Friday, July 29, 2016

EAGLEMAN 2016.  Here I am again, writing about  my beloved Eagleman, haha.  People have been asking me how it was/ they haven’t heard/ and I think it is because I am STILL NOT SURE!!!!
*immediately after the race I was so so happy that I finished (and was alive)…..  then I suffered through kind of 6-7 hours of alternatively on a HIGH and then very woozy/nauseas/maybe even a hallucination in there? (read on)….  Then the next day, just on a HIGH, slight disappointment that I won’t be going to Australia, but still happy to have qualified, stomach all unsettled so I felt kind of weird and grose, and then Tuesday just DEAD TO THE WORLD.  For some reason Sat PM before race, I couldn’t sleep/I was up at 2AM for good.  The night AFTER race/ in hotel by myself/ was thankful to be mostly not nauseas anymore, but my body was like on electric mode and I was WIRED and also…. *aloOOOOOne**** in hotel room, so I kind of thought I should make use of it by waking up AGAIN at 2AM and watching an hour of everyone loves Raymond repeats…???... yes I did.   And today… I SLEPT last night, so I feel like I am kind of myself again, and … will write about itJ
So… backing up…. (I know you wanted to know about RACE and not my sleep and stomach patterns afterwards)….So before Eagleman, I was CONFIDENT, ready, fully trained.  I really was trained as best as I could have for this race (with life factors in there, etc)…. And then.. the week of.. most of you know about my tailbone issue.  The race quickly became in my mind something that I would for SURE not take for granted.  I am so thankful to have been able to participate.  (Thank you to Larry Grine, seriously.)  I will end any conversation of my tailbone by saying, it was a NONFACTOR 100% in my race.  Never felt it (although I do now).  (I also took quite a good amount of alleve prior to race).
During race, my mind went back to the “mantras” and focus points I had developed, practiced and repeated in my pre race mental prep, which were:
OVERALL RACE:  manage discomfort, stay emotionally detached but completely focused in the moment, until last 3 miles of the run, then I would allow myself to take emotions with me and use anything left (ended up being again.. a nonfactor!!--- all emotions were fried by that point)…. (so maybe this was a mistake/ something to think about).
My biggest overall race focus was:  “not letting myself off the hook in the moment” which was something I read in a book lately and I recognized as something that maybe I have slightly done before, but also I know others who do this repeatedly.  Like when someone trains hard hard hard for a race and then they go out and say, “ohhhh, I Just decided to run it for fun.”  Well, there is more to it than just running it for fun once you have sacrificed so much of your life / time/ energy/ heart into a goal.  Deciding to run it for fun is only because of fear, and maybe a combination of other things- lack of focus, confidence, proper mental prep etc…. and I am not saying this with a person in mind,, but MANY times I have heard people doing this and I wonder if I sometimes have also done this or come closer, or done it to a DEGREE.  I was OUT to NOT LET MYSELF OFF THE HOOK.
ANYWAY.  My sport specific focuses were:  swim—to just remain calm and swim my swim (and not be TOO slow, haha!)  BIKE:  hammer it in a STRONG, manageable sense.  And RUN… I trained and practiced really working on endurance and progressive speed over the course of the miles.  (I am not sure at all this is the right strategy for EM… more on this, something really to look at).
ANYWAY…Race day:  Swim started fine- was glad it was wetsuit legal, but it honestly felt a little hot waiting for my wave to go off in wetsuit and hoping that wasn’t a bad sign (I have never felt uncomfortably hot before a race before).   I had no problems on the swim with feeling anxiety or breathing which I had unexpectedly a few years ago and was hoping to not have again, so was happy with that. Just took the swim buoy by buoy out and it was good.  First turn to right, I felt “disoriented”- like where am I supposed to be headed and felt like we hadn’t turned correctly.  I was sighting for buoys which were alternately yellow and orange, but the problem was that the wave before me had yellow swim caps, so I was seeing yellow and unsure if they were caps or buoys.  But kept on/still felt disoriented.  At the next turn buoy, I felt better and that we were headed where we were supposed to.  On this phase of the swim I def. noticed the current, so was trying to adjust but really don’t think I swam it as efficiently as I sometimes do.  – found myself to be a bit out from the buoy line and on the way back it is better to be nice and narrow with the buoys.  Anyway, my time was 35 something, which is either my best swim time for this course or close to it.  I never keep track of that because I find it a little irrelevant—sometimes it is wetsuit legal, sometimes there is more chop, conditions are always different, BUT.. I was happy with swim.
