Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Weekend recap & BOUS pictures!

What a weekend, eh? LOTS of racing, lots of cheering, and HOLY COW!! Just a lot of people toeing the line, putting themselves out there, taking risks, and living the dream. Totally. Awesome.

Saturday was bittersweet for me; in the Kona lead-up, I wasn't sure how I would feel on the actual day of the race. Race week, I was grateful to not experience the pre-race nausea-inducing stress. Last year, I distinctly remember telling Nathaniel that, "If I can get through Kona, ANY future race will seem easy by comparison."

How true - but how sad at the same time. If only I knew then what I know now. But that's the case for so many of us, and I know that with whatever I'm going through - 1) I'm not the only one and 2) I'm not alone. I take great solace in those facts.

Saturday morning was hard, and watching the race start on Ironman Live was bittersweet: I was ecstatic for my friends....but I cried at the same time. I don't miss Ironman training, per se. But I miss the sport.... I miss biking outside and the training associated with it. I would do just about anything to time trial down a long stretch of road, feeling my legs powering through the sting of working HARD.

And part of me misses the life I once had; learning to live with lupus, my auto-immune disorder, and the complications that I have as a result, is challenging. I have great days, true. But there are other days where, for lack of a better word, I feel like I'm training for Ironman (but without the benefit of actually training). I'm only going to say this once - because I know that so many people have it a lot worse than me, and it the end I'm grateful for all the things that I DO have... but it just seems so unfair. And sometimes I'm just really sad.

So Saturday....I let myself be sad and I watched IM live. Drinking an entire bottle of wine and getting completely drunk off my ass WOULD have been appropriate, save for the fact that I'm on blood thinners and am therefore limited to 2 X 4 oz servings (of wine).

Bloody fantastic.

There's not really much else I can say about that. Oh well. Bah fucking humbug.

But I was cheered and buoyed by the fact that Sunday morning, I would be cheering Julia (Team Minnesota!!) and Seeley (Team Florida!!) at the Best of the US National Championships, about an hour north of me, in Mission Viejo, CA.

I wasn't sure how I would feel about race spectating. I did a lot of that after breaking my back, and it was difficult - I wanted to much to be out there, competing, participating, racing. But the 2010 lupus/DVT/PE versus 2008 broken back is VERY different, as is my mentality from one situation to the other. I feel like such a different person now, from who I was back in 2008; and the life-lessons I learned then, are (without a doubt) helping me now. If it's possible to age 50+ years in a relatively short time frame, I think I would fit the bill.

4:20 am Sunday rolled around, and after minor cursing at my alarm and plenty of coffee consumption, I was headed north on the 5 by 5:15. The benefit of an early-wake-up call? VERY light traffic into Orange County. I only got lost once and before too long was walking the half-mile stretch from where I parked the car to the race site. I may have stopped to pee in the bushes once along the way, but I can neither confirm nor deny such actions.

It was GREAT seeing Julia, and meeting Rich (her fantastic hubby) for a second time. My job, aside from cheering my lungs out and being the best race Sherpa I could possibly be, was to take fun pictures. Yes, I may have brought multiple cameras, but I've never gone to a race with the mindset of capturing images... It's always been about racing and cheering. Plus - as a former racer, I have the benefit of knowing all the cool pictures I would have LOVED to have seen while I was racing.

Plus, I really like the "Best of the US" triathlon series. Jerry and Trudy (race organizers) are icons in the sport and truly fantastic people. I wanted to give them both hugs (which I did!).

Julia was a stud - leading the chase pack out of the water, working hard on the bike, and bringing it home on the run. But I'll let her share that on her race report. It was also awesome to cheer on Seeley - and I was SUPER happy to see her running to a Top-5 finish.

I think what I noticed most about these athletes - these top triathletes from their respective states - was their drive and determination. No matter the circumstances or challenges - goggles getting kicked off, bike headset slipping, or hot temperatures on the run - they pushed through. They kept going, fighting to the very end. And the reason they were able to persevere through the ups and downs of racing? Because they practice... they train through those difficult moments.... and they are hungry for personal victory (whatever their definition of victory may be).

