Thankful

I have a million things to write – and a million things to be thankful for. But I’m spending time with family, so this is quick:

1. I’m running a Deck-a-Day challenge on Facebook and it is motivating me in the happiest ways. I’m so thankful for my community. https://www.facebook.com/groups/deckaday/

2. For the first time in my racing career, I got this – a sign of things to come in 2015:

qualified

Thankful for so much – enjoy your Thanksgiving!

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Rev3 Pocono Mountains Race Report

IMG_8566Sunday, September 14 was the Rev3 Pocono Mountains Olympic and Half distance triathlons. My wife and I LOVE the Poconos, and the race was in the place we typically stay, so we used time share points to book a house and chose to work it as a hybrid race and vacation. The best kind of races, I think.

This was a team race for Empire Tri Club so I knew other people would be there. Four teammates stayed with me, and the house was large enough to comfortably host a team dinner for 10 people the night before the race. There’s something to be said about having different rooms. And a kitchen! I liked this much better than hotel life.

This was going to be my last race of the year, and before a busy three days.

Day beforeIMG_8463

On Saturday, every athlete had to rack their bike at T1. This was a point to point race, with T1 located about 20 or so miles from T2 and the finish line. It was a lot of running around the day before the race: first to the finish line and race expo to get my packet and hear the mandatory race briefing, and then to T1 to rack my bike, then my house mates and I went grocery shopping to prepare for the team dinner. All of this in the cold, cold rain. I had not packed appropriately for wet or for cold.

IMG_8468Back at the house, Hallie flexed her catering skills while Cameron DJed. Olof had supplied beer and Caitlin brought homemade cookies. The team came over for a mega dinner and everyone took off around 8:30 pm. We were all sorting transition bags and gear by 8:45 pm (courtesy of the house having a dishwasher, I think), and everyone was in or around bed by 9:30. That’s too early for me. I played on my phone for a while and then turned in around 10:30 pm.        

IMG_8474Pre race 

I was up at 4:30 am along with the rest of the crew. We   prepped breakfasts and put on race tattoos while Cameron DJed again – probably the first time I was okay with music (or talking) so early in the morning. Then: coffee, grab stuff, and out. We drove to T2 and the finish line to set up T2. I had an easy morning because I was doing the aqua bike race, and had no T2. I looked at my space and then left to hop on the shuttle, which took us back past the house again and over to T1. I ate a bagel with chocolate peanut butter and drank some Pre Race mixed with Accelerade. I don’t typically drink that but I had forgotten my drink mix and Hallie saved my morning.

When I got off the bus at T1, I could see my breath. I was shaking. I had on my kit and a wind breaker and didn’t want to take it off. Transition closed at 6:40 am so I rushed to set up my bike gear and pump my tires, and then put my wetsuit halfway on and got in line for the bathroom. I left my socks on to save my feet until the swim. It was 45 degrees and I hated everything.

IMG_8475The swim

The swim was in a lake, with one section so shallow that my hands hit the rocks. I got up and walked that part (I DON’T CARE!). The rest of the swim was uneventful. It was a little longer than the distance they said – and I know this not because my time was slower, but because everyone’s times were slow. I didn’t have a gps and cannot confirm, but this is my suspicion. The swim felt horribly slow, although my time was better.

In all, the swim was actually okay, although it took about two thirds of the swim for me to adjust my attitude about the race. I hated everything in the morning. I hate being cold. The water was the warmest part of the morning so I actually didn’t mind it. I sighted okay and didn’t get kicked, so that’s a success. And my goggles actually worked flawlessly, so that was cool too.

My left (formerly injured) shoulder has been hurting for about 10 days, so I had low expectations of the swim – as I often do. I got out of the water with a pinch in my back near my shoulder a bit worse than it had been, but I can’t really complain. The last two times I swam? NYC Triathlon and Gay Games. I exited the water in the middle of the pack.

T1

I entered T1 just before Joe, a friend also doing the aqua bike. He’s a very strong cyclist, a coach and instructor at Tailwind Endurance, and a beast of a racer. I saw him run out as I was getting my wetsuit off my feet and trying to get into my socks. I thought that was it – but I was putting on my jacket no matter what. Cold + wet is even worse than just cold.

The bike

I saw Joe in front of me about 100 feet when I started riding out. The first few miles were fast descents – I don’t have the weight so he gained a little time on me, but I passed him around mile 10. I felt the pressure of having him behind me the entire race, and I timed my lead at the turn around points: there were three 180 degree turns around park “toll” stations. I did not have much time on him, even going into mile 40. At mile 50 or so I saw he was less than a minute behind me, so I really pushed.

The good thing about racing an aqua bike is that you can turn it inside out on the bike and not have to worry about putting together a decent run. I kept thinking about this while riding. I tried to keep a strong cadence and full pedal strokes. Then I’d grit my teeth and grind it out for a while. It was good enough for the fastest bike split of the aqua bike.

I started the bike with only my half filled bottle of drink from the morning. At half way I threw it and grabbed a bottle of Gatorade Endurance. I forgot my gel in my morning bag so I took in no other water or nutrition. Not a solid plan. I didn’t bonk on the bike ride, but I think I suffered later in the day because of this. IMG_8478

The final miles of the bike route were through the run course on some hilly sections. I cheered for all the runners and saw I had a gap behind me, but I still pushed as hard as I could through the final stretch to make sure Joe didn’t catch me. I didn’t know that he dropped his chain somewhere out there, which bought me a little time.

The final stretch was through a few driveway paths, and then there was the dismount line going into T2. I got off my bike and sprinted with it to the transition timing mat, which served as my finish. DONE.

