It’s nice to be “home” in our Austin apartment for a few days before we head to IM Cozumel where Michael will be racing in less than two weeks. I am taking a much needed break from training and I am resting HARD after racing this past weekend in Clearwater at 70.3 World Championships.
6 weeks ago, I was feeling fresh and ready to go. My blood work came back better than it has ever been in 7 years of racing as a professional. I was more than excited to race and I was completely amped at the prospect at racing 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater. In past years, I have opted out of racing because of Clearwater’s reputation for being “draft legal”. However, this year I was so motivated to train and race that I looked past all of the rumors. After all, my blood work was excellent and my GI was better than ever. My final thought was that my 2010 season felt inconsistant. I had some really good races and some “off” races. I really wanted the opportunity to get one more good race! I was so excited and feeling so positive that I just didn’t want to miss World Champs this year!
As I approached Clearwater, I did a nice 12 day block of training before getting a little run down and sick. After 5 days of being what I thought was a little sick, I got really sick. I arrived in Austin 2 weeks out from Clearwater anticipating a nice little training block, only to sit on my butt, feeling sick, staring at the walls without internet, without my husband, without dogs…unable to train. Needless to say, I was completely depressed. After a few days of struggling and still trying to train…I found out that I had strep throat. 12 days out from Clearwater, I started taking amoxicillin to kill the infection…and everything else in my body. My once healthy GI was suddenly in turmoil with reflux. The antibiotics had completely knocked me out, giving me the sensation of feeling anemic.
I arrived in Clearwater expecting nothing. I approached this race hoping for the very best. I kept on telling myself how much better I felt every day…and every day, I really did feel MUCH better!
Race day started at 6:48…3 minutes after the pro men. The water was choppy. And there were times that I felt like I was in a washing machine. I exited the water with a little group of about 4 women. I felt like my swim was good. It wasn’t earth shattering, but it was good. I left the water thinking…”ok…I’ll take that”…let’s see what I can do on the bike…
The bike started off pretty well. It felt easy. My heart rate was low, my power was moderate. I was careful to not “throw down” and race at 40k pace like I sometimes (normally) do. I started off at my half ironman pace only to fade to IM pace after 25 or so miles into the bike. I was still happy however as I reminded myself that I would enjoy this day no matter what. I picked up a few different groups along my way group to work with. There were a few women who pushed the 10 meter rule to their advantage. But I feel like for the most part, the girls played by the rules. I was really happy to experience the good sportsmanship amongst my peers, especially after all of the bad press I had seen regarding drafting in Clearwater. I did see drafting marshalls during the entire ride. Heck I had one with me about 75% of the day and did see him give a few yellow cards.
While I did not feel that I was at my best on the bike, I did not feel bad either. Basically, I just felt like I did not have another gear. I kept on evaluating myself making sure that I was drinking, eating, taking care of myself before the run. I tried to notice the course a bit, making mental notes of what I thought. In past years, I had heard so many unflattering things. I have to say, however, that I actually really enjoyed the course. I felt like it was well marked. It wasn’t too terribly flat. There were a few bridges and gradual inclines. I was actually pleasantly surprised! While trying to take note of the course, I was also trying to keep myself in check. At around mile 46/50, I started to forget about the course and my competitors. At that point, I started to notice that I was having some problems with my GI. Lucky for me, my GI problems do not include pooping my pants. However, they do include reflux and an inability to absorb or digest my nutrition. I knew that the antibiotics had wreaked havoc on my GI system and the stress of racing had exacerbated the issue. Because I have had so many problems in the past, I knew exactly what to do. I drank water at every aid station until I could tell I was absorbing some of my nutrition.
I entered Transition 2, not sure how I would feel on the run. The lat 20 miles of the bike were increasingly hard and I had minimal calories during the bike. I reminded myself that I had a ton of good, nutritious food race week. I told myself that I could get through this. Lastly, I was determined that I would have fun during this run. (And I was thinking…thank god this is not an Ironman! LOL!) During the first mile, I knew that I wasn’t going to break any PB’s. I started out steady and tried to stay steady. My heart rate was about 10-15 beats below what it was at my last race in Augusta. I believe I was going just under 7 minute miles. I kept thinking “just keep moving”…I did fairly well with my goal of moving. I was trying to ingest tiny sips of liquid shot and water during the run. The fuel wasn’t going anywhere. It was just sitting in my belly and I had severe reflux. At mile 11, I had a tremendous headache and nausea. I walked for a minute or so, collected myself and started to run again. The only thing that I kept thinking was “legs! get me home”….At mile 12 I felt the same sensation…mild headache, seeing black spots, & nausea. Again, I walked a bit until I pulled myself together to finish the race.
All I kept thinking during that final half mile was that I made a HUGE mistake deciding to race. My body was no where near %100 and the race put too much stress on my body. After finishing, my body was completely torn to shreds. I felt more sick than ever. While I was not immediately sore, after 2 hours, I could barely touch my quads. In fact, I am even more sore now that it is two days later despite lots of sleep and food.
Now that I am two days removed from the race, I have mixed feeling about my final decision to race. While it was a little crazy to race the “world Championships” not feeling or being 100% , I did not put any expectations on myself for the race. The ONLY promise that I made for myself was that I would have fun. And I did have fun (for most of it…the last two miles were more like survival…lol). I embraced what my body had to offer me on that day and did not try to fight it. When my body was giving me signs that it needed to stop, I listened. I walked until I felt ready to go again. Mentally, I am healthy and happy. I was stoked to see some of my awesome sponsors including Rip from Zipp and Rockstar, Steven Harad from Kestrel. I am pleased that I was able to race and do what I could. Physically, I am beat up.. and I am sick again. The stress of racing broke me down to a pulp literally. Luckily, it’s the end of the season and I am now embracing some time off.
I look forward to a little rest and relaxation (MEXICO!!!). And I can’t wait to get back on track in the next few weeks! 2011 is going to be AWESOME!
Thank you to my AWESOME sponsors: TRAKKERS, Steven Harad from Kestrel, Splish, Saucony, Robert from First Endurance, my friends from Boulder Running Company, Greg from Oakley, FSA, ZIPP, Cyclops POWER, Norma Tec MVP, Louis Garneau, Jack and Adams Bike Shop, Dave from ISM Saddles, Brand Betty (hottest designs ever!), Flatirons Athletic Club, Justin’s Nut Butter, Zinka, and Blue Seventy! You guys make all of my goals and dreams become a reality! Thank YOU!