Sunday, November 11, 2007

Quick HI from Clearwater

Hello Everyone!

I am SO SORRY for being out of touch for so long. Writing and blogging has been such a fantastic outlet for me, and the very limited internet access is slowly driving me crazy. It's funny - we live in the 21st Century (obviously!), Nathaniel and I brought the laptop, have all the latest Internet high speed wireless etc etc etc links... and we get to our room and they only have a dial up connection. And it doesn't work with our computer. :) Great. It makes you want to shake your head and laugh. I'm no good with gadgets (except my bike at times), and I found this a little funny. Frustrating, but you've got to laugh, right?

BUT - I have been keeping a laptop journal of my adventures this week and weekend, so when we get back to Pensacola, I intend on updating, adding photos, and doing the things I really enjoy. And besides - it's now officially my off season, so I'll have plenty of time for some R&R.

Just a quick race recap - the swim was the most violent I've ever been in. Wow. Like a washing machine... and it's not like there were 2,000 other people out there with me. Only all the ladies in the 18-34 age group range. Gloves were officially off! I've still got water in my ears. However, the water was beautiful, I found a good rhythm, and was finally able to relax after the cannon went off. The sun on the return trip to the beach made sighting difficult, and I think I swam off course more than once or twice. But it was okay - I didn't get eaten by a shark... a victory nonetheless. The bike. Ah. Lots of drafting. I got passed by packs and pelatons of people. I saw a lot of girls in my age group, and just a lot of people in general. I was angry, bewildered, but focused on my own race. Every time a pack would pass, I got out of aero, sat up, slowed down, and after the wind of their draft blew by me, settled back into my race again. It was amazing. I didn't have the fastest bike time, but I'm really proud of how I did. And believe me - I had a long time to think about what was going on. Looking back, I'm more disappointed than anything else. It makes me sad to think that fellow triathletes are willing to sacrifice their morals and the ethics of the sport, in order to attain a faster time or a higher placement. I would much rather finish last and maintain my integrity, than sacrifice my morals for a faster time. I feel like I could have gone faster, but I did the best I could at the time. I am really proud of the race I had - I biked clean and avoided the packs. It just makes me sad to think about people who deliberately drafted, because in the end it hurts the sport. But enough about that! By mile 45, my "lady bits" (as Amanda Lovato calls them) were killing me, and a few bumps across an intersection had me tear up slightly. Oh well - what doesn't kill us, makes us stronger. And determined. By the time I got off the bike, I had 2 thoughts: 1) I need to get a better pair of shorts and 2) HOLY COW - how do people stay in the saddle for an Ironman??? After a very quick transition, I started out on the run. I had really hoped to break 1:30 for my half marathon split, but was about a minute off. It's amazing - I felt awesome on the first loop, my heart rate was in check and I was passing people left and right (the same ones who blew by me a la pelaton on the bike), and I felt pretty speedy. I saw Nathaniel at the turnaround, yelled "I LOVE YOU!!!" a few times, and was off on my second loop. And then it hit me. Pain. Ouch. I kept the same pace, but the effort was much greater. But my heart was pure, my mind focused on "good thoughts", and I was truly enjoying the experience. For Pete's Sake! I'm racing at the World figgin' Championships - what do I expect? With the power of positive thoughts keeping me sane, and a great conversation with an amazing athlete from Germany (Cliff or Clyde or something like that - really nice guy) for the final 2 miles, I crossed the line. I had hoped to break 4:40 - but was 19 seconds off. I was happy, I was done, my season was over. After a quick trip to the medical tent, the port-o-potties, the medical tent (again!), the port-o-potties (again!), the post-race massage, and the port-o-potties (okay okay, enough with that. You know how it goes!) - I finally found Nathaniel about an hour after I finished. It was great - I gave him a big hug, and decided to grab my bike and gear from transition. He asked if I had seen the results and how I thought I did. My response? I told him that I would be happy (based on my time, which given the conditions I felt was slow) with a top 10 finish, but probably top-15 was more realistic. I just didn't think I had closed the gap on the run enough to make up for everything on the bike. So when I saw the results, I nearly fainted. And then hit the port-o-potties. Again. I was surprised, a little forlorn about my time, but happy about the race I threw down. I finished 2nd. I was in disbelief. Dumbstruck. Holy cow. And it's not that I don't think I'm capable, or able to do well in a race like this - I was mostly struck by how challenging the bike ride was. I made a deliberate attempt to avoid drafting and to avoid the packs, and looking back, I remember sitting up, watching in amazement and in awe as packs and packs of people passed. I guess that's why I'm so surprised with the results. Go figure!

