Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Licking the Big Lick!

Until last Sunday, this was the only guy who knew that I was secretly planning to once again take on the monster of my nightmares....the Olympic Triathlon. Morgantown was such a complete disaster. If I didn't try again this season, who knew how big that monster could become by next spring.

So I signed up for the Big Lick Olympic at Smith Mountain Lake. Steve decided that rather than Sherpa (he's really not cut out for the whole sherpa experience anyway) he would do it with me as a training race.

Huddleston, VA is a four hour drive from here. I was antsy to leave early Friday, I had hoped to get a swim in the lake the day before the race. But it wasn't meant to be. I mean we did get there early, but I saw both a boat and a jet ski tooling around the little beach area and if there's anything that scares me more than open water swimming, it's open water swimming when there's motorized watercraft about.

I told Steve I wanted to get to transition at 7 a.m. even though the race didn't start until 9 a.m. We got there at 7 a.m., got great parking and were one of the first five folks in transition! Steve was loving it! Never in the history of our time together have I been the one to push the morning pace. Not on local 5k and 10k race days, not on century ride days and certainly not on Steve race days.

We had consecutive race numbers so we were right next to each other in transistion. I thought that was a really good omen; well for me anyway. Steve, being Steve, felt compelled to do double duty and checklist his area and then mine. The odd fact is that Steve is a better sherpa when he's racing with me than if he's a spectator. Probably a sign of a man whose at his best under double transistion pressure on race day.

Obviously the spectator gig works well for me even if I am racing.

At the risk of sounding like Amanada L. let me just say here that for the very first time on an event morning I was able to poo before the race. Usually it is an accomplishment that eludes me on those stressful mornings, yet the lack of it sort of lingers. I used to think AL was alittle weird about the whole poo thing. Now I think she is definitely on to something. I really felt like part of the 'load' of race day was lifted after that.

Anyway, we did a quick warmup on the bikes just to make sure everything was in working order. Then put on wetsuits and headed down the lake. The water actually warmed my frozen toes (the first good sign) it was mostly clear and fresh tasting (second good sign) and we swam a really nice relaxing 200 meters (third good sign).

Got out of the water in time for race announcements and then headed to the start. The collegiate crowd goes first and we all watched as the obviously 'used to the pool' swimmers got horribly lost without a black line and walls and swam totally off course. Then the ladies 45 and under went, mostly alot of light splashing and polite waiting.

Then Steve's wave; men 35 and up. He always seeds himself towards the front and I'm always amazed he comes out alive. Those guys are ruthless; it was hard to see anything but arms and splashing. One guy I swear was sending up a rooster tail with his kicking!

I was in the 'miscellaneous' wave. Women 45 and up, novices, relay racers, athenas and clydesdales. I seeded myself in the back (this is only my second open water swim race after all) and the gun went off. I had planned to try a bit of drafting and hung on with the group for a while. The problem was that I could not see a damn thing but them in front of me. If they veered off course, I was going to be going right with them. Not knowing these folks or their navigational skills, but armed with the knowledge that they could be old ladies or novices, I decided to let them go, slow down and just swim alone.

At the first bouy I had a momentary panic attack. I don't know why; there was no obvious reason. I don't really believe in reincarnation but my fear and phobia in the water since learning to swim last March makes me think I must have drowned in a former life. A wave of desperation just came out of nowhere. I almost stopped, decided not to stop but swam for a few moments completely disappointed in the realization that I would not be able to be a triathlete because I couldn't control this primal fear of the water. I can only describe it as an overwhelming instinctive sense that if I don't get out, I'm going to die. This time I swam anyway, in Morgantown I gave in and stopped. This time the feeling went away. YAHOO!!! I do get to be a triathlete, I do get to be a triathlete!!!

The rest of the swim was just perfect. I saw the police boat enough to know I was close to last but not enough to actually think I was last. I finished in 43 minutes; within 6 seconds of beating Sarah's Morgantown swim time which was my secondary goal and killed my Morgantown swim time of an embarassing 1:06 which had been my primary goal.

The bike was awesome. A very hilly course, not quite parkway hills but much bigger than williamsburg hills; but perfect roads the whole way! I loved it. I stayed aero more often than not which is something I usually have a hard time with during races.

As I started the run, Steve was finishing the race so I got to see him finish. I love watching him race so that was awesome and as usual he looked focused and strong.

I always feel better running after biking then I ever do just heading out for a run. I never do bricks in training but never have a problem with transitioning from bike to run. So I felt really good at the start of the run. Around mile 4 I started feeling tired, the course was always either up or down. My run was slow but still much better than Morgantown.

All in all my first successful triathlon experience and I loved it. This winter it's master's swim and definite weight training.

Even Kitty expressed surprise and delight at my successful finish:


Russ, Bren and Lance said...

CONGRATULATIONS MISSY!!! Sounds like your first olympic was a breeze!

BreeWee said...

Missy, this was such a fun FUN fun read! Your Steve sounds incredible, what a guy to check your transition area for you and support your goals!

Way to race & get back out there, and I wish I felt as good running off the bike as I do just running...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comments about my hair :o) I'm due for another cut :o)

My brother's mom in law was a triathlete- an amazing woman...perhaps that's how you found my blog ?

I would love to see you have success in your athletic advenures! Best wishes in all you do :)

P.S. Your daughters are beautiful!

TrainingtoTri said...

Congratulations! I have the same fear in the water and totally understand, it is such a wierd feeling to freak for no reason. I hate it, I hope to conquer that fear next year. Good job.

Astro said...

You kick butt!