T1:  got my wetsuit off/ on bike- fast running it out and hear people yelling SHOE SHOE SHOE SHOE at me.  One of my bike shoes which was clipped into pedals (not on feet) had gotten stuck on the ground and popped off, so I had to actually turn around with m y bike and go back maybe 10 feet to get it.. a nice racer on the way out picked it up for me as she ran up to me, I thought that was so nice.  Got on bike easy and off.  Boom. (not my best transition time though because of the shoe debacle).
BIKE:  off for 56 miles.  Passing people right away.  At about 4-5 miles in we were going down a small side road and I heard an ambulance coming up behind us with siren on, there were cars that were pulled over to the side coming towards us/people were out saying “cyclist (s- couldn’t hear if it was plural or not) down, slow down slow down”… I didn’t know if there was one crash/ if a whole ROAD of people were down, if there was a reason, something on the road/ something that would make us have to stop/get off, so I was a bit worried.  Slowed down.  The ambulance had blocked the road on the right side behind the area where there were 2 cyclists down, we went around to the left.  I was glad it wasn’t a whole road of people down, but felt so horrible for those cyclists.  One was a woman and she was down/ not moving/ hope she is okay.  I haven’t heard.  It reminded me of 2 things:  my first thought was 1. That puts this in perspective, most important thing today: be safe.  2nd thought was—ok that woman would LOVE to be out here racing, she can’t be out here so we have to fully be out here doing our best, honoring that, etc…….
Beginning at mile 5 of bike- out on the more open roads, the winds were FIERCE.  This was one of the biggest changes in the race for this year- I have never had the ENTIRE bike course be so fiercely windy.  (so it was not my best bike TIME, but I still feel like I went strong and was smart about my intensity and still managed almost 22mph).  I saw a guy get blown off the road by a gust of wind and late in the race, that almost happened to me also! Was crazy!  I’m always surprised by the things I see on the bike- I see so many people pedaling with legs/knees out/wierdball form, slower cyclists just biking out in the center of the road (blocking- but I don’t somehow see those people getting penalties/don’t see them in the penalty tents along course).  My low back definitely started to get tired during the bike- I knew it may end up being more tired than normal because of bracing from all of the winds.  Even though it was fatigued, it never became a problem- limiting me, not allowing me to keep pushing, so I was and am thankful for that.  There is always an unpredictable line with my back where it goes from fatigue to basically not allowing me to move normally.  I did a “good job” keeping my energy/food going in during the bike, but I wanted NONE OF IT.  I thankfully had my watch set to beep every 7.5 minutes and each time I would follow whatever was my plan for that phase of the race- either water for first 20 min of bike, then began taking in food for the next hour, then water again, then perpetuum drink closer to end of bike time to limit food going in, but keeping calories and protein going in.  I think it worked well.  I was a bit worried- the last 1 hour of bike, I definitely felt HOT and was worried that if I felt hot during the BIKE, how that would feel during the RUN… yikes.  I also put my hand on my face at one point and noticed just tons of SALT and was definitely keeping this a bit heavy on my mind and what it would mean for the run.. 
T2:  I came in from the bike, felt really good and ready to freaking be OFF the bike! Every year, I think this at Eagleman, I am so glad to be ON FEET- nothing like just being on your own two feet and having no worries about water or wheels!  Ran through transition to find my entire bike rack EMPTY!! Good news- meaning that most of my age group/ all that I could see/ were still on the bike, so I knew I was at the top of the standings at this point which was nice to know.
Grabbed fuelbelt/number/helmet off/shoes quick on and OUT.  I had my fuelbelt and an energy bottle sitting in a cooler of ice (ice had melted but my stuff was still nice and cold)… I opened up my energy bolt drink and yum, seriously, it got me through the first few miles.  I slightly worry about taking those energy “bolt” drinks or whatever they are, but… I think they work for me, and my body needs and apparently loves caffeine, so…. I did it.  That was my first 3 miles of fuel.  I knew within those 3 miles that it was HOT, but that being said, not as horrible hot as it has been in the past, it was maybe like an 8.7/ 10 hot, where there have been some years where it is 10/10 hot….. and I really RARELY ever say something is 10/10.  I wasn’t using my gps to get splits (that is a whole additional story)… but I loosely with my stopwatch was seeing that my first 3 miles were maybe on a 7:30 track-ish.  But I was again trying to stay very calm/paced and NON EMOTIONAL.  Not worrying about pace, not focusing on numbers, just being calm and trying to race smart and be in the moment.  I did have some fleeting thoughts of, oh gosh I don’t know if I can keep this up.. it is really hot!!  And then I would say (shut up), calm down to myself and just keep at it.  First probably 4-5 aid stations I ran through, grabbing what I needed and was fast going.  It was probably at mile 4ish that I had some thoughts of, DAMN, this is going to turn into another walk-fest/survival fest at Eagleman situation.  And I just really didn’t want that.  I wanted to run, not just survive.  My friend Koen ran by me maybe at mile 4.5ish (I had passed him on the bike) and comparatively to his pace I wondered if I was standing still?  It was a good reminder to keep pushing. There are so many people out there who are walking that it is easy to get sucked into THAT mindset of feeling horrid.  I often think/say that if all I saw were the people that were running strong, I would be much more likely to be thriving and not allowing myself to be walking/singing a sad story to myself.  Koen maybe said something to me, but honestly, I had ZERO oomph in me at that point to even respond verbally, and felt kind of bad, but again, no energy to feel bad, I knew I just had to keep on.   We turned down a street that is normally very just barren and hot/ and it was as usual, but this street also brings us up almost to the halfway point.  Once I had made it through first 4  miles of run, my next mental “block” that I was trying to focus on, was mile 4-8.  Just being moderate and steady and strong/smart racing.  Since I knew I was getting to the halfway point, as well as a new road/change in course, I was hopeful that maybe that road would provide a bit of shade, AND IT DID… ahhhhh thank goodness! I was so so happy.  I used that shade to really try to keep my pace up, my body fully connected with arm cadence driving my leg cadence/ form still strong, etc.  I tried to makeup time here.