In lieu of the bike, there were so many amazing things I saw yesterday. The volunteers were simply fantastic. There was an actual waiting list to become a volunteer - they did everything for us, for which I am grateful. In transitions - the girls in my tent were ready before even I was! It was incredible, and I wish I could have personally thanked each and every one of them. But that would have been a lot of thank yous - as there were 2 volunteers for every single athlete. Thank you to all.

To the residents of Clearwater - you have been an amazing host. 20 miles away from the transition, people were sitting out on their lawn chairs, cheering and applauding as athletes biked by. A few even yelled, "Thanks for racing and being a part of this!" No, my friends - thank you for having us. It was wonderful to have the support of a community like this.

To all the PC athletes, the Hoyts - your strength, endurance, stamina, and will are amazing. I saw a gentleman biking with one leg and NO prosthetic yesterday. He was just charging away, giving it all he had. It makes drafting and complaining about "every day" stuff seem suddenly not that important. I saw Major David Roselle on the bike (sorry if I am misspelling his name), gave him a big "Oh-ra!" - a USMC salute. I know he's in the Army, but he gave me a big grin and a wave. He is amazing.

To the Warrior Poet, and to the Blaise family (again, spelling). Thank you for all you have done for ALS. The ceremony last night brought tears to my eyes. I could think of no better way of saluting a life so well lived. A true inspiration and warrior send off to an Ironman Warrior Poet.

And there's so much more - I just can't think of what else to say. My computer time is just about up, so it'll be quick.

I had a fantastic day, great end to my season. Thank you to Nathaniel - I love you sweetheart, for your support, for everything you have done. You are the best. To Mom and Dad - this would not have been possible without your love and inspiration. Weather it was running with my Dad as a little kid, or seeing my Mom cheer me on at a basketball game - they have been really supportive. To Ludi and Katy - thanks for pushing me in training. You guys are awesome and I love you both. Memo - this would not have been possible without your workouts. I may call you an evil coach who give me evil workouts, but I know you've got my best interest at heart. Thank you for being a great coach! To everyone who has helped and supported me - thank you. My season and my finish is just as much of a celebration for you as it is for me.

And now I really need to go! We're getting back to Pensacola tomorrow night. Today we're going to schlep around the Tampa area, and see the sights. I'm usually a nervous wreck whenever I'm in this city (because of the races!), so it'll be nice to enjoy it's beauty with Nathaniel.

And now, I'm off for breakfast. I think I'll have pancakes! And eggs. And lots of coffee! Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day.


Anonymous said...

You had a great day and did a fantastic job out there! WAY to hit a homerun in your "A" race of the year! 2nd @ the World Championships! EXCELLENT!!! And, you did it clean ... even more impressive. Most of us know (by times, trust me!) what AG women cheated and who didn' good for you! Jen H! !! ENJOY THE R&R and eat some M&Ms for me now!

Beth said...

Congrats on an awesome race and a smoking run split! I too did the race (and was in your AG!) and really enjoyed beautiful Clearwater!

Hope your rest and recovery go well and you can now enjoy your Wheat Thins! :)

E. L. F. said...

Nice work out there Marit! Hard work and confidence always pays off - you nailed both.

Alicia Parr said...

Congrats on your finish! I was watching via the internet.

The drafting is a bummer. Go do Silverman Half next year. Too many hills for draft packs! :)