|Nelson Mandela Bay - host to the Ironman S.A. Swim course|
Port Elizabeth is a truely magical place. Beautiful sights and anazingly kind people!I've now had time to digest and look back not only on the race and travel experience but also my lead up to it. So much goes into the making of a well executed (or disastrous) race. The whole picture must be properly analyzed! My lead up to the race was a bit stressful. It wasn't just one thing, but some mounting health issues that had me completely stressed. Scott and I sincerely believed that once I got on the flight to South Africa I'd be fine. The stress would fade away, and my body and mide would take over. This is exactly how I felt after my 28 hour traveling voyage. I embraced the week with my eyes WIDE open, loving every second. I forgot about all the things that had me stressed and looked ahead with confidence.
|Congratulations Jessie on your AMAZING WIN! Wishing you many more!|
Back to the swim....once through the surf I found myself with a large group of approximately 10 people. I tried to look around, and after seeing mostly guys I felt confident in how my day was starting out.
I've been in this exact spot many times over the last few months of training. I've executed both mentally and phyically. Now is the time that matters. The opportunity is NOW:
Scott, Vision, TYR Bike: This is going to be short and sweet. I just didn't have "it." There was absolutely nothing in my legs to give. My heart rate appeared to be within normal levels, but my power was simply awful. Power numbers like that wouldn't even amount to a good training day! After the race Scott asked if I lost it mentally and gave up. Answer: no! I kept telling myself I wasn't out of it, I just had to forge ahead and keep fighting. I looked down at the DWIT on the band of my shorts and reminded myself that the race was far from over. "Do What It Takes Caroline. Hurt more!" I tried to improve my power and speed on each of the 3 loops... to no avail. My nutrition was fine, and quite yummy thanks to Clif products! As athletes we want to be able to pinpoint it and say exactly what went wrong. However, there are simply times when we just don't have a concrete explanation. My training leading up to this race was solid. Scott gave me all the tools I needed to excel. I answered his tests and proved a lot to myself. Sadly, my race day execution was NOT going to plan.
Oakley, TYR Run: Keep believing! I took off out of T-2 knowing the deficit was great. I had to stay in this mentally and simply give myself a shot. I clipped off the first 3 miles in sub-7minute pace but this was short lived. Yes, muscles and former aches/pains hurt but this wasn't the problem. I'd been running on empty for 6 hours and nothing was changing. The crowd support was awesome! I even had people from San Diego out on the course cheering for me- complete with the singing of Sweet Caroline. Ummmm, awesome! My Africaan family was right there on every loop, and wouldn't let me quick.
Believe me, I thought about pulling the plug over and over! I tried to absorb the cheers, and with it resumed my goal marathon pace. I'd fail again. Why was this happening?!?!?! By the time I got to the last 4 miles I was in tears and had walked several times. With 2 miles to go a few age group athletes encouraged me and I started to plot along again. When I passed the crowd for the last time I was completely depleated. I couldn't think straight and by the sound of those cheering me on I was no longer running straight either. My day ended long before I was willing to accept, but hour after hour I kept moving forward. This was my worst ironman performance in many years...but somehow I finished.
I laid in the medical tent, unable to open my eyes. I don't know what happened but I was not ok! Once released from medical I only made it 3 step before complete strangers embraced me, asked if I was ok, and made sure I got home safely. Hours later I was pretty mad at myself for finishing. I wondered how much damage was done. I wondered how I would pick myself and get back on track. The following morning I woke up determined to put the race behind me, embrace South Africa, and worry about race analysis once I returned home. Honestly, I don't have a lot of concrete answers, but am already back to quality training. It's April, and the 2013 North American racing season is still upon us. In the words of coach Scott: "If excelling at this sport was easy people like you wouldn't do it."
The following days after the race were completely amazing. Images from the East Cape:
Rest assured I enjoyed this opportunity, and am fueled for the road ahead. I'm back to my mad dash of running from workout, to work, to bed. I'm thankful to all those who help me keep on keeping on, and believing I have what it takes. I WILL DO WHAT IT TAKES! Reflection done, moving forward...