Monday, April 21, 2008

Thin line between determination and insanity..

Definition of Rage: "force or intensity: extreme or unrelenting intensity"

This pretty much explains the "Rage in the Sage" Half Ironman I just completed in Boulder City, Nevada. First let me say that maybe it's just me, I have done Buffalo Springs Half IM twice-(they say that is the hardest half in the country) but I believe this half is harder. Now S.Baboo had this called from the git-go. He said it would be harder than BSLT, but I chose to not believe it til I raced it. But yep-he was right-it is!

To preface this, in the past 2 weeks, I have battled a gum infection, 2 different antibiotics that made my stomach go haywire, had some weird swallowing issue on the way to California, got what I call the "LA cough" out there because of the pollution I think. I get it every time I am there and run outside. So I was not exactly a picture of health going into this race.

Here goes:

Race morning: I got up at 3:45 AM since I had to get down 2 bagels and a Gator ade and some H2O before the race. Walking through the casino at this hour to score some coffee was pretty surreal. I remember partying all night in Vegas and still being up to gamble at this hour many many years ago so this certainly felt different..Gathered my stuff up and kissed hubby goodbye (he did the Oly which started at a decent hour-7:00) so he went later). I chose to ride my bike to the start-I mean it was only 3 miles downhill right? The moon was full so I took off at 4:30 AM but forgot to take into consideration that the moon sets around this hour too so there I was in the pitch black riding down an 8% hill in the dark with cars lighting the way from time to time. This was a pretty stupid thing to do looking back, however the good news is I was the first one in transition and got the end of the rack for my bike spot. Let me first explain that the RD decided to prove a point about lake water awareness in Lake Mead or something and put the transition area where it was a few years ago, before the lake sank about 800 yards (he could have just told us-I would have believed him). Sooooo the transition was not only about 500 yards from the lake, it was also about 500 yards long so in all you ran about 1000 yds each transition (this could be an exaggeration), in your bike shoes, or bare feet I suppose-i chose the bike shoes..Thus transitions were an event in themselves. God knows what my times were there..

Did I mention there was no chip timing? I have no idea what happened with that, there was suppose to be chips but nope, with several hundred people doing the Sprint, Olympic and Half IM-no chips..I don't even have my real split times, although the overall result is correct and do I really want to know all the details?

I met the only other woman in my AG in transition. She was really sweet-we hugged and wished each other luck. It thought "Oh S^$*t-she looks fast-and had Zipp wheels! But despite her Zippness, we chatted for awhile. Actually I was the 2nd or 3rd oldest woman in the race (just had to make that point). This woman was 2 years younger-hey at my age every bit helps!

Swim: There was suppose to be 125 racers for the half. I think maybe there were 75 at the start. The smart peeps stayed home I guess. Got in the water and yep 57 degrees is COLD! Especially before the sun is up. I was shivering as we was waiting for the horn to blow. BOOM! Off we went at around 6:15 AM. I swam, felt pretty good, despite the fact I could not feel my fingers. I was trying my hardest to get my fingers together to "scoop" the water when I swam but to no avail-they were frozen apart. I didn't pass many people, the swim seemed long but I didn't time myself. All I know is when I got to my rack after what seemed like a 15 min run up the hills, there were no other bikes on the race. Now I am a pretty good swimmer. Either I had a really BAD swim (I did not wear a watch), these people were really GOOD swimmers, or I was just off or something. I was confused..I usually have tons of people pass me on the bike because I hold my own better than some in the swim. I still do not know what my time was but it was obviously SLOW!

T-1-well I said it all, couldn't feel my hands which makes it hard to to anything but somehow got my bike stuff on and "ran" up the hill to mount the bike.

Bike: Where do I start? Well, let me start here:

This is the elevation profile. It doesn't look as hard on paper as it really was. See that last little 8% hill? That was a killer, believe me!

I kept my HR in the planned 135-155 zone most of the bike, which was one positive.

