Last February I decided to take on the challenge of competing in the Wildflower Triathlon, one of the nations most difficult Triathlons,which took place in May of 2006. The distance I would cover included a 1.5K (1 mile) Open Water Swim, followed by an intense 40K (25 Mile) bike ride and finishing off with a 10K (6 Mile) Run. I finished this race in 5 hours, since then I have continued to document my journey.

Monday, March 05, 2007

March 4th 2007; Stanford Treeathlon

This race is for you Phil. You have inspired me in life and now in death....

I signed up for the Stanford Treeathlon 3 months ago on a whim. My friend signed up and asked if I wanted to join her. In the end 12 of us signed up. It's funny how all these races sound like fun but once race day comes up I get a feeling of dread. I kept telling myself "It's just a sprint distance triathlon" but I still got just as nervous as any other race I've done.

This week was Honoree Week for Team In Training. Since I am Honoree Captain I could not just not show up for practice. Since I was already at practice I couldn't just not participate. So I went ahead and practiced with the team even though I had a race the next day. Of course, we did a time trial in the pool along with a bunch of sprints. The bike ride was a hilly 18 miles. I kept telling myself that the next days race is no big deal and I shouldn't care if I did poorly due to over training the day before. Deep down I was nervous because this race had cutoff times.

After practice we had our Honoree Lunch at Scruffy Murphy's Irish Pub. I ate all the wrong foods and drank 3 beers. Yeah...I was really setting myself up to do poorly.

That night I stopped by REI to use my dividend check on some nutrition items. While shopping I realized I had no idea what to wear for the race. I've done several triathlons before but never one that didn't allow a wetsuit. That is when I broke triathlon Rule #1 (never try anything new on race day) I bought a one piece tri suit to wear the next day.

I went to bed at 9:30 but couldn't sleep so I read until 10:15. After that, I checked my alarm to make sure it was on and went to sleep. At 5:45 I rolled over and realized that I had overslept!! No wave was not to go until 8:50. I just wanted to get there early because the racks were first come first serve.

When I got to the race site I realized I was the first one out of my friends to get there. I proceeded to choose a spot for my transition area. While setting up I couldn't help but laugh at myself. I brought 4 water bottles to the race. 2 with electrolytes and 2 with water. I didn't expect the race to last much over 2 hours. I would have to drink the whole time to ingest that much fluid :-)

After getting all my stuff ready I saw Sabine, Mary, and Susan preparing their areas on the other side. They invited me to move over but what would be the point. Later I saw Sanjay, Camilo, Anne, Larry, Jen Yen, Chrissy and a whole bunch of other old and current team mates. At 7:30 they had a meeting explaining the rules and kicked us out of the transition area.

The setup of the swim portion of the race was as follows. Two Olympic Size swimming pools with a buoy at each corner. Men in the closest pool and women in the farthest. We had to swim 4 loops around the buoys in 10 minutes. If we did not make the cutoff we would be asked to get out and incur a 2 minute penalty. 500 yards in 10 minutes is pretty fast. I could do it but I wasn't sure if I could swim that after having swam a time trial the day before. There was no rhyme or reason for the order of the waves. My friend who is 47 went before I did and so did my friend who's 26. I'm 30.

After watching several groups swim I realized that it would be harder than I thought. Each wave had about 40 people and at least 10 were getting cut off. After watching all of my friends go it was my turn.

I started off at the wall thinking I could wait for everyone to go then simply push off the wall once things had cleared. Once the horn blew I did not have the discipline to wait. I just took off and let myself get kicked and punched until I got into position. After about 200 yards I found my spot and fell into a comfortable stroke. Once I completed the first half loop I realized that I could use the lane lines and buckets (which were being used as anchors for the buoys) instead of sighting. That really helped me swim efficiently and straight. Each time I would hit the far corner I would sprint so that I wouldn't run the risk of getting kicked out of the pool at the farthest point from the transition area. After 3 laps I snuck a peak at my watch and realized I was making really good time. I paced myself a little faster on the last lap and just made it to cut-off. In fact...I'm not sure if I made it since the buzzer was going as I hit the latter.

