Check out these great workouts for when you are on the road. No more excuses for not getting your strength training in when traveling!
Thanks Rayme & Stephen for sharing!
Chameleon – a distinctive and highly specialized clade of lizards with the ability to change color.
140.6 Distance Triathlete – a unique breed of athlete specialized in long endurance racing with the ability to change and adapt to any situation on a course.
A Coach, a Wife, a Sister, Daughter, Teammate and Athlete were the expectations of the weekend as I traveled to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio for the Rev3 Full Triathlon; one of those roles, I was sure to fail, if not a few.
The Coach – Earlier in the season, I had planted the seed of my NJOY RACING team coming to Cedar Point and race with me and get a taste of what a triathlon was, even if it meant I bribe them with relays & roller coasters, so be it. To much my surprise people committed than I had ever dreamed – 4 sprint relay teams, 3 half relay teams, 5 sprinters, 3 half distance, 1 full aqua-bike and 2 full & 1 boat volunteer. In other words, I had over 20 people coming to race with me and only 5 of them had completed a triathlon previously. Needless to say, if I had not raced I would have been stressed enough, let alone having signed up for the full distance race, but there was no way I was not going race. I LOVE my Rev3 races and get to be part of a team as an athlete and not a coach. Not to mention, I belive they run the best races in North America.
The Daughter & Sister – Unfortunately, like most people in this country, my family has lost sight in the importance of taking responsibility for their health and life more active lifestyles (and their excuses are not unique). In the 8 years of racing with over 100 races, they have been to less than 5 of them, so I thought it would be a good idea to not only invite them to come watch, but be part of the team and join a relay team of the sprint distance. 3 agreed – I was ecstatic. In my job, I get to change lives in a very positive way. I give people a chance to live longer, healthier lives. I help people feel better emotionally, physically about themselves and build confidence in ways they may have never had. This was my chance to not only have my family there with me, but also have them do something healthy with me. It was my opportunity to help give them a better quality of life. Who knows, maybe once a year they might want to join me for a family event?
The Coach – Rev3 picks the best race locations! On paper some might not seem like the most exciting locations: Sandusky, Ohio – but who doesn’t like a good roller coaster? Fun, family friendly locations with lots to do…and doesn’t hurt to be $$$ reasonable places. So when waking up Saturday morning to pouring rain and a flooded bike course, it was very disappointing the sprint triathlon was cancelled. However, you make the best of it and do what you can. Troopers on team NJOY went ahead and ran the 5k, all getting race PRs! As the day continued it got beautiful, sunny and dry – ROLLER COASTERS!!!! That’s what we did and had a great time doing it. After the first ride I thought it was about the stupidest thing I had ever done before the race I was about to do, and only more stupid after the second. But like drinking, after a few it doesn’t really matter how many more you ride once you realize your body is going to feel it tomorrow regardless of how many.
The Athlete – Race Day…could not have been more perfect with the weather as the day began. In the morning this girl woke up as Athlete. I have often been asked why I don’t race with the athletes I coach…this is why: I need to focus and take care of me and only me, and I don’t like to talk to people at all before a race. Simply, I am no good as a coach before a race and some of my athletes got a taste of that in transition before the race even started.
The race course was great, even for a flat bike course, which are not my favorites to ride. I love 2 lap courses! Mentally I know where I am at all times and what is coming up and makes the course easier to master. Due to a sprain shoulder, I had not been in the water since KMD Challenge 4 weeks previous, so my swim was not fast by any means, but I still enjoyed. On the bike I went out averaging 19.5 mph to mile 70, but after nutritional issues causing my stomach to not be able to hold in my calories I lost all energy and took a small nap in the ditch before finishing the rest of my ride. I know that sounds crazy, but it is the second time in a long distance race I have ever gotten sick and the same thing happened: couldn’t keep my eyes open, took a little nap and woke up feeling fresh and ready to take on the world! The problem I believe was – using new gel I had never used before and couldn’t hold it down (and any time I ever get ‘sick’ like that I immediately fall asleep). No, I’m not a rookie and will spare you the details to why it happened. I know better. After falling off the leader board with that move (I had been one of the top 5 females overall) I finally made it to the T2 and was mentally questionable, stomach was questionable, but legs felt great. Off I went after a brief conversation with my husband who was there to cheer me out onto the course. Time to take down some runners!
