The Race That Almost Wasn't

The Race that almost wasn’t

For me the auburn triathlon was an exercise in tenacity. Not because the race course was hard (it was) or because two transitions can make life a little complex (it did). No, web world, the race almost wasn’t because of issues that occurred in the week before the race. What issues, you ask? Well let me fill you in.
A week and 2 days before the race, I “female” problem that I haven’t had in YEARS reared its ugly, yeasty, head. I had to cut my last ride short because there was no way I could continue riding when I was so uncomfortable. OTC medicines didn’t kill the little bugger, so a scrip from my MD on Tuesday helped the wee-beesties die a horrible death.
This first “female” problem became moot because on Thursday auntie flow showed up with accompanying cramps and swollen ankles. Awesome! Awesome! Awesome!
Friday afternoon I feel a slight tickle in my throat. I ran over to the local thai food place and bought some hot and sour soup and downed it like a drunken sailor in front of a barrel of grog. Upon awakening on Saturday, the sore throat has moved up into my sinuses and I’m stuffed up. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.
Saturday was packet pick up, and drop off for T2 (running stuff). I spoke with a few Sac Tri Club people but tried to keep my distance since I was feeling kind of crappy. Went home and drank more water than I thought possible. Ate a spaghetti dinner and climbed into bed at a reasonable hour. Set the alarm for 4:45 a.m.
Alarm buzzed and I felt my forehead. It was cold and clammy. Not good. I rolled over and started coughing. Really not good. Got on my feet and rocked a bit due to dizziness. REALLY REALLY not good.
I told my husband, “I think I have a fever”. He felt my forehead and said, “No you have 6 blankets on you. You are fine. Get up.” Unconvinced, I still got up and poured a little coffee into a cup and got dressed. I went into the bedroom after a few minutes and told hubby, “I think I should bail on the race, I don’t feel well and it is 36 degrees outside.”
“Shut up you are going. You’ll hate yourself if you don’t.” Then he uttered the utterly cheesy, “Pain is temporary, quitting is forever.”
I got my breakfast and hubby loaded my bike into the truck. We drove to the T1 drop off point. The whole time, the chatter from my husband was non-stop annoying:
“You’ll do great.”
“You are a tough woman. Hear you roar.”
“You’ll kick ass and take names”
“You are fine.”
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciated his pithy words but when you feel lousy and are nervously approaching what you are sure is your doom, you don’t want to hear a lot of chatter.
Finally I said, “Shutup now.” I then told him, “If I get pneumonia, you are the one staying home with me.”
Drop off was about ¾ mile from T1. I got on my bike, backpack strapped to my shivering torso and rode down to T1. I parked my bike and chatted with a friend who was also doing the race. I could barely lift my bike up onto the rack because my hands were so cold when I arrived at T1. Someone announced that it was 35 degrees outside and that there was a 15 mph headwind against us on the uphills.
Awesome Awesome Awesome.

I looked at the lake. The 60 degree lake was steaming because of the difference in temp between the air and the water. I got on my wetsuit.
I got in the water. I was so sure it was going to be cold, but it honestly felt like warm bath water. 60 degrees never felt so good.
I warmed up by swimming a bit and felt good. My nose was running in the water, but honestly, who cared?
Swim Start
I started at the back of the pack because I am a slow swimmer and I didn’t get run over. After we started, I kept having to stop because people in front of me kept stopping. How totally annoying. Finally I pushed past some people and started on my regular stroke. I bobbed my head up for a moment, long enough to see a woman say to me, “I don’t like this at all, I want to go back.” I put my head down and just concentrated on my swim stroke. After the second swim buoy I went off course and started pulling to the right. I looked up. Fk.
Swim time: Garmin said 24:10. Official time 25:XX. Blah.
T1: For this particular race, they bring everything from T1 up to T2 (finish) so competitors must pack all of their things in marked plastic bags. This, of course, can take a while. I stripped my wetsuit and stood shivering in the (now) 38 degree air. I put on a biking jacket, gloves and my bike shoes. I packed everything else in my designated bag. T1 time 9:20
Bike: I have ridden this bike course probably about 10 times in the last few months. The first 8 miles is almost all uphill. What made me feel good is seeing the number of people walking their bikes up these hills. People with Cervelo time trial bikes and with Pinarellos were pushing their bikes up hill on Shirland Tract. Mind you, I wasn’t racing up these hills, but never did I get off my bike and start to walk. Never.
I passed a few people on the hills. I was so happy to hit the turn around though. My chest was really cold and my clogged head was making me dizzy on the bike.
Bike time: Garmin: 1:35 Official: 1:35
T2: I saw my family when I came into T2.Mom, hubby were there. I put on my trail shoes, grabbed my water bottle and was off. T2 time: 2:13.

Run: the run was where I really lost it. I was maintaining a 10 min/mile pace, which considering the throbbing in my sinuses was adequate. The first two miles were fairly flat. Then I turned on to a sharp downhill that went for over a mile down towards the bottom of the canyon. My feet felt like they were on fire and I realized that because they were so cold from the swim and never warmed on the bike, the pounding while I ran was causing intense burning pain. I slowed to a walk. I ran/walked/shuffled to the turn around point and then looked up at 1.25 miles of uphill. Fk me.
I walked most of the uphill back. I tried to throw in a few well intentioned, shuffles and half-hearted runs but I was not really feeling it. I finally came onto the grass near the finish line and smoked past some guy who was in worse shape than I was. Run time: 48:XX
Final time 3:00:02.
The theme of losing it on the run seems to be an issue in triathlon for me. I did one a couple of years ago and again, bonked on the run. It wasn’t that I didn’t have enough calories. I just was mentally exhausted. I obviously need to do brick workouts to get the legs and mind ready for running after a bike. Overall I was pleased with my performance, all things considered. The swim was ok. I did the bike faster than I ever have before which blows my mind. I forgive myself for a crappy run.
The thing that made this race so great were the volunteers. Never have I seen a race course lined with so many happy, cheering and cheerful volunteers. They even joked with me as I stood up and attacked a huge hill on the bike, “There she goes look at her go, she’s like Contador, she’s like Lance.” It made me smile during the race and I think sometimes that is hard to do.
I was so happy when I finished but immediately started coughing. I went to work Monday but stayed home today due to the cold now moving into my lungs. My head is totally clogged and I can’t hear out of my left ear. I am not sure about the next couple of days, but I think I’m going to simply rest, drink lots of OJ and try to feel better. Hopefully it is not pneumonia.
Awesome awesome awesome.


  1. you are a rock star. hope you feel better soon

  2. Great job on the tri! I hope you are happy your husband motivated you to go. Most importantly, get better.. rest up! You deserve it!

  3. UGH, I raced my first half iron when I was sick and it was NOT fun. At least it wasn't freakin freezing, though. Way to tough out that tough course and finish. Hope you're feeling better soon!

  4. Great race report! I hope you are feeling better soon!

    I think your husband and my husband went to the same "husband-camp." I got sick this weekend too and on the way to the race he was repeating all the same crap. Then he told me I wasn't really sick, just nervous. Well, it turns out I was sick with strep throat. Is it bad I feel somewhat vindicated by that diagnosis?

  5. Krista--Hope your strep gets better soon. And yes, our husbands did go to the same, "suck it up" university. And no, don't feel bad about being vindicated. I'm waiting to hear from my MD about bronchitis....

  6. That looked like a hard course so congrats for finishing despite all the aliments! You did great.

  7. wow, way to htfu thru sickness on a tough race. Congrats!!!


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