Monday, May 27, 2013

Race Recap: OC Triathalon

Pre race card from Rose: Dearest Hoo (that's me), While the race may seem daunting at times, it pales in comparison to the challenges you have faced in all the moments leading up to this one. With every swim stroke, every pedal and every step you take, you have pushed yourself away from the person you once were. You have grown from fear, insanity, addiction, self-loathing, pain, anger and grown towards love, faith, courage, strength, resolve and independence. This is your race between yourself. Between who you were and who you are. Every step you go forward instead of giving up, you are striking a blow at doubt, and striking a blow that chisels the new you, shaping and molding you into something to be proud of and someone who inspires and lifts up all around her. I love you, Rose

I had to include the above from my sister because it captures perfectly my triathlon experience. I was nervous at the swim start in fact as we exited the freeway I told my husband I couldn't breathe and that I might throw up. I'm generally not a nervous person. I have been competing in athletic events for all of my life. I grew up in front of a crowd, on a podium, in the spot light.

Yet triathlons feel bigger than that. It's about something deeper with in. I have battled a lot of things in my life. Things I have dealt with, over come, seen a therapist for. I guess there are always those dark shadows that linger. Those shadows that create doubt, regret, fear. When I am doing a race I find that a lot of those demons show up. Doubt loves to stand on the side line and hiss "You're not good enough". Fear enjoys smirking at every uphill climb. Regret taunts and laughs.

Rose told me when she looked at my finishing picture, "I know that face. I know that feeling!" My sister and I have been through a lot together. Times when we fought and she spit toothpaste on my cheer uniform, to smoking pot and drinking Heineken in our high school days, to not talking for years and so on. It is so so SO amazing to share this great moment with her. The unraveling of each other, the burying of our demons and the discovery of our true potentials.

I am told that the Iron Mans slogan is, "Anything is possible". With two races under my belt I can attest that is true. Not because I trained and survived a race but because I looked at those demons and for once didn't I didn't shy away but gave them the middle finger instead.

Swim: 1 mile

As I said before I wanted to throw up. I put my wet-suit on backwards to start. It seemed like everyone was talking at the same time and I couldn't hear. A one mile swim. I had missed a few of my swimming practices so doubts voice was creeping in.

Just like the last race the count down starts and I hear nothing but people are moving so my feet go too. I'm in the water. I feel ok. At least there are no waves and no swell. This is easy I tell myself. I keep looking up to sight the buoys and each time I think holy sh*t I'm getting no where. Head down keep swimming, come on!

I don't know what division was after us but suddenly there were purple and white caps swimming up on me. Like literally swimming on me. I try to not panic as someone pushes me down and swims over my back. Fear goes ahead and speaks up ohhh you're so slow the other people are lapping you! So I paddle my hardest and next thing I know I'm climbing up the ramp.

Bike: 26 miles

I am in transition and Brad is yelling, "Stop dilly dallying around".  Which makes me laugh because he tells me that a lot! In my mind I am trying to remember all the tips Rose has given me. Do I have all my nutrition? Water? Helmet? Glasses? Ok!! I have my bike and I am free.

The bike for me is always surreal. I rode this part of the ride so I know what to expect. So all is well except I can't breathe. WTF?! I'm wheezing. Climbing. Wheezing. This is the mental battle that no training can prepare me for .

I force myself to take a deep breath. In the nose out the mouth. Ok oxygen is flowing again. Back in my mind like a whisper I hear Rose don't worry about the other people. They are going to ride fast out of transition. Take your time. Catch your breathe. Ride your own ride.

So I do. I pretend its just another ride. I'm out for a ride with Adam, Rose and Brad. No pressure. Just freedom. Fresh air. And.....I top the first big hill, switch to my highest gear, and peddle my heart out!! I'm smiling huge and silently screaming yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!! The bike is pure freedom, joy and happiness.

As I come into t2 people are shouting and cheering. I unclip feeling quite pleased with myself, go to step off my bike and nearly fall over as my hip flexors say no thanks! I hobble to my running gear.

Run: 6 miles

I ran this exactly 6 days prior to the race. I know how hard it is. I shut my mind off. I'm going to run slow and easy.  I try to joke and talk with people around me. No one is in the mood. Frankly neither am I. This is do or die time. My last little scrap of BMK bar falls out of my hand and onto the ground. I pick it up and eat it. I don't know why this sticks out in my mind but it does.

The run sucks. It's hot. It's hilly. Did I mention that it sucks? And I'm not even to the hardest part yet. The.Big.Hill. I cross the light before The Big Hill and I feel good. This is the hardest part. I just have to get thought this. I'm treading small little steps. Breathing. Pushing. My lungs are going to explode.

As I round the corner I see Brad, Rose, Adam, my mom and Jillian! They are running down this massive hill! Rose is talking I can't hear her. She is shooting pictures and I am laughing...somehow I am laughing. Brad and my mom are telling me I got this! Adam is running along in his headband. And Jillian has on super cute shorts. These are the weird flash backs that I remember!

We make it to the top of this insane hill and Jillian has a cup of ice. I dump it down my top and it is the most amazing thing ever. Brad and Adam are running ahead and then running back. I secretly am rolling my eyes at their energy and wishing I had some. Rose and Jillian run beside me. I remember I kept alternating between telling Rose that my kidney hurt and asking where my mom was. On both counts she just said its ok, keep breathing, it's your day, don't worry about it, your fine.

Finally the worst is over. We are headed into the last segment of the run. Brad says he will stay with me. At first I think well that's a little ridiculous I can finish by myself. But as we continue on I realize how extremely nice it is to have someone there. Brad is talking telling me to breathe and who knows what else. I can't really hear at this point. I do remember laughing. The time flew by. We rounded the corner and ran down into the finishing shoot.

Even though we had to separate as he went the spectator route and I went the racer route it was as though we ran as one. I became over whelmed with love and life. Thankful for all the people who helped me get there, helped me train. People I met along the way. Strangers in the crowed. People along the road. My mom for showing up. My sister,for well, she knows. Adam for his running tips. Joby for weekly workouts. And my husband for not only running beside me but for supporting me mentally, physically and emotionally on one of the most important days of my life.

Nope, it's not about the race at all. That day I punched those demons,  doubt, regret and fear, in the face. I crossed that finishing line a different person and that folks is what it's all about!