Earlier in the week....
I told the CFL Tri Club Coach that I wanted to finish this race in 1:30. This is EXTREMELY laughable, and I even told him so, because (and he knows) I've never finished a sprint in under 2 hours. But he, instead of talking me down from my lofty perch, he wrote back his opinion in one sentence. "1:27."
You know what I said?
Still, I figured I may as well give it a shot. Knowing how much stronger I've gotten on the bike, and knowing this was only a 2.5-mile run, I figured I could AT LEAST break 2 hours. (My sprint PR so far is 2:06 and change.). All that aside, my only REAL goal was to do something I've never done at ANY race: go all out.
Like, balls to the F-n wall. Like, if you break it, you bought it. Like, who cares if I puke or almost drown from swallowing lake water?
Well, I didn't break, puke or almost drown from swallowing lake water. And I didn't finish in 1:27.
Here's what I did do.
Sherpa talked me into getting up early and meeting his family on the West coast for a little ocean swimming and relaxing. Sounds good, right? That's perfect for a pre-race rest day: float in water, relax, and get up early so race day doesn't feel like a giant shock. I was feelin' the karma. And we had a smashing time, too - right until about 2pm.
We were well on schedule to hit the road before 2. This would get us back by 4, have me fed and race expo'd by 6 and packed (and asleep) by 8. We stopped for gas on the way out when Sherpa's brother pulled up behind us out of nowhere. "Uh...don't go anywhere," he told Sherpa. "My belt just snapped." Once we found him an auto parts store, Sherpa's SIL and I kicked into action - we're something of a team, anyway, as we've been pals since junior high. We grabbed the kids and packed them up, got them home so they could eat and sleep, and got me moving so I could get my race packet. Which I JUST BARELY got in time. (I did get body marked a day ahead, though, which was good.)
He and Sherpa were stuck there for 6 hours and weren't due back to SB's house till 11pm. SB lives 20 miles away from me and the Brothers Sherpa were both covered in blood and grease when they returned, so Sherpa opted to spend the night at Casa de SB - he knew he'd have to miss my race, but he figured I didn't need the distraction. This is the first race he's ever missed (which is saying something for a dude who normally doesn't wake up before noon and thinks 10am is devilishly early). And it was a race at which I was hoping to really kick ass.
All my good karma for the race threatened to disappear at this point. By the time I got home, ate, called my daddy (yes, I still call him Daddy and I still call him for pep talks), cleaned up the puppy's (surprisingly minimal) mess from being left alone for a half day, hosed him down, got packed and showered, I didn't get in bed til almost 9, and I still had a few things left to do.
Around 1am, I was awakened by a weird noise. At first I thought it was Sherpa, calling or texting on the way back to say he could make the race after all. But my phone was sadly devoid of Sherpa-texts. Then I realized it was Kona whining. Oh, boy - he probably needs to pee. And he sure did. I got downstairs to find that his crate was now the mess I had expected it to be when I got back from the beach - and THEN some. So now it was 1:40am, and I'd hosed him and his crate down twice and mopped the floor three times. (A puppy covered in piddle makes quite the mess when he steps out of his crate and shakes all 28 pounds of himself off all over your wood floors.) Back to bed after a few peeks online at some crate-training tips and a croaky voicemail to Sherpa to tell him what "his dog" had done.
In the morning, despite a pre-dawn wakeup call, things were looking sunnier. I got everything together with time to spare for a coffee run, Kona peed and pooped outside, and I was letting him hang out with me before he had to crate back up. The meow'ers were also fed and happy, and Arnie, perched on my gathering-height dining room chairs, was leisurely swiping his paw at Kona's face as Kona sat below, thumping his tail. (It wasn't even a real swipe. It was like a toddler telling their sibling "I'm not touching you! I'm not touching you!" and then sticking their finger millimeters from the sib's arm.) I went upstairs to shut off the lights with Kona clumsily lumbering along behind. And then I turned around to look for him and he was gone.
The only clue?
A trail of fragrant, steaming puppy poop all the way down the stairs.
As I came around the corner and down the last step, there he was, with an apologetic and sad expression on his face. In his crate. I couldn't even be mad at him - he had already crated himself up. Poor little bastard knew he was wrong. So much for the coffee. And so much for the doom and gloom. At this point, what else could I do but giggle!!??
I slapped together a peanut butter sandwich, got the car packed up and turned around to make sure I hadn't missed anything. The house seemed mighty empty sans Sherpa. I felt like I had to say something, but there was no one to really say it to. So, with half the sandwich hanging out of my mouth, I announced to all three of my animals, "When I return, I will have a medal."
Arnie stared at me blankly (ok, so maybe the expression said something more like "food?" or "catnip?"), Kona was still laying in the fetal position giving me uber-sad eyes (I swear, if he was a kid, he would have had his lower lip stuck out at me and sniffled), and Girlie, who was busy vicariously stalking creatures through the sliding glass door, didn't even turn around.
I ate another bite of sandwich. "Say goodbye to the champion," I added.
No one moved. Girlie didn't even favor me enough to turn and give me a condescending glance. I stomped out of the house.
So, without the results posted, I know I did finish 5/9 in Athena in 1:48 and change. <5 minutes faster on the swim and <5 minutes faster on the run and I would have won Athena. (I stopped to pee behind a tree on the run. DAMN!)
That's a PR of oh....18 minutes.
And a bike pace of over 18mph.
And an offical move from the back of pack to somewhat near the middle.
And my biggest PR yet.
At a distance I hate.
During a stretch of weeks where I didn't feel good.
This race, as my litmus test for Nationals, says my consistency even when I've been sick has added not 1 but almost 4mph to my best bike pace (of course, that was an Olympic course). And Nationals is an Oly. Which is a distance I do NOT hate.
Well, well, well. What have we here?
More later when I have splits and time to rest.