|Danskin Women's Triathlon - Seattle |
Danskin Women's Triathlon
55F / 13C
Triathlon - Sprint
Total Time = 2h 17m
Overall Rank = 2920/3496
Age Group = Survivor
Age Group Rank = 441/473
Here we are again; Danskin Number Four! This one is going to mean something completely different, though. Last year my friend, Julianne, was going to compete in it with me. She had two years ago. Unfortunately circumstances got in the way and she was unable to register in time. It was a blessing in disguise because in May she was diagnosed with early breast cancer. So when the registration opened this year I sent her an email as soon as it was available. I registered, and she registered and for the first time, she was joining me in Team Survivor.
I trained throughout the season on biking and running, but probably the hardest on swimming. My goal once again was to complete the swim portion without panicking. I understand now that I need to embrace the panic as adrenaline and have a goal to complete the swim with a smile on my face.
Saturday I had to coach and we had a 15 miler on our schedule, so the plan was to take my red team out for the 8 miler and then the NYC marathoners would go out for 7 more. I floated to Linda that we run to Qwest to the expo. She thought that sounded good, so after finishing 8 we went back out; Linda, Laura, and I and ran to Qwest field for the expo. The run was a total 16.62, but I didn't mind since I knew the triathlon was not going to be too physically taxing at this point in my training. (I'm training for a marathon.)
I met Roy and Julianne at the expo. We went in and I immediately sought out the table with candy because hey, I'd just run almost 17 miles! I got my registration and Julie went to get her $10 refunded. She'd paid her USATF in her registration but they told her she needed to pay "insurance" and made her pay $10 more. We figured out that it was the one day USATF thing, and she had on her race packet that she'd paid it.
Went and got marked, number 900 checking in! Then into the expo and to the candy table and off to get our goodie bags. The shirt is a purply pink which is great, but of course I ended up with a medium. Insert rant about race directors who can't match shirt sizes to packets leaving us small girls with giant shirts.
After the expo we racked our bikes then headed out to carbo load at Spaghetti Factory. I have never inhaled my food so fast! I was starving. Normally the entire meal will leave me too full, but I think my tank was below E and I was running on fumes by then! I knew that if I wanted to enjoy the triathlon, I had to take refueling VERY seriously. I ended the day about 300 calories shy of my 1500 net, but at least I felt like I'd eaten good solid healthy food that would carry me into the next day.
Got up at 4:30 on Saturday morning after a fitful night of non-sleep. Julie stayed with us so she was up and at 'em bright and early. I was feeling rather nervous and introspective because it was raining, so was using few words. I tend to get that way when nervous...agitated and quiet. We drove into Seattle and decided best bet was to find parking near the site rather than take the shuttle because it was raining so hard.
We arrived after a long detour in Everett, at about 6:15. Our wave was seven and was set to go out at 7:01. We found our bikes and set up our transition area. J had suggested bringing garbage bags so Roy had gotten four for us. I am SO glad he did! I hoped that the rain would just spritz, but wasn't that lucky! So my t-area was set up inside a garbage bag. Running shoes, socks rolled inside, race belt, towel, wet towel to wipe my feet, etc.
I needed to use the bathroom but for some reason, didn't. Should have!
We made our way out to the water and milled around as they readied the course to open. It was barely sprinkling at all at this point.
As we waited for our wave we got to know some of the ladies around us. Survivors were in waves 2, 5, and 7 so all the women with us were survivors. We discussed how long each had been survivors, and when asked I felt self conscious. I am not sure why I never consider myself a "survivor." Lord knows I dealt with a lot of really nasty stuff during 2003 and it was treatment for cancer. I think because I never did chemo or radiation, just had the tumor removed, I feel like I didn't suffer enough.
The race was held up slightly and Roy and J and I were waiting around. Julie suggested we pray, so we all bowed our heads and she prayed. I actually had been hoping she'd do that because I wasn't feeling confident and I needed some prayer!
As we made our way to the front our plan was to stay to the left outside away from the bodies. Sally Edwards, who is just a gem among gems, gave us our word...EXCELLENT! We turned and double high fived the women around us, promised to support and help women in need, and we were OFF!
Well someone must have leaked our plan because I think EVERYONE tried to go outside and on the left! I am not sure if the waves were bigger, if it was because I was in later wave than I'd been in the past (I've been in wave two the last three years), or what but it sure seemed like there were more bodies in the water! My plan had been to not panic, swim alternating breathing every 3 and then 4 strokes, and come out feeling strong.
