Monday, June 09, 2008

Deer Creek Olympic Triathlon 2008

Warning, in advance. This is a really long post.

Halfway through the bike yesterday I made the decision that I am not doing Muncie and I'm not going to sign up for Ironman. Around the age of 14 fear crept into my life and I have only become more neurotic with age. There are fears I have of triathlon that I just can't get beyond and doing these races is just not worth it. I am fooling no one out there, especially not myself. Honestly, I have goals on my life list that I'm not going to achieve. And I think, Ironman is going to have to be one of them.

Saturday night I couldn't sleep very well. I was trying to visualize a good swim and not freaking out, but I would fall asleep and have nightmares about it and then I would wake up in a panic. When I woke up for good Sunday morning I was nauxious and could barely eat my breakfast. We left the house around 5:30am and headed down to Deer Creek to check in, set up our transitions, and take a practice swim. We've had a lot of rain this past week and the lake was really high. So high, in fact, that there was no beach. The water was up over the sand and you could feel grass beneath your feet standing in the water. You could see a handrail, that usually leads down to the beach, under water. I had a good practice swim and felt a little better about the day.

My wave was the second-to-last wave. By that time, however, I had seen two people pulled out of the water by lifeguards. I was definitely nervous again. When the horn sounded, I walked into the water, took a deep breath, waited for the mass to go, and then started swimming. I had rounded three buoys when the next wave caught me. One of my neuroses is I don't like to be touched unless I initiate the touching. This includes hugs or when people touch your shoulder when they talk to you, etc. I physically cringe when I'm touched. Yeah, I know, I probably need help. :) Anyway, when the next wave reached us I was being swam over and touched on all sides. It was freaking me out. I started to hyperventilate. I flipped over to my back to backstroke, but the current was against us and I was getting water splashed in my face. I was starting to think I was going to drown in the deep water. There wasn't a buoy in sight to grab hold of and the next lifeguard was at that buoy. I waved my arm, but no one saw me. I tried to compose myself again and somehow made it to that next buoy. At that buoy I grabbed hold of the board the lifeguard was on, talked to him for a minute or two, and just tried to relax. He told me I was doing a good job. Sure he was just an 18 year old kid, but he helped me to focus again. I put my face in the water and kept swimming. Once on the front side I got into a groove and was about to do the second loop fairly well. Despite the freak out and holding onto the lifeguard, I finished the swim, which included the run to the transition area, in about 33 minutes.

Transitions are transitions. I did what I had to and didn't worry about my time. My bike was the only one on the rack so I certainly didn't need to worry about beating anyone. I got off my wetsuit, put on my biking shoes and helmet, tucked my gels under my shorts, and away I went. In addition to all the rain we've had this week, it has been extremely windy. There was a point this last week where we were under a tornado watch for 24 hours straight. Sunday was no different. It was quite breezy and being that Ohio is rural pretty much 90% of the area, there was nothing to block the wind. Into the wind I could only manage going between 13-15 mph. But once we were not in the wind I was able to kick it up around 18-22 mph. But, so did everyone else. I was going 21 mph at one point and getting passed like I was standing still. Dave told me afterwards that he was going 24 mph and getting passed. Unbelievable! Towards the end of the first loop you head down a steep hill (I was going over 30 mph!) and then a sharp left turn and immediately uphill. Well, I geared all wrong and if I tried to do anything I was going to drop my chain. So I hopped off my bike and ran that sucker up the hill. I wasn't the only one either. I thought I was staying in good contact with the bikers until the second lap when I realized all the bikers I was around were doing the sprint triathlon. I was all by myself and that's when I stopped caring. That's when I realized I am never going to be the triathlete I want to be. And that's when I made the decision to stop trying to be a triathlete.

When I finished the bike, I was the last person in my row to rack my bike. There wasn't enough room, however, and I didn't have the strength to move any bikes so I just set mine against the fence. I didn't care if I was going to get a penalty. (I didn't.) From all the people I saw on the bike course drafting, they weren't really doing too much to enforce penalties.

On a side note, why are the rack so damn tall? Am I the only person who rides an extra small bike with 650 tires? When I rack my bike on the seat my bike swings in the breeze. None of it touches the ground.

Yesterday was a scorcher. I think it was like 93 degrees. By the time I got out on the run it must have been around 90. Straight out of transition I asked the people at the waterstop for water and they said they were out. Uh oh! My friend Asha was sitting on the corner and I handed my gross shirt to her. I'm not much for running in a sports bra, but it was too hot to be wearing a shirt. My first mile was 8:40, but all the other miles were much, much slower. It was so HOT! I employed the Galloway method. I would run for two minutes and walk for one. That's all I could handle. During the run I saw two people hauled away in an ambulance. I ran into a former high school student around mile 3 and talked to her for a few paces. I caught Dave at mile 5, walked with him for about a minute and then finished my run. Saturday I did 7 miles in 59 minutes, but this 10K took me over an hour. I finished 5th out of 6 in my age group.

The official results haven't been posted, but I'm not sure it's worth posting them up here. Who cares. I'd like to carry on with the training. It's helping my running and I'd like to support Dave as he continues on toward Ironman. I'm sad that I'm giving up a dream, but I know in my heart it's not something that I can do. When I talk about running people always seem amazed/dumbfounded about how much I run, how fast I run, or how I can continue to qualify and run Boston. But running just comes naturally. It flows. Running is something I need. I ache for it with all this triathlon training. Triathlon, on the other hand, causes me anxiety. I worry about the expectations and wonder how I can get past my fears. I wonder how other people do it the same way that people question me about my running.

