Monday, September 10, 2007

Changing Gears

Things have been incredibly busy as Paul and I get into our new fall semester routine. Those first few weeks always seem a bit overwhelming, but things calm and a change of venue sometimes helps.

On Labor Day, I had the joy of watching Paul have one of his best racing days to date. It wasn't so much that it was his fastest day ever it what just what he was able to do given his schedule and how busy his life is. Melissa put it perfectly: "That's AWESOME that Paul did so well at the race! It's almost unbelievable that he can balance a full time job, full time school (and be doing so well, Mike told me about his grades), a marriage, AND still somehow manage to keep in race shape. Wow. I'd say it was unbelievable instead of almostunbelievable (in that it can't be true, something must be giving), except that it's Paul we're talking about so I buy it. What a great guy you found, Mer!" He swam fair, but given that he had only done about 5 swims it was excellent, he biked great, and he ran incredible. He has this switch, which many don't, that he can drive through and almost relish in the suffering his body might be enduring to push and be so strong. It is always just incredible for me to see. Those that have seen him race hard, know what I am saying.

Paul Terranova 26:22.2, 2:06.2, 34:44.2 (swim 1500m, bike 40K, run 10K)

At the race, I saw Cam who is the race director of the Dilloman tri. She told me that this year they were going to have any XTerra race on Saturday and a sprint tri on Sunday. She put a bug in my ear to head out and do the races. She then even sent me an email to increase the peer pressure. I wasn't sure...I hadn't had my mountain bike on the trails in years, my road bike was very comfortably on my trainer, and my only swimming had been for recovery in the pool. What combo of this had me prepared for the events this past weekend??

Again, life has been very busy so honestly as the end of the week was rolling around the prospect of an adventure was sounding better and better. Friday afternoon, off I went to sign-up. It had been so long since I had done a triathlon that my USAT card was expired...scary, scary stuff. I came home, packed up my mountain bike for day one and my gear. It felt so odd because it certainly did not seem like much gear was needed. I am so used to packing for ultras, this was quite simple. I woke up Saturday morning and headed to Pace Bend Park for race number #1. The race consisted of an 800 meter swim, a 14 mile mountain bike, and a 5k trail run with some fun inserted in. Fortunately, it was a small race so it was a good start back into triathlon. The swim was uneventful, I was 3rd woman out of the water, but the mountain bike was another story. It was hard. Not impossible hard, but not super easy for not having been on my mountain bike in years. The flats and downhills were great, but the climbs with ledges were major off my bike walkers...I was so not brave. At one point I missed a turn or intersection and had to bushwhack my way back onto the course. I have marks to prove that wasn't easy. Anyway, I got back on course and saw where I had gone wrong on the second loop. Unfortunately, I think I cut off about 2 miles...not for sure but that is what it seemed like on the second loop. Anyway, I headed back into transition thrilled to be on the run and figured I would at least finish the course and let them know that I had made my own course at one point. The run was AWESOME. We had to swim through a cove twice and climb up some ropes on the ridge by the water. It was the most fun 5k I have ever done! I came into the finish having had the best time. Just what I needed!! On a side note, because the race was small the race director was nice enough to give us who had creative bike courses (there were a number of us) race times. I think this was because it was a small race. Trust me, I put the full race distance in effort out there :)

Race number #2 was a sprint triathlon at the same venue on Sunday. I woke up not terribly sore from the day before, but had pretty bad blisters from biking with my mountain bike shoes without socks, major rookie mistake!! I put lube in my shoes and on my ankles and just figured I would suck it up. I got to the race, and realized that this was a great low-key event. I saw some people I know, but really just kind of did my own thing. I went for a swim warm-up with a friend and then headed over to the swim start. Pre-race I had taken two Succeeds and ate 2 packages of Sport Beans. Honestly, hadn't really planned much on the nutrition front for the event. I had looked at some times of similar races, and decided I would be happy to go under 1:20....pretty interesting to have a time goal when I hadn't put the three events together in 2 and 1/2 years. Again, the swim was uneventful, I was 4th woman in my group out of the water. Transition was funny because you had to run carrying your bike out of transition and on this dirt path to the road...not so easy in bike shoes. At the mount line, I jumped on my bike to the cheers of the guys from the bike shop. They were pretty shocked to see me on my bike racing. They know that I haven't raced in sometime and I take pride that I do all of my bike riding on the trainer in the house. I headed out on the bike actually feeling pretty darn good. The course was hilly, but fine. I passed people constantly. I got passed by two people, one lady that is about to do Ironman Hawaii and another lady that got out of the swim with her. I figured if I could keep them in my sights I could get them on the run, hopeful thinking. I kept riding hard and cheered for all of those I passed. I don't know that they were used to being cheered for during a triathlon, but seemed a bit receptive. I passed one guy who actually ended up staying with me on the last miles of the course. As we were about to dismount he came up to my side and said thanks for the push on the bike, and I told him to stay with me on the run for my favorite part of the race. We dismounted and I followed his lead through transition, no longer carrying my bike by rolling on the rocks and prickled grass of transition...not so worried about the flat after ride!! I saw the two ladies head out on the run as I was putting my running shoes on. Off I mind you that I haven't done a brick workout in years, so this was going to be interesting. I passed the first lady right aways and at the first turn I came up to Jen. She had been 5 minutes behind me from the swim wave so she needed to stay less than 5 minutes away from me to beat me. I ran passed her and went for the only woman in front of me. Unfortunately I ran out of property. I went from 1 minute down to 12 seconds... I ended up 6th woman because the woman from the waves behind me got me on the bike. Not bad for my second triathlon of the weekend and first weekend of tris in a long time.

This weekend gave me more than just good placement. It brought about a great change of pace, sense of adventure, and excitement for all things possible. I can swim in open water well, although much better if I actually trained; I can get on my mountain bike and not break or injure anything, and I can run strong off the bike mostly because I am trying to learn to run like Paul. I am working to tap into that wonderful place he can go...still cheering for those around and pushing as hard as I can. I think so often I have this fear of the unknown. I like to do what I know I can do well. But it was just like me letting go at Headlands...when I let my body do what it wants to instinctively do I have a great time doing it.

I have to take a moment to thank Cam, Maggie, Jamie, and everyone who created awesome races this weekend and were so positive and so great cheering for everyone all over the courses. They also really recruited some great that is always fun. Thank you for encouraging me to do something different this past weekend. It has renewed my spirit and sense of adventure. It's all possible; you just have to show up!!

Oh and a bit more great news...I found out Nicole and Dan got engaged AND Jim, one of my swimmers, shaved 4 minutes off of his swim time!! How's that for showing up to practice and working hard. I am very proud! And, thanks Jan for the cheers :)

Have a great week! mer


Erin said...

Congratulations, Mer! You are such a rockstar.

PS - I did feel guilty when reading about Jim's swimming improvements. Ugh!

Heavin' said...

Congrats on a great race! Next time you will have to drink a mimosa with us.