I want to preface this post with claiming that Stewart has become the old me when it comes to triathlon and I apologize to all friends and family during that time. Now I know what living with me was like and I maybe was even worse. If it wasn't for Stewart encouraging me to race with him, I may be playing tennis somewhere BUT I have to admit racing this weekend did kind of light a fire in me and I guess I will never get triathlon out of my blood.
So why do I mention that Stewart has turned into me? Well the other day, a friend told him about athlinks and how he could look up competition, etc on this site. He went to it and said did you know that when I typed in Leslie Brahm and Leslie Crais you had about 168 races listed. I also know that not all my races are listed so I bet I am somewhere between the 175-200 mark of races completed. That number would become very important to my psyche as race morning approached.
And another tidbit of info, out of all those races I have never had a DNF ( do not finish) or a DNS ( did not start) until last month at Rebelman. That was a fact I was pretty impressed with. Even though now I probably jinxed myself to a flat or some kind of mechanical issue. If I get that, I am a DNF for sure. I am sad to admit that even after almost 200 races, I know jack about a bike. I have always proudly waved my damsel in distress girl card. :)
So back to racing. We all know that April was medical hell for me and with my overactive imagination, I was sure I had brain cancer, a tumor, MS ( my sister has it), lupus, or some other disease. After a trip to the ENT, we decided that I was having major sinus issues and vertigo. I am still not entirely convinced because I have been on a boatload of medication and still not 100% but getting there. A few days ago we have added singular and it too is helping tremendously. I feel like I should be carrying around a days of the week pill case. I also have become a huge advocate of the netty pot. I do it twice a day and it is awesome!
Stewart had planned on doing Guntersville Olympic race and was encouraging me to do the sprint. I was SCARED. VERY SCARED. I did not want to have a vertigo attack in the lake. I was nervous about getting one on the bike but the lake scared the shit out of me BUT since the symptoms were better but still hanging around a bit, I figured I might as well pull the big girl panties up and do it. I do not want to live a life where I let fear get in the way. 10 years ago I did mountain lakes and the swim was 400 yds and shallow and the course was flat flat on bike and run so I kept that memory in the back of my head. This I would learn would not be the case of Guntersville tri. It was challenging at best.
My training had been minimal. I took about 15-16 days where I did nothing and then as I promised doc I would keep workouts to one a day. a couple of times, I would do a short swim and bike on same day or some weights and a run on the same day but most of the time it was not much. It was all over the place. One day Noah and I ran 4 miles in 28:20 and then a few days later I struggled through a 6 miler. And for a girl who once ran 36 miles for fun, I am humbled to say that 6 miles is my LONG run!! One day the bike felt easy and others in the words of Stacey, " I was about to lose a lung". The only thing that felt consistent was my swim which as always is slow and steady.
Anyway so I told Stewart sign me up on Thursday night. I know he waited until the last possible minute because Stew does not like to waste money and I am pretty sure he was afraid I would pull a rebelman and he would be out some cash.
After signing me up, A mantra formed in my head. You can do this. You have raced 168 times. I said that to myself constantly from Thursday through Saturday. Even though that evil little thought would break in and say " YES, but never having vertigo before" I just ignored it. I also repeated this to myself a bunch in the beginning of the swim.
Race sight was BEAUTIFUL and a win win in itself. The lake is gorgeous and we stayed at the state park lodge which overlooked the lake. We woke up race morning bright and early and rode all the way down to the race start. We had tons of time so we had no stress. It was quite chilly. My bike warm up consisted of me riding through the parking lot in my hello kitty pajama pants. I then put on my racing flats and my run warm up was a quick jot to the porta potty. I am very over the pre race ritual. I then stumbled upon the young kid and his mom who were setting up in transition next to me. This was his first race and he was totally clueless. He had no idea what transition was, what this race number was in his hand, what he should wear to race in, etc. As I gave him a race belt, explained the lay out, marked his transition with chalk so he could fine it - his mom tried to tape a HUGE water bottle to his bike. He had no cages. I was dying but he was a great distraction from my crazy mind and I actually felt oddly calm. I finished with him and went in search of Stewart. Found him in the lake and got my wetsuit on and joined him for a little swim warm up. He was starting before me in the oly race.
Swim was very uneventful. What I thought was going to be 400 yds was 750 yds but with the safety of my wetsuit, I felt fine. My only moment of panic was when we got on the floating dock and we were swaying back and forth and I didn't realize it was swaying and thought Holy Shit - I am really unsteady! Second thoughts were if I don't get off this swaying dock, I am going to be really dizzy. I think this was one of my straightest swims ever ( usually zig zag everywhere) and I thought I was swimming fast but after seeing my time - it was still a slow time but I did swim straight and felt great coming out of the water. They had wetsuit strippers which was amazing!
Bike started with a hilly climb out of the park. I passed three girls right away and a couple of men along the way. I did have some man yell at me - not sure what but the " You just got passed by a girl " suit never fells. I never got passed on the bike except from Stewart. He started before me but had to do two loops of the swim so all of a sudden I felt someone hitting me on the butt. It was great because I am so use to chasing him, I saw him and I just went but unfortunately I had hit my bike turn around about a minute later. I knew from the out and back course that four girls were ahead of me - yes I was out of shape but I am competitive and I am always on the chase. I caught one girl as we entered back into the really hilly section of the park so I knew I was starting the run 4th women. I was hoping to catch number 3! But boy were my legs tired!!!
The run started off flat and then got really really hilly! I saw number three girl and knew based on how I was feeling and my overall fitness I was not going to catch her. I actually walked part of 2 of the first big hills until I had to yell at myself and say " GET WITH IT LESLIE YOU ARE DOING A FREKAING SPRINT RACE AND SHOULD NOT BE WALKING" It worked because I continued to run the rest of the hills and felt like I was in pretty much cruise mode. I ended up being two minutes off of third overall but even though I feel like I let myself give up a bit - I really don't think I had the fitness to go for it. Another fun fact is I have developed a rash all over my legs ( being 45 is great) that I think it allergy related but for some reason it flared up and was stinging and the whole last half mile, I felt like a bee was stinging me. I think this maybe was an incentive to get finished because I did past a few guys. The best part as I was finishing my run, Stewart was starting his so we got to see each other on the course again.
So - this is what I know. I raced pretty well. Not as fast as I would have liked and I definitely HAVE room for improvement but I guess for an old gal who has raced close to 200 times my somewhat fit self can do a pretty good job. I still can manage to pull somewhat of a race together. Most importantly I had so much fun and I let Stewart sign me up for Memphis in May sprint today! I do want to race again and I even want to try to get in some training. Feels good to feel that spark and motivation. Let's hope it lasts.
The rest of the day, we spent hanging around listening to music and having an eat everything CHEAT day. We rented a kayak and hung out on the water and Stewart tried really hard to get me to pamper him for the day. I had to remind him this is no New Orleans.
We had some great food and some good times and even though I missed mom's day as I traveled home, I managed to celebrate it on my own. My kids celebrated together with my mom which is just as good as me being there.
So race facts - I finished about 40 minutes faster than the race average and 4th female, 1st age group and 16th overall - not bad for an old lady.
Stewart finished 3rd in his age group and 8th overall - he had such an awesome race - if only we teach that boy to swim.