Saturday, September 1, 2007

Beast in my Belly

Race day really started yesterday, when I came home to flowers from Tri-Hubby and a card that read "You Are Gonna Rock!" That was a pretty cool beginning to my Night Before the Race Vigil. I never got that last workout in, only a nap, some stretching and some quality time with my Stick. I know what you're thinking. Click on the link, you won't be dissapointed ;). Most of the evening, I just read all of your comments (You guys rock!), chilled, and packed my bag, sometimes stopping to take a big breath and keep myself calm. This was a big deal for me (in case 'ya didn't notice!) and I had to struggle to keep it in perspective at times. All in all, I kept it together and settled down for a fitfull nights sleep at about 9:00. Boy Wonder was home from college this weekend and managed to wake us up not once, but twice as he came and went trying to figure out if he was sleeping at his mom's or his dad's. But, it wasn't like I was getting alot of deep sleep anyway so, no harm no foul. Thankfully, I had read somewhere that its the sleep you get two nights before the race that really counts, so I wasn't too worried.

The alarm went off at 4:00 a.m. and I shot out of bed. I had everything ready to go the night before, so I really just ate my oatmeal, got dressed, and did a bunch more of those deep cleansing breaths. You would've thought I was in labor or something. And really, when you think about it, I was. In fact, the seed was planted in my brain in November, nine months ago, when I got it in my head I wanted to try a tri. And this morning, in the pre-dawn of my A Race, I was about to give birth to the beast I was growing in my belly these long months of training. My FTE was like the ultrasound - a little peak at what was in there, just enough to make me fall in love.

Tri-Hubby was up not long after me, packing a cooler to share with my Mom, Dad and Thithy (that's Our Family speak for sissy) and her two year old. Once again, they made the trek from the other side of two rivers to come and sit in the sun and get an occasional glimpse of me swimming, biking or running by. I'm just overwhelmed at the support of my family. This was definately not thier idea - in fact, I think they probably thought I was a little crazy to want to do this - and yet, they got up early on a Saturday morning and came out and cheered my name and kept me going. You've gotta love those people! Also, my friend Sally and her husband Steve came out - cowbells in tow - and yelled for me. Again, I'm just overwhelmed at the support I've had. The best thing about my summer in this sport has been the people I've met - in real life, online, and, twice, both. Triathletes are just awesome people.
But I digress. We made our way to the race sight by 5:30 a.m., were guided to a parking spot, and proceeded to situate Pyro on her rack and set up my transition area. This event was so well organized - bike racks were designated for each wave, the race director stood on the top of the timing chip trailer and made announcements throughout the morning, letting us know the water temp (77.5 - absolutely perfect), the rules regarding transition, reminding us to pick up our chips, telling us where the food was, etc. It really helped and I never had to deal with that "what do I do if . . ." kind of anxiety. There was a woman racked right next to me who was doing her First Tri Ever, the short course. I felt a kinship with her and told her this was only my second and reassured her that she would have a blast. Then, I walked down to the swim start. The contractions were coming closer together - I knew it wouldn't be long now. And I began to feel strangely calm. The sun was coming up over the beautiful lake. The buoys looked as far out as ever, but I knew I could make them, I'd done it before. The air was chilled but I knew that the chill would be a comfort while I was doing the work that was set out before me.

There was a pre-race meeting which pretty much repeated what the director had been announcing since dawn. Again though, it was comforting to feel like I knew what was going on, that I didn't have to worry about the details of the race, only to focus on what I could do. After the business end was concluded, he announced that Kevin Hunt, the triathlete that you may recall died during the swim leg of a race in June, had been registered to race this morning. He said that he was sure Kevin was looking down on all of us with pride - and though it sounds kind of cliche now, it did feel that way, and I was grateful that they mentioned him. We had a moment of silence for Kevin then the national anthem was sung. I got in a quick warmup and, before I knew it, it was time to head down for the swim start. It was time to deliver the beast.

My overall impression of the race was that it went by so fast - I was expecting to have a feeling like "Oh my gosh, I've been out here so long" but it never came. The swim was as close as I came to that because, well, you know, I swim slow. I still managed to pass some people - even some in the wave in front of me. That, I couldn't believe, I was like "Look at me, I'm passin' people that started five minutes ahead of me!" Of course, then I had to look to make sure they were alright and still moving and stuff, and, thankfully, they all were. I certainly got passed a lot more than I passed, but that's par for the course for me. I'll get better. I hope. Still, before I knew it, it was over and I was heading out of the water. I wasn't last in my leg, but I was close, so I was anxious to get on the bike and get moving.

