The only way out is through…

I realize that I have rather silent since Raleigh.  This is partly because I needed to reflect on my experience for a while and partly because I dove immediately in to preparing my dissertation proposal (I passed! WOOHOO!) and completing the paperwork required for me to gather data for my study… and then straight on to a job interview for a part time psychological testing position (I got the job!  WOOHOO!)  and then to studying for my comprehensive exams (which take place on July 16th).  Sooooooo…. I’ve been busy. 🙂

I have also been in and out of a funk.  This is partly due to the let down at my performance after such a long build up to Raleigh and partly because Justin’s deployment is coming to an end and it seems to be getting harder, again.  My friend, Ruth, a veteran military spouse, says that is pretty normal so I’m going to go ahead and cut myself some slack.

As soon as I recognized that I wasn’t feeling like myself, I started to work on getting OUT of a funk.  In order to do that, I’ve been pushing myself to do things outside of my comfort zone and to loosen up on my expectations so that I can be more “in the moment.”  It’s been tougher at some times than others.  This morning, I had planned to do my long ride with a group of cyclists that leaves from Contes bike shop in Virginia Beach.  It was going to be a challenging ride because they go out at an A pace and pick it up on the way back for a total of 55-60 miles.  It was also going to be a large group of people that I don’t really know, which puts me way out of my comfort zone in a situation like a group ride.  However, the weather conditions were less than optimal this morning and group rides were being canceled in multiple places and people were bailing, etc.  I wasn’t sure if Contes was canceling their ride but I wasn’t going to drive all the way there just to find out that the ride wasn’t happening… but I was still determined to exit my comfort zone, today.  So… I rode from home and by myself.

I hadn’t ridden from home since my very first few weeks of riding.  I had some bad experiences with the traffic near my home.  People aren’t particularly accustomed to cyclists in this area and it required more vigilance and more confidence than I had in my bike-handling.  Today, I faced my fears and rode from home!  WOOHOO!

So I tried to meet up with my coach and a few other cyclists about a half an hour ride away from here.  I waited around for a bit but nobody showed within a reasonable amount of time so I figured I would head out to Pungo and let them catch up me (they are much faster cyclists).  I got out into Pungo and I saw a very large “puddle.”  I was not deterred.  Those roads flood from time to time and I thought I would just ride through it and the roads would eventually start to get better.  It was kind of cool to see some of the swamp life up a little bit closer.  My friend Mike posted the other day that he was riding in that area and saw a water moccasin swim across the road.  While that’s a little bit scary, I’m a big fan of nature and I was like “please let me see a snake please let me see a snake!”  THEN… I started riding through it and I realized that when you can’t see the END of a puddle, it is not a puddle so much as a flooded road.  I quickly began thinking “please don’t let me see a snake please don’t let me see a snake!” haha

I didn’t realize the severity of my mistake until it was too late.  Quickly, I found that the water was coming up over my feet and I was having to shift down into my easiest gear and peddle hard to keep from coming to a dead stop.  At one point, I looked at my CycleOps Power Meter Computer and my speed was about 8 mph but my power was reading about 300 watts!  Once I realized how bad it was, I also realized that I could not stop or I would be wading my way through the rest of it.  The only way out was through.  So I get to the other size of this “puddle” and I think… okay, I’ll keep going because the roads are going to be fine now.  But they weren’t fine.  And the “puddles” kept getting longer and deeper.  I knew I had made a significant error in judgement when a blue crane actually caught a fish out of the road in front of me! lol  Well, I quickly started to take turns that would lead me back to where I started and I got out!  I survived but boy was I stressed for a while!  I tried to ride on the yellow lines in the road because it was one of the only places where I was sure I could see all the way through the water to the bottom.  I was covered in swamp water and algae when I left.  I even stopped to wipe off my water bottles so that I wouldn’t accidentally ingest that nasty stuff!  You know those little water bugs that look like tiny kayaks with paddles?  I found a few of those in my bike shorts when I took a shower.  Eww!

Once I got outta there, I was happy as a clam!  I kept riding and made it to about 70 miles in just a little under 4 hours.  I was pleased with my workout and with the experience… and I enjoyed ending my workout right at my front door!

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Home sweet home!

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Residual swamp goop.

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And Mr. Tibby did not understand why I would not cuddle with him until I had a shower.

Raleigh Rundown

Dear friends,

I’m a bit exhausted from this weekend so I’m not up for writing a full race report, yet.  Let’s just say, it didn’t go as planned.  In fact, it was not a good performance on my part.  I had some gearing issues on the bike and then horrible, terrible stomach cramps.  That was on top of a hilly courses and high heat and humidity.  I ended up finishing 13th in my age group.  Still, as fate would have it, I received a roll down spot for Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Vegas.  At first, I felt as though I had cheated by getting a spot at Worlds without finishing in the top three in my age group.  My husband pointed out to me that I did work very hard and I earned my spot even if I didn’t do so in the way that I had expected/preferred.   So, there’s a bright spot on a cloudy day or… rather… a bit of shade on a mercilessly uphill, sunny course! haha.  More later on race day, especially with regard to managing a bad race.  It was hard.  I cried.  But I’m moving forward and I’ll talk to you all about how I am managing it!  For now, I’ve briefly filled you in and I’ll share some photos.

Also, in addition to being exceedingly grateful for all of the fabulous support that I received from friends and family, I am incredibly appreciative of my coach and his abundance of patience.  He sat with me for at least two hours this morning to go over plans for the future and process my feelings of sadness and defeat.  I feel much better about the near future in triathlon and I’m excited to see my training ramp back up after a week of recovery.  Thank you, Dai Roberts!

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Me with my roommate/friend/training buddy, Erin, on the bus to T1/swim start at 5 a.m.!!!!  Yikes!  Let me just tell you, Erin CRUSHED that race.  She is typically somewhere right behind me in workouts… right on my heels in runs/rides.   I kept telling her that I am NOT faster than she is so maybe now she’ll believe me and I’m looking forward to continuing to train with her!   She finished so freaking well this weekend that she was 10 minutes ahead of her goal time with a 2:25!  She will ALSO be going to Worlds!  SO proud of her!  AND she took time out of her celebrating to comfort me in my “holy crap I sucked at that race and I trained for MONTHS!” mourning phase.

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Me at the end of a 13.1 mile death march.  Normally, I’m Smily MgGee at the end of a race (and at the beginning and through the middle).  I just couldn’t eek one out this weekend.  It all hurt too badly… and I wasn’t having fun.  More on that next time.

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My deployment roommate, Brittney, took a day trip down to Raleigh in order to cheer me on AND my friend Ruth stepped in and walked my dog TWICE so that Brittney could be there for me!  Seriously, I’m so lucky to have such amazing and supportive friends!