Thursday, June 20, 2013

Rocks-Deer-Dinosaurs-Don't Fall (My Race Recap)

This year's Palouse River Duathlon was definitely more challenging than races in the past. See, physically, I was in a different spot that I'd been in other years. I'd still been training and getting out on my bike, but this year I was carrying something extra:
Because of that wee Sprout, this Mama had to take some extra precautions and take advantage of training on days when I didn't succumb to morning ahem, ALL DAY sickness. I've been pleased that I haven't felt like crap the entire 11 weeks, but on days when the nausea and exhaustion hit, and I feel like I've thrown up everything I've eaten in the past decade, well, those days don't see a lot of activity.

(Side note: I was in contact with my doctor (an avid runner herself) about training and racing. She encouraged me to be active as long as I felt good, to not push myself to the point of fatigue, and to carefully monitor my hydration and absolutely NOT get dehydrated. I followed these instructions faithfully and never felt I was harming myself or Sprout. Dan-the good-husband's rule for the race was simple; If I threw up, I was out. It's good to be loved and well cared for.)

All that being said, I really, really wanted to complete this race. I wanted to be out on a beautiful summer day enjoying the sunshine with friends and being grateful for my growing baby and grateful for my health and ability to run and bike. I wanted to show myself that although pregnancy is limiting in some ways, it is also freeing and strength-building as well. Fortunately, Saturday morning came and I felt fine, so the race was a GO.

My good friend, April, was my running partner/sounding board and we had a great time getting ready for this race together. She and her 13-year old son competed in the co-ed team division and placed. They rocked!

Lana, my sweet, almost 4-year old cheerleader offered more than just encouragement and a cute sign, she also gave me some very specific race-morning advice.
Over our breakfast cereal, she got really serious and told me she wanted to tell me some important things about the race. I could tell she wanted my full attention and I gave it to her, because she'd clearly been thinking a lot about what she wanted to tell me.  

Here's a transcript:
Lana: Mommy, there are four things you should know at the race. You should watch out for rocks when you're riding your bike because you could crash into them and crash your bike. You should also watch out for deer when you're running because they're really fast and can bam into you on the trail. Also, dinosaurs can be really big and mean and you should try not to run into them.  And when you're running, be careful and don't fall.
Me: Okay, I think I got it. Watch out for rocks, deer, dinosaurs, and don't fall. Is that right?
Lana: Yes, that's all. Run fast Mommy.
I kissed that dear girl and sincerely hoped I could follow her advice.

The race consisted of three parts - a 2 mile run, 10 mile bike, 2 mile run. Both the run course and bike course are challenging with hills and changing surfaces. It was also one of the warmest days of the year, so I knew the heat would pose another challenge as well.

When it was GO time, April and I ran the first 2 miles together. It was a pleasant run where we chatted about work and family. I told her about Lana's words of advice and she talked about her family's upcoming vacation plans. It was a pretty typical Saturday morning run for us, although I think we clipped along at a faster-than-normal-for-us pace.

(pic snapped by the on-course photographer)

At the transition area April tagged her son and got a drink. I grabbed my bike and helmet and set off, bound and determined to keep April's 13-year old son in my sights the entire course. I had two reasons for this. 1) This kid rides his bike a lot and lives at the top of an insane hill. If I could keep up with him, I'd be feeling pretty dang good about myself, and 2) He had limited experience riding on gravel and if he got in trouble, I wanted to be there to help him out.

I did keep him in my sights the entire time, passing him at mile 6, only to have him pass me right back at mile 7. He's a tough kid and I could tell he didn't want to be beaten by his mom's friend.

(another pic from the on-course photographer)

Because of my need to hydrate well, I stopped three times along to course to drink from my water bottle and take a quick breather. I also took water cups at all the aid stations, and I know all those little spots of time added up to increase my overall time, but I didn't really think about that. I just kept thinking about pushing my legs a little harder, a little farther. I also thought about Sprout and wondered if he/she would like the outdoors and might race this same course one day.

The last 1.5 miles were especially tough. I felt like my legs had given all they had and I was absolutely dreading the last 2 mile run. I knew I could walk the entire thing and there would be no shame in that, but I really wanted to finish strong and sure, not weak and tired. 

At the transition area I racked my bike, threw off my helmet and grabbed a drink. I saw Dan and Lana run over from the playground area, shouting words of encouragement. I wanted to stop and walk over to them and just be done, but instead I blew a kiss and made my jelly legs work for two more miles.

I'm not gonna lie. Those two miles SUCKED.  I searched my mind for a mantra or motto to chant to myself. I tried 'believe' and 'I can do this.' But the words seemed hollow in my head. I tried talking to Sprout, but I guess baby was napping because I got no response. I thought about my daughter and our earlier breakfast-time conversation. What was it again she warned me about? Oh yeah, rocks and deer and dinosaurs and falling. Rolling her words of wisdom around in my head, a mantra took shape that matched my plodding footfalls. Rocks-deer-dinosaurs-don't fall, rocks-deer-dinosaurs-don't fall, rocks-deer-dinosaurs-don't fall.

Silly and ridiculous? Yes.
Uplifting and necessary? Absolutely.
Coming into the finish line stretch I saw Lana and her colorful sign and was so very encouraged. I just wanted to run over and hug that blonde ball of sweetness, but instead I waved and ran all the way through the finish line.
The timer called out my time, and I was initially disappointed, but then caught myself and thought about how awesome it was to have been able to be out there at all.

I sat in the soft grass for a few minutes, resting and rehydrating and holding Lana and talking with Dan. I also stayed there because I didn't want to move again for a little while. This Mama was beat, but at the same time, this Mama felt like she accomplished something important.
Overall, I was about 9 minutes slower than my best time at the Palouse River Duathlon. And that makes sense, because in the last two months, I've felt about 9 minutes slower in most things. Another year I'll try for a PR, and another year I can beat myself up over a missed time. But not this year. This year was all about being grateful.

Oh, and it was also about the rocks, deer, dinosaurs, and not falling.

1 comment:

Mom said...

Good for you. I think most people training for a race like that (me) would use the pregnancy as an excuse to not do it.