Sunday, June 21, 2009

Chinook 2009 Horror show

This isn't a happy post. I did not have a good day at all yesterday, so if you're looking for an upbeat race report to start your day, you'll have to go somewhere else. I feel a bit better today, but I was very grumpy yesterday, and I'm very unhappy with how I did. The only good things I can say about it is that I finished, and my cheering section was awesome.

The day didn't start out well. My breakfast went down sideways or something, and shortly after my tummy was talking revolt and uprising and rebellion. Which is unusual. It did that pretty well all day.

Here's some numbers for comparison, then I'll talk about what happened. These are my stopwatch times.
Last year...........................................This year
38:39 out of the lake ........................38:53
43:55 out of T1 (5:16).......................43:28 (4:35)
4:29 into T2 (3:46:xx).......................4:19 (3:35:43)
4:31 out of T2 (2:36).........................4:21 (2:24)
7:37 finish (3:04)...............................7:25 (3:04)

Essentially, it's the same result as last year. Oh, I took 10 minutes off my bike. Pardon me for not getting excited. Given the distance, and that course, that's practically the margin for error. The official results are here. I'm last in age group by a long way.

The swim went about as well as expected. I felt pretty good in the water. I had my toes tickled a few times, and at one point the people on each side of me zigged in opposite directions trying to squish me, but other than that there was no fuss and bother. Trying to sight between the first and second buoys was very hard. I followed the splashes and it worked out.

My spectators said my second lap was faster than my first, but I beg to differ. My watch says my first lap was 18 minutes and change. I didn't really swim all that hard, and thought I was in control of my breathing. However, once I stood up and headed for the strippers, I was really dizzy and out of it. I got my suit unzipped, they stripped, but I had a lot of trouble getting my cap and goggles off. I staggered off to T1, veering to the right the entire way. I should have taken that as a warning.

T1 was ok, till the mount line. I fell off my bike. I got my right foot clipped in, and started going, sort of, then started wobbling to the right. Part of my brain was trying to pedal and go faster, another part was trying to get my left foot clipped in, and yet another part was screaming "CURB!" and "YOU"RE FALLING OVER!" and trying to get my right foot unclipped. I bounced off a median curb and knew I was going down on my right side. Onto the elbow I broke last year. You can believe I tucked it in as hard as I could and rolled as best I could while still clipped in. Right in front of a volunteer. They helped me up. (Thank you!) I got going again, a little more carefully. All the way down to 22X (about 3K I think) I was listing to the right, sort of like a drunk. Normally I go where I'm looking and go in a reasonably straight line, but I nearly bounced off the curb about 3 more times.

As I was going up the slight grade over MacLeod trail my gears starting doing weird stuff, skipping from gear to gear. I looked down, and realized my fall had bent my derailleur inwards. When I got to a safe place I stopped and pulled it out a bit. That didn't answer, and very quickly after the chain popped off the big ring, and onto my pedal. I nearly fell over again getting stopped and unclipped. Pulled the derailleur out a bit more, and carried on. It didn't give me any more trouble, but I started getting a weird tick tick noise and I never figured out what it was.

Susi was just behind me out of the water, and we traded places a couple times. She got ahead while I stopped. By now I'd figured out that I hadn't broken my arm again, at least I didn't think so. There was a bruise and it's badly swollen, but I still had all the range of motion and enough strength to lean on it. (This morning, using it to drink coffee is ok, if I'm careful.)

And here's an embarrassing incident for you. Somewhere along there I ran into a road sign. One of the big portable ones that tell motorists there's a road race and drive carefully. The vertical edge caught my hand slightly, my forearm, and by then I had tucked in my elbow, and my shoulder. I missed running Estela into the base by a tiny fraction.

I was trying to get myself focussed back on the race again, and soon figured out I had no legs. I felt slow and weak, but carried on, hoping it would get better. It didn't. I've been using Clif bars as my main nutrition on the bike. They tasted like chalk, and I could hardly bear to eat them. I cut bars into 6 pieces. I started with 18 pieces in a baggie, and there are still 8 now. I'm surprised I ate that many.

My buddy Deb caught me just before the turnaround, and Susi was just behind me. I didn't mark the time, but I think it was just over 2 hours from the start. Normally heading back in is fun. You're going downhill mostly, and often in the wind. I pedaled along. By now I wasn't getting passed much. One poor guy broke his chain and was walking. I later heard they got it fixed for him and he finished. I saw my buddy Jarrett at an aid station.