All day I had been looking forward to the run, but with my head and stomach playing games on me, I was uncertain of the outcome. I made it to mile 6 where I had convinced myself I was not going to make it through to the 2nd lap and this is where my saving grace came to my rescue. Rev3 Teammate Tim Andrus put me back together. I never name drop, but he gets all the credit in the world for this – I could not have done it without him. Stopping to complain about my iffy stomach, he got me moving while he inventoried me – asking me how my legs were. When I said they were fine, he told me we can get my head and stomach together and coached me through my nutritional changes and in no time I was off and ready to take on the next 20 miles.
The Wife – By mile 12.75, 1 hour and 52 minutes later convinced myself the only way I could complete this race was if my husband was there at the turn-around to tell me to get out there and finish the final lap. But he wasn’t there. He had gone back to the hotel room with everyone else. As the world came to screeching stop, the tears flowed and the rage set in as I completely lost my mind. I start screaming at the one person who was there to get my husband on the phone and yell at him to not bother coming because he was too late. As I continue to run while sobbing, I am conversing with myself out loud that I would never be in this situation if I were married to a triathlete. A triathlete would know the final turn-around is one of the most crucial points in the race. Of course he should have know, even though I had never expressed that to him…but then again he is not a triathlete. So he didn’t get it.
Client coaching the coach – at this point to only one out there attempting to pull my head back together was a long time client of mine who helped me pulled it back together for the next 4 miles. Forever grateful and ever so sorry he had to deal with my crazed psychosis, as we laugh about it now.
The Husband – shows up at mile 19ish after my client told him to get there, but I wanted nothing to do with him until mile 20, where I decided to let him know he wasn’t there for me when I needed him the most. Let’s be clear – half my family left Saturday, before the race had even started. The other half left after I had gotten on my bike, so at this point I was left with only 1 on the run – and now he had left me. As soon as he said he would have never left had he known, my switch flipped and I was perfectly fine and off to finish the last 6 miles. I had never been so focused at this point, taking down one mile at a time as I tried to hunt down every female I could who was head of me. (Still, he is banned from any important race I have from here forward.)
The Finish Line – I had made my way up to 14th overall as I crossed the finish line, taking my highest placing ever overall and in my age group at 4th in a Full Distance race. As I came across the tape, I found my husband standing there while they played our first dance song at our wedding (Journey – Don’t Stop Believin’…our first dance was in a nightclub in Vegas). My athletes who were still in town were all there to see the athlete cross the finish line. It felt surreal and was a blur. Oddly, I don’t remember much. I felt good, but I was dazed, and then it was over.
In Conclusion – It was a great race. It was a place where everyone was able to come together, have fun, try new things and support one another as a team. I am a proud coach, as I see my athletes work together and try a new sport that took them out of their comfort zone.
As an athlete, anyone who loves this distance can relate to the “now what” feeling you go through once the curtain has closed. That is where I am. There is an emotional let down for me goes beyond the race being over as I reflect on my experience with my family at this race and come to the conclusion that some don’t care (fore they left before the race had even started), others try to get it, but can’t quite get there (I appreciate them for trying) so by the time I made it through 127 miles I had been left by all of them. Hence, why I like racing solo so much – no one can let you down but yourself. *This is why it has taken a couple weeks to write this piece. It has been hard for me to deal with and I want to be honest about my experience.
As for my goal of attempting give the gift of a higher quality of life through fitness to my family…I failed. Why do I try when I know people will never live a healthy lifestyle unless they are willing to take responsibility for themselves and be willing the break bad habits?
I walk away with this race experience looking forward to next year doing the same distance. A chameleon can change its color to fit into its environment in order to survive. An endurance athlete must be able to do the same in order to survive a race like such.
Hood to Coast Van #1 – the experience
Hood to Coast Relay 2012
Try putting together a group of 6 random people in a 6 x 10 room and ask them to get along for 36 hours. Now take 6 people who are brought together by 2-3 degrees a separation, put them in a van for 36 hours on little to no sleep, as they take turns running a total of 200 miles from the top of Mt. Hood to Seaside, Oregon and see what happens. It could be a recipe for disaster or an unexplained bond formed that outsiders looking in could never grasp.