I ran down the pool area, up the steps, and to transition. Before I new it I was mounting my bike. I know the area we raced very well so I didn't really bother to memorize the map. As I was leaving the campus I tried to spin my legs as fast as I could but they were cold. So I slowed my cadence and allowed myself to warm up. I finally warmed up as I hit the first big hill. I worked my way up that hill and thought about getting off my bike when I saw the girl in front of me doing so. I told myself "Wait a minute...I do this route all the time and have never gotten off my bike!!! What am I thinking?!?" I kept pushing. The next hill was a little tougher than the last. I huffed and puffed and wheezed and panted. I was not going to let this hill get the best of me. That's when I thought of one of my friend Phil's poems entitled "To You". In this poem he talked about what it's like to live with Parkinson's. He goes on to say: "...At this point all the folks who love me begin to give me care But the sad eyes and tone of voice say to me beware 'Here, let me do that; you're too tired,' invites me to quit And I'm tempted, sorely tempted, I readily admit..." I was tempted to quit. Not the race but it would be easy to get off my bike and walk up that hill. I didn't though. About that time I looked up and saw a friendly policeman cheering me on and a girl on the side of the road changing a flat. Suddenly my necklace caught on my zipper and "zzzzzzip" The whole zipper dropped to my belly and my ladies popped out of my shirt. The officer was stuck in this frozen stare and the girl who was changing her tire was on the floor laughing. I was in utter shock. My body stayed in auto pilot and I kept on pedalling, even though I was fully exposed, and the cop kept staring with a shocked and bewildered look on his face. In fact, I kept pedalling until I made it to the top of that hill. The cop kept staring and the lady kept laughing after I passed them. I was mortified.

After that episode I wanted to get off that course as quickly as possible. I think I literally sprinted the rest of the race. At one point I spotted this girl and decided I was going to pass her. I geared up but soon realize that I'd have to come up with a different plan to pass her. Then I geared way down and increased my cadence. I passed her fairly easily. Oh...that wouldn't be the end of her. She caught up to me and passed me. She actually chuckled at me as she passed. I did what any self respecting competitor would do...I passed her again and told her to have a great race as I turned on the after burners.

Too soon the cycle portion of the race was over and I was coming into the transition area. When I got to my gear there was someone standing over my transition area chit chatting. I said "excuse me" and the guy looked at me like I was a purple martian. Then someone yelled "get out of her way...she's racing" He went to step out of my way by stepping ON my stuff. I was super annoyed. As I was getting ready to run he stood right over me and watched. I took off without my cap and only picked up my race number because I tripped over it a couple of yards away. Somehow, it had gotten kicked. I am very organized in my transition area and always put my number on my shoes in the back part of my towel. Obviously, it had gotten kicked when this guy was stomping all over my stuff.

The first mile, as usual, was tough. My legs felt like lead. Soon Larry caught up to me and he cheered me on. I then decided I was going to walk. But I thought of Phil's poem again and opted to run the whole time. Just a little later I saw Sanjay cycling in. I told myself "I give him two minutes to catch up to me" as I was thinking this I heard someone scream "Hey Butler!!!" It was Camilo coming in from the bike too. After the first mile something came over me and I started running pretty fast...for me anyway. Soon Sanjay ran passed me. I looked at my watch and noted that 2:35 had passed since I saw him coming in from the bike. Around mile 1.5 Camilo passed me as well. Despite the fact that everyone was passing me on the run, I felt good and kept on running. Sooner than I expected I was running to the finish line. Sabine was there cheering me on and I felt a burst of energy as I sprinted to the finish line. I finished the race in 1:47. They presented me with my Free Chipotle Burrito Bowl coupon and I met up with my friends.

I am so glad I did this race and am convinced that Phil was with me the whole time. Thank you Phil!!! This one was for you.

Here is my revised race schedule for the year:

Stanford Treeathlon - March 4th (done!)
Cinderella Century Ride - March 31st (100 mile bike ride)
Wildflower Triathlon - May 6th (Woodstock of Triathlons)
Kings Trail Triathlon - June 9th (This one is in Hawaii)
Catfish Open Water Swim - July 22nd
Midsummer Triathlon - July 31st (This one is in Oregon)
Big Kahuna Triathlon - September 9th (1/2 Iron - 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.2 mile run)
Nike Womens Marathon - October 21st


Post a Comment

<< Home