"The encounter was a victory, but we show it as an example of what not to do..." -Charlotte Blackwood, TAG Rep Miramar NAS
Sunday was my sixth attempt at the Columbia triathlon and back in 2007 was the sight of my first triathlon. Since then a lot has changed with me (No I did not used to be a woman, nor in prison), but most everything has stayed the same at Columbia. The swim has hills, the bike has hills, the run has hills. Heck even the free food at the end requires you to...climb a hill!
Got to the race site at 5am since I hate sitting in traffic and I really like to listen to all the infomercials on the radio that early. Did you know the benefits of Acaiberry Almond Horse Radish Smoothies? How about money making opportunities in Bangladesh? Well, neither did I before Sunday morning but apparently smoothies are a cure-all for everything and the Jute business in Bangladesh is off the hook.
Anyhow, I set up my bike in transition and noticed that the row for the Clydesdale's was, um, tight. Maybe CTA is trying to tell us something...After setting up transition and spending some time in my "office" I went to the MMTC tent where I hung out, loitered, and generally tried to not annoy anyone.
I had hoped for a 27-28 minute swim based off of a 1650 meter time trial, but any thoughts of that were quickly dispelled when I had the extra awesome fortune of swimming off 50 meters off course because I chased a kayak that looked a lot like a turn buoy.
If swimming after a kayak was the most intriguing part of my swim, then I am sure you'd be disappointed. Not wanting to disappoint, after my little kayak incident I got into a good rhythm and aside from sighting into the sun (Didn't our parents tell us something about looking directly into the sun?) everything was going OK until...I start getting a cramp in my left hamstring at the second turn buoy. Yeah, a cramp 12 minutes into a race when I had not cramped in a race in years.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.
To alleviate the cramp I stopped any and all kicking and tried to focus on keeping any lower body movements to a minimum. In other words, swim like a normal human.
Everything seemed fine until the last turn buoy when...wait for it...my swim cap came off taking my goggles with it. Yep 100 meters from the finish and I have to stop, unwrap my goggles, put them back on, and start swimming again. Awesome.
Got out of the swamp water, ran up to transition, saw that there weren't a lot of bikes in my row and, oh yeah, that cramp in my hamstring was still there.
Bike: 1:11:08 (21.1 mph)
Aside from fighting intermittent cramps in my quads and both hamstrings the bike was pretty uneventful. My new Shiv is an amazing bike and was really darn fast propelling me to my second fastest time on the course. I think sub-1:10 was a possibility for the day if I wasn't fighting cramps or traffic.
Speaking of traffic, I was astounded at how badly some people were riding their bikes. Lots of people were riding the yellow line like it was the yellow brick road. Unfortunately the Lollipop Guild (Aka the Moto Refs) weren't in the mood to tag people so it went unpunished.
Nutrition on the bike consisted of a 300 calorie bottle of EFS Grape and at each of the two aid stations I grabbed bottles of water and chugged those. The cramps kept up and at Mile 18 my right calf seemed to be jealous and decided to join the party. Sweet.
I was able to pass a fair number of Clydes on the bike including my arch rival Captain Fantastic at mile 10. Coming back on 108 there was, again, a lot of bad bike riding and I had to pass people far out into the lane.
Got back into transition and noticed there were three bikes in our row, which meant I had to chase.
For the run I had my Zoot Ovwas with Asics powder and a baggie with race number, salt tabs, and black headband to keep my hair our of my eyes and make me look like a bada$$.
I headed out of T2 a minute under my cumulative time goal and thought if I could run my goal of 43 mins, I had a shot at a PR...Those thoughts lasted about, oh, 100 feet.
Run: 45:59 (7:25)
Once I started moving down the aisle to start the run I knew something was wrong. Very wrong. Whereas on the bike my leg muscles were cramping intermittently and then fading, when I started the run all the cramps decided to say "We're BAAAACK!" so for the first 50 meters of the run I basically looked like a newborn pony trying to walk for the first time. Trust me it wasn't pretty.
I stopped at the rest stop right outside transition and grabbed three cups of water and downed three salt tabs. I hoped that was enough salt since, well, that's all I had.
The first two miles were 14:35 total, but my legs were trashed and I knew those miles are merely hard jabs in your legs, setting up the Gatorade Hill and neighborhood haymakers.
I actually considered dropping out at the Mile 2 bail point since each step brought more pain, but my pale (Ok, pasty) skin complexion notwithstanding, I am a Mexican, not a Mexican't. So I pressed on...
Once I made the decision to keep going I turned onto Gatorade Hill and plodded along. I wasn't having a lot of fun and downed 3 cups of water at the MMTC aid station.
Mile 3 was 7:40 something, as was Mile 4. A Mile 5 I knew I had to press since there was a fear that somehow someone was catching up to me. So I sucked it up, opened up the hurt locker and climbed in as I went up and over Gatorade Hill...
Coming onto the damn dam, I was really hurting and knew that the overall Clydesdale title was out of reach. I could have mailed it in from there, but then I saw another Clyde about 50 meters ahead of me and he was in the 39 and under AG.
Now I had to decide whether to go all Nuke Laloosh on him and announce my presence with authority by sprinting with .4 miles to go and risk Finishers Hill blowing me up or hang tight to the top of the hill and hope he had no sprint. Either was going to hurt a lot, but what the heck, put the chips in the middle of the table and see what happens. So I sprinted passed him and put 40 seconds into him over that last .4 of a mile.
I crossed the line and had no idea where I placed, if at all. I saw one Master Clydesdale at the finish and he said he'd been there for a minute. He also said there was one guy ahead of him who took the overall title.
At that point I knew I'd gotten an award, but the "shoulda, coulda, woulda" game started playing in my head. What if I swam straight? What if I don't cramp in the swim? What if my swim cap and goggles stayed on? What if, what if...
After about 30 mins of beating myself up I checked results and found out that I'd won the 39 and under Clydesdale title, the third time in four years that I took the title.
As much as I want to beat myself up over nothing going remotely according to plan in my race, I can't. For a wide variety of reasons both medical and personal, I am playing with house money when it comes to endurance sports and I am happy with the result.
Sure the meandering swim, the unexplained cramping, and my run failing me were tough to stomach, but I stuck it out and posted a decent time on a tough course in warm conditions. And I won an award, which never, ever gets old.