I have experienced both. It being my 4th year of running relay races, I have been on teams who were in it to win it and others to just “have a good time”. I will never be on a team who is in it to win it again…let’s just say it is hard to make it fun. This year I was lucky enough to get re-invited to the Hood to Coast team I raced on last year, and this year I will not be a team rookie. But still, being a sophomore on the team I was not going to be picky on what leg I was handed, so when I was given the toughest leg on the team there were no complaints. But do they know that the girl from Chicago does not run hills?
The start of any race like this is always exciting and full of energy. For those who have not done the race before, it is about the unknown; what is it going to be like to run through the night and how is your 3rd leg going to feel even if it is the easiest of them all? Athletes who know the process and keep coming back for more know it is more than that; can I hold up mentally through the night? Can I push myself harder than last year and carry that through every leg?
Remembering the first relay I had ever done, ignorance was bliss. Every year since then, about 2 weeks before the race I start to question what the hell am I doing. And every time I finish my last leg of the race I know why I do this, fore I come out stronger on the other side. After running leg #2 last year and knowing how I felt (could barely walk until 5 days later), I had never hurt so badly during a race and post-race than any other event I had ever done, including all my Ironman races. Running leg #5 this year, I knew was going to be tough.
Van #1 had 2 rookies and 4 back from last year with a 50/50 split of the sexes, which balanced us out well; 1 was doing her first race EVER, and me being one of the youngest had done more races than all of them put together. I turned off my competitive switch (which is extremely hard to do) and stepped into the van with an attitude of this being a training run weekend and I was going to have fun. Fun is what I had. I was lucky to get to be with 5 people who are all so good-natured, supportive and selfless. We all fell into our character roles so naturally it was easy to get along with each other. We used our strengths to help each other through each leg, keeping our spirits up and minds focused through every mile ran.
This race was not only about being able put down the most epic relay race in history down on your resume, but also learning a few of life’s most valuable lessons (and if you have already learned them – reinforced).
I am a creature of habit. I when it comes to my racing, training and just plan every day life – I like things to be done a certain way. When being handed the most difficult leg on the course, there is nothing worse than having to deal with unnecessary distractions. Every 2 miles, that is when I wanted water and my team to check in with me. And that is exactly what they did. Even when it was something as stupid as handing me the water on the right side and don’t run with me, they did it. Not only for me, but for everyone else – we worked hard to meet each other’s needs, because we knew we would get the same in return.
The art of patience is a difficult one for me, but during my first leg…or shall we really say at the end of my first leg when I had to wait 15 minutes for my team mates to arrive to the hand-off point, it was a matter of either having a complete melt-down or show patience and understanding toward my delayed team. Like any endurance race, you have to be prepared for something to go wrong, and traffic was the culprit delaying my team this long as they tried to make it to me in time, but I was just too fast up the hill (ha!). No meltdown, it is what it is and I was there to have fun. Take a deep breath in and time to move on.
A fire? What do you do when a tire factory decides to burn down on the course of your second leg? Race directors reroute the course. My second leg, the night leg was going to be the longest of the race (7 miles), but fairly flat and rated MODERATE in degree of difficulty – a piece of cake, right…NOT.
Race directors managed to reroute the course out of the way of the fire, but failed to tell anyone how long the reroute was. So after 7 miles of running you were left to an absolute craps shoot to an uphill-who-know-how-long-this-is-going-to-be run. In the middle of the night, breathing in tire-smoked air and every volunteer telling you a longer distance away as you got closer to the finish. As I ran into a dark abyss I began to get angry…very angry, to the point I yelled at one volunteer, “Doesn’t anyone know a f****** thing around here?!?!?! Why can’t anyone tell us how much is added on?!?!” (Sorry – I know they are there to help, but at that point in the night, they were not helping at all.) After 7.5 miles and still not knowing how much longer I would be running, I made the executive decision to go into cool-down mode and slow it down. In retrospect, I think it was a good move because I still had the hardest leg of my race to run and was about to sleep outside under the stars in 45-degree weather and who knows how much my body would seize up on me.
