Monday, June 30, 2014

ITU: the good, the bad, and the very important lessons

This is the Cliff Notes version.... Maybe someday I'll post the long version....

The good:
- My swim was 20:23. Compared to August, that's 12 minutes faster!!! I still ended up back-stroking most of it due to panic, but I swam with 2 other ladies who also did the back-stroke. It's not weird if you're in a "group," right?! ;)  Honestly? I'm okay with a backstroke if it means no panic attacks and a faster swim! (Lifetime was all freestyle.) 
- My bike was 42:43, averaging 17.4 mph, my fastest so far! I've gone from 15 mph in August to 16 mph 3 weeks ago to 17 now! It was a great, flat bike course, and I was SO thankful that a part of it was on Lower Wacker out of the sun and heat. 
- My husband came to watch and I saw him twice on the bike course and twice on the run. :) 
- My unofficial time was around 1:53, which is about what I expected... 22 minutes faster than August. 

The bad:
- My time is unofficial because officially I was disqualified. I, along with 21% of the sprint participants, missed a lap on the run. I studied the course map in the weeks leading up to the race, but once I was actually DOING the race, the lack of signage and my dehydrated brain just made a mistake. I'm mad at myself, but I find comfort that approximately 210 out of 970 triathletes made the same mistake I did. A bit of OCD research later, I found the average DSQ/DNF each race is 3-5%. So 21% DSQ was way abnormal.
- (sneaking in a good: My mistake only cost me a race. On my first bike loop I saw a woman who must have misjudged a turn and crashed into a wall; her bike was mangled and she wasn't getting up. I thought about stopping but there were already 3 people with her. The ambulances where there on my second loop. I'm grateful I finished in one piece and I'm praying she's ok.)
- It was SO hot that I started the race dehydrated. There was no water by the Swim start (like they've had at Lifetime) and the heat index was 85° by 11:30 am. I heard from another triathlete that it passed 90° some point during the race. 
- It was very disorganized. I spent a lot of time on Saturday and Sunday morning trying up get to where I needed to be. Google estimates I walked 2 miles Sunday morning before I even started. 

Lessons learned:
- Attend the course talk, even if there is only one offered and its at the worst time possible. (Hint hint ITU...) 
- Watch your watch or Garmin. I had purposely turned mine under so that I couldn't see it and stress over my time. If I'd been watching it I would have realized that I've never run a 24 minute 5k in my life, and hopefully asked someone about the loops before finishing. 
- Over plan hydration and overpack nutrition. I ate my pre-race meal at 8 am. I had my coffee and some water. I didn't start until 11:50 am. Halfway through the bike my stomach was growling (it was lunch time!) and I had nothing to eat. I'm used to eating at 5, racing at 7, and eating when I finish. I was so under fueled this race. And don't forget your new run water bottles in the hotel fridge....
- Get new sunscreen. :) I think mine is expired because I applied it 3 times pre-race and still burned.

I crossed the finish line and I got a medal... I don't feel right about it though, since I didn't technically finish the entire course, so it's tucked away right now. In time maybe I'll hang it with the others to remind myself of my swim, bike, and lessons learned. The t-shirt I'm going to wear; it actually fits, unlike half the other race shirts I've gotten in the past. 

I gave myself 24 hours to wallow and grieve, so now I'm letting it go and moving on. I did very well prior to my DSQ, and I will never make these mistakes again. I have three more triathlons already scheduled, including Lifetime Chicago Triathlon. 

I met a 50-year-old Kona finisher on Saturday, and she told me it takes 7 years to reach our tri potential, so I'm putting this down as a "3rd year newbie road bump" on my way to meeting my potential. 

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