Monday, August 20, 2012

swimbikerun: help.

I have triathlon brain.

I have arrived in race-obsession mode as the Pumpkinman HalfIronman Triathlon nears. I've done enough big races (marathons and triathlons) now that I have learned my own mental habits in the training and lead-up to the race.

First, there's the stage when I first decide on a race, and I have delusions of grandeur.  I have all the time in the world ahead of me to train!  I'm going to be the leanest, meanest mama at the starting line.

Then there are the months and months training, during which I alternate between feeling confident (if I have a great run or bike or swim) and terrified (if I struggle through a workout). I think of that leanest, meanest version of myself and I say to her:  "I'm doing the best I can here, okay?"   I settle for not being the leanest, meanest mama and decide it's just really important not to die.  I love, in maybe an unhealthy way, entering a completed workout in my training log. 

During training, I have multiple finish line fantasies where I cross the line of the race with my arms in the air and a look that shows a perfect combination of pride and exhaustion (i.e. I worked my ass off but I'm not about to land in the medical tent).  You've had these fantasies too, during training, right? In my finish line fantasies, especially this summer, someone also runs into the finish line chute and drapes an American flag over my shoulders, but that's probably just me.

 Next, as the race draws closer, there's the youtube stage, when I spend hours during middle-of-the-night insomnia stretches searching for videos of the race in which I'm about to participate. I do this to get a glimpse of the race venue and to reassure myself by watching videos of normal-looking people like me completing the race of that distance.   I also read and re-read the course description on the website:  "1.2 mile swim in Knights Pond.   56 mile beautiful rolling bike course along the well maintained Eastern Trail (paved surface)   13.1 mile scenic two loop run that starts out with a welcomed downhill start, long flat section along the Eastern Trail with a finish to remember!"

Finish to remember?  What the hell is that supposed to mean, I wonder to myself at 3 am.

In the last few remaining weeks, I will enter the obsessive weather-checking and anxiety dream stage. In my recent race experiences this includes realizing that the weather is going to suck (really hot and humid) and I'm going to have to just accept it. Also, I will have several dreams in which I get to the race site or the starting line without some important piece of gear, or that the race took off without me and I can hear everyone cheering but can't find the starting line. My favorite was before my first marathon, I dreamed that I got to the starting line and looked down to see that I was wearing Reed's shoes. He was 2 years old at the time, and in my dream, I thought: "Oh man. This is going to hurt."

Right now, I'm in the lots-of-questions and can't-stop-talking-about-the- race stage. Can you help? Triathletes out there?
What if my goggles get kicked off during the swim?
What if I swallow a mouthful of water and choke?
What if I can't get my wetsuit off?
What if I don't have enough fluid on the bike?
No seriously, I only have room for 2 bottles and that's not enough for 56 miles?
How much food should I eat on the bike?
What if I need to walk most of the half marathon?
What if I don't make the cut off time?
Are triathletes nice like marathoners are nice?
Will there be other people there just trying to finish?
Do I sound a little bit sad right now?

my triathlon (sprint distance) debut in 2007.  Reed was 6 months old.  I've come a long way since then.
 I declare myself open and eager to hear any of your advice and words of wisdom for this kind of race.  Thank you!


Pattie Reaves said...

I don't have any triathlon advice (I'm sure I'll be coming to you for that one day) but ... even though I knew you long before that picture in 2007, you look like a totally different person now.

You're awesome. You're training has been awesome. Your race will be an awesome conclusion of a fun training season. :)

Nitsirk said...

I have done 3 half iron and 1 full and a bunch of sprints and Olys. I did the Pumpkinman sprint in 2009. The pond is lovely and calm. You won't get your goggles kicked off. If you do, stop and put them back on :) The bike is 56 miles. Take 2 bottles, when one is empty chuck it at the aid station and grab a replacement if you need more than 2. If you are nervous about a bottle exchange on the bike- practice it. Have a friend stand on the side of the road with a bottle and ride by and grab it. Other nutrition will depend on what you need. I never used more than a couple gels in a half, maybe some Clif shots. Another gel during the run too. You will be fine. Enjoy it. The finish at Pumpkinman is in a field and you kind of run through a corral down a grassy slope to get there. It is unique but not scary. Have fun!

Emilie said...

Now that is what I'm looking for! Thank you so much. That does sound like a unique and awesome finish. I appreciate all the insights here. I feel better now. :)

Anne-Marie said...

No advice, obviously, but you have my complete and total confidence. You will kick ass.

ltlindian said...

I am going through the same sort of mental games myself for my oly tri (first!) this weekend in OOB. Scared shitless of the ocean swim, but once I get through that it should be cake. Although I'm worried about the water thing on the bike as well, I only have one bottle attachment.... what do I eat on the bike? how much? arrrgh! so many things! But mainly, if I get out of the water alive, then I am finishing this race. period. :)

good luck to you on yours!

Lindsey said...

This may be a stupid question....I'm doing my first duathlon in a couple weeks, I was thinking I could ride with my camelback for hydration during the bike. Can you not do that? Is that possible?


Susan T. said...

I'll walk the half with you and distract you with meaningless chatter and you can just grunt back. Seriously, you will do awesome!!

Emilie said...

Thanks so much you guys!

Lindsey, I'm sure you can! I just wanted to avoid that for the discomfort/ sweatiness factor. Plus, I thought there was some sort of fluid resupply but I just wasn't sure I knew how it worked.

Good luck!

Megan Wibberly said...

I've done a few tri's and did a half iron two years ago....

1) Like someone else said, your goggles won't get knocked off. But if they do, just stop and put them back on. I've been kicked in the head a few times and my goggles have stayed put.

2)If you happen to swallow a mouthful of water and choke - stop, catch your breath and keep going when you feel comfortable.

3)Ahahaha. I had the most awkward "wet suit removal" known to man. I wound up falling on my face. Trust me, you'll get it may not be pretty but you'll do it. I found if you relax and don't start panicking and thinking "I NEED THIS OFF OF ME NOW!" it's much easier.

4) Yes! Like someone else said, if you're nervous about the bottle exchange, practice! I took two, chucked one and grabbed a replacement. I found that was plenty.

5) I don't remember about the food...I think I only used a few gels?

6) If you need to walk, then you need to walk. Not the end of the world and no one is going to judge you for it.

7) My biggest fear was not making the cutoff time. If you don't, then you don't....but I think you're going to be fine.

8) Triathletes are a wonderful breed :)

9) Yes. There will be others who are just trying to finish.

10) You don't sound sad at all.

Honestly, my half iron was just...super awkward. I don't know what it was. Like I said, I fell getting my wetsuit off, I was kicked in the head a few times, I almost ran into a volunteer during the bike portion, my pace during the run was embarrassing....but I finished! And I was darn proud of myself for it.

You'll be fine :) ENJOY!