When it was all said and done, we had run about 2 miles extra uphill. This girl (me) who doesn’t listen to music when racing was very happy she had made an impulse purchase earlier in the day of a reflector vest with built in speakers and became the ‘Party on Two Feet’ during those last two miles when me and everyone else around was fed up with the disorder. At the very least we had some great music to listen to.
Helping Others in Need
Some rules were meant to be broken. As we were heading off to start my final leg we found a couple hitchhikers along the course, being 2 runners who had to abandon their van in hopes of making it to their next leg on time. That is what happens when you are too fast for your own good. With traffic problems, runners were arriving to the hand-offs earlier than the vans could make it here, so runners were abandoning their vans in hopes of getting picked up to advance forward to their stations in time. We picked up 2 who were predicted to finish in 19 hours (6:00/mile pace)– but only if they made it on time to their station. So we did a good deed.
It was a tough start to the final leg as you started immediately on an uphill battle, which lasted 3.6 miles. First mile was freezing (38 degrees) and took me by surprise as I started off at an 8:58 pace (I thought I was doomed). As I got into the flow, my team kept checking in every 1.5 miles with aide and cheering me on. As I continued on as I warmed up, building speed as the incline increased along the way. As I peaked the summit, I don’t know who was more excited, my team or me as I broke through the toilet paper tape and got sprayed with silly string as I began the steep downhill descent. It was all downhill from here as I let the momentum carry me down, stretching out my stride and increasing my turn-over with all that was left in me – 6:48, 6:53, 6:00 were my final splits as I finished my final leg of 6.1 miles in 49:06.
Watch Where You Put Your Ass
It isn’t always about what you learn on the course, but also what you can learn off as well. With the port-o-pots lines long and putting you into jeopardy of holding your team back, we quickly got over our shyness and peed anywhere and everywhere we got the chance. Men, this is much easier for you to do. But ladies, as a lesson to be learned (and hopefully not by experiencing it yourself) – watch where you put your ass. Let’s just say after pulling prickly things out of out pants and barely avoiding near-catastrophic mishaps with thorn bushes and bees in bushes we managed to keep Asses out of too much trouble.
I have never played team sports and never really wanted to. I know I don’t play well with others when I know the outcome of the event relies on more people than just me. But my HTC Team makes me feel good about being on a team. It a great feeling to be able to walk away from an event like this and truly enjoy working with other people to get such an enormous task done. We ran 199+2 miles across the state of Oregon and could not have done it without each other. When it is all said and done, Inflated Expectation definitely exceeded expectations.
Scandinavia, it is often a place where people bypass when they think of traveling to Europe and I have been one of them. But when told it has one of the best triathlons in Europe, I couldn’t get on the bus or should I say plane fast enough. Copenhagen, Denmark here I come!
It is a city like in a fairy tale, it is where the happiest people on the planet live, and as you walk the streets you find the influence in art left by stories of sea creatures that have lived in our imaginations for centuries. A statue is placed by City Hall not of a military great or founding father, but of the author great, Hans Christian Andersen as he overlooks the opposite side of the street at Tivoli; a whimsical amusement park that reminds us all of the kid within and played influence to the great and late Walt Disney. Biking is not only a means of transportation, but way of life. It is part of the Danish culture that has influenced cities around the world to make way for safer bike lanes. Wind turbines line themselves out at sea to capture green power on a windy day as the city leads the world in clean technology. Easy to get around by train, a coast lined with white sandy beaches, an evident past of strong military presence with barracks and bases all around, cobblestone streets to take you back in time next and edgy modern arts are all of what makes this city – Copenhagen.
To make my stay easiest, I booked my stay next to a Usterport Station so I had all the transportation I needed at my fingertips. There was the S-tog, Metro, Bus and Free Bikes all within 5 minutes away from me. A well planned transportation system makes it easy to get around the city and as inexpensive as $32 USD for 72 hours of unlimited regional transportation and is well worth it. And for museum and history buffs, it is well worth buying in advance the Copenhagen Card, which you can find for as little as $65 USD (72 hours), which will get you free entry into over 60 attractions. This is a city where there is something for everyone; from boat rides through the canals, to museums, opera and dance, tours through beer factories, to visiting the self-proclaimed independent territory Christiana where there are few laws – and one being NO PHOTOS in the Green Light District.
