Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dinah: 1. Death: 0.

I finished!
We Win!!!

I thought I was gonna die, but I didn't. Dinah: 1. Death: 0. As for the whole rundown of how I did, I warn you now--it ain't pretty. Oh, and it's a long story, so if you just want to skip ahead to my slow, slow times, they're at the bottom.

Race Day started when Mac & I left the hotel with plenty of time to get to the race site, get me into the transition area & set up my gear, and call/text all my race buddies to make sure we could meet up. Then, we got lost. I ended up getting into the transition area with about 5 minutes to set up all my gear and get the heck out. I found my friend Loren, who suckered me into this in the first place, and ended up hanging with her until our wave started. Just as we were waiting to get into our swim corral, my friends Susan & Hilary found me! After many hugs and high fives all around, it was time to swim.

I'd done one other open water swim before this, but nothing prepared me for this. The water was super choppy and there was a strong current pulling everyone to the left. I started off with my nice long stroke and my "I'm a superhero!" mantra (I know it's silly, but it usually works), and then there'd be water in my face, in my mouth, up my nose. Then I'd realize I'd been pulled by the current and I'd have to get back on track. Then I'd get kicked in the face. I didn't experience any bad anxiety, thank God, and I never needed a noodle to hang on to, but the whole thing was a struggle. After all my careful training, I did a whole lot of doggy-paddle & sputtering. My best time in the pool was around 27 minutes; this swim took 37.

Still, finishing the swim was thrilling! I hauled my dizzy butt through my first transition slowly and still managed to forget my sunglasses (a big bummer on bike on a sunny, windy day). And then I was off on the bike.

First of all, the bike course was full of more hills than I ever expected or trained on. Second, the hybrid bike I rented was easily 50% heavier than my bike at home. Third, it was super windy out there. So, not the best conditions ever. BUT I biked up most the hills (and walked/pushed my bike up a few steep ones, because, OW), and used the downhills and flats to pick up speed. The wind was a little scary, but knowing how hard the uphills would be I knew I'd need the momentum (and help on the time), I just decided "No Fear!!" and peddled and went as fast as I could. It was a beautiful course, as well. Had the course been a little flatter, I probably could have done it in a nice, respectable time. As it is, I finished the bike in an hour and 16 minutes.

By the time THAT was done, I was exhausted. Had it not been Race Day, and someone asked me to even go on a light, breezy walk, I would have been like, "Um, no. The only left on my agenda today is a bath, some ice cream and a good book, THANKS."

But it WAS Race Day.

God Bless Loren Faye in this moment. Because as I pulled into the transition area, there she was, waiting for me. She'd kicked my butt in the swim and the bike, and now had a super-long transition time waiting for me so we could do the 5k together. When started walking she asked, "Are you still going to be my friend after this, since I talked you into one of the Hardest Races Ever?" To which I replied (in between panting), "Um, DUH." And here's where we were just really slow (totally my fault) and walked pretty much the whole 5k. Even when I got my legs back, I just couldn't do it. Y'all it was HOT. The high for the day was 99, so we had to be walking in about 95 degrees of blazing hot sun. And as much as I was super hydrated and fueled with proper nutrition & sports drinks, the heat was just really brutal. (My friend Susan warned me about the heat and I tried to train in heat & acclimate before the race, but our lovely Southern California weather never went over 80/85 in the last weeks leading up the race.) There was a long hill at the end of the course (what sadist plotted THAT out, I'd like to know??), and the heat actually HURT. But with Loren's help, and the ice cold water of some fabulous volunteers, and all the support I knew I had to finish, I just kept plugging away.

I would have liked to have done more jogging this whole time (Straight up: I jogged for the cameras, and that's about it). In the end, my legs aren't as wrecked as I actually think they should have been. And I keep looking back at this part and feeling frustrated that I didn't get to do all the jogging I'd trained.

But when we finally spotted the finish line I finally just thought, "F--- it," and jogged the last, like, 50/100 yards of the course. I got a double high five from Danskin spokeswoman and professional hard-core triathlete Sally Edwards as I crossed the finish line, got my medal and my water, and seriously felt like I might throw up. I think if I'd done any more jogging in that heat, I definitely would have thrown up, if not passed out. So it's probably best for my health that I didn't jog, I guess, but my final time for the 5k was a super-slow 55 minutes. UGH.