I was doing OK about the first 30 miles or so. After the turn around at the top of that hill at mile 22 or so, it got easier. I saw my competition and she was about 3-5 miles ahead of me. I thought I could catch her. There were at least 5 people behind me on the bike which proved that yes indeed-my swim was pathetic. This discouraged me a bit but I was still hopeful at that point. I drank, ate goos, tried to pour the powered Energy drink into my Aero-bottle. That is not going to work in a race. Not sure what to do there, but I managed somehow to get it in a couple of times with white powder flying everywhere. I ate alot of goos and drank tons of water on the bike. I pee-ed on the bike. The hills in the beginning seemed never-ending..After I started downhill though, I think I clocked a max speed of 37 MPH! On one of the uphills coming back around mile 30, my gear started slipping. I put it in the small ring in the front and it just slipped, wouldn't grab the chain.. I couldn't shift, I couldn't go, couldn't get out of my clips- so down I went. Somehow I managed to skin both knees, my right hand pretty badly and banged up my right hip. Nothing too severe but enough to shake me up and bleed down my legs like a stuck pig. I was also very pissed at this point. I have had my bike to 3 different mechanics now since I got the bike, to get adjusted and this problem still exists..Now I was bleeding and scared to shift into the smaller gears for fear of falling again. Each time I did I unclipped just in case I was going down again. Somehow, I managed to get it in without issue the rest of the ride but it was very tense, I was tentatively shifting after this and my confidence plummeted. I felt like having a good cry-you know the kind where you just want to throw the bike down fall on the ground and sob- kind of cry but i didn't. I sucked it up and kept on. I asked the next aid station if they had a band aid. The girl looked at me like I had two heads or something so I just grabbed the water. The volunteers-god bless 'em-but that was annoying. I used all my water to try and wash the blood off, then had no water to drink for about 20 miles it seemed, until I finally stopped at the next aid station-no band aids there either but the kid did ask me-"Oh did you fall?" No, I just like pouring blood down my leg for no reason buddy. I said yes I did-he gave me some extra water. By now the wind had picked up to about 25 MPH gusting more maybe so I was struggling to bike downhill even. My bike was wobbling everywhere with the wind, my hand and knees were hurting and I just thought screw this, I am quitting! I argued with myself for the next 45 mins or so whether to DNF or not. I felt like crap, the wind was ridiculous, there was that stupid hill at the end and somehow I kept going. Finally decided that if I felt this crappy on the run, I would quit..The 2 women that were behind me passed me after the fall so I knew I was back in the back, just didn't know how much at this time so just kept plodding along. Plus didn't see any support people out there so thought at least I have to get back to transition to get out of racing. T-2 was another half mile run on very tired legs at this point. Again no one seemed to be aware of the bloody leg other than me and again, no band aids anywhere. People were packing their bikes up-i was hoping these were sprint and Oly people..I was screaming at small children who were in transition who seemed oblivious to the fact that there were still racers out there. Again another record slow transition. I stuffed a bunch of powder in my pocket to put in my water and had a goo belt but immediately felt like i had a 5lb. weight in my back pocket. oh, this will never do, I thought.
The Run: As I turned the corner after about 1/2 mile I heard Are you SWtrigal? I saw a man standing there I did not know-that confused me a bit at first then I realized it was a blogger. It was Formulaic and here was my introduction-hi, nice to meet you. Can you throw away all this shit for me?" He took all my extra baggage for me-god bless him-he was really an angel. he said See you at dinner! OK now I had dinner pressure and a new goal. I was NOT going to do to dinner with a DNF. Really-this kept me going the next 13 miles-just my pride and ego. That and my new best friend JohnnyTri who I met up with at about mile 1 of the run. He was suffering, I was suffering. We suffered together, pushed each other for the next 12 miles. See all these folks knew who I was because of my NM Outlaw racing jersey and there were only a handful of us there. S. Baboo, Sluggo and Mighty did the half. My hubby did the Olympic. I saw all three of the guys about 10 miles ahead of me heading back from the run. Here is a profile of the run:
Oh and by the way, all that uphill was in the sand and rocks. There were some pretty cool tunnels at the top-6 I think. They were the only shade on the course. The views from this run were spectacular! If only I could have enjoyed them...

