Would you rather "place" and miss your goals? Or would you rather hit your goals and come in last? I've thought about this a lot over the past few days.
In true form, the saga continues.
Let's recap the past couple of months:
1.) Work was really busy.
2.) I quit cycling. (Maybe it was only for a day, but I DID quit).
3.) The cycling that I did was on the trainer. I didn't get on the road until a week ago.
4.) No open water swimming places have been open. All my swimming has been in the pool. But, it's been really good.
5.) I'm still very happy with where my running is going.
6.) Coach still hasn't fired me.
This year, I'm making the move to the Olympic distance. There hasn't been a day gone by that I've thought I made the wrong decision.
Still, there I was on May 19th ready to do this race....not a big race for me. It was more about doing the distance and getting a feel for being on a course for a long time again.
Goals: I had goals ranging from 2:35-2:55.
Immediately before we got into the water, the RD announces that we're running a completely different route.
He says, instead of going along the reservoir and turning right, you're turning left....and well, there are hills. Lot's of hills.
Too late.....the swim is starting.
Cut to the chase: I just plain swam too slow. The first lap (750m) in 14 minutes was fine. My goal was to get faster on the second lap. I never really got out of the "taking it easy mode". I, also, got wrapped up with this one guy for a bit. I just couldn't get away from him. My triathlete friends know what I'm talking about.
T1: Pretty decent run uphill to T1. (Aren't they all though?) The difference nowadays is that I've figure out how to RUN this without killing myself. Since run is my weakness, I rip the wetsuit off right when I get out of the water. This makes it easier for me to run. First time ever, I actually caught up to people and wasn't passed.
Simple pleasures.....that's a pretty big improvement to me.
This is where things get good. The bike (being my strength).....YET, I haven't done a whole lot of training. I thought worst case 1:30, best case 1:20. A few minutes after being on the bike, I noticed that my garmin wasn't displaying anything except time elapsed.
I messed with it for awhile then gave up. AWESOME. I have no idea how far I'm going, what my speed is, what my cadence is or what my heart rate is. The funny thing about this is that not even two weeks ago, I'd mentioned to coach that I did a training ride by "feel" because "What happens if my Garmin stops working mid-race?"
As it turns out, this is a very small race. I'm riding, and I passed a lot of people. I look up, and there's no one in front of me. I glance backwards and no one is behind me.
And I have no idea where I'm going. I'm glancing down different turns looking for other cyclists.
Nothing. I glance at my watch and I *think* it says 30 min. I make the decision to ride about 5-6 more minutes and turn around.
At 5-6 minutes with still no one in site....I decided to turn around and head back.
As I'm riding back, still no athletes....I'm starting to think "I'm f*cked. I'm out in the middle of no where. I have no cell phone. No idea where I am. Not even a freaking good ole boy that I could flag down."
Just then, I see the turn that I missed. As I was focused on the upcoming turn, I missed a hole in the ground that I hit at about 35 mph and heard the bike crunch.
WTF? I manage to stay up on the bike. My water bottle goes bouncing far far away.
And, I haven't seen one single aid station on the course.
I'm completely rattled.
At this point, I have a decision to make. I have no water. I've already gone off course by who knows how much.
Do I cut the course, call it a day, and take my DQ? Or do I continue on?
"You should just call it a day. Head back. You're not going to place anyway."
"Who said I wanted to place? I just wanted to hit my goals. Those are probably out the window now too. Especially after that slow swim"
"BUT....you still have a chance to PR"
"How do you know that? I have NO IDEA how long I've been out here. I have no idea how far I went off course."
I don't care. I'm continuing on with the race, even if it means I come in last.
I start following people....people that I passed in the first 10 minutes of the race.
How am I going to explain my bike time to Coach?
All I wanted was to finally show everyone that I REALLY AM FAST ON THE BIKE.
Now, it's a waste of time. Here I am trying to play catch up. Best case scenario, I have to be out here for over 1:30. Mr. Tea is GOING TO FREAK. HE hates long races.
WOULD YOU JUST SHUT UP? PLEASE?
You could have quit. You could have turned around, but YOU DECIDED TO CONTINUE ON WITH THE RACE.
SO, IF YOU DON'T MIND WE HAVE A BIKE RACE TO FINISH HERE.
