So, now that I'm done beating Craig Alexander . . .

Aside: who competes in a Half Ironman with minimal training, goes all out, and doesn't even feel sore or stiff the next day or even week?

Me, I guess.

First of all, I got one of the biggest compliments this week that I've ever had in my life. A fellow athlete told me that the best part of her entire race was meeting me at the end. After my NQI (not a DQ - a Not Quite Iron), I stuck around to see the other finishers come through the chute, since no one ever stays for the back-of-packers, and I certainly know what it's like to be one. That just about made me cry. So thank you, Lisa. You made my entire week.

Now, I have a confession to make.

I'm a baby. A really big baby.

I can't believe you've all put up with my whining for this long. After my self-flagellating FL HIM report, I got a host of comments that ranged from "after I read your race report, I wanted to punch you in the head" to "hey, at least you got to say you beat Craig Alexander in your first HIM (he DNF'd) - now let's end the pity party" to "your race report made me cry. Seriously. Knock it off."

I needed a few days to think about things and recover - and the odd part is, the recovery was not physical. It was all mental. I was not (and am not) sore at all - not even a little. I mean, I feel like Sunday was just another workout. That is really a testament to my fitness level right there. So, as the days go by, I've started to pull together some less juvenile thoughts about the race. I don't think it will come as a surprise to anyone that some of them sound almost exactly like Tea. Some of them sound like Dawn, too.

First of all, let's be realistic. And no one said this better than Tea, so I'm going to quote her directly. "We all know that you were unable to train the way you needed to train for this race, because of health issues. We also knew that meant a risk of DNF. The fact is that you still raced knowing that you could get a DNF. You did not quit. A DNF does not equate to failure." Look, I was lucky to even ATTEMPT this race. Truly. When I stand back and look at it, I'm in awe of the results myself. Not only were my bike and swim times extremely respectable for a first-timer, I managed them with too little training and a host of health dilemmas, many of which are still unresolved or completely unidentified. My parents heard some much more experienced athletes talking about how they'd trained FIVE YEARS for this race. And here I am doing it - poorly - in SIX MONTHS. Dawn told me, "If you could put in half as much physical effort as you do heart, you'd win every time." A few other people told me, "You'd probably place regularly in your AG if you got your health together." Which makes me think, Holy shit. Imagine what I'll be capable of when I'm well-trained and not sick?

Let's face it. I am living my dream. And there were many times during the race, which I allowed to be overshadowed by the finish, during which I realized this. Like cruising past dudes at 30mph. Like realizing that grinning and buoy-sighting do not mesh well because the combination usually causes you to gulp lake-water.

Second, Dawn and Tea both told me this:" . . . going further doesn't make you a better athlete. Doing the best you can to take care of yourself makes you a better athlete. Sprints and Olys are tough races. No distance is better than another, they are simply different., requiring different stresses on the body." Well, I learned from this race that 70.3 is the distance at which I am the most comfortable. If I can iron out (pun intended) my GI issues, I truly think I can excel at ultra-endurance races. {So, now it's back to the old formula of Gatorade Endurance, long bricks and salt pills. NO GU. NO BLOKS. NO CLIF SHOT.}

Last, a huge amount of pressure is now gone. Although I have very limited funds at this point and am struggling to determine which races I will most enjoy using those funds to enter, I can actually join my tri club since I have no coach and no ridiculous goals keeping my schedule restricted. Again, as Tea said: "You can now put this behind you. I know you've been feeling alot of stress over this race, and it's done. Enjoy your summer. Take time to relax and have fun."

When I was a kid and I would get tooo stressed about details, my dad used to ask me: "How do you eat an elephant?" And I would stare at him blankly for a great while before he'd respond, "One bite at a time."

I always fell for it. But it was always true.

So, my approach to my training for the rest of the year - and boy, do I have some details to tackle - is going to be exactly that approach my dad so judiciously suggested when elephant-eating was my biggest dilemma (as opposed to what June Sprint? What July or August Oly? What fall tri? What half marathon? what marathon? Another bike fitting? Escape to Miami tri? ): one bite at a time.

1 tidbits of wizdom:

Tea said...

awww shucks, thanks for the shout out.

the coming months will be fun to watch.

I don't want to sound like a broken record, but I am very happy for you. Your effort on Sunday was nothing short of AWESOME.