Swim Split: 38:45

There was a relatively long trek back to Pyro from the beach - and when I first got out of the water I was a little woozy from being horizontal for so long. So T1 was slow.


As I ran up the sidewalks (which myseteriously hurt my feet on the way down and didn't even register on the way up), I heard Sally and Steve and Tri-Hubby and Mom and Dad and Thithy yelling my name. They were my doulas, encouraging me to keep moving, keep breathing, and the beast, the beast who's been growing and stretching and waiting to wake up, the Phoenix, she made her appearance sometime after I got on the bike.

I'm not sure I can pinpoint the exact moment of her birth - was it that first hill that seemed so hard last Sunday that just dissolved beneath my wheels today? Or was it the first person I passed along the way? Or maybe it was when I felt the wind - wind that was not made my nature because all the flags hung limp on their poles- it was my wind, Pyro's wind, the wind of the beast. Whenever she made her entrance, her presence was known througout the entire bike - I attacked every hill, often staying in the big ring all the way to the crest and feeling only exhilaration; I passed a lot of people - men, women, people on hybrids, people in kit on nice bikes - lots of people were tied to posts out there on the course this morning, especially on the up hills. I'm not saying I was never out of breath, because I was, or that my quads were never on fire, because they were, it was just that everything clicked for me and I never felt misery, only elation to be out there, to be moving, to be FLYING on my Pyro. I was yelling thank you to every volunteer, every police officer, every spectator sitting on their lawns and cheering us on. I felt so grateful to all those people who had come out to make this day safer and less stressful for all of us out there. I can't even put it into words - it almost moved me to tears. I saw several members of my team out there also. Every time we'd pass we'd yell "Go Big Shark!" Totally awesome. It all brought home the affirmation I read this morning "God is in all, and all is well." That was the perfect theme for the day.

The bike was not without my typical dorkiness, unfortunately. The beast may have been born, but she's still a little baby. There was a U turn at one end of the bike course, about half way, and I was worried about it. You know, me and cornering are not good friends. I've been working on No Wetsuit Girl's tips, and they're helping, but I ain't there yet. So, when the U turn came, I almost executed it - but I went off the road, right at the end. Into the gravel. Luckily, I was going slow, saw it coming and was clipped out and ready to catch myself. It was fine, just embarrasing. But, I laughed, said "I knew I was going to do that!" And went on.

Nutrition was going great - except for the Gu I lost somewhere on the course. Which apparently fell, open, onto my water bottle. I discovered this when I stopped, as I'd planned, to fill my empty Aero Bottle with water and switch to Gu and water for the remainder of the course. Suddenly, I had Gu all over my hands. I was laughing, trying to lick it off, my hands sticking to the handlebars. That's going to be fun to clean! But, I was getting in the calories and having fun, so it was all good.

Suddenly, I was at the end of the bike. I couldn't believe how fast it had gone! At that point, I didn't know my speed or my time as I had forgotten to set my bike computer and my watch just wasn't working right. So I was racing blind. Imagine my surprise when I saw the result online.

Bike Time: 1:22:32 Avg Speed: 18

Yep. 18. That's the fastest average I have EVER had on any 25 mile ride, much less a hilly one. I will so take it.

T2 was a little quicker, not as much run time, not as much stuff to switch out: 1:37.

The run began. The first half mile felt hard, my legs were feeling some of those hills from the bike. But, before I knew it, I was feeling amazingly strong. I felt like I was going pretty slow, but I decided to maintain for awhile. I didn't want to give up that feeling. I can't describe how awesome I felt. My legs felt fresh, springy even, my breathing was easy, I didn't even notice the hills on the run. It was like they didn't exist. And I passed people. In fact, I only got passed by one person that I can remember. Of course, it was a chick. In my age group. But I let her go. I was having way too much fun, feeling way too awesome to let that get me. The run seemed to fly by. And, I saw Tryan out there! He looked really strong. He yelled "Go Phoenix!" And I yelled "Go, Tryan!" So, there wasn't any earth shattering wisdom exchanged, but it felt good anyway.
Soon, it was time to turn around. Now, I thought, now you start to pick it up. At first, it just wasn't happening. Legs were like "Nope, we like this pace. This feels good to us. Tell your time goal to kiss it." But, after I passed the 5 mile mark, I was able to convince them to give a little more.

As I rounded the corner to the finish line, I heard Tryan yell "Go Phoenix" again. Then I heard Tri Hubby and Mom and Dad and Thithy and legs said "Let's RUN." And so we did. I crossed the line, heard the beep, and Tri-Hubby was there to put his arms around me.

Run: 54:28 Pace per mile: 8:47. That's a PR. I guess I wasn't going as slow as I thought. That, or the beast has wings.