I catch up to a women and ask if she knows what the race time is. ANYTHING to give me an idea of how long I've been out there.
She doesn't know.
I keep riding.
As I pull into the lake, I see Mr. Tea. As I pass him, I SCREAM OUT "WHAT'S MY RACE TIME?'
He gives me this look as if to say "What are you talking about? Look at your garmin."
I dismount and start running toward T2. As I get there, I yell to the guy "Any idea what time it is?"
PLEASE SOMEONE! CAN SOMEONE EVEN TELL ME WHAT TIME OF DAY IT IS?
He doesn't know either. I look at T2. SO MANY BIKES. I must have been one of the last off the course.
It's cool. Whatever. I take my time in T2. I am horribly thirsty after losing my water bottle. I see Mr. Tea. I ask him again, "What was my bike time. I'm riding blind. I went off course. I have no information."
He says, "1:24"
I take off running.
That's not even possible.
I went off course....by my estimate....about 3 miles. There's no way. Sure 1:24 for 40K is MEH.
But 1:24 for close to 28 miles? With the amount of bike training I did? Damn. That's a pretty huge PR.
I start running. When I hit the first downhill and looked up at the monstrous hill that I was about to climb....the only thought in my head was
YOU HAVE GOT TO BE FUCKING KIDDING ME. I see 10 people ahead of me. They were all walking the hill.
I immediately think "I'm not walking this hill dammit. I'm going to run. No matter how hard."
Halfway up. I started walking.
That's pretty much how the race went. UP and Down. The only easy way to get through it was to keep moving forward, whether you had to walk or run slow.
There comes a time in every race when you know that you are going to hit your goals or not.
On the run, I knew my shot at 2:35-2:55 was completely blown.
BUT....I COULD still PR. I just had to maintain better than 12:00 pace. The swim was a 4 minute PR. The bike was a PR (even going off course).
I was now chasing a PR. The only way I was going to beat it was by running. I couldn't walk anymore hills. This was it.
I started talking to some of the other runners. I ran with a woman for awhile. We talked for a bit then I picked up the pace and wished her good luck.
For the remainder of the run, I talked with another woman (who I later discovered was 2nd in my AG).
We ran the last two miles together, talking and grunting and pushing each other to get up each hill.
When I crossed the finish line, I grabbed my water bottle and sat down. My legs were shot.
STILL....having NO IDEA what my time was. There was no clock at the finish. I'm thinking it was a PR but a small one.
A PR none the less.
Not exactly the times I wanted, but the times I got.
I sat there thinking about what I did right and what I did wrong.
The crazy thing....
I felt pretty damn good about it all.
The announcement was made that the awards ceremony was taking place. Due to a miscommunication with Mr. Tea, I had no idea where he was, and I decided to watch the awards ceremony.
The RD is going through all of the Age groups, and he SKIPS FEMALE 45-49.
WHAT? I've got to find the results. Did they have me in the wrong AG?
He doesn't say anything about it. I run to find the results table.
Sure enough....there are NO results for my Age group.
Why isn't my ag here? Then it occurs to me....
There are women still on the course.
I COULD HAVE PLACED. As ridiculous as it sounds, because trust me....at this point, EVERYTHING except coming in last sounds pretty crazy.
I go running back to the awards ceremony. The RD is announcing the last of the male winners and he says, "We now have the results of the women's 45-49 category. It was almost a photo-finish as the top three women came in within a minute of each other."
In 3rd place with a time of 3:18....and he announces my name.
For the first time all day, I now know that I PR'd. A 12 minute PR.
I'm stunned. I go stumbling up to the front. I say "thank you" and smile for the photog.
But all I could think of was, "I don't deserve this."
There must have only been 3 women in my AG, right?
I should have been happy, right?
I've told Coach this over and over...it's hard to be happy about a race when it wasn't my best effort.
Later in the day, I found out there were 7 women in my AG. It was a *real* placing.
Still, I don't feel like I deserve it. I can be faster and better. This was a "B" race for me. It was my starter kit. I messed up. So many things went wrong. I can swim better. I can ride better. I can definitely run better.
Where do I stand now?
FIRED UP, DAMMIT! I WANT A SECOND CHANCE!