T2   

There was no T2 for me, but I still had to get my finish photo and medal. I had joked with my teammates about wearing my wetsuit across the finish to be funny… so I got my swim bag and put it on, along with my helmet and glasses, and one shoe. Not sure why one shoe. Why not? Joe finished and we chatted, and then I walked out of T2 and on the first section of the run course to get to the finish line. I walked across and IMG_8507enjoyed my Jumbotron photo. Then, the standard wet towel to medal and visor to chip return to food to gear bag to cheering. I saw the ETC people who did the Olympic distance and ate some food with a few people.

In the finish area I checked my results and grabbed my race receipt and then waited to make sure it was right. I also took a ton of photos.

By the numbers
Temperature: 45 start, 60 finish
Weather: clear and beautiful, no wind
Current: none
Number of times I thought about not doing the race while in T1: at least 7
Number of big gulps of lake I took: surprisingly, none
Big burps I let out on the swim: 2
Number of times I walked during the swim: 1
Number of back strokers I passed on swim: none – the 1 guy was going as fast as me

Gels consumed in whole race: 0
Bars consumed in whole race: 0IMG_8574
Water consumed: 0
Gatorade consumed: 40% of a bottle

Number of 180 degree turns on bike: 3 (nearly 4)

Number of spiders I saw in the house: 3
Wildlife I saw on the course: 1 snake, 1 lizard, 1 deer carcass, 1 roadkill raccoon
Number of bears I saw: 0
Number of bears on the course: at least 1

Finish time: 3:14:26
1st place overall
Swim: 40:36

T1: 3:49
Bike: 2:30: 01 (average 22.4 mph)

SPECIAL SHOUT OUTS: 
Andrew & Kate for doing their first halfs!
Hallie for getting 1st place AG and 5th overall in her first Olympic attempt

IMG_8470

Back to back weekends

In July, I raced the NYC Triathlon. The following week, I raced at the Gay Games. I haven’t even posted my recap of that race yet – it was awesome and exhausting. But more than physical exhaustion – it was just two Olympic distance triathlons, after all – the most brutal part of this two week span was the anxiety I felt leading up to the race. 

I am a nervous racer. I am not a frequent racer, doing only about 3 larger events a year. I have some small running races or some fun things like the Brooklyn Bridge Swim in between, but typically I train a lot and race a little. I’m very cool with that schedule, too: races are expensive. And exhausting for me, mentally.

My anxiety leading up to NYC started almost a week before, when I was worrying about going about 85% to do well at the Gay Games, which was my A race. NYC is a local race – like two miles to the start. Like roll out of bed and be in transition in 15 minutes. Like no stress about travel at all and I can sleep in my own bed and eat breakfast in my house. All of these make it ideal. But the pressure of doing well but not doing too much was tough, particularly after a month or so of good humored and well intended shit talking with a friend. Even with what I thought was the pressure off by giving myself the 85% out, I was nervous and worried. 

IMG_7721The race was great and went better than I wanted on all fronts, from interactions to output – everything was awesome. But the next day began my anxiety for Gay Games, just a week away. Did I go too hard? Is it too close? Will be I be rested enough? Will I be able to do well and medal even if I’m in peak form? Some of this was really good pre-race nerves; I say really good because I think a small amount of nervousness pre-race is a good motivating force for me. But this was excessive and consuming. The emotional toll this took on me for the second consecutive week was too much. 

I really wanted to nail this race for a dozen reasons, but among them is that it happens every four years, making the stakes a bit higher than NYC, which I could do again whenever. I also was facing my eligibility debacle (cleared and all good, thank you very much), and I was having some self doubts: did I really hold back at 85% in NYC? (I did)

At any rate, this summer I found that racing two consecutive weeks is not my thing. This was a special case – NYC was free and Gay Games was huge – but I will not be repeating this any season soon. 

Aside

What took so long?

Last week, I published a blog post on Original Plumbing Online. I’ve been blogging for OP for a few years now – at times, regularly, and more recently, randomly with months between posts. I sat on this last one for over a month. Actually, longer. I had probably written it in my head 30 times in the past six months. Once it was written, it took me a month to send Amos the text (you can read it in full here and then come back to this if you want).

Why the wait?

Well… a lot of things, actually. I think I can wrap it up in a list:

1. My teammates were really pumped about their opportunities and I didn’t want to be negative about it.
2. I didn’t really know how to say it.
3. I It was upsetting and I was trying to think of the most diplomatic way of handling it. For a while, that was by not talking about it.
4. My team has a long standing relationship with this company and I wasn’t sure how team leaders would take it.
5.  didn’t want it to be true.

The experience that really prompted me to share this was the Brooks Pure Project Trunk Show at the New York Running Company. What an awesome experience – beyond the clothing being great, I really appreciated being specifically asked to be a part of it, with the people asking me knowing me and my identity. Essentially, my identity being a non-issue at that event escalated my feelings about my identity being an issue for the sports company.

Another reason I’m thinking about this – still – is that I have a few big events coming up that I’d really love support for, and I’m not sure I can get it. I’m working on my pitch. And my confidence in being worth supporting following this incident.

Someone commented on the blog post asking why I would even want to be associated with a company that was not accepting of me, and the answer is that I wouldn’t want to be – but also that I deep down want to be accepted and embraced for who I am, all of who I am, and the feeling of being rejected presumably based on my identity was upsetting. In summary, my major issue with this is that it happened at all.

I’m still uneasy about it but being upset about something I can’t change won’t help me find the Imagesupportive network I want to build around myself. So here’s the story in case you missed it, and here’s to finding new sponsors and fans who will support me as I work towards my goals this season and into the future.