As soon as I got into the water I was fine, but when I put my head under I was kicked. Came up fast. The face in the water didn't scare me, but the myriad of kicking feet and the inability to get out of this knot of women did. Hello panic my old friend. YOu've come to torture me again! I started to panic, although it probably wasn't as bad as usual. J kept saying "It's okay" and I kept saying "I know" and she said "I know you know, but I'm going to keep saying it." I breast stroked out a bit, feeling my old "friend" pulling at me and J told me to go onto my back...exactly what I had told myself I would NOT do, but my body obeyed. I went onto my back, kicked a few times and then said "Stop it, you're fine." Over I went back onto my front, started swimming breathing every other stroke until I could get out of the knot of people.
At that point Julianne was helping another woman who was REALLY panicking. I knew she'd find me so I got going slowly. My panic is funny. It's not "OMG I am going to drown". I don't feel like I can't swim. I just get this "can't put my face in because I don't know what is in front of me or what someone might do to me."
The swim was definitely the most challenging swim I've done. Because I was actually keeping a relatively good pace, considering, I was constantly running into people. I was kicked in the face 6 or 7 times (4 times by the same woman who would float, then KICK HARD, then float), my leg was grabbed twice.
Julianne stayed right next to me the entire time doing the breast stroke. I need her more often! Didn't have to worry about siting. Just looked at her under the water. If I could see the black shorts with the blue stripe, I was fine. She told me I actually swam straight! Imagine! Me! I usually swim like a drunken one-armed sailor! Did end up breathing every 4th stroke, which usually pulls me left (since I breathe on my right), but once I got going and left my old friend behind, I felt good and strong the entire time.
Note: It did not appear to rain on the swim. Ironic, huh?
What I am proud of: I swam in a straight line and was able to relax into a good strong stroke.
What I am not happy with: The fact that I went onto my back
Next time: I am going to remember that my adrenaline will come, whether I want it to or not, and embrace it. I will give myself time to ease into the swim and get past the knot using a breast/crawl combo. Then I will go.
The T1 time was horrible because we had to go to the bathroom. Stupid bladder and stupid me for not going before we went to the swim!
We weren't in a big hurry anyhow. Definitely slowed down by the rain and trying to get into wet clothes.
Go to the bathroom at the beginning. Make it not rain. Oh wait, I can't control that.
J has knee issues so we couldn't run into the bike portion, which was fine. We hit the pavement ready to go and hopped on our bikes. At this point the rain had started, but it wasn't bad. I was a little nervous about biking with so many people around on slick pavement, but I trusted my training (which included a long urban orienteering race in the rain) and my bike and went for it. We agreed to stay together on the bike.
We hit Day Street and about 10 bikers in front of us, one of the women went down. We dismounted and walked up the hill for safety. There was too much congestion and it was too slick for anything else. A woman barreled past us growling at walkers to get to the right, at which point I said "Hey, there's a cyclist down. Just relax." She apologized. The thing is, in a race with 6000 entrants, many of whom ARE NOT going to do any other triathlon and are there for personal challenge, not to win a purse, you have to just know you can't "compete". If that's your goal, Danskin isn't for you.
We mounted after Day Street and headed across the bridge, which is flat with some rolling hills. Dulcy, my bike, wanted to go fast so I had to reign her in. The rain was starting to come down harder and soon my top was soaked from inside and out. J and I biked alongside each other talking on the flats. On the hills I had to go ahead as Dulcy gets antsy if I slow too much on hills, and she threatens to throw me. I lost J for awhile on the out, so watched for her after the turn. I saw her and called to her and stopped to wait for her.
There is about a .25 mile stretch in a tunnel which was such a blessing. By about 1/4 of the way into the bike I was so cold (and I'm sure I wasn't alone). The tunnel was somewhat warm and stopped the wind. Thank the LORD!
I was definitely a lot slower than I could have been, but this afforded me an opportunity to cheerlead. As women went past me I cheered them on. When I saw someone struggling, I offered encouragement. It reminded me that this is what this race is all about! It isn't getting to the finish line as fast as you can...in fact if you do you miss a lot of special moments along the way!
On the way back the wind really started whipping up. My right hand had gone completely numb. Fingers were white and I just kept pumping them to try to keep at least some tingling in them so I could feel them enough to brake. My right foot was also completely clubbed...the toes were numb to the middle of the foot, which always makes me feel like I have a huge "club" on the end of my foot. I was shivering so badly I could feel the bike wobble under me.
