Sunday, June 14, 2009

Last. Dead Last.

Today I "raced" the Capital View Triathlon in Madison, WI. I did the Olympic distance and had a blast. Oh yeah, and I came in last. Not just last in my age group, I was the last person to cross the finish line. Most people would probably be disappointed or angry, I actually am still giggling about it. I have to tell you first that it was my first Olympic distance and it was just a training race. My "A" race is the Chicago Triathlon in August. This was to prepare me for what to expect as far as distance and highlight my areas that need work.

Before I get to the race report, it's important that you understand that this race is not an accurate representation of my personality or general racing style. I wasn't treating this like a race (as evidenced by my complete lack of nervousness pre-race, which surprised the h-e-doublehockeysticks out of my husband btw). I am still the same old overly competitive, type-A crazy that my friends and family have come to know and love. I am just looking at things a little differently since my half-marathon.

I have come to the realization that not one person outside of myself truly cares what my race times are. They are excited if I meet my goal (in this case: Finish), and make a sad face if I miss it. Mostly people just respond to my mood. So far, since I have been laughing about it, people have found my last place finish pretty amusing as well & I get "but that's awesome that you finished it." And that's absolutely true.

If nothing else, I have the tenacity of a something or other and my leg could have fallen off and I was going to finish that race. So, while I may have come in last place, I kind of still won in a way (yeah, that's cheeze n' rice, I know). Anyway, if you're still with me, here is how the race went:

Overall Review
Very hilly, nice & sunny, it got hot - perfect morning though & the water was smooth as glass. Sa-weet! The race itself was really well run & I was very happy. Tons of water stations on the run & there were swim buddies all over. This one I'd definitely do again (and plan to actually)! I have a bone to pick with that race now, haha.

The Swim
I am not a strong swimmer yet. This swim was kind of a triumph for me actually. I swam a continuous 1500 meters (.9 mile for my fellow Americans). I did it in my Blueseventy Sprint wetsuit. At first I was spazzing, my breathing was irregular, I couldn't get a rhythm. I was a mess. A girl next to me asked if I was OK and my response was "Yes, thanks - I always freak out at the beginning of swims." I front crawled, breast-stroked, and (mostly) back stroked my way to the finish. By the last 2/3 of the swim I was front crawling and breathing every third stroke. Unfortunately this was too late the leg fatigue damage was already done. I was, however, freaking STOKED that I swam the whole way!

The Bike
I consider cycling to be my best sport of the three. I am pretty good at climbing (thanks mostly to my triple crank). But, I haven't ever swam almost a mile and then hopped on my bike. Oops. Legs were TIRED. Tired legs + hills = BAD. Very, very bad! Right out of the gate, I blew past about 15 people ( it was a slow swim, I had time to make up). But then the first hill came... uuuuuugh. My left hamstrong hurt & my right calf was really tight - and, wth, my butt muscles hurt. I had to stop once to adjust my brakes because the front was rubbing, I lost the people that I had passed originally.

Anyway, suffice it to say I had to push the whole 24 miles & I was so far behind that there were a few times when I considered giving up altogether. That's when I started having a mental 'chat' with myself. The following conversations took place with myself:
  • Internal: If you quit, you'll feel like a loser.
  • External: If you quit, you'll have to tell people and feel like a loser.
  • Bribery: If you don't quit, you can stop at the Denny's by the hotel and get the French Slam and eat some &$*#ing bacon!
  • Internal again: There is no shame in finishing last, there's only shame in quitting. No one but you really cares about your finishing time anyway.
I was slow the whole way, but I pushed through and finished!

The Run
I had little left to give to the run. It was a trail run, and a hilly one at that. I started to run but my legs hurt SO badly, especially my left hammy and my hips. I decided I'd walk the first mile. By the end of the first mile I was still in a hilly section so walked the hills and ran the downhills/flats. Finally, I gave up on that plan because my heart rate was insane at this point and just walked. I then ran all of mile 5 and the last .25 mile of the race. Lame, I know.

