Monday, July 09, 2007

going to worlds!!!

yesterday was the regional qualifier for long-course duathlon worlds; top 3 in each age group (AG) get invites to Team USA. i had HOPED that i could score a 3rd place in my AG behind the studly k-rob and alicia; instead i won the whole damn thing. incredible, eh? no one was more surprised than me. here's how it went down:

12K run (7.2 miles)
the starting siren sends off a pack of 50 women and half a mile later there are two women out front, then a cluster of three, then me, then the rest. the cluster of three includes k-rob, alicia and another woman in my AG. (thanks to bodymarking, we've all got our ages written in permanent marker on the backs of our calves. i love the smell of indelible marker in the morning.)

i gradually catch my AG trio and roll with them through the first mile marker in 6:07. that's the last time i look at my watch. from then on i run and ride purely on feel.

the first 3 miles pass quickly. it's just k-rob and me running shoulder to shoulder; the other two women dropped off the pace. i'm feeling relaxed and am comforted by the fact the woman next to me is breathing harder than i am.
she turns to me and simultaneously says – sooooo, what's your name? - then goggles at me - oh, it's you, finn. yeah, i don't know what i'm doing up here running with you either. i suspect my body is treating this race like a sprint du. boy, is it in for a surprise!

the last couple miles are harder than the first, but i'm in 3rd place when i hit T1.
D witnessed the debacle first transition. your transitions SUCK. you had thirty seconds on K when you came in. she grabbed her helmet and bike and was gone, while you were still doing... what WERE you doing? well, i was stuffing my spare tube and C02 cartridge, 3 gels and the collected worx of henry miller in my pocketses... and then i rummaged in my transition bag for a jug of water and dumped most of it over my head cos i knew it would be freakin' hot out there on the bike.

70(ish)K bike (~41 miles)
when i finally hit the road, K is a mere speck. within a mile, she's gone, out of sight, and i write her off completely.


it seems to take an eternity to find a rhythm on the bike, and for the first 5 miles i can't find the right gear. i'm like goldilocks: this one's too easy, but the next one's too hard. i've got Comfortably Numb in my head and contemplating the next 40 miles sends me into a somnolent state which rudely dissolves around mile 10 when i nearly run into a dude fixing a flat on the shoulder.

now i'm awake and properly geared (in the big ring, even!) and armed with Wings for Marie. i don't know how fast i'm going or how far i've gone because my bike computer had a meltdown in the first 5 miles; but D and i drove the course the night before so i know roughly where i'm going -- plus, the bike leg is 2 laps, so any of the sights you missed on the first you can take on the second. ospreys hanging out on the wharf? -check. dead possum on the bumpy stretch? -check. snapping turtle crossing the road in front of you? - safely gone.

i catch one woman before the end of the first lap, and a third of the way into the second i come upon k-rob. i never catch her on the bike, so something must be wrong. as i pass her, i inquire – are you okay? - and she nods and grins, somewhat manically. the heat and miles are taking a toll.

but you know what? this isn't so bad. sure i am on the bike for almost 2 hours, but i don't mind. my bike is really comfortable, i'm not super-pegged and the mental jukebox is cooperating. plus i'm in second place when i roll into T2.

8K run (4.8 miles)

go get her – a well-meaning spectator hollers at me – if you can see her, you can catch her!! what? i don't see ANYone but a couple man-specks on the horizon, and honestly? -i don't care about winning; i only want to qualify. though a big chunk of the race is behind me, a lot can happen in those final miles, especially in this heat. so why push?


if the first run and bike weren't so bad, the second run is the polar opposite. in duathlons there's a fine line you walk between energy expenditure on the bike vs. the second run, and i fear i've given too much on the former with nothing left for the latter. two miles in, i still don't have any rhythm and i feel like i'm in one of those dreams where you're running as hard as you can but you're moving in slow motion, going nowhere.

the run's out and back, in full sun, and did i mention the brutal heat?? at every aid station i snag a cup of water, drink some and dump the rest over my head. when there's ice i dump it down my jersey.


gradually some flow returns and holy mother of god there's the lead woman right in front of me! she's moving steadily, but slowly, and i pass her right before the turnaround. i might actually WIN this race - how crazy is that? after rounding the turn, however, i see k-rob and another woman not far behind, so i kick up the pace a notch. it takes my body about 30sec to convey to me in no uncertain terms that this was a singularly BAD idea. the messenger is a slight flutter in my upper right hamstring. motherfucker. no. not now.

i try to soldier on, but with every step my hamstring tightens more and i'm afraid i'll tear it again. so i stop and stretch it briefly, then start again. it's still seizing, and i stop, stretch, start, stop. several men have passed me and i move off the road, out of the way. i don't even want to look to see where the other women are. i can't believe i was winning, and now i might not even qualify - i think - now i might not even finish, period. i am pissed off and helpless; i don't know what to do. i continue my useless stretching and in my peripheral vision see the second-place woman approach.

