It’s been 8 days since my 8th time racing Hawaii Ironman 70.3 in Kona. And on this 8th time, I can once again say that I learn something new every race.
It took AT LEAST these 8 past days to MOURN what I felt was a sub-par finish. I was hoping for better; but, I made a few rookie mistakes and at the end of the day, it was what it was.
And I try to remember the silver lining…
It wasn’t all for not. I finished better than last year. I raced 18 months post proctocolectomy surgery (not 6 months post-op as I did in 2016). I came to play in a very different body and mind (lighter, stronger, fitter, more confident). And I did all of my training homework leading up to race day. I arrived at the race ready.
Mistake #1: Don’t forget all of your bike bottles at home on race day
Yes, I did. All of my carefully, planned out calories for which I trained all year with, sat in the refrigerator for the entire race day waiting for me, all nice and cold, when I returned home after the race.
Action Plan #1: I didn’t freak out. Lekeli’s look on his face when I told him, freaked me out more, so I knew I had to remain calm for the both of us LOL.
Coach Raul reminds us that triathletes can be a bunch of pussies-obsessed with our gadgets, fancy equipment and complicated nutrition. I knew there were aid stations along the bike course and I would make due.
Lesson Learned: I need a written list attached to my front door as a last check. I used to do this when I first started in triathlon, as a total newbie. I blame it on being flustered, but I think this forgetfulness is a side affect of turning 40.
Mistake #2: If you borrow equipment, make sure you have the right tools
Despite being off my nutrition game, I was having an amazing bike ride with minimal effort. On the turn around, I was elated knowing I could hit a 3 hour or less bike and finally, my excitement and happy place returned. I was on fire bombing downhill miles 35 to 40 and then…all I heard was the devil furiously hissing at me. In shock and in denial, I kept pedaling despite getting slower and slower and slower.
I had a FLAT TIRE!
Action Plan #2: Stay calm. We’ve had many drills in clinic to practice this very thing and so I go through the same motions. Old tire out, check tire, check flat, new tube in, and WTF. It all stopped there and my heart sank. I had deep dish wheels and my old wheels tubes, so my tube’s stem wasn’t long enough to get air into the tire. I went crazy; yelling out to passer bys for long stemmed tubes, for tech support. After several minutes, my Boca Buddies Scott and Marcy stopped to give me all of their stuff. I was able to get the tire changed and then…
Mistake #3: If you have a CO2 dispenser make sure you know how to use it
I bombed all the CO2 cartridges and my tire was barely alive. I needed a hand pump. I rolled on my fairly flat tire until I reached a tech van who was assisting another rider. After a few minutes of waiting, the amazing tech dude pumped up my tire and I was speedily on my way, back on the course with 15 miles to finish!
Mistake #4: Don’t kill yourself trying to salvage your bike time
I never felt a sense of urgency like I did at that very moment. I knew I could still pull off a decent bike time, so I made the most serious of all mistakes – I bombed all my cookies in those last 15 miles and by the last mile finish, both of my quads tapped out. I never had both legs instantly seize up on me, forcing me to coast. Every pedal stroke induced a cramp. I had no clue what I was going to do when I had to dismount my bike in T2.
Action Plan #3: I spent a longer than usual time in T2 trying to get my shit together. I ate, drank, used cold water, took sport legs, everything I could to get my legs back to at least shuffle mode. I took the first 3 miles SUPER SLOW hoping they would open up. But soon 3 miles came and went and I knew the damage was done. It was too late.
Action Plan #4: Fake it till you make it…
I had no energy and no will to move my legs any faster or to hold anything resembling a steady jog, so I opted for 1 minute fast walk, 1 minute jog and continued in that fashion for the last 6 miles. To keep my mind off my misery, I knew I needed to find a friend and soon into my jaunt, I found a fellow Boca mate Hilda who was cramping even worse than I had been. We worked together to get across that finish line, in pain but happy to be done.
Lesson Learned: Exhale gratitude
I couldn’t stop beating myself up as I watched my goal timeSSS slip away. And although I did fixate on everything that I did wrong, I did have a sense of appreciation for my body in that moment.
It may have not gone as fast as I’d hoped, but I was grateful for my body allowing me to once again accomplish this feat. There were no stomach issues. There were no bathroom pit stops over and over and over again. There was no heat rash side affects from Prednisone. There was no anxiety about what my stomach had in store for me next.
At this very moment, I cannot say I look forward to revisiting Honu in 2018. And of course, I say that every year. I took a week off to GYM it and I can already tell I am getting bored. Yet, I don’t know if I have the energy to once again train for such an event, and in that same breath, I don’t know who I am without the sport.
I keep in my heart, something my friend Beth told me, weeks before race day… Beth said that I would need to do Honu in 2018 regardless. She put it like this, my Honu 2016 was recovery, Honu 2017 is rebuilding and Honu 2018 will be my year of restitution. Maybe Beth will join me???!!! 🙂