Wednesday, May 30, 2012

From DNF to a medal in Williamsburg

My last post was about my first DNF. It was a tough pill to swallow but the very next weekend I had a 1/2 marathon in Williamsburg to do. I was very excited about this race for many reasons:

1. the run was through colonial Williamsburg = beautiful
2. this would be my last long running race until the Army 10 miler in Oct
3. this would be the first race my dad would see me run
4. this would be the first 1/2 marathon where my kids would be at the finish line

Lots of great things to be excited about. My goal for this 1/2 changed many times. It was going to be an A race, then just a race Sam and I ran together, then Sam couldn't go (but got his bib transferred to next year!), then after my DNF the weekend before it became


NEED to finish. MUST finish.

My confidence wasn't too badly scared, but I was beginning to wonder if all my health issues were going to keep me from doing what I love to do. Finishing the 1/2 marathon was my goal. Period. I didn't care if it hurt, it I was hot, if I walked. I just needed to prove to myself that I'm getting stronger and whatever health issues I'm having will not define me or keep me on the couch.

The race was very well organized and did not have the crowds of people I'm used to. There were no porta potty lines! Unheard of! I followed some nutritional advice from a team mate (thanks John!) and did not have the bathroom issues I normally do. Whew! There were lots of water stops and great volunteers cheering us along. The race started with a kindergarten girl singing the National Anthem - real tear jerker. Then a man got on the mic to wish us luck and start the race. He was one of the first responders at 9/11 and is a NYC firefighter. He and guys from NYC run races all over the country to raise funds for different charities. It was very cool to have him there.

The horn went off and my feet started going. I crossed the start line 5 seconds after the official start time. That should tell you how small the race was. I've had races where I didn't cross the start until 45 minutes after the start time. In the first few minutes I had a contact malfunction, but got it situated and kept my feet moving.

I finished. It was long, hot, and on mostly cobble stone roads. I gotta tell you, those cobble stones HURT. The race finished on the William and Mary stadium 50 yard line. I came into the stadium, went around the track, and saw my whole family cheering for me. My mom, dad, aunt, uncle, cousin, and both the boys. What a crowd! They announced my  name (which instantly puts me on celebrity status) and I crossed. I received my medal from a group of young girls that were super cute.

I did it. I finished. I will finish more. Each one is special and I can't wait to do more!

Monday, May 14, 2012

My First DNF

Ah, the DNF. Did. Not. Finish. It does not sound great and it feels even worse. This is the tale of my first DNF:

Mother's Day. The perfect day to do a tri. People cheering for me, being alone with my thoughts, breaking a sweat. All great for a mother. We went down to Lake Anna on Saturday (after Sam graduated from NOVA!!!) and stayed with friends. We had a house right on the water, lots of room for the kids to play, and we were close to the race site.

Saturday started like any other day. I ate breakfast and got ready for the day. I then started to feel terrible. I made it through lunch - barely - and took a quick nap. I made it through Sam's graduation and then slept most of the drive to the lake. I started to feel better and ate some dinner. I figured I'd feel better in the morning and everything would be great.

I woke up Sunday and ate a banana and had coffee. Got everything together and went to the race site. The sprint started at 9am, plenty of time to hit up bathrooms (yep, plural), get all my stuff racked up, and make sure my bike was ready to start on a steep incline.

I got in my wet suit (which I hate) and got marked up - ready to go!

like spanx
That's pure determination right there

I was in the 5th wave out of 7 (i think) - purple caps. Sam told me not to sprint in, just go in easy and keep my  heart rate down. So, when the horn sounded I calmly got in and then started to swim. I got about 5 strokes in and realized "something's wrong". I picked my head up, did the breast stroke for a minute to calm my breathing and then got back to freestyle. A few mores strokes and I headed to the first volunteer on a surfboard. I grabbed on and tried to slow my breathing. It didn't really work, so I just kept swimming. I swam along and stopped two more times before deciding "Today is not my day".

Stepping out of a race is a decision I haven't had to make before. It feels crappy. I felt terrible my family came to watch me and I wasn't going to race. I felt silly for not being able to complete the race. I was embarrassed. Ugh. I got in the boat with 4 other people. I was the only one with tears streaming down my face. I felt silly about that, but I was genuinely upset that I wasn't going to finish the race.

It took a while for the boat to drop us off. I got off the boat and had to walk down the shore to where Sam was waiting. There he was. Right on the beach, practically in the water, looking for me. There were only a few people left in the water and Sam looked nervous. I called his name and as he found me and walked towards me I just lost it. He gave me a huge hug and I cried hard for a minute. Sam told me he was so proud of me, there are other races, and now we need to cheer for our teammates.

I was worried about the reaction I would get after saying "I didn't make it through the swim". I was met with "oh, that's happened to me" or "there's other races, other days" and hugs. I got lots of hugs. It's pretty nice to be part of a team that has been through the ups and downs of racing and can help others get through it.

Going to work today I still am thinking about that swim. What if I had just floated through it? Surely I could have gotten through it somehow. Then as I sat in a department meeting my supervisor explained the meaning behind a gift she was giving out. Her father knew this girl that had been training for a triathlon and was hit by a drunk driver while out on a ride. She was totally paralyzed, left the hospital unable to walk or speak. This was 10 years ago. She has regained some use of her left hand and started painting. My supervisor gave me a gift of 4 cards that this woman painted. They are beautiful. I might even frame them. Puts that DNF in perspective.

I did not finish a swim. True. It felt like crap. Even more true. I will learn from it and move on. Does it define me? Nope. Will it make me a better triathlete? I sure hope so!