At one point I was riding alone so I started to sing;
I'm gonna swim when the spirit says swim! I'm gonna swim when the spirit says swim. I'm gonna swim when the spirit says swim and obey the spirit of the Lord.
I'm gonna bike...I'm gonna run...I'm gonna freeze...I'm gonna shiver. I don't think anyone could hear me over the wind and rain, but it helped me take my mind off how bad I was feeling for the cold.
Finally we entered the tunnel again and I could get some feeling back into my hands. More encouragement to the ladies around me and lots of prayers of thanksgiving. I mean I'm there, you know? I'm riding my bike across a bridge on a Sunday morning in the presence of thousands...THOUSANDS of amazing women. Yes I'm wet. Yes I'm cold. But I am alive and healthy and if that's my biggest problem, I am also blessed.
At the end of the tunnel I waited for Julianne (no sense waiting in the rain) and we caught up again. On the way down Day Street we were all told to dismount. There had been a bad crash and they decided it was too dangerous to ride down. So we did. Some women grumbled, but whatever. It is the journey more than the destination!
As we finished the ride the rain was REALLY coming down. Roy said he saw at least 40 women fall at the dismount. Fortunately we came in fast, but easy and were able to get off quickly and safely. I saw Roy ahead of me and called out to him. He got a picture and I yelled, "Isn't this weather WILD???" and just laughed!
Note to spectators: Bless you over and over again! What a day to be out in the rain! Thank you for the cowbell (can never have enough cowbell) the cheers, the encouragement. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!
Nothing really...not for the conditions we were in. Obviously we were a team, and I couldn't leave my team mate behind!
What I am proud of: I rode very evenly throughout. I had tuned up my bike myself and she responded beautifully even after a night in the rain. I am proud that I took time to enjoy and encourage on the bike.
What I would do next time: Bring rain gear. I honestly didn't think it would rain that much and I do have a rain jacket I bought specifically for rainy rides.
T2 was faster (no potty this time) but it still was slower than I'd like. That's okay. I had stupidly left my jacket
Find a tiki god deep in a cave in Hawaii and force it to give me the power to control the weather. Alas, not likely.
I knew that we were walking the run, so I was prepared for it. I had stupidly left my jacket out when we went on the bike so I had to don a soaking wet jacket. I figured it would be wet within minutes anyhow, so I put it on.
We headed out to the run walking briskly. Immediately someone handed us Jelly Belly Sports Beans. Wonderful! I needed that! We dug in and ate. I thought Julie was pushing it on my account, and she even said I could run ahead and come back if I needed to. Unfortunately my right foot was still so cold I think I would have tripped if I'd tried to run at this point! Besides, we'd come this far together I wasn't leaving her now!
So we settled into a GREAT brisk walk. Seriously, she can hoof it on the walk! We talked about our lives, thanked the spectators, caught up on the blessings and curses of the last year. It has not been an easy year for her, but never have I known someone to be such a calm witness for a relationship with the Lord. She doesn't preach, she lives. She's dealt with so much and come through it with humor, faith, and class!
As we rounded the corner two women yelled out "You look GREAT!" and I laughed and called back, "You're LYING! We look WET!" The cameraman actually started laughing so hard he had to put his camera down. He chuckled, "That's not very nice" I said "It's true!" We may have FELT great, but I guarantee we didn't LOOK great.
We hit mile one feeling good. My fingers had warmed up as had my toes. We had probably half the spectators but they were enthusiastic! I also noticed WAY more walkers than I've seen in the past. I think it really was because it was so cold. I know my knees and elbows were very stiff and had I been running, it would have taken a relatively substantial amount of time to warm them up.
Mile two took us up the hill. Every year there is a group of bongo drummers who drum us up the hill. I was pretty sure they weren't going to be there this year. After all, it was pouring, it was cold, and they wouldn't want to wreck their instruments. THEY WERE THERE! There were only two, but GOD BLESS THEM! They drummed up right up the hill! We danced our way up the hill, and I called out "We love hills! Hills build BUNS OF STEEL" as I always do. (It may be an old joke, but it never gets old...right?)
As we were almost to the park I looked over and saw Roy passing us going the opposite direction. I called out to him and he joined us on the route for a bit, but we were walking too fast for him! Hahahaha! He gave me the camera because he didn't think he could get close enough for good pictures. I kissed him and he raced on to the finish line to see us finish.
