Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ironman Cabo - The Back Story

Before I actually write a report about the race, let me back up a few weeks.  I last wrote about QT2 training camp in Clermont, Florida.  Camp was awesome.  The weeks after camp once I was back home in Pittsburgh?  Not so awesome.  I was very happy to be reunited with Oscar and Roxy but training wise, I struggled.  Camp was a huge high for me.  Returning back to the cold and snow of the northeast and back to training by myself, inside (trying desperately to hold onto any heat acclimation I had), was a pretty big low.  Physically my body was struggling to recover from the huge training load at camp.  Mentally I was struggling to readjust to the normal routine of life and training by myself again. 

And then I got sick.

It was just a cold but it totally kicked my butt.  At first I bulldozed right through and kept up with my training sessions and life in general.  But then I didn't.  After the night I spent laying on the bathroom floor coughing up a lung (don’t ask why I was on the bathroom floor – I think I went in there for a Kleenex and just never made it back out), I cried uncle.  I called off work and Tim ordered a day off training.  That might have been the worst of it.  But it wasn't smooth sailing from there on in – I still struggled in my workouts, sometimes feeling great and then sometimes feeling very NOT great.  I was having trouble determining if I was tired from being sick, if it was just in my head, if I was still recovering from camp?  Oy!

That brings us up to about 8 or 9 days before Cabo.  When I got home from camp, Cabo seemed so far away!  But here it was about 4 or 5 days before I was leaving for the race and I felt like a mess.  It’s no secret that I am someone who struggles with confidence.  Where I do gain a TON of confidence is from executing well in training day in and day out.  Camp left me in a very good place mentally.  But in the weeks following, I felt that confidence slipping away and being replaced with my (not so) good old friend, self doubt.  I HATE YOU, SELF DOUBT!!!!  WHY MUST YOU HAUNT ME?

Double Oy!

I had a few conversations with Tim that helped quite a bit and I really made an effort to pull myself together, but I’d be lying if I said I was 100% there by the time I boarded the plane to Cabo.  I needed a little “fake it until you make it” mentality and I was also relying on getting to the race site and having the complete and utter excitement of getting to race an Ironman totally take over! 

I met my mom in the Charlotte airport and traveled the rest of the way with her to Mexico on Monday.  It was awesome.  Once in Mexico we met up with my QT2 teammate Matt (and then the next day, another teammate, Doug) and the 4 of us stayed together for the duration of the trip.  This was super awesome and fun! 

But we did have a few little mishaps in the days leading up to camp: (in no particular order)

*Matt ripped a hole in his shin so deep, I saw his bone.  This of course necessitated a trip to a Mexican hospital for him to get stitched up.  It’s his story to tell but let’s just say, it was an adventure.  And although the doctor told me NOT to look when he was cleaning out the wound, I couldn't help myself and I watched anyway.  And now I will forever have this image branded in my memory.  I really shouldn't have looked.  (BTW, the grace with which Matt handled the situation was super impressive and he never even considered not racing – true mental toughness)

He was cool as a cucumber with a HR in the low 50s.  Meanwhile, I was sweating profusely with a HR in the low 200s.

*I flatted on my tubular riding out on the highway on the same day.  You would THINK this would be a simple problem with a simple solution but it turns out finding a new tubular, finding the glue to put the tubular on my wheel and finally, finding a mechanic to do all this for me in Cabo was WAYYYYYYYYYYY, WAYYYYYYYYY harder than I’d ever imagined it would be (and took way longer).  This is very clearly my own fault because if I knew how to do all this by myself, I wouldn't have needed all this help.  Lesson learned!  In the end, my teammate Pat, who was 1000s of miles away, saved the day and hooked me up with the AWESOME Ken Glah and his Endurance Sports Travel group (who brings their own English speaking mechanic with tubular glue to all races!!).  Thank God for awesome teammates and very kind people willing to help out a desperate girl with a flat tubular.

*Doug flatted.

*Matt’s crank was jacked up and falling off his bike.  (or something like that – I was so consumed with my own bike issues, I wasn't entirely sure what Matt’s bike issues were)

*Doug caught a GI disease.

*Our rental car got hit in a parking garage.  I almost cried on this day. 

