Monday, June 8, 2009

bonelli race report

today (oops, now yesterday) i raced the bonelli olympic tri. i’ve done this race a few times before. i like it because it’s only 45 miles from home so racing it doesn’t require an overnight stay … which requires way too much packing and planning. i like to sleep in my own bed and just get up (albeit still at 4:15am) and head out to the site.

i think i’ve done this race 3 or 4 times and every time j. has been my 'sherpa extraordinaire', but today he was going to be racing as well and i was so excited! we haven’t raced the same (multisport) race since vineman half in 2007. our friends jen, kevin and josh were racing as well. i wasn’t sure if having friends racing would increase my race anxiety or lessen it. for today, it lessened it and i was thrilled.

i didn’t feel anything like the nerves i usually feel pre-race. in fact, throughout the week i kept on saying to myself “wait, what do i have going on this weekend?” because i sensed there was something big i needed to remember and then i’d be like “oh right, i’m racing!!” that is SO not my pre-race attitude. maybe it’s because this race wasn’t on my original schedule. after napa i added it because i wanted to see what i could do with a shorter distance … and NO RAIN (hopefully). ironically, as we drove to san dimas the dark, dark skies were threatening a downpour. luckily, no rain appeared. in fact, it was glorious out there. the sun just started peeking through the clouds as my swim wave went off.

ah, the swim! seems that what happens when you are more confident with your swim and you line up toward the front and don’t fade immediately is … you get a lot more contact. i got punched in the head and my goggles went all askew. the one thing i do not like about bonelli is their lack of a buoy that you can actually sight off of. i looked back over my past race reports and i was giving myself such a bad time in them for having stopped periodically throughout the swim to “locate myself”. i always assumed it was just that i sucked at sighting. having been in open water a bit more, recently, i can say that I do not suck at it. i definitely could get better, but i have the skill needed and what bonelli needs is something larger than what they refer to as “a salmon egg”. HA! i think they call it that because of its shape and color, but they ought to call it that because its size, relative to the body of water we are in, is like that of salmon roe atop a piece of sushi. sight off of that!

anyway, the swim was fine, other than the increased contact. i found myself getting a little “sigh … can this swim end yet?” at one point, but it was all good.

out on the bike course i had to play that balancing act between “this is a short race, go hard” and “save a little for the run”. there are a lot of new folks who do the relay and sprint (the sprint is one loop of the three loop course) and unfortunately what you get with that is a lot of people who do not know the rules about not passing on the right and about dropping back when you’ve been passed and about going back over to the right when you’ve passed someone. i’m a rule follower and a stickler for safety, so it sorta chapped my ass, but i tried to just make sure that people knew where i was and watched out.

i could feel on the bike that the nerve/back/hamstring/whatever issue i’ve been battling was flaring up. i was uncomfortable, to say the least, but not muscle uncomfortable. i’m not sure how to describe it, but i know the difference.

off the bike i was afraid the issues i was having were going to be a factor, but i tried to push the thought out of my head and just trust that things would shake out as i ran. the bonelli run course is an interesting one. i wouldn’t call it flat, flat … but i also would not call it hilly. it’s always been a fairly challenging run for me. it’s usually crazy hot and i suppose my legs always feel those three bike loops. i tried to settle in and not judge my race. i looked at the pretty scenery. i thought about positive things.

funny how recently when i am on the run of a brick or race and i want to think of positive things, one of the things that I’ve been saying is “i am so happy i didn’t crash on the bike!” hahaha. that makes me laugh … it’s sort of a negative positive in its own way. but the reality is that the older i get the more afraid of crashing i become. the other thing i was grateful for was the lack of heat. i wasn’t having any of my bloating issues despite not being able to “do my business” before the race.

i hung in there, but the nag in my hip and hamstring were just not going away. my legs didn’t feel particularly heavy, but i couldn’t push more than i was. when i’d become conscious that i had been “accepting” my pace, i would think about liz and what she had said to me about picking it up for 10 seconds and then holding it there. i tried, jeez … i tried.

it’s sounding like i am unhappy with the race. i’m not. i think i’m just a little frustrated. i was saying to j. on the car ride home that i feel like i am SO dedicated to my training, i work very hard. i rarely, if ever, blow off a workout. i plan for them all, i prepare, i follow instructions, i work hard. i take my recovery and nutrition seriously. but i feel like the end result doesn’t equal the work i put into it. he made the very astute point, of “but what if you didn’t do those things? you would probably be slower.” he’s right, i probably would be and that’s a reality that’s tough for me because it means i sort of have to just accept that i am who i am.

sure i can continue to work hard to maintain and dollars-to-doughnuts i’ll have breakthrough training and racing times, but i won’t suddenly become someone who runs in the 6-7 minute mile range off the bike. i want to be that girl. okay, so if i’m not going to be her, i want to at least feel like busting my ass 6 days a week produces a shift, some growth, some speed. boo hoo, right? i know, i know, but it's all relative and i’ll get over myself soon.

