run was pain free. But the rollers in the Honu course vs the flat sections in BSLT made the back pain a bit less severe. When I got off the bike here I could feel it. I knew then I had no shot at anything and why bury myself and potentially put greater strain on my back. I went to the bathroom in t2- for some reason puked a bit, which I don’t think was from being physically as much as it was from being emotionally sick. I ran out of t2 with a plan to just run strong and finish the 70.3 miles. No joke my mindset was: it’s a good training day at least mentally, and the more ground you cover, the more you get to eat after ;) ..(yea I still had some humor left in me).
So that’s that. I had a great time there seeing old friends and meeting some new ones. Thanks to Mary for taking me out of my misery Sunday night and getting me to go out with her and some others.
I am gutted, devastated, frustrated, ashamed, you name it. I keep going from tears to anger to motivating myself to keep my eyes on Vineman and Louisville. I know I am in great shape and can still turn things around, but it is very hard to swallow TWICE not being able to race a race.
This will be fixed- first and foremost because I cannot go through that pain again- if it ever happens again I will get off the bike and call it a day. In an Ironman, forget it, there’s no way I could handle more than 56miles of that especially without causing some sort of long term damage.
I am in such an intense state of emotion right now that when I put on a bib number again and ride with my body cooperating, my PRs in both distances will be CRUSHED effortlessly- the power of the mind and the heart is unlike anything else. That’s why we see people do incredible things when pushed to extreme emotions. “You don’t know how strong you are until you have to be”- so true.
That’s the scoop. This week is all about picking myself back up. Thankfully, strolling around Lubbock Lake on Sunday means I have zero soreness/tightness/heaviness in my legs- I could’ve just stayed home and done more to them with a solo brick. So as soon as my back recovers- should be a 2-3 days- I am back to serious work for VMan and LV.