*We locked ourselves out of our condo.  This was certainly annoying (because it wasn't like a hotel where you could just go to the front desk and ask for a new key) but the bigger issue was that my mom was *supposed* to be (in my mind) inside the condo.  Because everything else had seemingly gone wrong, I instantly assumed my mom had been abducted since she was very clearly not where I thought she’d be.  I worried about this for quite some time until she showed back up.  Turns out she just went for a walk.  Think I was letting my imagination get a little carried away there?

And so it goes.  There might have been a few more missteps here or there but after a while we stopped keeping track and just started laughing.  It was all that we could do.  And it was kind of funny!  Because really, other than perhaps Matt’s leg wound, nothing that happened was of serious concern.
So that’s the back story.  At first I thought I wouldn't share all these details of the weeks leading up the race because the very LAST thing I would want would be for someone to construe them as excuses.  Not in any way am I trying to make excuses!  And I feel very confident that on race day, not one of these things, including getting sick, the bike troubles, the race week stress, etc… had any effect on my ability to perform. 

So why tell the back story, then?  Because ultimately I decided that it’s a good reminder for me (and perhaps someone else reading) that things don’t have to go perfectly.  I very easily get caught up in the mindset that I MUST CONTROL ALL THE THINGS.  And that ALL THE THINGS must be 100% spot on to have the race I want to have.  But these past few weeks I have learned that this just isn't the case.  We can do what we can do but the truth is, things don’t always go smoothly.  Sometimes you go into a race not in a great place mentally.  Sometimes the self doubt is screaming so loud you can’t hear anything else in your head.  Sometimes you have mechanical issues.  Sometimes you feel a little run down physically.  Sometimes your workouts just aren't that stellar in the weeks leading up to the race.  Heck, sometimes you even end up in a Mexican ER just praying someone speaks English!  And it’s okay.  It does not mean that you can’t pull it together and execute on race day as best as possible and it CERTAINLY does not mean that you can’t still have a stellar race.  I've been racing for a while now and I probably should have a real good grasp on this concept by this point.  But I didn't and I'm glad to have had this experience so I could mature a little as an athlete.

I think I will always look back on this race and be truly thankful for all the people that helped me (us) when I (we) needed it – the kindness of others really astounds me at times.  I will also look back on this race with a lot of fondness for all the things we got to experience.  Because let’s face it, we walked away with more than a few epic stories - the kind that you might not necessarily get if you're always living in your comfort zone.

But most of all, I will look back on this race as a lesson in learning how to roll with the punches.  Because I realize now that knowing how to successfully do this is just as important as executing your workouts or your nutrition plan on race day.  And in fact, the race might just be a bit more satisfying knowing that you had to get over a few lows to get to the high of the finish line!

You threw some monkey wrenches at us, Mexico.  But you sure were beautiful!

Next up: actual race report!


  1. Great story and valuable lessons. And, yes, Ken Glah is AWESOME :-). Was the mechanic Randy? Looking forward to the race report!

  2. Love this, you had a whole heap of things go awry and ended up with a stellar performance -- a great lesson for anyone!! Can't wait to read the rest of your race report!!

  3. Holy cow! Like a Griswald family vacation.

  4. Oh I think I've had races like this also. It's SO HARD to pull it together and believe it will all work out. You have a great attitude and raced so well given all of this!! :)

  5. I always LOVE your posts and learn something new from each one! Thank you SO MUCH for sharing with us (me). You are truly an inspiration and I am sincerely happy that you are my friend.

  6. This post reminds me so much of when I was traveling during my sabbatical, lots of Oy Veys during that time, and problem solving. Stressful while we are on the moment, but makes for great stories down the road.

  7. Love the post - way to overcome a host of problems and then get things done on race day. I think I have the same cold that you had. I got it, thought I had it beat but then it came back a second time and crushed me. Can't wait to read your race report.

  8. Great post. Sometimes all those things that can go wrong and do go wrong race week take you mind off the race which can be a good thing. Can't wait to read about your race. You killed it!

  9. goodness gracious beth! looking forward to race recap!! -Kim K.

  10. OMG! This post is awesome! Thank you for sharing it. It is a good reminder--for me and I'm sure for many others. That self doubt is such a monster! I hate him.

    Can't wait to read the full report!