I noticed at some point that the wind had completely stopped where I was running-how could this be? No shade, no breeze, the temp was suppose to be in the 70s instead was around 90 degrees. I was terrified I was getting 3rd degree sunburns in spite of the sunscreen I managed to blather on in transition and on the bike, I think. I felt like crap on the run. My HR was low, but I felt so bad all over, breathing was off, coughing, inhaler not helping, headache. I started taking in Gator Aid as well as my goos. I took a salt pill. I was peeing so wasn't dehydrated. I finally ate a bar, which was chancy for me and my stomach but alas the first good news of the day, my stomach was fine-the whole day! That is progress for me, esp with all I was trying to ingest. I felt awful most of the run, just yucky. John and I ran, walked, stopped at aid stations, ran and walked some more. It was his first Half IM and for that I felt really bad for him because this race, in my opinion was already harder than Ironman Florida, at least in the way that I felt. At the top of the hills, I ran into my competition, who was still about 5 miles ahead of me. She said if she knew this race was going to be this hard, she would not have done it. That made me feel better. At the turn around, which was about mile 7 because of the course design, we turned around and running seemed easier for awhile, despite the 25 MPH gusts coming back. Then JohnnyTri said I wonder if we will make the cutoff? SAY WHAT???? I did not even know there was a cutoff-he thought it was 8 hours. I did not have my Garmin set to clock but he said we would not make it if there was. At the next aid station we asked if there was a cutoff. They said no-we were the last people they let on the run course. They pulled others off the bike. I was stunned! At Buffalo Springs they let folks finish when they finish. Then this course, that is about 3 times harder and there is a cutoff? Are you kidding me??? I think we started running a bit more now. I was feeling a bit delirious, Johnny was talking about having heat stroke as a child-that worried me for him and me..We were dead last-it finally dawned on me. The folks were packing up at each aid station and giving us the last of the yucky warm water and wishing us well. Somewhere around mile 9, someone asked me if I needed a band aid. Say what? Oh, yea-I had forgotten about the bloody leg. I said no thanks but you are the first one in about 5 hours to even ask. I drafted JohnnyTri down the sandy, rocky hill, following each of his footstep, praying I wouldn't fall. I didn't of course until we got on the pavement. I don't know what happened. I just tripped over my own feet and fell. John picked me up-literally-because I was stuck on the ground, it seemed. There was the blood again. Same knee, same hand, re-injured and bleeding. It was almost comical. We had about 2 more miles and there was NO WAY I was quitting now, even if they had to drag my ass off the course I was not quitting. Just dusted myself off and eventually I saw the most wonderful sight. This brings tears to my eyes now-there was my husband, who ran the last 1/4 mile in with me and at the finish line the only folks there besides the staff were my people, the Outlaws. There was {{{{S. Baboo, Sluggo and Mighty}}}, all waiting there for me after they had finished hours ago. The announcer was still there and said something about being a true Outlaw who never gave up or something when I crossed the finish line. I must have looked like some wounded soldier or something-can't wait to see the picture. I couldn't believe I finished that race. In 8 hrs. 21 min. They gave me a huge medal, I got a beautiful plaque for second in my AG and a finishers T-shirt. So I guess the cutoff was after me because I was dead last! That is a first and hopefully my last time for that. The paramedics tended to my cuts and bruises-that was nice.

I went to dinner. Was so out of it, I felt like I was going to pass out at times. Did manage to converse and eat-alot of food. That helped. H-my wonderful hubby, JohnnyTri, Formulaic, S. Baboo, Mighty and Sluggo were there. My buds, my heroes. Mighty and Sluggo came in 4th and 5th in their age group-unbelievable. S. Baboo I am sure was up there too, he had a great time also. Thank you to all of these people, new and old friends! I really know what being part of a team feels like more than ever.