Dave says I should take some time and really decide if I'm ready to give it up. I don't think three years is too short of time to think about it. I knew three years ago that triathlon was not for me. And yet I thought I would give it another try. Nothing's changed. It's not the training. I can handle the training. Shoot, if my head didn't get in the way, I could handle the races. But because I've had such good success with running, the bar is immediately raised for triathlon. I'm not satisfied with just finishing.

Dave has supported me for a long time with running. He's patient with the amount of time I spend training. He picks me up when I've had a bad race or when I'm feeling defeated. He comes to my races and cheers from the sidelines. He's very selfless when it comes to my goals. I haven't exactly reciprocated. I have a hard time putting my pride away and letting someone be better than me at something. I have felt like he's hijacked my Ironman goal and made it his own. I didn't want to race in Austria, but he did. I told him before we bought our bikes that I wasn't certain this was something I wanted to do, but he said I would want to once I got started. As it turns out, Dave's pretty good at triathlon and he's only going to get better. I need to stop being so selfish. I want to be the wife who supports him and cheers from the sidelines. I want him to be the best athlete he wants to be and not who I want him to be. It's time to sit there and be pretty (that is a saying I hate, but I will use it anyway) and let him fulfill his goals. I may be done with tri-ing, but at least I tri-ed in the first place.


Marcus Grimm said...

That's a bummer of a day, but it sounds like you learned something about yourself - and that's HUGE.

I've back-burnered tri's for the same reason - running is much more natural to me and I'm not interested in "overcoming" the other stuff.

As far as Dave goes, here's the good news: training for Ironman is a lot more intense than training for a marathon, so he won't need to be patient for you - he'll be too busy putting in the miles!

Amy said...

Hey, well I'm sure this is the last thing you want to hear and it is cliche... but honestly, you should be proud of yourself! I mean... I'm pretty sure if I were hyperventilating in an open water swim... I would quit. But you stuck it out, through the whole thing! That takes some major guts.

Thanks for posting and I know how hard it is to post a disappointing race, but it offers inspiration to the rest of us.

Love the blog, been a longtime lurker... finally stepping out of the shadows :)

Andrea Hill said...

well this wasn't the post I was expecting to see at all! I know how dedicated you are to your athletic pursuits.

The fact is, we all know that if you wanted to do Ironman, you could. The question is: do you REALLY want to? And why?

I think for you, a lot of athletics is about the achievement: saying you've done something. But is it worth all the time, effort, blood, sweat, tears for the ability to mention it in your bio?
A few years ago, someone asked me "if you could do the one thing you wanted most, but couldn't tell anyone about it, would you still want it?" It really struck home with me, and I think it's a really great thought. Are you doing triathlon because of what it will offer you personally, or is it so that it can be a way you define yourself to others? Not to trivialize that, because heaven knows I have my pod at work decorated with all my running regalia.
But I think if something is purely for yourself, it's just so much easier to keep at it. When you're doing something for external forces, there just seems to be a different type of dynamic: almost more of an obligation or sense of accountability. While publicly making a declaration that you are or aren't doing something can help keep you doing the training and get you to the starting line, it's not going to make those countless hours enjoyable.

There is so much to life.. so much to see and do and experience. Why spent hours and hours and hours doing something you don't enjoy?

And you know of course that if you reconsider tomorrow, I will fully support you in that as well. I want you to be happy, whatever decision you make...

Michelle said...

Wow, Meredith, that was pretty deep. I'm not sure I can add much to what everyone else said (especially not from a running perspective), but it sounds as if you have really thought this through and you had an epiphany in this race. As Andrea said, if you change your mind, we'll all be cheering for you still. Actually, she said a lot of good stuff. And maybe you could look at it not as NOT achieving your goal to complete an ironman, but achieving something else--learning about your strengths and weaknesses, your motivations, how to be supportive to Dave in the same way you feel he's been supportive to you. Or, it frees up a lot of time to work on those other goals. As you know, I'm not much of an athlete (bowling aside--hahaha), and I'm certainly not trying to make light of any disappointment you feel. And as you said, at least you tried--that's more than a lot of us can say!

Cilla said...

I must say, I am very impressed. My sister and I wanted to train for the Ironman about 5 years ago. At that time I was in the best shape of my life, but I have a HUGE fear of water. So instead of at least trying, I just said no, it's too hard and walked away. I am glad and proud that you made it this far. Keep helping Dave.

Mer! said...

Hey Meredith! Mer here know, it takes a lot of admiration to admit when something just doesn't feel like it fits. So many people force themselves to do things that don't mesh with them.

You make a really good point, the same people who you envy for Ironman, are the same people (like me, who have done an Ironman) but can't imagine qualifying for Boston. That type of running is a class in and of itself.

I guess you could say to me, Boston is like Kona...all one and the same, they're both the pinnacle of a sport, and you are a rockin hard runner.

Your decision doesn't mean that you "can't," do an Ironman, it just means that you aren't into it, the same way someone else isn't into basketball, or volleyball (I hate volleyball).

There are many challenges to be had in running as well, whether you take yourself off road, or decide to do a 50K or better your marathon time, whatever it is, you still have a lot of challenges in that regard.....and not wanting to do an Ironman takes *nothing* away from your athletic ability and dedication.

I trust myself when I say you're a lot like me that if we can't give 110% and can't do it perfectly, we're not going to do it =0. Ironman, i'm not kidding you, took every ounce of energy, 20 hour a week training and I can't *imagine* training like that if I didn't love the sport. I truly love triathlon and I STILL hated the training...but I knew I loved it enough to stick with it.

We're in totally opposite ends, but kind of the same. Running vs. Ironman, your husband the Ironman worker-atter and my husband the runner......we need to switch =0. J/K..

Just wanted to let you know I think you're amazing and whatever you decide it will be right, because it's how you feel, and no one else matters.