Final Time: 3:00 even. 5th out of 13 in my Age Group.

That's just peachy with me.
After I finished, I was hanging out, soaking all of it in when I saw a woman in my wave come across the finish line. I had noticed her at the start, looking nervous, and had seen her again on the run - she was headed out while I was coming back - and she had looked like she was struggling but hanging in there. I'm pretty sure she was last in our age group - and one of the last people across the finish - but when she finished, she let out the most triumphant "Whooo!" and her little girl, who couldn't have been more than two, rushed into her mommy's arms. I thought, "She's like me." She probably decided some time this year that she was going to try to do this. And, like me, she probably didn't know if she could. But, she did. And that was her triumph. It was my triumph too. At that moment, I had no idea where I stood in the final results. And I absolutely didn't care. That woman's finish was my finish. We were out there together, giving birth to something we'd never imagined. Something that makes us more than what we were last winter. Something that makes us more than "enough".


21stCenturyMom said...

YAY!!!! Congratulations on a really great race. 5th on your first Oly - that is OUTSTANDING! Especially since you had so much fun.

Very inspirational race report. Loved it!

Bolder said...

well done you!

i knew you would!!

greyhound said...

Terrific race. I especially love your last paragraph. We all have our own races to run, don't we.

Spokane Al said...

Congratulations on a terrific race! And the race report was very nice too.

Vickie said...

CONGRATS! CONGRATS! CONGRATS! I knew you would and could do it. So glad you enjoyed yourself. I thought about this all weekend while away from the computer and couldn't wait to hear all about it. Now? On to the next one. Each race is always a stepping stone to the next.

Tryan said...

Fifth Place!!!!! You are a tri supastah! Congrats on such a high finish. You even outran me...8:47 to 8:50! You should be proud of your accomplishments on Saturday, I am so glad you had a great race.

jeanne said...

you are awesome, amazing, inspiring, thrilling!!!

CONGRATULATIONS!!! a wonderful report, and a very well executed race. You were SO ready for this!!

I'm so excited for you! can you tell?!?!!!

I loved your last paragraph too. You never cease to amaze me.


Laurie said...

Congratulations! I am so happy the race went so well for you. Your recap was great and I even got a little teary. Enjoy some rest :)

Anonymous said...

I just want everyone to know How Proud I am of my Wife! She Rocks.

I may even do a whole post on it for the Woodworking blog!

Rock on Larissa!

Love Tom

Kim said...


stronger said...

Awesome race! Way to go!

And of course...YOU ROCK!

Anonymous said...

From Hubby:

Something my wife left out... I was watching the swim from a balcony above the beach. I was intently scanning with my Binoculars for the Pink capped racers to come in, looking for my Phoenix. Suddenly I found her, looking strong! Then I saw him. A man was floating on his back, spitting water in the air, and flapping his arms at his side... a mere 10 yards in front of her. Directly in front! I started shouting at him to get out of her way. Of course he could not hear me, and the folks me assumed I was nuts! With the collision pending, I got nervous. Would she remember what I had shared with her about Water polo? Nope, She politely swam around "Floatie Man" and finished her race. My training would have been to swim over him!

I am so proud of my wife! She had never been a swimmer, or biker, till her decision last fall to compete in Triathlon, she finished 5th in her age group! You Rock Honey!

Donald said...

Go Phoenix!! Great race. Congratulations.

RunningCrazyAfter3 said...

That was such an awesome race report, but I am sure it was NOTHING compared to the race! You really did rock it! Way to go and I am sure you are completely hooked now :)

Rural Girl said...

Great pics! Look at how far you've come! Congratulations. On to the next challenge, right?

the Dread Pirate Rackham said...

Oh woman - you had fun! And look the sight of you - do you have any idea how awesome you look?

You are an Oly Woman!


No Wetsuit Girl... overseas! said...

Phoenix, CONGRATULATIONS on a job well done! Sounds like you rocked out there, and the race rocked back. We all knew you could do it, but then again, you knew that all along, didn't you.

I've been kind of bowled over by your progress in the last couple of months, not so much physically (you can't see that over the internet), but mentally how you dashed as fast as you could into triathlon and how you managed to keep it real through the whole process. So many congratulations on a great inaugural season even though you attacked it with more good sense than a garden variety newbie.

Jane said...

HOORAY! Your biking is getting very fast. And your swimming was good as well. Of course, you have always been a fast runner (must be your freakishly long legs.) Three hours - that is a great time! As always, I like your writing style. It's narrative, story-telling - maybe a result of your theatre experience? When they make "Triathlon - the Musical" you should be cast as the lead. Ok, I'm rambling. Later, Tri-Twin