I took a Clif's Shot goo just before getting into T2, and nearly spat it back out again. I've had these before and liked them. T2 was without incident, though I was worried because someone moved my wet suit. They picked up my cap and goggles, moved the suit, and put the cap and goggles back. For the entire run I thought someone had stolen my suit. It turned out someone had just moved it. Not sure why.

The run started going past the cheering section. Linda, Jenna, Shannon, Susi's dad Bob, and her boyfriend Dale. I did not feel good. I was depressed the bike leg was so slow. Way slower than training on that same course. My arm hurt, and the swollen area felt like it was on fire. I found out later several people had taken bad falls on gravel to end up with major road rash. Maybe I was lucky.

The bike was bad enough, and the run was worse. The course goes down the bike path, and it leads between back fences. I was attacked by a dog. A small one that ran out and nearly bit me. I'm sorry Susi, I tried my best to kick it. That's what one does to dogs that rush out and try to bite you. Susi caught me about 2.5 K into the run, and bounced on ahead. I couldn't find my running legs at all. I was in a choppy clumping stride I hated. It hurt, and jostled everything with every step, and I couldn't break out of it. I didn't even try to run up the hill out of the park.

I got to the end of the first lap I think at 1:20. I was seriously considering handing in my chip and calling it a day. I knew there was no way I was going to be able to run the second lap. Last year I got down into the park before I started walking, and this year I didn't even make it that far. My left calf locked up, my knee started screaming, and that was it for running. I stopped at one point to take my right shoe off to fix my socks. For some reason it had decided to try to strangle my baby toe. It didn't look good yesterday, and I'm afraid to look at it this morning.

As you might expect, I'm walking on the very right side of the path to leave room for other runners, and the general public that was out enjoying the wonderful path system on a hot sunny day. One kid on a bike passed me on the right, and clipped my arm. Ouch. I was a bit surprised that not many people passed me. I guess they all did that during the bike. I was good about taking the gels, even though they nearly choked me. I waited until just before the aid stations so I could wash them down.

I didn't even try to run across the finish line, in spite of people cheering me on. I felt horrible. I was disappointed in myself, in that I didn't have the race that my training told me I could have. I thought a goal of 6:30 was very reasonable, and hoped for better. I didn't even consider that I'd be as long as 7 hours. The volunteers were great, and I tried to thank them, but I'm afraid I wasn't particularly responsive. The tech shirt is really nice, and I can see it becoming one of my fave's.

After the race the 8 of us went out for dinner at Joey Tomatoes. The food was good, but the service was slow slow slow, and it wasn't particularly busy. I mean, how hard is it to deliver 8 glasses and a couple pitchers of water? The pitcher of beer than Shannon and I shared went down really well. Afterward I went straight to bed, but didn't sleep well. I'm going to try for a nap later today.

I don't know if I just had a flat day or what. But it's clear I need to get my legs figured out. Maybe I never really did fully recover from the Police half. Maybe I've pushed them too hard over the last several months. I would hate to think that an entire year of diligent training made essentially no difference in my time. It's hard to remember a year ago, but I'm pretty sure my limits then were how hard my lungs and heart were working. This year, once I got settled down on the bike I was never out of breath again, but I couldn't get my legs to go.

I'm trying not to be negative here, but I'm going to have to sit down with Greg (my coach) and figure out what's happening with me. I may need to reconsider my goal of going for IMC in 2010. You cannot imagine how happy I am that I took the advice from a number of people to not do IMC this year. As it is, I'm pretty well decided I'm going to bail on the Canmore race. I really want the 70.3. to be a good day, as that's my milestone to judge how I'm doing and I now see the Canmore race as clutter.

13 comments:

  1. Hey Keith, I was telling Mel on the way home last night that I admire you had the guts to finish in such tough conditions. It is easy to call it quits when you are having an "off day". But to stick it out and finish the race is a testament to not only your physical condition but your character as well.

    It truly was a character building day and we ALL have those races. They certainly are humbling but they make us appreciate the good days even more.

    Anyways, you did great and we, your friends/family, certainly are proud of that.

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  2. Keith, I am so sorry that you didn't have a good day out there yesterday. We rode past a couple of participants yesterday and I was thinking about you and Susi and wondering how your day was going.

    First off, I hope that your elbow and your toe are okay. I wonder what happened that you kept veering to the right? You have been training so well I really don't feel that your race result is indicative of the hard work that you have been putting in. Have a good chat with Greg so you guys can figure out where things went off track on this race, and focus on having a great day at the Calgary 70.3. You have it in you, that day WILL be your day.