I noticed also that I wasn’t eating anything or taking in calories and I knew how stupid that was.  I had had my energy drink, so that was good.   But then at every aid station, all I wanted was ice water over my head, and ice in my swimsuit and ice in a cup to hold and eat ice cubes out of for the next mile.  It really was deteriorating slightly mentally to a mile to mile event… (aaggghhh the freaking Eagleman race… why do I love you so, why do I come back each year to torture and love it… )  so I tried to take one of my cliff blocks in.  and I noticed, pretty much right away, that yuck, it was like revulsive to even my mouth and I wanted to kind of drool it out (I know sounding awesome here)… but I quickly remembered last year’s new invention, “iced clif block popsicles”.. so since I really couldn’t tolerate the cliff block, I popped an ice cube in my mouth with it. And I kind of chewed them up a bit together and put the ice cube within/around the clif block,, so I had kind of a flavored ice type of cliff block.  I was feeling very ingenious again this year with this invention and halfway through the block put another ice cube in to mix with it more.  That was the only block of energy I took in the whole way…. This race just destroys me, and I knew y body was a bit shutting down.  My legs by this halfway point were very much shutting down.  My quads were already “sore” to the point where I had to really stay focused on each foot placement because I was worried that my legs may actually give OUT upon landing.  This was possibly even a good thing for my run pace because I noticed the quicker I was/ the less time I was actually ON my legs on the ground, it felt easier to not collapse….So I think this helped me keep  my pace up.

When we finished the new mile of shade on the race, I could see it coming… I could- it was the main highway, back out in the freaking sun, and we had like 5.5-6 miles left of this I thought.. I was really veering on being TERRIFIED to get back out into the sun, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to take it.  But I did.. I just kind of mentally disengaged from what I was doing/ didn’t let myself focus on the distance left, just kept running each step… and I made it the next few miles that way.  The good news I am leaving out on this run is that I think I basically was passing everyone on the run, except the one person out there I knew that I mentioned before (koen).  So,, even though I really wasn’t feeling great, I sure was actually running fine.  Of course it wasn’t the paces that I trained at, but… this is Eagleman and you just don’t ever expect to run at your normal paces there.  I hadn’t passed anyone with my age group, so I still wasn’t sure of my placement, but I did know I had been doing well since no bikes were back when I got back.
There were two times on the run that I did stop.  At one point I let myself in the shade walk for 30 seconds because I wanted to just indulge in the shade… and I realized I was “letting myself off the hook” so I made sure 30 seconds was not lengthened out… and it was good.  Another time, I stopped running,  honestly had to swear out loud, and then was like, ok that is dumb to walk, and I (kind of angrily at myself) realized I didn’t NEED TO, so I picked it back up and was happier to be back at it.
Had I continued those walks, my race could have ended very differently- timewise, placewise, and overall sense of how I did.  *moral of the story to the athletes I coach--- keep going.  Don’t give up.
I came to the water finally- when you get to this corner where you see the water you have 1.5 miles and I was so so thrilled- this road is so beautiful, historic homes, and you know you CAN DO IT THEN!! You WILL MAKE IT!
