If You Never Tri, You'll Never Know!

Beach to Battleship 70.3

(copied original from FB Notes)
My mom thinks I have a knack for writing so I’ll try not to make this too boring...

4am race day: it’s cold. Really cold. 36 degrees cold. And windy. Really windy. 30mph windy. As you’re reading this, keep that temperature and wind speed in mind. At least it’s not raining…yet. The Beach to Battleship race is set up very different than I’ve ever seen. Each transition was in a different location. We started the swim at Wrightsville Beach. We had to be bussed there from T1 and no spectators were allowed.

The Ironman distance did a wave start at 7am, 1.2 miles further up so we didn’t get to see their mass start. We did see them come by though as early as 15 minutes into their swim! Wow!! The current was AMAZING. My wave (30-34 females) started at 8:55. Since the swim has always been my weakest event I was pretty nervous, teary-eyed, and shaky. Thank goodness that Stevie was there to keep me calm. Time was nearing and butterflies were stirring. Somehow in the cold I managed to tear my warm clothes off and suit up. “Purple caps, you’re on deck.” I slapped my purple swim cap over my head and got in the water. It was actually warmer at 69 degrees than the air was now at 45 degrees. 3, 2, 1, the bull horn went off and so did I. As I mentioned, the current was incredible. It had actually slowed down since the 7am full mass start and it was still MOVING. Can’t say that I didn’t love it though!! I was FLYING (swimming ;) The water was very salty; I definitely wasn’t prepared for that. I actually spit it up a few times while I was swimming. I was kicked, ran into, swam over, and punched a few times; these girls are brutal! But I just kept on swimming. I was having a blast!!

I suddenly smelled diesel and realized they had let a boat in which was creating a hell of a wake! 3 foot waves!! The volunteers were hollering and most of us popped our heads out to figure out what in the world was happening. Every time I came up for a breath I was drowned with a salty wave. I panicked a little but looked around and realized we were all in the same boat (so to speak) and just did my best. It also got a little crazy at the first turn since the buoy had drifted but making that turn and knowing the finish was just a bit farther was awesome! I couldn’t believe I was swimming 1.2 miles and good; I felt great!! I reached the end of the swim and climbed up out of the canal. Boy was I dizzy but I bet my smile was a mile long!! Volunteers quickly ripped my wetsuit off and covered me with a silver rescue blanket as I began the 400 yard run (way farther than most races) to T1. I came out of the swim and made the 400 yard run in 34 minutes and 33 seconds. PR swim, extremely cold run!!

Toes numb, hair frozen, and teeth chattering I made it to my bike, quickly dried off and got myself ready to bike. I was really excited to get on the bike and get warmed up. I’ll tell you right now, that NEVER happened!... My T1 was 6 minutes and 15 seconds.

Taking off on the bike I felt really confident. I had a great swim and I’m a strong biker so I was ready to kill it (enough to leave some for the run though ;) I knew almost immediately that I needed to readjust my plan. My computer was reading 48 degrees and it was INSANE headwinds. 30mph to be exact. And instead of letting up every now and then, we got 45mph gusts!! I was doing 12-14 miles per hour and NO ONE was passing me. I am officially in the SUCK! The first stop wasn’t until 21 miles so I just put my head down and rode as best as I could. When I thought it couldn’t get any colder, couldn’t get any windier, couldn’t suck anymore, it started to rain/mist. It was the kind that just sticks to your glasses and makes ya feel wet and sticky. By the 21 mile rest stop I had tears in my eyes and I’m not gonna lie, was ready to quit. But standing there with blood running down his face; GUSHING from the side of his face and knee was my friend Shane. My tears started rolling for fear of my buddy. Shane told me he flipped over his handlebars but he was okay and he was gonna keep going. I told him I wanted to quit. It was so cold, so windy, so miserable. He said, “Lisa don’t you dare quit, you’ll never forgive yourself.” Crap, he was right. I filled my water, went to the potty and got back in the suck. In 20 minutes time I saw 4 ambulances/EMS vehicles come flying by and tons of bike SAG vehicles pulling bikers off the route. It was so scary. I couldn’t DNF, I’d never forgive myself. There ended up being 60 some DNF's.

It continued to suck for about 10 more miles and it finally quit rain/misting but the wind was relentless. At about mile 35 to 38 we finally got a break…the turnaround. The next 18-20 miles was a tailwind on the highway. I was CRUISING! My max on a flat was 26 miles per hour. I kept between 22-24 pace. THAT’S the biker Lisa that I know!! ;) Even with that speed, my average on the bike was still only 16.7 mph. Really!? You KNOW it’s a tough bike if that’s my average. My training average has been 18-20. I was pretty disappointed but with the conditions, I did the best I could. I could not have prepared for the wind and rain and cold we had. I’m glad I didn’t quit. I can’t believe I even considered it. Coming into T2 was a very happy moment! My bike time was 3 hours, 30 minutes, and 7 seconds (over 30 minutes longer than I had intended).

T2 was pretty cool, as we came in, they took our bikes and racked them for us and we ran for our T2 bag. A volunteer was there to hand me my bag and I rushed into the changing tent to strip bike stuff off and put run stuff on. I had warmed up a little by then so I stripped my jacket but kept my arm warmers on. I made it out of T2 in 3 minutes and 57 seconds.