German’s know how to put on great races and the KMD Challenge Series is no exception to the rule. It is no secret my obsession with racing in Europe and I am sure it won’t be too long before the number of races there outnumber the amount I will have completed in the US. But they are so much fun and the atmosphere is a different type of contagious energy I cannot get enough. 1 lap swim, 2 lap bike, 4 lap run – you think that could get boring, but with 125.000 people lined on the streets in a matter of 10.5km, the headphone-legal run makes it impossible to hear music in your ears. The bike is constantly engaging with twists and turns that take you to stunning countryside of fields filled with wheat ready for harvest and one of the most beautiful sea sides I have ever laid eyes as it overlooks the coast of Sweden. Before today, I always find it hard to talk about a swim course because what can you say? It was choppy….it seemed too long…the sun was in my eyes the whole way. But no – this course was perfection. Small waves of 200 swimmers every 5 minutes apart with markers of the distance hanging over every bridge you swam toward. Before you could think it couldn’t get any better, it was a well protected cold salty water inlet that was protected by the waves and wind. And on race day, the tide and current was perfect making it difficult to get off course.
With a perfect course and an almost perfect 5 months of training, I had never felt so ready for a race of this distance. Consistent with all events, including my strength training so doing an 11 hour race would have been just making it through the race like any other training day, until the Monday before when I hopped into Lake Michigan for my final open water before I left and sprained my shoulder. I seriously thought I had tore something and was out, but with some laser therapy, rest and KT Tape (a now new believer in it), I was convinced if I could make it through in under 1:20 I could still make the 11 hour time even if I had to push harder than expected – because I was ready.
I was lucky enough to get to meet up with someone who was new to the sport, but had been there training for the past couple weeks and knew the course well. He and his family was a key ingredient to why I enjoyed this city and race so much. On the day we first met we had made plans to go for a swim then possibly do the back half of the course, but this turned into a day long adventure filled with training, shopping, food, fun and a train ride where we got kicked off (due to ticket purchasing issues). Who could ask for anything more on a trip like this? When his brother and sister surprised him with their appearance to come and support him on the race, I inherited them too! At least there would be someone there to yell my name, cheer me on and take pictures!
Always expect the unexpected. It is a long day where anything could go wrong, and there is always something that will. What is important is how you handle the situation to keep you on track, so I wasn’t when I had to wait 25 minutes for the next train to pick me up at my station because I had given myself plenty of time for a problem like this. Nor was I stressed when I had to wait 20 minutes for a toilet when I was the 9th person in line.
On a side note with this…never in my life, at any race, under any circumstance I have ever seen where people take everything they have into the port-o-pot…really. Bags went in. Wetsuits carried in too. I even saw someone walk out with their bike pump. AMAZING and left speechless.
And when I was doing my final check before leaving transition, 15 minutes before my start I didn’t panic when I saw I had a flat front tire. I changed it. Way to start a race like this with a first; fore in 8 years of racing, I have never experienced a flat tire in a race. A good thing, but also at some point it was bound to happen. But this immediate flat left me with using my tubular, leaving me with only Pit Stop (fix-a-flat) and 2 CO2 cartridges to start my race.
I knew if I could make it through the swim without having to compromised my swim stroke too much, this was still going to be a great race and after making it through 3000 meters of the swim of protecting my shoulder I made the decision to swim the final stretch like it could be my last swim of the year. I pushed it. It hurt, but soon I was onto the bike after being in the water for 1:11. (I was on track for my 11 hour race! Now all I needed was 6 hours on the bike and a 3:45 run; it was going perfect.)
Even when I didn’t factor my final push on the swim was going to affect my shoulder and holding myself into aerobars, it didn’t phase me because I had spent most of my training on my road bike and knew I could push the power I needed to make it through in 6 or under. 2 laps – go steady on the first, then start negative splitting on the last, even start out conservatively, that was the plan and I stuck to the plan. 180km and 60 into the ride, I found myself with the 2nd flat of the day – my rear tire this time. Quickly I hopped off, pumped my Pit Stop into the wheel and pressed on with my fastest split of the day at that point. All was good and onward to the back half of the loop. The final hill was electrifying, lined with spectators from top to bottom, filled with music in the air and signs blowing in the wind. Tears fill my eyes as I am quickly reminded why I do this, the excitement from within makes me feel so happy to be alive. There is no greater feeling than what I feel right now.
