Sunday, September 7, 2014

And the countdown begins...

There is always this moment before a big race when I turn into a nervous wreck. Usually it's about a week or so out when I'm in the process of tapering (so maybe it's a function of all that nervous energy?) which makes me not-such-a-great person to be around. I start wondering how on earth I will cover the distance I plan to race-- and the thought of doing it "fast" seems so incredibly impossible. This was especially true of me in my marathoning days-- when I would wonder (and maybe rightly) how I'd run a race that was farther than any training run I'd done in preparation for it. Of course, I always did run those races and I always exceeded my expectations-- even that last one when I missed the Olympic Trials.

So, what is up with me now?   Why am I still plagued with doubt?

I guess it has to do with self-confidence (or is it self-reliance?)-- something I continue to work on. I think it also comes with time. Even though I am SO NERVOUS for the Tahoe 70.3, I am not as nervous as I have been for other events in the past.

I know, for instance, that no matter what, I'll finish.

What I don't know is how well I will do.


I am doing my best, though, to prepare. I've been swimming in Donner Lake two nights a week after work (getting used to the wetsuit again, open water, sighting-- getting rid of my mental demons, in other words.) I was lucky enough this weekend to be invited to a training swim with UNR Tri Club teammate Winnie D., Martine M., Tim and an old friend I hadn't seen in years: Meghan! It was great to have company in Tahoe's waters. I always worry I am going to get run over by a boat when I swim alone. At least I'd have three witnesses if that happened.

Actually, though, Saturday morning was beautiful: calm and the air only carried a touch of Fall. Granted, that water felt mighty cold the first time we put our feet in, which prompted this shot (anything to delay the torture, we thought.)

Winnie, Me and Meghan before the swim.

But then Martine and Tim showed up and if there's one thing I value so much about them both is that there is no time for nonsense when it comes to training! So, into the water we went, which, actually, felt warmer the farther out from shore we were.

Probably one of the most beautiful shots of an open water swim ever taken (thank you, Martine!) The lake is so low this year we had to walk out pretty far before we could start swimming. Luckily-- for whatever reason-- the water felt warmer out there.

And yet, the roughest part of the swim wasn't getting in... it was getting out! THAT was cold and awful in a way that I am not fully prepared for-- and I'm not sure I ever will be. I couldn't feel my face, my hands or my feet. And even though I don't plan on changing clothes on race day (what's the point for a 70.3?) But on Saturday I didn't want to shiver on the bike, I didn't want that awful saddle-chafe that comes from wearing wet shorts. I already know about that; I know it will suck on race day. And I didn't want pre-race chafe wounds. I've got enough of those left over from the Alta Alpina Double Century.

So I changed and rode after Tim who said he would take me through the course so I would know what to expect race day.

That's one thing I really love about Tim and Martine: they are so giving with their advice and past experience.  Tim advised not going out too hard on the bike (there are a few climbs before riders reach Tahoe City) and after riding the course with him, I can see how the "little" efforts can really eat your legs up before the big climb over 267 (Brockway) which is-- um, puke-ish.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The bike route involves this little detours off hwy 89 along Tahoe's North shore which take you back into the woods-- the first is an out-and-back in Carnelian Bay by the mini-golf place. The next "detour", I assume, was to keep riders out of Tahoe City: you turn right just before the Fat Cat Cafe and ride through the residential neighborhood before returning to the highway after the Save Mart.

Then it's down the Truckee River corridor: a road of wide shoulders which is (mostly) downhill. This is the time to gain speed. I didn't on Saturday, really. Tim was riding so strong and I couldn't find my rhythm, quite, so I worked on pedal stroke, imagining my legs making perfect circles as I covered the distance from Tahoe City to Truckee.

When we got to Truckee I had to wonder if the theme of the IM 70.3 bike course would be odd detours and horrific climbs. You think you'll ride down Commercial Row in downtown Truckee-- but no, you turn down a side street before that and then you're climbing this narrow road which turns into a bike path which feeds you into a parking lot and then you're in a neighborhood, turning up streets and-- once--turning directly into oncoming traffic! Yikes!

Then onto 267 (the bridge is horrific: the pavement is so uneven and rough; metal bars frame the actual bridge that might make supplies jump right out of your jersey pockets, if they aren't tied down.) Then Martis Valley with its perpetual headwind (I knew about that, too)-- and up Brockway Summit.

A climb that, simply, sucks. I've done it plenty of times the other way: climbing the lake side, coming down the Truckee side (most boats with trailers tend to head INTO the Tahoe Basin) but I was unprepared for how difficult this climb is-- and will be-- in the race.

It probably sucked more than it will on race day because of traffic. I am so glad I was riding this with friends. We could look out for each other. Drivers can be so incredibly inconsiderate. I mean, I get it: you're in a hurry, you need to get someplace. We've all been pressed for time at one point or another. But give me a break: is it worth running someone over to save five seconds? Is it so hard to move your steering wheel a few degrees to the left? Is it so hard to remember that this person on a bike who is in the shoulder of the road is a human being too? 

OK, I'm done ranting now but honestly the worst part about climbing Brockway was the number of times I almost died.

So much so that I kissed the ground in Kings Beach and decided to end my swim/bike brick there. To live another day, in other words.


Sunday I wanted to run. I have had so many challenges which what is, truly, my strongest discipline. I know I can rock the run. Yet, I've had so many injuries, though, that have kept me from the miles I need to make myself fast.

Even so, I have found a great coach in Matt Pendola who's basically rebuilt my stride-- and my strength-- over the summer. My actual mileage isn't strong, but I am-- or I feel "even" now, like every part of my body is working in congress with each other part.

So Sunday morning, I parked at Squaw Valley and ran the course, nose-breathing for the first 30 minutes and then doing 4-minutes "on" (at a hard effort) 2 minutes recovery until I ran 12.1 miles. I did this with my old racing flats and what are called "correct toes", Matt's latest torture device: my toes have been constricted from all those miles on the bike. These are supposed to spread them out again and make my feet stronger.

But what a beautiful morning. I miss running along the Truckee River in between Squaw and Tahoe City. I've been so busy with work-- and so injured-- I haven't done that much this summer at all. 

And I noticed, today, the leaves already have suggestions of gold in them. 

So soon, the summer is ending. But I ran those miles and I didn't feel anything like pain. Then on the bike for an easy 50 miles. 

Maybe I can do this? Maybe? 

I certainly hope so. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you have very beautiful legs--I just had to say that. peace!