I think that's what I miss most about the sport - not so much crossing the finish line (although that's always an amazing feeling), but I've never felt so alive as I have in those times were I KNEW things were hard, where I wanted to slow down and stop...but I didn't! When my drive, determination, my mental focus as an athlete overrode any instinct to give in. The feeling of beating the odds, of breaking barriers, of raising one's performance to the next level is an incredible one.

I believe that I'll experience this in the future, one day - through running or swimming... I know that whenever I reach the top of a mountain peak, I feel that sense of elation, that feeling of being alive and persevering through. Quitting is always an option - but I didn't cave, didn't give up, didn't give in.

And who knows? Maybe I'll enter a triathlon at the last minute if I'm feeling okay.... Never say never. It's not just about being on blood thinners - because if it were just that, I think I would eventually be comfortable racing (indoor trainer workouts... closed race courses.... etc).

But the health complications of the lupus just downright suck. (Yes, I am very eloquent with my words, am I not?). I NEVER want to feel the way I felt going into Kona last year... and then again earlier this year, getting sick over and over and watching my dreams of racing with each subsequent illness, slip a little further away. How many times can one's heart break?

I never know how I'll feel each day when I wake up... some days are great, while others I feel like shit (from late August last year going into Kona and then the months after - every day I felt like shit... but I chalked it up to the training, to the race. At least now, I DO have regular days where I feel fine!). As for the good days vs shit days, I'm never sure if it's because I'm dealing with a flareup, or if I just woke up in the middle of the night and - um, for example - ate peanut butter by the spoonful. I guess my thought-process with this feels so undefined, because I'm still figuring things out for myself.

And I'm probably still in a bit of denial over everything. Yeah, that too. It's one thing to say it... it's an entirely different beast to feel it, deal with it, and accept it. It's a work-in-progress. That's all I can say.

Racing and training is supposed to be fun - and I need to be in the mentality (and understand) that 'Hey - I have this thing, this auto-immune disorder where my body just (for lack of a better word) doesn't "work normally". I look healthy... I act healthy... I eat a very healthy diet, exercise, do all the "right" things - but I just have this thing, and my body is different.' I'm still thinking this one through, still learning to deal with this aspect of life. Talking to Rich - a cancer survivor - was extremely helpful...picking his brain about these things while Julia raced, was a very good thing for me.

Back to racing....

It's wonderful to watch people do this - to make their dreams come true. I guess that's also why I love the sport....because anything is possible. Oh - and the people ROCK. (Oh - and if you ever see me at an event, PLEASE come say hi! Marta - it was SUPER to meet you!)

And finally... a few pictures from the race. CONGRATULATIONS to everyone who raced - good races, bad races, and everything in between. It is NOT easy putting yourself out there, facing the many challenges associated with competition. But you did it - congratulations to all.

Pre-race happy! Don't let the smile fool you - she's actually really fierce.

Lining up under the start banner.

Best of the US - Men's start!

Breaking the surface in those first few race moments...

Best of the US women running in the water.

Sunrise over the lake.

A lone swimmer rounds the final turn buoy, under the watchful eye of a lifeguard. And my favorite picture from the day.

Julia, leading the women's chase pack out of the water.

Getting ready to ride!

...which is exactly why Rich and I walked the 2 miles to T2, and then ran back to T1/Start/Finish to see the race end.

Men's leader into T2 - I think this is Bruce Genari, of Team Timex, but don't quote me on that. His dismount was a thing of beauty.

Look - I'm wearing pink socks! If I'm wearing compression hosen for medical purposes, does that take away the nerd factor, or increase it? At least my legs are almost the same size.

Julia, approaching T2. Yes, she had a dismount that even Jen Harrison would be proud of. Clearly, she's been practicing!

BOUS Men's champion from Alaska!

Seeley, focused to the end.

I recognize that flag! Yes... you can take the girl out of Minnesota, (but as I've said before) - you can't take the Minnesota out of the girl. It is and will forever be, home.

I love this picture - because it epitomizes what racing is. These women were not racing to win...but fighting for 6th place. And, um... those are the best looking abs EVER. I can say without any abashment or shame, that I'm jealous.

Rich and Julia, in one of those beautiful moments.

