I was going to start this blog entry by stating that I hate the ocean, but that would not be true. I am simply terrified of the ocean. That is a very different thing than hatred. The ocean also can be magical and breath taking and exhilarating (more on this later). But on Sunday I was clearly fixated on terror. I believe this buzz feed articles sums up my feelings best..and yes I admit that using the word f**k as a descriptive noun for the ocean speaks to me…thanks buzz feed.
I believe I somewhat doomed my swim start for Sunday on Saturday by heading to the beach to investigate what the swim start would look like. See figure and caption. I now see that I was looking at small children and adults playing in gentle waves; however, at the time, I saw 12 foot waves crashing down on the heads of innocent bystanders. My ability to skew reality when it comes to water is exceptional. And so these two thoughts were in my head on Sunday morning: 1. the ocean is huge and scary and who knows what’s out there and 2. the monster waves (that only existed in my head) are going to take me out. I attempted to shake off these thoughts with a warm up on race day, but no, I knew I was going to have a rough go of things when I was gasping for air 30 seconds into my warm up just because I was so frightened. I think the only thing that perhaps got me through the swim at all was getting to see the Jacksons pre-swim. If you read my Lake Placid race report, I am clearly fans of the Jackson family🙂 Very fun. So back to the swim itself..I ran down the beach as I have practiced, I even successfully dove, I took a few strokes and was feeling amazingly good, and then all the thoughts I had above came rushing back and I was paralyzed. In a new awful swim start first, I actually screamed, twice in fact. Thankfully ,no one was even remotely close to hear this because, horrified by myself, I decided I should start swimming again before anyone did notice and that was that. In my feeble defense of this swim, I actually am a much stronger swimmer now than I once was. I was able to catch up to the ladies in front of me, I put down a time that would have been good for me for not standing still for 2 minutes two years ago, and ,although I lost any and all hope of the draft speed I had been banking on, I at least had others to spot in the water and work around. So there’s that.
And so onto the bike. If only I could shake off a bad swim instantly, but no, the reality is that mentally a bad swim throws me off my game and physically a panic attack usually leads to an inevitable asthma attack. On the plus side, I did listen to the sage advice of the physicians in the medical tent after Lake Placid who informed me that if I was starting to have an asthma attack, maybe I should consider using my inhaler rather than just carrying it around with me. Brilliant. This really does/did help, go figure. And so I did not ever fully regain my rhythm on the bike, and I rank this as a very sub par race effort, but I was definitely pumped to pull myself together enough to only barely miss the bike time I was aiming for. Also, I feel this is my moment to give a small PSA. In a moment of complete annoyance, and I admit there may have still been some residual swim anger, I pulled up next to a gentleman who was drafting a woman blatantly up a hill and said “Sir, you are insulting everyone else who is doing this race by drafting like that” and then I rode away. Boom! If you draft during a triathlon, you totally suck and should quit triathlon immediately (I know this sentence is not exactly mature, I am ok with that).
And then the run, my first love <3 I was super looking forward to this run…so imagine my disappointment when an old toe injury from last year did not just bother me, but came back with such force that my foot literally gave out 4 times. That was unfortunate. But the plus of this is that my tolerance for physical pain is amazingly high. Emotional pain..not so much..but physical pain…I can endure more than most. I once won a duathlon with a fully broken shoulder (yes, I also realize how amazingly stupid this makes me). And so although the toe did slow me down since I could not push off fully, I just tried to stay relaxed and rather embrace the pain to run through it. Clearly this completely failed when the foot gave out, but otherwise I just stayed in my zone and managed the fastest run split of the day for the women by a significant chunk of time. I would have liked to have kept things under 7 min pace rather than at exactly 7 min pace, but beggars cannot be choosers when dealing with an injury.
And this brings us to the finish. Twice last year I finished a half ironman in 5 flat. So frustrating. And with Rev 3 Maine, I at long last broke the 5 hour barrier. Yes!! 4:54. Sure, the day was far far far from perfect, but my totally awesome coach tells me this just means I can still go fast even when there are set backs and thus even more time can be cut. Logically I now want to go out there to get back to work, but my body and mind are having none of this so far this week. Stupid body. And before I conclude this race report, I totally need to thank Brooke for being a badass athlete and an awesome friend who knows my personality better than I even know myself at times. And when I crossed the line she was waiting there for me and that was awesome. I hugged her and almost cried as I saw the 4:54 on my watch and completely ignored/blew off any and all volunteers. Brooke and I vowed a month ago that we would go to Maine together and kick ass and take names and both finish the day on the podiums. Done! Brooke in 1st for the aquabike and me in 3rd for the triathlon. Clearly, this is a sign that there should be more awesome Becky and Brooke races in the near future.
At long last, I want to re-visit the topic of oceans. Sure, terrifying is my main descriptor, but the ocean also holds amazing things such as rainbow colored fish, and dolphins, and manatees, and turtles, etc etc. And with the ocean comes beaches, which I hear can be rather amazing…potentially as amazing as mountains..and thus these are a few of the beaches currently on my list of places I am naturally curious to explore…