We entered the park and decided that we could run it in. Julie's knee felt good, considering, and we wanted to "look fast" for the finish line pics. We finished running and hugged each other at the end. We did it!
Nothing for this race. For walking, we did a GREAT pace.
There was no "warm down" because we were never warm! Haha! But you know there was warmth in our hearts.
The Danskin is a special race. You look around and you see these women of all shapes and sizes (in fact, very few really look like athletes) who are out there running their own personal race. They have faced demons that most of us will never understand and a little swim/bike/run isn't going to hold them back. I run all kinds of races and while I believe that amateur athletes are, overall, good people I never EVER see the support and fellowship I see on the Danskin. It starts at the starting line and finishes after the race has run. It is in every smile, cheer, and hug. It is the high fives you give before the swim, and the cheering you get as you pass the runners running in while you're running out. It is in every kid jumping up and down screaming "Go Mom! Go Mommy!" It is in every husband and son who is there for his own special athlete.
Nothing. It is the journey not the destination.
There are some things I saw on the race that will stick with me.
The three women behind me, including Julianne, hugging each other as they realized they all belonged to the "one boob" club. The swim angel making her way over to one of those women who still didn't have full range of motion from her mastectomy. Sally Edwards giving us our word and cheering us on like we were the first wave, the best wave, and the most important wave. Julianne comforting a panicked swimmer. The man before the swim bolting around trying to figure out what wave his mother was in so he could help her find her place. The spectators lining the swim exit cheering and hollering as if we were Olympic Athletes. The volunteers helping women with flat tires on the bike. A crowd of women helping up a rider who crashed. The beautiful grey of Lake Washington from the bridge on the bike. The volunteers thanking us...THANKING US! Sports Jelly Bellies! The volunteer high fiving women on both sides. The older heavy lady proudly running around in her sports bra and shorts. You go girl! Roy at every turn taking pictures and cheering us on. The bongo drummers drumming us on. THE FINISH LINE! The woman hugging and hugging another woman who was sobbing in pride at the finish. Peanut butter, bananas, bagels, and hard boiled eggs. Starbucks on the way home. Dry clothing! My hot bath after I got home.
I will hold all of these pictures in my heart until next year. Next week I have another triathlon. I'll race this one and I'm sure I'll "do better" but I won't feel more fulfilled or satisfied than I do today.
Thank you, once again, to every woman, volunteer, and spectator who made this one for the books. This will forever be known as "...remember the year when it never stopped raining?"
My Biggest Fan and Athletic Supporter (heh heh heh)
|00:18:37 | 800 yards | 2m 20s / 100yards|
|The swim was supposedly shorter. I did my best swim time yet, so I'm assuming it was.|
|Suit:||Hind tri-suit, wetsuit|
|Course:||The course was a short jaunt to buoy one, then right around that one to another, then right around that into shore. They probably could have cleared out more milfoil since I was being "grabbed" by the weeds as I swam in. It doesn't happen to bother me. I consider milfoil my flag that says "You're almost there!"|
|Water temp:||0F / 0C||Current:||Low|
|200M Perf.||Below average||Remainder:||Good|
|Cap removal:||Good||Helmet on/|
|Wetsuit stuck?||Yes||Run with bike:||No|
|Jump on bike:||No|
|Getting up to speed:||Good|
|00:57:29 | 12.4 miles | 12.94 mile/hr|
|I never did get my HR up as high as I would have liked. The entire route felt very "easy". I think had I been able to get up higher, I could have warmed up some.|
|Course:||The route is out to Lake Washington Blvd, up Day Street (which is a VERY short steep hill) and out onto the I-90 bridge. Across bridge and back.|
|Race pace:||Comfortable||Drinks:||Not enough|
|Riding w/ feet on shoes||Bad|
|Jumping off bike||Below average|
|Running with bike||Good|
|Shoe and helmet removal||Good|
|00:45:40 | 03.0999 miles | 14m 44s min/mile|
|I was really looking forward to the run where I could warm up! I knew that the bike was colder due to the wind and the run we could warm up.|
|Course:||The course is out to Seward Park, then back and up a long hill into Genessee Park to the finish.|
|Keeping cool||Good||Drinking||Just right|
|Mental exertion [1-5]||3|
|Physical exertion [1-5]||2|
|Course challenge||Too easy|
|Lots of volunteers?||Yes|
|Plenty of drinks?||Yes|
|Post race activities:||Good|
|Race evaluation [1-5]||5|