What I learned
  • Swim form is unbelievably important. It's not just another thing for coaches to bug you about, really!
  • I need more combination workouts - bricks, as it were.
  • I still hate running. If it was a person, I'd want to punch running in the face!
  • I need to cycle at higher speeds during training. I need a speedometer, RPMs are telling me nothing and my Garmin GPS is failing with the cadence monitor.
  • I need a Trakkers GPS because I took so long that my husband thought I had gotten injured & carted off to the hospital. Or I just need to get faster.
  • I like distance swimming more than I thought I ever could!
  • Coming in last doesn't feel as awful as I had thought. I figured I'd be embarrassed but it's been kind of a fun story.
That said, I can be a good sport about my last place spot. But, don't look for it to happen again. Once is funny. Twice is time to find a new sport. I'll be beyond ready for the Chicago Triathlon & you won't even know it's the same racer.

P.S. My husband thinks I'm tough & is unbelievably proud of me, as are my parents & sister. I try not to let outside opinions affect me, but this makes me :-)

P.P.S. I had a BLAST today! When I was walking (the run portion), I was thinking about how I should sign up for an extra sprint this summer. I'm a sicko, haha.


triitagain said...

Great story. I've never done Oly distance, so finishing is nothing to sneeze at.

H Ax. said...

I follow you on twitter. Congrats on the finish. Finishing is the most important thing, not your time! I am in training for my first Olympic distance this August. Your swim story gives me deja vu back to my first swim start last July. I hated swimming last summer, but I started Masters swim last fall and now I really enjoy swimming. I still get freaky at starts, but it's getting better!

Great story! Keep on bloggin'

ramster said...

congrats on pushing through and the great memory making :)

Samantha said...

Hooray for finishing! So awesome and so glad you had fun doing it!

meherczeg said...

you have an awesome attitude about the race! my first sprint is in 2 weeks, and i'm not even touching oly until september! question -- why do you think your legs were so tired from swimming? just not used to the wetsuit? the one thing i like about the swim is my legs more or less drag along behind me resting up for the rest of the race...
(meherczeg from BT!)

Samantha said...

Thanks for the support guys!

Marilyn - I kicked too much because I wasn't swimming the crawl enough. I barely kick now when I crawl (after a lot of work) but I was back stroking and using my legs a LOT to keep forward motion. Not smart - but live & learn! :-)

untpawgal02 said...

Happy to hear you have a great attitude towards your last place finish. I know some people... eh hem... me... would be devastated. Glad you learned many lessons from this race!

Tiggs said...

you rock! :)

Juan Montoya Btikbat Consuelo III said...

first Olympic distance

is a major accomplishment.

lol@bribery. in for bacon!

Gina Harris said...

It's awesome that you even attempted a tri! I would still be trying to finish the swim part when everyone else finished the whole thing. :)

Way to go!

Isela said...

I love it! I am so happy that you enjoyed it. It is not all about winning, sometimes it is about finishing that counts, enduring to the end. You did it and that is what counts!

Anonymous said...

congrats on your race! seriously I always feel like the races that don't go as planned are the best to learn from and make you a stronger athlete. Love your outlook :)

Collin Kromke said...

You kicked my ass, and the asses of all the other lazy people who didn't make the time to train. Sorry again for not making it to this one so I could finally meet you. Hopefully next year I'll be more reliable.

Anonymous said...

An amazing accomplishment! I wear a bracelet that says, "Embrace the Journey." And sometimes...that's what it's all about...learning about the stuff we're made of. Obviously, your made of good, strong stuff, girl! Chicago Tri peeps better watch out!

Sheila said...

I love your race report. I though the shorty sprint-distance tri that I did was hard. I want to do an oly one like you some day. It is great to be able to read other people's experiences, and hopefully learn from them. Good deal on finishing your race. You are tough!

MJ said...

This was a great report - love the "mental chat" section. CONGRATULATIONS!

Shane Kelly said...

Nice work SK! Go Team UnTerrible! I have less than three weeks to my HIM to at least come in second last!

Jamie said...

Wow. Learning experience much?

Glad you still kept the spirits up and pushed through it.

When you make the jump up to a HIM or half marathon, let me know. I'll try to hook you up with a Trakkers GPS if I can. :-)

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