So I apologize... this is MUCH longer than it should be.
At the end of last season, I broke up with Triathlon. I said, “Triathlon, you make me feel like a failure (slow), you hurt me (fish hook in foot at Smallwood), you are jealous of the time I spend with other activities, you make me cry (at basically every race I did last year), and you never live up to my expectations. So I think we should be over.”
So I went cold turkey on Triathlon all winter/spring, but did occasionally see Swimming or Biking, and had a brief flirtation with Running around the Cherry Blossom 10-miler. I had a new job that frequently required 12 hour + days, and didn’t really have time to miss Triathlon anyway. However, Triathlon kept showing up in my life. We have too many mutual friends, and so he was always around, making things awkward, and asking for forgiveness. I was hesitant to give Triathlon another shot, especially since I knew a busy June at work and trip to Europe in July were going to cut down on our summer bonding time. However, in May I finally relented and signed up for North East (Olympic).
So… because of the break up, with the exception of a long ride with Katie and Lori two weeks ago (and I guess that CHB ride where I bit it hard/cracked my helmet), I hadn’t really ridden any hills since last fall. I hadn’t run 6 miles since the Cherry Blossom 10 miler. And I’d neglected m/w/f practices at EMP, much less doing any open water swimming since Nations. To add insult to injury, I spent last weekend in the ER (long, unnecessary story—I’m really OK), which turned my taper week into a try-to-get-better week, and I didn’t actually have Dr. approval to race. Oops. BUT… I’d promised Triathlon another shot, and so I set the following rules for our date this morning: 1) I’d race Jedi-style, taking off my bike computer and focusing only on how I felt, and 2) I set only two goals for myself: to have fun, and not end up back in the ER.
So, one of the problems getting back together with Triathlon is that I’d forgotten a lot of things about our previous relationship (like what I ate on race morning last season). Note for the future of our relationship: a couple pop tarts and a frappuccino was a poor choice. Also, even though I had nutrition with me on the bike and run, my stomach was so grumpy from the morning that I didn't really manage to get anything down.
Karen and I got to the race site parking lot and while pumping up my tires, I managed to snap part of the valve off my tube. I knew at that point Triathlon was holding a grudge about the break up, and was going to make the reconciliation difficult.
One new tube/change later (thank you, dude at the bike tent), as the sun rose and started to heat things up (ow OW), I was ready for the swim start. As I walked down the dock, I ripped my cap. SERIOUSLY, TRIATHLON? That’s just petty. One new cap later (thank you, fabulous volunteer who ran it down to me), I was ready to go.
SWIM: The swim was great. I felt strong, had a fairly clear path after the first 200yds or so, and despite one run in with a kayaker (I need to sight better!), I was out of the water with a comparable time to last year at NJ. I also set a new rule for myself—at intervals throughout the rest of the race, I had to assess whether at that moment or not, I was having fun. Result for the swim: SO MUCH FUN.
T1: The long run from the swim exit was better than expected, and with Kimberly and Ed cheering for me, I was ready to rock the bike.
BIKE: The elevation profile, while not that scary to most people, had kinda psyched me out in the week leading up to the race. I knew I’d done 90% of my training at HP, and climbing is a weakness of mine to begin with. However, I thought the course was beautiful, and had a lot of fun with the hills for the most part. The downside of not having the bike computer was that I went out way to fast on the bike, and by the time Karen passed me around mile 15, I was dragging. Then I remembered Phil’s words of wisdom Saturday morning (“CRUSH IT”), and made myself re-focus. Result of the fun test for the bike: 90% Fun.
T2: I should have pulled my socks up higher. That is all.
RUN: It. Was. Hot. I actually felt good for the first mile and a half to two miles, where I saw AJ coming in for her relay looking SO strong (also—to whatever deity determines reincarnation—next time around, I would like to have AJ’s abs. Thanks). The ONLY benefit of an out-and-back on the side of a road with absolutely 0 shade was the number of DC tri people I saw coming back in as I was heading out.. TJ, Joe, Lori, Karen and so many others were on their way in and shouted encouraging things—it was great.
I have to say, I never should have started walking through the water stops. That was the beginning of the end. I’d kept a solid pace the first 2 miles, but once I let myself walk, I was like “wait a minute. This was supposed to be a casual date. Why am I working so hard? Why are you so demanding, Triathlon?” So… my second half of the run was slow. Very. Slow. And I was almost attacked by the vultures (even though biking past them and running by the first time, they seemed to ignore everyone), AND right around mile 5 the blisters on the back of my heels and bottoms of my feet from my socks slipping down burst. Ew.
Result of the fun test for the run: 50% fun (*the first 50%)
The one upside of finishing 20 minutes slower than I had at NJ last year (ouch) was that everyone was at the finish line by the time I got there, and I got some serious cheers. Thanks guys!
Overall, I feel like I accomplished my goals—clearly, I stayed out of the hospital (which has been harder for me this year than it should be!) and overall, I had fun. I think that Triathlon and I will continue to see each other… keeping it casual for now, and taking things slow (and not jumping into any long-term commitments, like a 70.3). However, this race did make me realize that I might be to blame as well with the failure of my first relationship with Triathlon. I never really committed to it the way I probably needed to. I think some aspects of our relationship (like the run) may need professional help. Others (like the swim) are going well enough that they can be ignored from time to time without suffering much. I also need to remember that just because many of my friends (Laurel, Phil, everyone else still training for IM) are now in exclusive relationships with Triathlon doesn’t mean I need to compare my relationship with Triathlon to theirs.
Most importantly, I remembered that this is supposed to be FUN. And it can be. For some of us… that realization was just a little late in coming.
(And Joe, it would be more fun with brownies. Just saying. I thought we had a neighborly agreement).
Two thumbs up.
Sweet RR. Sweet race. I'm so glad the vultures didn't get you!
I'm glad you are getting back together with Triathlon. Hains Point is lonely without a crew.
You did leave the Vanilla Milkshake out of the report, but I will forgive you.