back to the race for a second. as i was running along on a little out and back section i saw j. coming toward me. as we passed i yelled out “come on, come catch me!” i knew he could, but he didn’t look too thrilled about the prospect of trying, but i also KNEW given a few seconds he’d be like “hell yeah, i’m gonna go catch her”.

a while later i heard a couple of footsteps behind me. i just knew they were j’s. funny how you can recognize your partner before you even see them. i turned around and it was him! i had the feeling he was going to hold up and want to run it in to the finish with me, but i really wanted him to press on. he’s got great running legs when he’s not injured and i wanted him to have that experience today, that success.

as he approached i cheered him on and said “come on, go, go, go!!” he did and watching him gazelle off into the distance made me so happy for him. he loves running more than anything and watching the mental anguish that chronic calf and achilles pain causes him is just no fun.

j. has spectated for me at the race so many times that i am used to him being at certain points on the course. when i exited the water, i missed him screaming (to the ear damaging distress of the other spectators) “GO CAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”. out on the bike course, i missed feeling like a tour de france rider as i went past him on each loop. before he passed me today, i had the fleeting thought of “dang, j. won’t be at the finish screaming his bloody head off for me”, but as he ran off toward the finish i thought to myself, “yeah, he’ll be there when i cross the line! i sure hope he’s not too tired to scream!!" he may not have screamed, but he sure did look just as proud as all the other times.

okay, racing pity party over. time to talk to my coach and try to figure out what i can and cannot do to try to achieve the milestones i want and then … time to eat pizza!!!


*sorry for the lack of photos. there are only two of me and i look like an oompa loompa in both!


Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

Great job Cat - anyone who has the guts and courage to race gets an "A" in my book. I had to chuckle about the rules thing - yeah, it chaps my ass as well ;) Pass on the left... drop back if passed...don't seems so simple. Yet EVERY race there are people out there doing silly things.

Don't get down on yourself - I've SEEN you push yourself (our run at Penasquitos Canyon in march 2008), and know that you are capable of great things. Never give up on yourslef... When I used to row, my coach told me that it takes 1,000 strokes in a single before you row the PERFECT one. And that's NOT during a race...And I'm not saying that you have to bike 1,000 miles or anything silly like that ;) Hang in there though, and don't get down on yourlsef! - you ARE talented and have an incredible work ethic! Keep up the great work and enjoy the journey in addition to the end result... :)

Yea about the GI stuff - getting better! :) :) :)

Mama Simmons said...

#1. We are also happy that you didn't crash on the bike. :)
#2. Totally understand the wanting your hard work to pay off... But also just thinking of how much slower I would be (running) if I wasn't working on it so diligently. Shoot, those 13.1 miles last weekend might have been WAY longer if I wasn't working so hard. But you know what? At the end of the day it's really about the journey and the dedication and work ethic you show is what really matters. And you can be PROUD of that! :)

ADC said...

Don't be too harsh on yourself Cat. I a, kind of like you - I work hard, do my training and all the other stuff (OK. but I know I can do better) and at the end of the day I have to accept that I won't be running 6 min miles... like ever. But we take this challenge that not maney other people do. And we love it and have fun. That is important. You did so well, very proud of you.

Beth said...

Congrats on a great race Cat! Sounds like a fun day and great that you got to race with Jeff and your friends. Funny - if O ever gets into racing and isn't able to cheer me on because he's actually IN the race, I think I will feel the same way as you - missing all that support! :)

Anyway, I do understand your frustration with work put in equaling the result achieved. I think everyone at some point feels a little of that - only they might be wondering if they will ever be able to run in the 9-10 min/mile range...or the 5-6 min/mile range... like you said, it's all relative. BUT, but...never say never Cat. ;)

Molly said...

Oh I hear you...I'm heading into this weekend knowing I don't have the bike legs I wanted and already a little pre-disappointed. But we can't let that get us down because all the work we do DOES pay off, just not always in the ways we wanted or expect. Wonderful job putting yourself out there and racing hard - j. wasn't the only one proud of you - we are too!!!

Roo said...

Great post that a lot of us can relate to!

I do the, "I'm so happy I didn't get a flat on the bike," for the first half of the run.

Josh said...

great to see you guys on sunday! and your explanation for why they're called "salmon eggs" makes perfect sense to me!

E.L.F. said...

It's frustrating to not have the race we want. But don't beat yourself up about it. Learn from it and look forward. The BIG race is later this year. This was a late addition.

Pedergraham said...

My ass gets chapped by the same thing as you and Marit. But, you can own that great expression, bc/ it's perfect. I want to be that girl, too, who can run 6s to 7s off the bike. Whose legs can we steal? Three cheers to racing local.