- i know exactly how you feel - she says as she passes me - just stretch it out. you'll be able to run again. you'll be able to run again. those words are so calming to me. i finish my stretch, take a deep breath and begin to walk slowly down the road. hamstring is okay with this, so i begin to walk a little faster. still okay, so a little faster, then a light shuffle, okay, now a slow trot, easy jog, very very light run.

i take back the lead a couple minutes later, thanking my mentor as i pass her. i've learned my lesson, though, and i don't push the pace at all, just keep the legs turning over.

i get to break the ribbon at the finish. i don't remember someone putting a medal around my neck, handing me a bottle of gatorade or removing my timing chip, but i do remember my foot and left calf spasming into a crippling cramp as soon as i crossed the line. i looked down to see if indeed someone were twisting my foot sideways in a vise and was startled to see all the veins in my legs standing out in stark relief over taut skin and dehydrated muscle.

from the stories i heard afterward, everyone cramped on the bike and/or second run. no surprise: after 2 hours we were bits of human jerky moving around the course with an hour and a half still to go.

so, long course is TOUGH, esp in the summer.
but i did have fun.
and i am going to worlds in october.

17 comments:

fatmammycat said...

Oh my god, you're such a fucking bomb chica!! I'm so impressed right now. I whooped when I read you passed that womon after your stretch. How bloody awesome, the worlds baby! You must be chuffed stupid. Well done, VELLY well done!

Mayrasmom said...

Congrats on the win, enjoy your trip to the worlds.

finn said...

thank you ladies!! i am right chuffed and still somewhat disbelieving. if it weren't so hard to walk today i wouldn't believe it at all. i have to brace myself when i sit on the crapper unless i want to fall in, because my quads refuse to hold me up.

FMC this is what you have to look forward to on oct 30th. wheeeeeeee...

Theo said...

Are you allowed to be "right chuffed" in Delaware? Have you checked local ordinances?

...but yeah, very nicely done!

finn said...

loucypher, a born & bred delawarian, says "right chuffed" has something to do with whippets.
that works too.

thanks, teho.

fatmammycat said...

...eeeeek. By the power of caruso-top I shall make it!

finn said...

you shall.

ITO long runs, you're way ahead of the game already.

will you be disciplined about tapering, or will we have to write in a september injury to persuade you to rest?

Theo said...

Waddya know? Loucypher's right.

finn said...

i think i fought some of those things in RE3: Nemesis. the sound of their nails scritching on concrete still haunts me.

did i mention that my cycling shoes now smell as though something died in them? the snorgoyles find this incredibly enticing and writhe all over them. what odd & disgusting creatures they are.

fatmammycat said...

I was planning to be quite good about it, everything I've read thus far suggests it's the way to go and since I'm a total novice I must bow to the experience dudes and dudessessss who have gone before me. I figure if I can run about eighteen miles sometime in September I'm on target. That will be my longest and last long run.

westolowski said...

Wow, congratulations, finn. This takes some of the edge off the Moz cancellation and the fact that my chances with the Dengue Fever chick are somehow even slimmer.

Brown Suga' said...

Fuckin' BRILLIANT. Yer an amazing piece of work, Finn. Go go go! Good luck for the worlds! W00T!!!

[doing a cheerleader routine in tiger-striped leotard]

finn said...

send me the vid, subh. please.

sorry about the show, westo. how was the rehearsal dinner??

fatcat, my race is a week before yours. we can be grumpy, twitchy and uncertain together.

fatmammycat said...

We can eat great globs of chocolate and pasta together. Even thinking about it gives me the heebie Jeebies, I can't even IMAGINE how excited you must be.

finn said...

excited enough to have to run to the potty every time i think about it. do you have the same prob?

here's the website. i can only get through a page or two before my bowels liquify.

fatmammycat said...

Okay, I shouldn't have even LOOKED at the elevation chart. Man, that's a serious serious race.
I've got to go lie down now.

westolowski said...

I didn't end up going to the rehearsal dinner. I ended up at my cousin's house watching that HBO doc on AC hookers while putting back clear-beer from the America's oldest brewery in Pottsville, PA.

You may be familiar w/ the doc. "Finance before Romance." From legendary hooker doc filmmaker Brent Owens. You may also enjoy Downtown Girls: The Hookers of Honolulu.