The first mile felt really good and went quick. Right around the end of the first mile my left shin muscle area tightened up/locked up. I couldn’t flex or re-flex my foot. Uh oh!! I panicked a bit but walked for a minute and stopped and stretched it out. I felt it loosening so I just kept going knowing it would loosen up eventually. Mile 2 flew by, mile 3 and so forth. Right around mile 5 my IT band tweaked again. It didn’t hurt, but it was talking to me. Really tight and getting tighter. I knew at this point I wasn’t going to make my goal of 6 hours so I backed off the run. I actually started running with a girl, Karen, and really enjoyed chatting with her the whole time. We kept each other motivated, walked at the water stops, and enjoyed the race. It was really neat running downtown with the crowds of people. There was about a 1.5 mile stretch that everyone was hollering and cheering and ringing bells. It felt like you were winning!! As we ran out of the city and through a park I thought the turnaround was never gonna come!! The 6.0 to 6.5 mileage was FOREVER! But I made it. I was hurting, but I kept going. Karen and I continued to run together. I had a really good time. The last 2 miles she slowed down a bit too much and I was over the course. I was ready to call it done so I got ahead of her and just kept going. We had two bridges to run up over and BOY was that wind coming strong!! My run ended up being 2 hours, 26 minutes, and 24 seconds. WAY slower than my normal 13.1 but with a torn up IT band and that wind an 11 minute mile is okay with me. I had planned and trained for a 2 hour run.

As I entered the finish line corral (which twisted around for way too long) I just couldn’t believe that I was finishing 70.3 miles. My arms went up and I felt like the 1st place winner coming across that finish line. I immediately fell into Phil’s arms and broke into tears. I’m really mad at myself for saying it, but the first words out of my mouth were, “I’m so disappointed in myself.” Then I looked up at him and he was smiling at me and I said, “I can’t believe I just did that.” I was a mix of all sorts of emotions. I was set on 6 hours. I knew what I was capable of and knew I could make 6 hours. And I did…but plus some. My final time was 6 hours, 41 minutes, and 14 seconds. I had trained for and planned on hitting 6 hours. I was really really upset that I didn’t make it. After some time though and a few reality checks from my friends I realized that the weather was a huge player for our race. Without the wind I KNOW my bike would have been crazy good which would have made for a better run. I finally accepted my time and my disappointment turned to pride. I finished my first ½ Ironman injury free (for the most part – my IT band needs a few weeks of recovery again – dangit!) and my feet...

Lessons learned: first of all, when you are told your running shoes are only good for 400-600 miles, LISTEN! I preach this everyday and all the time at work, coaching, and otherwise and what did I do!? I raced in Zoot flats that were about 1.5 years old. Have you ever seen a bruise on the bottom of feet!? My feet are PURPLE! I have bruises on my feet people, change your shoes…and wear socks :/ I can barely walk. Putting pressure on my feet is excruciating! Everyone is hobbling around though so I'm not alone!! LOL! Second, girls, don't even bother trying to pee on the bike, just get off and pee. You’re only gonna lose about 20 seconds. Peeing on the bike is no good for anyone. LOL! Body glide is mandatory under the wetsuit. I have a strawberry on the back of my neck and a couple unders my arms. Ouchy!!

Moments to be proud of: I finished a 70.3 Ironman distance!!! I swam 1.2 miles without stopping!! I stayed relaxed and stretched (and didn’t drown the girl that swam into me then over me :/ ). I ate on the bike (this is usually something I forget to do). I ate almost every 30 minutes and managed to drink 5 or 6 bottles of water in that cold. Wearing compression sleeves; God Bless compression sleeves. Wearing arm warmers. What a great idea! Wearing socks on the bike (even though my feet were numb the whole time, I can’t imagine how much worse they would have been had I NOT worn socks – yay for Experia!!). Seeing all our Run-N-Tri suits on the battle field. We looked SWEET!! Go us! Friending Karen and being able to turn around and watch her cross the finish line too. Shane finishing after his bike wreck. So much training with Luke and watching him cross that finish line with a big ol' smile on his face. Watching Dean, Chuck, Renee ALL the Ironmen cross the finish line!! Not puking. When Stevie told me I beat him by 4 minutes ;) HA HA HA HA!!

I could probably go on and on with the proud moments but you’re probably tired of reading all this by now. I’ll conclude…

Listen friends (and Lisa…), it’s not about winning or how fast you race, your time or place. You don't have to be number 1; you don't have to be the best. Yes, it feels amazing to win but that's not what it’s about. It's about finishing something you start and accomplishing your goals. If you happen to win along the way, awesome, amazing but for me, it's about the fun, the excitement, enjoying the experience, the training, the awesome people around me, and the pride/sense of accomplishment when I cross the finish line. It’s not about who’s faster than who or who’s better than who. You gotta race for yourself and you gotta be proud of your finish. My goal was to finish a ½ Ironman and I did. I beat myself up for not making a certain time and actually felt disappointed. Can you imagine!? Disappointed! That’s the silliest thing in the world, I finished 70.3 miles!! There were people who quit and worse, didn’t even TRY! I am so proud of myself and so proud of all the finishers. Don't ever care about what someone else thinks about your race, race for YOU!

Thank you for all your love and support!! Next up, Ironman Texas May 19, 2012. GET SOME!!