My friends - Julia and Seeley! Post-race smiles!

I think we've all been here, at some point or another.

Though it was very warm at the end of the race, arm warmers are becoming an awesome fashion-statement. I feel "hot" (literally) wearing them (but oddly enough, not out of place). If it helps with my sun exposure, well, then - there you go. At least I can be outside, right?

Julia, under the race start, with Lake Mission Viejo behind her. Man, I would have LOVED to be in that water.... NO SHARKS!!!! Hello?!? That is huge for me! For what it's worth... I brought my swimsuit, just in case.

Free post-race smoothies. I may never leave.

Team Minnesota - 3rd Overall in the "Best of the US" team race! HOORAY!

Sometimes you just have those moments where everything is "right", and you feel like you're walking on air. Julia - booking it to the finish!


ironmomma.com said...

For some reason.... in my head I keep thinking I will see you in PCB.

Love you sister.

San said...

Yeah, life is unfair. You are allowed to say it more then once in my opinion.

A lot of autoimmune disorders are diet "related", you might wanna check the paleo diet, it helps with Crohn. So it might help with lupus too or not. Just a thought.

Hooray for your friends and a wonderful day with them. Yes, those abs are envyworthy for sure. And while we're at it, can I have this men's leader for dinner? Yum

Beth said...

I love the picture Marit - you are so good at taking them and finding the perfect "photo op"!! And what an awesome thing for you to go and support your friends when it had to be hard. True friend. I have no doubt as you figure out how to best deal with lupus and how to read your body you are going to be able to achieve many, many goals out on the race course...and make your own dreams come true. I'm cheering for you Marit!

ADC said...

Sounds like a great weekend and I need to hear all about it. This weekend maybe? And I bet we will both be in a good mood. Not long left :)))))

Chris Menjou said...

Yeah, I get that life is unfair feeling at times too, and sometimes it feels guilty because it could be worse (although I hate it when people say that). I (a lifer on blood thinners) am doing my first post-PE tri this Sunday in Playa del Rey. Closed course. I raced last Sat (10K) and Sunday (11K trail run), forgot how much fun "racing" (read: participating in life) was.

Then I start training for Cal. 70.3, indoor CT rides during the week, longer rides outside with selected people on selected routes.... It can be done. I don't know how the other health issues affect your abilities, but I think a "normal" life can be lead, even if on thinners.


Kim said...

you are the best spectator ever! look at those amazing photos of julia! looks like you both had a great day!

Eileen Swanson said...

wow Marit, those are all great pics!! I miss racing too and can't wait to catch up next month when we're in town!!

ojs said...

Great pictures, Marit! I know you want to be on the other side of the camera, but I can tell you have the makings of an all-american spectathlete!

Mer! said...

OH mar....I miss you!!!! I wish so much I could be there and we could go to Beachgrass...

You have every right to say it sucks....you have your good days and bad days..and you just figure things out one day at a time...you're doing amazing though, trying to find the upswing in most of this.....proud of you!

AWESOME pics..as USUAL!!! Julia looked amazing!!

D said...

Next year you should come with us as a spectathlete. It's SO much better and you won't hate the island anymore hahaha!
Love ya :)

Rachel said...

wow marit. your strength is amazing. and yes it's okay to say life is unfair.
i live with crohn's disease and luckily it hasn't totally prevented me from continued sport. crashing my bike however, has kept me off. (lol) i can't imagine having it taken from me forever. if you ever want to drive down to point loma, we have an injured shoulder trainer session in my friend erin's garage. (she got hit by a car in a closed course race). lupus individuals are also welcome. :)

anyway, love the MN flag. great pics. always a pleasure to read.

Vegas said...

I just googled "Triathlon training on blood thinners" and your blog popped up. We have a lot in common. MN, PE's, training for Ironman. Would love to ask you some questions about your warfarin/PE side-effects. Now that I am starting to continue my IM Wisconsin training I feel funny....in a weird way. Will things ever be the same? Would love your feedback and if you are experiencing the same.
J. Flamming

Host Pay Per Head said...

It looks like a great race congratulation. Also I didn't know that it was common to have nausea before a race.