It is an unfortunate feeling when that feeling can be taken away so quickly, after 100km my rear tire flats out again. Still, without panic I know something needs to be done – I need a mechanic. I use all the Pit Stop and CO2 I have to get my bike rolling for the next 5k, where the next aid station was. Even with that, I come riding on my rims. HELP is on the way…or not. Plenty of items for a clincher, not a single item to help a tubular. There wasn’t even a spare wheel I could use. Hell, I couldn’t even find someone on a road bike and give my carbon wheel for their every-day rider wheel. After 20 minutes of trying everything I could, defeated came over me, and like a 3 year old in a toy store being told no, I had my tantrum where I very dramatically fell to my knees, threw my head to the ground (helmet hitting the ground of course) and proceeded to sob uncontrollably for the next 15 minutes. It was over, just like that.
Once I was told someone would be around to pick up the stranded after the last rider went by, I decided to pull myself together and find a way back to the city on my own. The sympathetic volunteers got together and gave me money to buy a train ticket back to the city where I would find myself soon standing at T2 (the bike to run transition) waiting for my new found friend to make his way in. I had come this far – why not do the run with him? It was a good run.
I had traveled a long way to be here. I had trained the endless hours. I had done everything I could have to make the day go as perfect as I possibly could. It did not go perfect. Why? How? What went wrong?
Everything happens for a reason, and at the right time, for all the right reasons (a monk once told me). I search for that reason…still no answer. At the end of the day a DNF is a DNF, whether you had mechanical issues or you didn’t train and you physically couldn’t do it. There are no asterisks. You don’t get to explain. I feel incomplete. I feel sad. I feel angry. I have let myself down. I play over and over again in my head what I could have done differently even though the time has passed and it doesn’t make a difference. Now what? Where do I go from here?
Free bikes! And lots of other bikes!
Wind turbines off the coast between Denmark and Sweden and the canals through Copenhagen
an old barrack that now is a place for events and Christiana (a self-governed territory)
On the swim and bike course
it is so COLD here! (about to take the plunge)
Rev3 Portland Half – Portland, Oregon
A near perfect course; that is what the Rev3 Portland half distance course is to me, if only I could have had ocean water to swim. As you always find the Rev3 races to be well organized and fully supported with amazing staff and volunteers, I knew this race could be nothing less than a top quality operation.
Portland, Oregon – if you have never been, is a place where I believe every American should travel to at least once in their life. Great food, perfect summer racing weather and picturesque scenery that makes it almost difficult to race in because you just want to stop to take in the mountains, rivers and forest that surrounds you.
I knew I would be training through this race, but it would be my final prep-race before the KMD Challenge in Copenhagen. With already 250 miles of riding on my legs and 35 miles of running this week, I was looking forward to a hard day on the course and welcoming the fairly flat terrain. After I had crossed the finish line in Italy a month ago, I was truly looking forward to racing flat courses for the rest of the year.
It was going to be a quick trip to Portland, so as I always do, Friday I downloaded my pre-race material so I could go over the course in my head on the plane and be fully prepared by the time my plane landed. With my bike packed and all my gear ready to go on Saturday morning, I headed to the airport. About half way there I remembered I had forgotten to change my cassette on my racing wheels from the previous race…oh well, what can you do now – climbing gears for a flatter race. What is done is done.
I LOVE Pre-TSA! For all I deal with in all the traveling I do, the one great benefit I have now on national flights is my Pre-TSA boarding; no stripping down, taking off your shoes, pulling out all your computers and 3-1-1 bag – 30 seconds and you are through! I just need to be careful to never have a CO2 cartridge accidentally with me; I’d hate to get banned from this privilege. I get boarded and take off through to my first of two-legged journey and pull up my race day information file.
I want to be most efficient when I arrive in Portland, being on such a tight schedule, so I start reading through the logistics of check in and all that needs to be done. I get to the course; I need to visualize what I will be doing so I go over the swim course…sounds like cake. Swim out to the first buoy, left and keep the rest to the right of you. Since I am doing the longest race, go out to the last set – easy enough. Now to the bike…what…is something wrong here…this is not what I signed up for…is there a mistake…OMG, they changed the course!
