My training, racing, things that go through my head, memorable moments, and such.

Monday, July 23, 2012

On Life and Racing

I've been realizing more and more recently how hard triathlon is on the body. People often think that because triathletes are fit and can train for hours on end, they are among the healthiest people on the planet. They are triathletes for gosh sake! However, when you wake up the day after the race with an immense "triathlon-hangover" you have to ask yourself: by how many years did I just shorten my life?

Sunday morning (post-race) I woke up at 5:30 am, having fallen asleep around 3:00 am. I would love to say the late bedtime was because of a killer after-party, but the truth is my body gets so messed up after a race that it is rare for me to fall asleep at all. Waking up at 5:30am was also part of the after-effects of the race. Needless to say, I felt as though I hadn't slept at all. Then my body checked into the nauseous stomach, likely a product of not eating anything but sugar for a majority of the previous day (in the form of gels), and the slightly sore abs to accentuate the stomach discomfort. Then I tried to move my neck and found that it was happily stuck in the position I fell asleep in. Finally my mind wandered down to my legs, and the deep ache began, right on cue.

Triathletes are healthy! Ha I think not. 

Don't get me wrong, not all races make you feel like you were hit by a truck. Only the hard races. 

Saturday's race was a PanAmerican Cup held in Magog, Quebec, and was also U23 Canadian Nationals. Our day began with a delayed start by about forty minutes, so I forced down the first gel of the day before the race had even begun. I generally don't like taking gels right before the start as that definitely won't optimize any sort of fat utilization for the rest of the race, but I would rather be dependent on gels than bonk halfway through the swim.

Check out Domi in the black suit, annihilating the start
 The swim was interesting because it started out with a long stretch of running in and dolphin diving. I was positioned with Ali on my left and Ellen on my right. The perfect set-up! However it instantly backfired when the gun went off and both my training partners took a couple steps and flopped into the water simultaneously, right in front of me. It was actually kind of funny. I think I ran through them or around them, making much more distance, before getting into some dolphin dives and ending up (ironically enough) next to my last training partner Christine, who had been positioned on the opposite side of the start. 

My swim was pretty good, and it wasn't until about 500 meters to go when first Ali passed me, and then Ellen, and then I was gapped. I think it was a combination of my own fatigue and the fact that the girls had strung out and so I wasn't getting that nice "pack" draft that I had had. 

The start of the bike found Domi and I chasing together to catch the pack. I was confident that we would catch, but it still was hard work. We caught up basically halfway through the first lap (of five), right before the hill. After that the ride went smoothly. It was a very surge-y ride, with lots of sprinting and accelerating, but it made the forty kilometres go by very quickly. 

Heading onto the run my goal was just to go out hard so that I wouldn't feel as flat as I had in Edmonton. I ran out behind super runners Joanna and Ellen, aware of the fact that I didn't want to blow myself up, and held on for about half of a lap before they began to pull away. From that point on it was basically me in my head, telling myself to run faster. On the second lap my hamstrings began cramping, and then my quads, and then my hamstrings. I panicked a little. Cramping only three kilometres into a ten kilometre run is scary. Maybe I shouldn't have tried to go out hard. Luckily drinking water at the aid stations helped a bit, and I was able to manage the cramps so that my legs never fully locked up. I don't normally cramp, so I think this was because of the humidity and the fact that I only was able to drink one of my bottles on the bike. 

On the last lap of the run I was having visions of demon-Domi putting on a final kilometre death surge and catching me, so I ran as hard as I could. I looked over my shoulder a couple times and never saw her, but I wasn't sure if that was just my field of vision. I  needlessly blew myself to pieces, and it was funny as I crossed the line to Jo and Ellen who ran these incredible 10k times and they were all chatty as I walked myself over to the med tent to lie down for a bit. 

So that is the story of how I once again shortened my life on my own free-will. However, smoking, eating fast food and drinking also shortens your life, and you don't get the exhilaration of the race, the self confidence of success, the amazing opportunities or the six-pack abs from those life choices. Perhaps the negative effects of triathlon are balanced out by the positives. Either way I am sticking to triathlon for a while longer. Onwards and Upwards!

Photos from Triathlon Quebec

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