The decision to do this race was a little last minute. I had been half planning to do it for a few months but kept vacillating between being pretty sure I was doing it and pretty sure I was not going to do it. The race came only 2.5 weeks after I finished the bar exam so I really wasn't expecting anything special.
I waited to register until the Thursday before the race to be sure that the weather was going to be good. Then, in an attempt to totally screw myself, I rode my bike about 250 miles in the 5 or 6 days leading up to race day. I also was careful to barely swim at all for a couple of weeks beforehand.
The swim actually got delayed a little bit because it was so cold out that a thick fog had formed over the lake. When we finally went off at around 7:00 AM, I still couldn't see a single buoy. Luckily at Lake Stevens there is an underwater line that you can use to guide yourself through the swim.
When the gun went off, three girls immediately went off the front and I found myself in a chase pack of three more girls. Everything went smoothly until we started picking up the wave in front of us and the three of us were blown apart.
After the turns I found one of the girls I had been working with and just stayed on her feet coming out of the water together.
I really felt like I had had a good swim but my time definitely didn't evince that. I really need to start swimming more.
I definitely screwed up my transitions at this race last year so I was determined not to make the same mistakes this year. My transition spot was really far from the bike out so I opted to clip my shoes in ahead of time even though I hadn't practiced doing this in a long time.
I was out of my wetsuit quickly, had my awesome borrowed Rudy Project helmet on and was on my way out.
I got my feet into my shoes mostly without incident although I'd had them rubberbanded to my rear brake caliper and when I broke the rubber band it rotated my caliper just a little and gave me some brake rub. Honestly, my rear brake wasn't really working to begin with and I wasn't planning on using it unless totally necessary so I just undid my brake a little to get rid of the rub.
About a mile and a half into the bike I came upon a girl, racer #734, Jennifer Mathe. She had come out of transition just ahead of me and was riding pretty much on the yellow line even though she wasn't passing anyone. I said "on your left" to her ... nothing. I said "#734, on your left" ... still nothing. "on your left, please move to the right" ... nothing. At this point I'm right on Jennifer Mathe's wheel and other racers are telling her to move right to let me pass and she won't freaking budge. Finally, I just shouted "HEY! I'M ON YOUR LEFT, LET ME PASS!" She swerves over and I pass. As I'm passing, she let out a "F*&% YOU C*%$!" I was totally shocked. I mean, did this girl think she was going to block me for the entire 56 miles? Did she think that she should just let me pass at her convenience? I thought about reporting her to the officials after the race but opted instead to just out her poor sportsmanship here.
After that unpleasantness I continued on with my bike. It was really cold (in the low to mid 50's) but I was feeling really good. I was having a little trouble shifting due to cold hands but other than that, everything was golden.
Around mile 30 I went to take my sport legs and some immodium but when I reached into my pocket and took the lid off of my little pill case, I managed spill them everywhere on the road. Crap. I knew I had more sport legs in my bag right in transition and decided I would take the couple extra seconds in transition to find them and take them.
Around mile 40, the wheels started to come off. I started feeling really sick. Up to this point my nutrition was spot on but once I started feeling ill, I started throwing up. I was throwing up everything that I drank. It totally sucked. I slowed down quite a bit and tried to take in more liquids but I just couldn't.
At around mile 50, I made the left turn to go back towards transition. I was feeling so bad at this point, I was considering dropping out. Since the run in Lake Stevens is essentially a double figure 8, I decided to do the first 5k of the run and then reevaluate.
I knew T2 was going to be a little slow since I wasn't feeling well and I really wanted to take some more sport legs. Luckily they were right where I thought they would be in my bag and I was able to grab them and run out, grabbing some water in the transition area.
I went out onto the run sitting in 1st in my AG. I was feeling so bad though that I kind of knew I would be giving up a lot of places if I decided to finish the race.
As I was running, I tried to stay relaxed but I just couldn't. No matter how much I slowed my pace, I couldn't get my breathing or my heart rate (don't wear a HRM, I could just tell it was really high) under control. I have a history of asthma and I was definitely having a mild asthma attack. I could breathe, but it was shallow and I was gasping.
Kara Nielsen passed me about a mile and a half into the run (this is a familiar story) and I just couldn't stay on her heels.
I finished the first 5k-ish loop without being passed by any other women. I decided to keep going even though the breathing problem wasn't getting any better (it also wasn't getting worse).
On the second portion of the run, I started to get really sick again. I had to pull over to throw up some more.
At the halfway point of the run, I decided I was going to finish even if it meant walking. I've never DNF'd a triathlon and I wasn't about to start.
At around mile 7, I pulled into the bushes to throw up again and then one more time at mile 8. I made my last pit stop at around mile 11 and then pushed it into the finish.
This was the first time I have ever cried after a race. I haven't had a real meltdown in a while (everyone kind of melts down in IM so I'm not counting that). I think my last one was the Black Diamond Half in 2007. I was feeling so crappy and dejected that I just talked to a few people (cried at them) grabbed my bike, and left.
I wasn't crying because I thought I did bad but just because it sucked to spend 2 hours totally unable to control your body. Maybe I should have dropped out but I think I would have felt even worse had I done that.
I was already part way home when I started getting phone calls asking why I had left and congratulating me on my race. Unbeknownst to me, I had taken 2nd in my age group (30-34) and had finished as the 5th overall amateur and 18th overall woman including the pros.
Final results were:
2/45 30-34 Women
5/271 Amateur Women
18/286 Overall Women
After the race I went on a memorial ride for Jose and I was lamenting my race with my buddy Shawn who wisely told me "you don't need to feel good to have a good race."
So there you have it, the 2009 Lake Stevens 70.3. The best bad day I've ever had.
Mind The Gap
11 months ago