    And I am so proud of you that you persevered and you didn't quit. We learn a lot about ourselves on bad days, and your tenacity is amazing. That is what you need to get through IM. Don't write that one off.

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  3. Natasha Badmann (six time winner of Ironman Hawaii) once said, 'I learn the most from the races I did not do well in'.

    I hope that you do learn from things that happened from yesterday, whatever those lessons are. I didn't have a good day either and have spent today going over it in my head and trying to figure out what I need to learn.

    I saw you almost hit the sign and thought, 'Keith, get back in the game!' I was worried you were having bike troubles and was thinking about that. I also saw the small dog come out and attack you. I thought to myself 'Crap, he is right, dogs really don't like him!' (I hope that gets a giggle out of you, it's intended too.) Oh, and it attacked the girl behind you and ran to me, but left me alone. (sorry, i have a thing with dogs).

    I know you are upset about the race, and I am not going to try and make you feel better, other than what I said above. You are allowed to be pissed about it and disappointed. It's part of the game.

    I will say this though, I, like Dad, Jen and everyone else who watched you are enormously proud of you because you kept going. That takes huge mental fortitude and guts. Leana is right, you have tenacity and thats one thing you will need when you decide to do IMC.

    Love and hugs to ya. You've come a long way from the dude who said he'd never run...

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  4. The common theme in the comments so far seems to be that these "bad" races happen, that you need to take what you can from them, and that you did well to finish, given your struggles. And I have to agree completely.
    You have come a long way, and you have accomplished a lot. Although that particular race might be in the books, there is more to come- this year, and down the road.
    Keith, you're an inspiration. Keep chuggin!

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  5. Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. -Confucius

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  6. Your race report had me in tears almost. I am so sorry it didn't go well b/c I know you've put in a lot of time. A LOT. It is extremely frustrating when things don't go well despite the training and I am sorry about that. But I am so proud of you for sticking with it and finishing.
    What a huge accomplishment. You are so admirable. I also got a laugh out of the dog comment.

    Hang in there. Talking with your coach is a good idea. As is writing how you felt down (like you just posted) so you can go back later and re-read it.

    I also think you should do the other race (not that you asked). I think you'll surprise yourself. :)

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  7. Hey Keith, chin up buddy, I still admire you mucho. First and foremost, doesn't the word "Chinook" mean WIND-as in, a lot of gusty wind? That right there should tell you what a huge accomplishment it was to finish this race. Also, you had to overcome a lot of obstacles with this race: your nutrition, the crash out of T1, the sign, the dog (c'mon people, control your dogs already) and that little punk a$$ kid who skimmed your arm passing on the right (jerk). Despite everything you gave it all you had and you didn't quit. I know you didn't finish the way you wanted to time wise, but if you take into consideration all the setbacks that you had to get around and add up the amount of time plus physical and mental energy it took to defeat them then I think you PRed and finished faster than that 6:30 you were aiming for. I mean that dog incident alone knocks off 15 minutes in my book.

    I have noticed that we often have our greatest gains after a period of setbacks or "stagnation." I think you're about to break out of your shell, it just might take another race or two to experience it. This one just wasn't your day, but it will be soon...

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  8. Here's my .02; You finished the rotten thing...that old saying of what doesn't break us makes us stronger...its TRUE!! I would do the olympic tri...go in with zero expectations and see where the day takes you!! I bet you have a great day and that will do amazing things to your head in prep for the half ironman in August. You had a few things happen in this race, you got through them, and I bet you learned a ton. As Churchill would say "Keep Buggering On!!!"

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  9. I won't try to cheer you up because 'we' all have Susi for that. Do NOT gauge ONE race on your ability to do Ironman next year. Stick with your plan, talk to your coach, rework training schedules as needed, pick one focus per week, you got this thing. Rest this week or only do what you feel like.

    Hang tough...

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  10. Ok, unless i am miss reading those times, you had a shitty assed race but still managed to beat last years time......job well done my friend!! And truth be known it is all about the shirt anyways.

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  11. It sucks that you had a crappy race, but it happens. It is part of triathlon...that's why we do it...to challenge ourselves and to overcome whatever the race throws at us.

    You had a PB on a crappy day...good job. Give yourself and your training a little more credit and wait to see what happens on a good day!

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  12. You totally rocked out the race by finishing. Not every race can be awesome - or else everyone would addicted to tri's like we are. :) You are so dedicated to your training....and even though you hit a few bumps - you still beat your time from last year!

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  13. Gratz on the finish buddy, rough day out there but you gotter done.

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