But it still seems kinda far. Last mile… always is… is just freaking THRILLING and all of a sudden it becomes  WORTH IT… this thing that maybe almost killed you…. You now CONQUERED itJ    The water on the left is beautiful and the houses on the right and you can HEAR the finish line… all is wellJ
So I finished with not my best time, but actually my 2nd best time.  I qualified for World Long course championships in Australia, but I won’t be going.  So there are kind of mixed emotions for that- Australia is really my #1/2 place I want to visit sometime (Austria/Italy the others)… but I am still happy that I qualified.  It is always a little bittersweet to walk over the finish line and not have my family to be there for me, but I am so thankful that they understand that I do this and that I love working towards it, etc.
Immediately after I finished, I walked past finish line, kept walking to the boat ramp, took off shoes and fuel belt and walked back into the water and just stood my legs in water… and body actually.. oh could have stayed forever, felt so good with the cold water easing my muscles.  But, I wanted to go back and watch for Meredith, so I got up, walked back up boat ramp to discover, my right hip/glute medius was locked.  I could not walk.  Could not.  I had not one ounce of hip pain during entire race, and now all of a sudden I couldn’t even stand/walk?  So I stood there, in parking lot.. standing still… digging my thumb into my butt.  All by myself.  Seriously.. I tried to take a few steps, and it was like 9.5/10 pain, so kept digging my thumb in and started slightly freaking out thinking, I have to walk/get bike/get all my stuff all by myself and I cannot move I am like stuck here in this driveway!!! But I got it to loosen up with enough thumb digging… and, surprisingly, after half hour, it was again a non issue?  My body is so weird.
I felt okay immediately after, went to get my phone and called Ryan/ my brother txted me which is when I found out I got 3rd in  my age group, my highest placing ever at Eagleman (prior to this my highest was 8th), and then after 15 min, I kinda started to feel a bit nauseas.  I went to the food tent to see about getting a diet soda, and I got 2… to start with… seriously it is the ONLY THING I can ever have after a race.  I got this, and I got a bagel for later, but the other “real food”… I have honestly no idea who can eat that stuff after Eagleman… I mean rice and beans?  I love rice and beans, but after this race no way.  There is pasta bake and just being in the tent with it honestly makes me every year want to gag.  So I get my diet cokes and outta there.  Diet cokes kept me feeling good for a bit, but anytime someone would talk to me (I saw Koen)- talking like made my blood pressure drop or something and I was WOOOOOZY.. like I felt drunk and cloudy and like I could pass out… my ears would slightly become ringing and fuzzy if I would talk.  And I’d start shakey/sweating.  Very odd.  I figured I needed some m ore diet cokeJ  so I went back for 2 more cans of diet cokeJ!  (getting my moneys worth.. actually… no…$400 is more than 4 cans of diet coke, but I digress).. I laid under a tree and tried to relax and not get sick for a bit.  I watched for Meredith to finish and was so excited to see her finish her first half!!  She did great!  We were talking/sitting on grass/ she had gotten something to eat and I was still trying to pretend I felt okay/not getting sick, but I knew I was really not “well”… there was a guy sitting next to me with a brown tee shirt on and he must have leaned backwards/in my direction and out of the corner of my eye I thought it was some sort of brown animal running at me!  So I jumped towards Meredith/instantly realized that I was like REEAAAALLY woozyish and maybe having some brain lethargy issues…… and knew it was time to pack up and go….
I went back to hotel, got in pool to ease my legs and be cool, took a shower, which felt SO GOOD. There is NOTHING in the world like a shower after Eagleman… (except maybe a shower after going to Haiti)… but I immediately laid in bed, under all the covers and felt feverish and semi-slept/ semi stayed awake due to a fly in the room that kept landing on me).. I honestly did this for probably 2 hours…. Dozing, shivering a bit… I got up and felt so  much better, I went to get a milkshake to get something cold and calories down.. I’ve maybe never tasted anything better.
This weeks recovery has been TOUGH, but I think I am getting there.  I was on a high for a day or two and then it freaking caught up with me, and I have had 2 days now where literally I am worthless.  I ave gone for some 30-40 min easy easy jogs without bringing GPS, I swam 15 minutes ish to just feel good and play in water….but ther eis no way I am PUSHING anything because 1st I cannot- my body physically won’t let me.  It is like I weigh 100 more lbs than usual right now…. And 2nd.. I know better… need this time to just recover.  I am abit extra dizzy all week, so trying to take in some extra fluids… I think because of this, I feel kind of like I don’t really “know” how to respond when people ask how the race was?  It was awesome!!! But then I see pics like this:
1308_063026: and wow…… that doesn’t look like so much “fun”!!!!!
But I also remember moments like this: 1308_069611:  where I felt strong, loved the heat on my back, loved passing people for miles and miles, loved the focus and feeling strong and fit and in control of my body….
1308_048145: yep… Eagleman… I will be backJ  I still love you somehow…..!!!!!  or at least I love training for you!!!!