Monday, May 16, 2011

Race Report and Facepalm

Of course, the night before the race, my next door neighbor had a loud party that wound down about midnight, so when I woke up on race morning, I felt tired and crappy, which I attributed to it being 5 am and only having had a few hours sleep. I pulled myself out of bed, really thought hard about just blowing off the race, but I forced down some breakfast, grabbed a few things and then headed out the door. Had I not packed the car the night before, I probably would have just stayed in bed.

By the time I got to the race, I didn't feel better and I wasn't really excited about the race at all. I was just waiting for it to start, so it would be over sooner. I ran into some folks from my master's swim group, and we chatted for a bit before heading to the lake to start the swim. Of course, the swim didn't start on time, and then there were delays between waves because the lifeguards were on surfboards and were following the swimmers along the course so we had to wait for them to come back to the start. Fine with me. I love lifeguards, and I love having them nearby when I'm swimming.

Once the swim started, I felt like there was a rock on my chest. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't find a rhythm at all. For the first 50 meters, I kind of freaked out about the low visibility, but that went away fairly quickly. Sadly, the struggling didn't go away.  I completed a 300 meter swim in 11 minutes (ouch!). I staggered out of the water and felt way worse than I should have for having gone that slow. Instead of running out of the water, I walked slowly to T1 and then stood there for far too long, contemplating just packing it in.

I figured that I'd settle in on the bike, so I peeled off my wetsuit, put on the bike shoes (still moving really slowly), grabbed Gary and headed out.

Gary is ready to go.

The bike course was really hilly, and part of it was over some of Los Angeles' famously crappy pavement (and part of the course was on an open road, so motorists were trying to kill me, at least that's what it felt like to me). I ended up getting freaked out about going too fast and held Gary to about 20 mph on the downhills. I never got off the  small chainring, which was a shame because when I did manage to put forth some effort (not easy as I was still struggling), Gary tore those hills up. Guess I need to put in some more miles going down hills, because Gary could have easily kept up with the really fast riders had I let him.

My bike time was 34:36, which isn't great but not unexpected given my going so slow down the hills.

Where I really started flailing was on the run. What I didn't know was that the 5k at this race was a trail run. I hate trail running. It's dirty and the surface is uneven and there are critters.

Dammit, if I wanted to do Xterra, I'd have done Xterra.

The course wound its way through fields of stinging nettles and those horrible yellow flowers that make my sinuses clog up, with one out-and-back loop through a smelly muddy swamp worthy of 'Deliverance'. I swear I heard banjos at one point.

I figured I was feeling so bad because of the pollen – there wasn't enough Claritin in the world to get me through that course alive.  I ended up pacing a 65 year old woman and barely being able to keep up with her.

Once I got free of the pollinator and back into clear air, I didn't feel any better but managed to marginally pick up the pace. Sadly, it was too little, too late. I staggered to the finish with a run time of 37:24, and an overall race time of 1:33:06.

That's beyond 'ouch'. That's 'put a bag over my head and slink off' bad.

To add insult to injury, as I was coming to the finish line, the stoner-type dude with the microphone announced "and here comes Rachel Wells, holding HIS arms up in triumph."

Great. Kick me while I'm down, why don't you.

I thought about sticking around for the awards, but started feeling really, really bad so I went home. When I got home, I felt feverish and achy so I took my temperature and it was 100.1.

I still feel like I should have been able to do better than that even with a fever.

Of course, the doctor didn't warn me that I might run a fever after the TDAP. I had to call my sister (the best R.N. In the world) and ask about it.

After she finished laughing at me, she confirmed that the fever was vaccine related and I'd probably made it worse by trying to be macha and power through.

Awesome. I did nothing all day yesterday except walk to the store across across the street, and I still feel like crap today. I'd planned to go for a run today, but I guess I'll settle for a cup of tea and a nap and then we'll see if I feel well enough to swim tonight.



  1. Oh, sister! My husband got sick before his first tri after getting the vacines I insisted he have to protect against contaminated lake water! He also got a large fish hook stuck in his thigh when doing his last practice swim before his Ironman - it was a swim without his wetsuit, which really freaked him out because he could no longer effortlessly float when exhausted! He panics from poor visibility as well. If he can't see the bottom of the lake it's not a good scene. Sans wetsuit and it's even worse.

    You should check out his blog, and read about his aborted Louisville Ironman last year. He was so disappointed but trained in one type of environment for an Ironman in a totally different environment. Eighty-six degree water in the choppy and disgusting Ohio River is not a good way to start your day. He's signed up for the Phoenix Ironman but work and the weather has really funked up training.

    I just laughed at your response to trail running. I hate it too and that's the big thing here in Northern Arizona. I used to be a pretty good runner - at sea level but running at 7000+ ft through dust, dirt, snow, ice and over boulders and volcanic cinders is really not my idea of relaxing or condusive to zoning out. I've gone from 40+ miles a week and skinny to maybe 15 miles a week and gained 10 lbs (in shows on a short frame, too).

    Hang in there, girl, and thanks for visiting my blog.

  2. A fish hook? Yikes. That's a whole different nightmare for me.

    I'm glad I'm not the only one who hates trail running, and I really hope that hubby's next IM effort goes well!

  3. Hey, great for you! NEver done this but maybe some day....

  4. We all have our crappy days. On the bright side, you weren't last :)


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