(Also: after doing the whole race and feeling more hot & exhausted then I've ever felt before, we had to walk about 1.5 miles back to the car. I thought I was gonna die.)

Overall, this event was the hardest thing I've ever chosen to do. It's also one of the BEST THINGS I have ever chosen to do. First of all, I made some awesome new friends by doing this (What up TEAM QUESO!!) But mostly, throughout the whole event, I kept thinking, "This water is really choppy (blrargh/garrgle/spleft/mloey/pleh/sputter) . . . but I'm gonna do this anyway." "Trying to bike up these hills on this bike, in this wind, is really super painful (Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow.).... but I'm gonna keep peddling anyway." "Just walking in this brutal heat, after everything else I've already done today, is one of the most exhausting things I've ever done, and I really want to stop. (OMG I'm dying!) But I won't stop; I'm going to keep walking anyway."

It ended up being this profound experience. The medal we all get when we finish the Danskin says, "The woman who starts the race is not the same woman who finishes the race." Truer words were never printed on a pointy metal award. After all, the next time I find myself in a tough spot, faced with doing something I'd rather not do, I think I'll be a whole lot less likely to quit. I think I'll just plow ahead and do it anyway.

So. Will I do it again? You bet your sweet bippy I will. (And I'm taking some of you with me, so look out!!) This event has not only taught me so much about training, and what I need to do for the next one. All my training for this one didn't really prepare me for all the conditions of the course, but it did prepare my overall strength and stamina. And willpower, for that matter.

This race has also forced me to give up my old mantle of "Most Un-athletic Person I Know." Which, aside from raising money for breast-cancer research, is the main reason I wanted to do this. I just got tired of being this sad sack of couch potatoes, moping around going, "I'm just not athletic/coordinated/good at sports. I can't do athletic things." I set out on this journey to prove to myself that I CAN do athletic things if I want to. I might not be the fastest or strongest, but I can do it if I want to!!

And now I am officially a tri-athlete. I haven't signed up for any other races yet, but I will. I want to keep up my training, of course. Plus, man, I have GOT to get a better time. And then a better one, and then a better one....

Finally, I just want to say THANK YOU to all of you who have been reading along this journey for all your love and support and prayers--they helped so very much. Also: Thank you to Amy for introducing me to Athleta, home of the world's cutest workout gear. Thank you to Matti, for all the travel-sized beauty products that really came in handy this whole weekend. A HUGE thank you to Team Queso, for all the supportive emails leading up to this race, for encouraging me when I thought I couldn't keep going, and for the actual queso (and cake, and beer) after the race.

And, of course, Big Love and gratitude to my dear friend Loren, for talking me into this in the first place, and then waiting for me and sticking with me that whole walk. I am so proud of us for crossing that finish line together--We Rock Shut Up!!

And, last but not least, my fabulous husband Mac, who encouraged me on the days I didn't want to go to the gym, who listened when I went on and on about all my training endeavors, who didn't bat an eyelash no matter how much I spent on gear (this sport ain't cheap, y'all), and who never once wavered in his belief in me, that I could do this.

Thank you thank you thank you everyone! And don't forget, the next time I do this, I'm taking you with me!

--
My Results

Oerall Rank

Class Rank

Swim

Swim Rank

Trans1

Bike

Bike Rank

MPH

Trans2

Run

Run Rank

Pace

Final

2473 of 2592

327 of 376

00:37:33

2304

00:08:12

01:16:34

2473

09.4

00:05:49

00:55:45

2468

00:17:59

03:03:53

3 comments:

iBrett said...

Classic title.

Congratulations Dinah. While reading this post (which I enjoyed thoroughly), I couldn't help but think of the words attributed to Sister Pollard and immortalized by Martin Luther King, Jr., "My feets is tired, but my soul is rested."

It's been a long journey. Enjoy the victory.

Kim said...

You rock, Shut UP!

- The M.A.D. Hapa said...

Today Austin.

Tomorrow The World!.