Less than 24 hours before the race, I am just looking at the changes on the course and they are not even near from being flat. In fact, it is going to be one of the hilliest, technical courses I have done all year. Wow, I was not mentally prepared for that. But quickly decided to shift my own gears and go with it the best I could, besides, this type of bike course is always a favorite to me. Any opportunity to go fast…and I mean 45+mph fast, I am in! (Note to self: always look at the possibility of routes being changed at least a month in advance, not a day in advance)
You can’t always expect traveling to be seamless and this was one of those trips with the second leg being delayed, keeping me from getting to the race site early enough to have a relaxed afternoon. 3:30 flight lands, 4:30 car is picked up, 4:45 arrive at race site, check in and hear the end of race meeting, 5:00 hit the NormaTec booth for some serious leg compression action, 5:30 hit the road to drive the course that I now have to see.
And happy I was that I at least got to drive the course. Beautiful and engaging, filled with blind twisting turns going up and down in all directions, it is not a course you want to see for the first time in the race itself. Stunning Historic Route 30 takes you over the river and through the woods as you cross over the Columbia River Gorge 3 times, hit the Mt. Hood Scenic Byway, pass tree farms and horse farms, while taking on climbs that will last up to 5 miles long, covering a near 1000 foot gain. It will be exciting…challenging, but exciting. I was sad to have missed my team dinner because I choose to drive the course instead, but slept much better knowing what I had seen was something I could do without problem.
Without problem until…
Race morning everything was going great. Transition set up, I went back to the car to get a 30-minute nap and was feeling even better at the starting line. I take just behind the front row in the on-beach start and the horn goes off! 1, 2, 3 steps into the water, I am just above ankle deep and everything goes downhill – THWAP! There it was, I took a hard head blow to the face with an upright flailing elbow. I stumbled forward until I was able to get space to move forward by swimming instead of running, but in the first 50 meters my head was throbbing. After making it past the first buoy my head was hurting even worse, feeling dizzy and finding it hard to stay in a straight line, I kept telling myself it would be better once I was out of the water. After what seemed like an eternity of zigging and sagging across the small lake I finally hit shore 40 minutes later, resulting in a very slow swim and staggered to my bike.
I had convenience myself do just make it to the bike and I would feel okay, but even at that I found myself challenged to ride in a straight line, still dizzy I started my nutrition earlier than usual to see if that would remedy the problem. Holding out until the first aid station, I was forced to pull over to see if anyone had something for this excruciating headache I had been living with for over an hour now. After about 5 minutes at the aid station, I decided to forge on. At this point and knowing I had already lost 5 minutes off the clock, I knew I stood no chance for a prize (which at the starting line before the first 5 seconds of the race, I was feeling competitive) so I decided to back off the intensity to see what my head would do.
After hitting a series of twists and turns, feeling my head was cloudy and not sharp, I had to hold myself back from pushing the descents I knew I could take top speed, at one point I almost took my bike into the forest paths, rather than down the road. Odd, I had never felt this way before. I have put up with a lot in races, but never has my head felt this way before. “I can shake this off, I can shake it off, I just need a little more time”, I kept telling myself.
I tried. I tried all the way through the swim and on the bike. I tried through T2 and 200 meters into the run where I became more dizzy and unstable. I needed to go to the aid tent. There is nothing glorious about going to the aid tent, especially in the middle of the race and not at the finish line. More so, there is nothing great about it when you are there before the first finisher has crossed the line. After few tests of head movements and making me follow a pen with my eyes, and me getting nauseous and dizzy at almost every movement I did, it was determined I had a mild concussion. Wow, that never even occurred to me of that being a possibility.
Taking the philosophy of there will always be another day to race, I found no need to try to play hero and finish the race in a dazed cloud of confusion leaving myself to wonder if it was really worth it 3 weeks from now. It is always good to leave from a race feeling like you can’t wait to be able to have a do-over next year, rather than the feeling of – that sucked and never again. I left with the do-over feeling.
It was a great ride regardless. It was a great race. My only regret is that I didn’t get to hang with my team as much as I had hoped, but there will be a next one soon enough.