Reflections: At what point does determination and endurance become insanity and stupidity? I kept wondering this as I pushed myself beyond what I thought I was capable of. Should I have stopped and spared my body? When is one suppose to quit? Does endurance only happen when you are at your breaking point? I mean it is easy to finish when you are up. But when you know you are last, you want to quit, everything inside you wants to stop, and you still go on-is this endurance? I am still reflecting on these things.

Tri-dogmom has assured me this was harder than IMCDA will be. Thank goodness because I really was beginning to wonder if I will make it at IM! And the sweet woman who got first place in my AG left me a note on our car windshield saying it was nice to meet me-tri people are the best!!!

P.S. I just saw the results. Only 13 women out of 19 women who were signed up started/finished the race, I was the second oldest. I guess that helps..

17 comments:

21stCenturyMom said...

If you had been dehydrated or getting heat stroke then it would have been insane. As it was you are one determined woman and you won! You were DFL but you didn't DNF in spite of ripped up body parts and a bike that let you down.

YOU WON!

Fe-lady said...

Congrats on starting this event not at 100%- you did it! And got second in the "tough old birds" age group!
I think we are great for just being out there!

JohnnyTri said...

You rock SWTRIGAL!
thanks for hangin with me as well.
great recap and look forward to seeing you in CdA where we will enjoy the run much more than rage!

rockon`

tri-dogmom said...

You should be very proud of yourself. That race was grueling. I promise, CDA is SO much better. The bike IS hilly, but it's in the trees and you are protected & shaded for a lot of it. On the run, there is really only one hill and it's not bad at all....

Stef said...

BRAVO!! Congratulations on your finish! I was out there doing the Oly, it was pretty hard in itself.

Just read JT's race report you both totally nailed it in my opinion.

Ultra, Iron "GeekGirl" Misty said...

One of the first things that Baboo said to me when he got home was, "She is ONE TOUGH CHICK!" I agree - Jeez, what a race! Congratulations on your finish!

SWTrigal said...

Are you cure he didn't say one "touched" (as in touched in the head) chick?
Baboo rocks..
:)

WADDLER26.2 said...

Woohoo!!! You are tough. Great race. I've had that happened on my bike.It sucks. What a feeling when you are going down.

Vickie said...

Debi,you poor girl! I can sympathize with you 100%, having done races that while they did not equal the distance, certainly equaled the difficulty, and having been dead last, which I have been many times. I'm glad you weren't hurt worse on your bike. And that bike issue? I think I remember Don having chain issues with his Cervelo as well. You should persist on getting that figured out before you get hurt worse. The thin line between determination and insanity? Does age always equal wisdom? Or sheer guts? Congrats on sticking it out, getting your well deserved prize, and finishing a tough race and day. Hope you come out of this okay. I think you're ready for IMCDA.

Bones said...

Wow, That was one tough race. You want me to bring a bandaid to lunch? :)

Calyx Meredith said...

Man oh man! I am impressed with your determination. What a great race report! Congratulations on your finish!

Duane said...

Wow! What a race! Great report! You are one tough cookie! Good job!

cindy said...

Wow...you did awesome sticking with it! This race was great training to help with the rest of your 2008 races :)

BTW...you are hardcore with the blood running down your leg!

Cody the Clydesdale said...

What an amazing race. Your pretty strong to even want to finish a brutal race like that. Congrats.

Formulaic said...

Way to Kick the race!

DFL is way better than DNF.

I was really glad to meet you.

Pics are on the way soon (as soon as I get off my a$$).

Sluggo said...

Baboo told us that same thing about you being one tough chick...and Mike and I couldn't have agreed more.

Tea said...

A true blood, sweat, and tears race! You are simply the best. I cannot wait to meet you in CDA. (I'll certainly be able to use your expertise!)

Last or not, you can only be pleased with finishing such a tough race.