Monday, August 3, 2009

Steelhead Didn't Kill Me

Lemme preface this all by saying – there is some doody talk. Doody consumed my day – it must be referenced.

It demands to be referenced.

Soooooo... Steelhead 70.3.

I swam, rode and ran.

And let me say this – Ironman and his little brother, 70.3, are no dummies. They will BREAK.YOU. if you didn’t take the time to train properly. These are no races to go into without an appropriate level of fitness, or they will expose every last weakness you have.

Or at least with me they did.

In fact, all of my Missed Workouts called up all those other Times which I blew off training – like the Times when I chose to extend my sunbathing instead of get my butt in the pool and swim, or the Times I knew I should have run long, but I ran 5 miles – yeah, so all those Times got together this week, printed up a bunch of tee-shirts and posterboards that read, “Gotcha Sucka!” and then stood at the curb of every aid station mocking and jeering me, forcing me to pay attention to their Truths.

I am pretty sure I even heard one of the Times ask, “Now who’s the bitch?”

(Naw, but seriously – I went into the race knowing that my weakness would be my run fitness, because my training runs were almost always shortened due to my knee injury. And it was - the run exposed me. The run was physically the most difficulty for me, as I suspected going into it. I was at peace with that.)

But regardless of the necessary pain, it was actually fun. And most of all, I am SOOOO proud of myself for all my little victories over the course of the day.

My little victories:
1. Finishing (of course)
2. Not crapping my shorts (story shortly).
3. Running when I could, and walking when I couldn’t -Even with this disgusting blister (photo below), that made its appearance around the first FEW STEPS of the run.
4. Never getting down on myself – NOT EVER.
5. Discovering that little pretzel nuggets for the run were the best last-minute-packing decision I EVER made.
6. Ignoring my watch.
7. Tried to enjoy every single second – especially right before the swim, by taking in the unbelievable beautiful day and my fortune at being able to participate in this sport.
8. Saying positive things to myself over the day about what a badass I was
9. Never once letting myself get intimidated by the fancy bikes, the ripped muscles, the fancy tri-clothes – and instead telling myself – “Just run your own race.”

I stayed with Clyde and his friend on the camp ground in a tiny cabin – like, one bed and a bunk bed type cozy. I had the top bunk. It was AWESOME!!!

(and to my surprise, there were actually plastic mattress, per my last post….)

I didn’t see Clyde before the race because his wave (done by age groups) was much later, but we did exchange some texts beforehand.

Me: (something about not being able to make doody).
Clyde: Yeah, we checked that off our checklist already.
Me: Dang! I am squatting in the vacant bike spot next to my bike hoping for a doody miracle. I feel the Poo Baby kicking, but he’s not ready for delivery.

Phantom doody aside, I knew it was going to be a good (dare I say GREAT) day when I walked into transition at 445am (345 am for us Chicagoans), and Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road” was playing. Why is this significant? Because that was the song I sang to myself on repeat to get me through the last ½ of the Ironman. Out loud. So other people could hear. And it worked. I finished that race too!

That song was then followed up with the Jack Johnson song from my one of my nephew’s favorite movies – Curious George. It made me think of him, and smile at what he would look like if he could see his aunt out here, in the midst of all these bikes – or on the course, running past him. So yeah, I considered those good omens.

I was so positive at the Start I hummed my whole walk down the shore to the start.

My positive attitude surprised even my stone cold heart.

Was that – gasp! – excitement?!?!

You betcha!

The Swim:
Two things happened:
The water – my greatest fear after last year’s Racine DNF in the swim – was remarkably warm at 68 degrees. I even walked in it in the mile to get to the Start. At the Start, I centered myself, silently appreciated the day, and then ran my ass into the water.

But here is where it got dicey – that darn wetsuit suffocated me again, and I had that brief flash of “Shit, I can’t breathe, I can’t do this” (flash to Racine image of me swimming to shore, and then stomping across the transition mat with my Kill Face).

So I breast stroke a few strokes (thanks Spie!), and then proceeded with the swim. I had a few more of these episodes until I calmed down enough to actually start to swim steadily.

And then I got punched – literally punched in the face. So I popped out of the water, looked at the girl (who was paying no attention to me whatsoever) and said, “You know how I am going to punish you? I will beat you.”

And I did – swam right by her and finished before her.

(Okay, in all fairness, she is likely the ONLY girl in my age-group I passed, as I would later discover when I was picking the rest of them off by bike)

My swim time also included the long run to transition, so it actually looks worse then it was (though it’s still pretty bad). And it was definitely slower than what I am capable, but those early moments of “I am going to die out here” and some zigzagging added some time on.

The Bike:
The bike was amazing with a good, moderate course. Although the wind tunnel that started around mile 40ish knocked my confidence down a few pegs, I was still kicking some bike-ass. The bike is also my strength, so I was tearing it up out there, trying to gain some ground. Very uncharacteristically of me, I slowly and steadily picked off almost every female I saw (about three kept getting away from me), especially those that finished before me in the swim in my age group – and got passed by very few (if I read the results correctly, I rode down around 30 girls from my AG). But I wasn’t so much concerned about my overall stats as I was about…..

My Poo Baby was crowning.

The whole ride.

And he was ready to come out like a Holy Terror the size of a grown 16-year-old.

But then he would crawl back up and hang out for a while – like a Braxton Hicks bowel movement. It went on like this for 56 miles.

I tell you – it was an exercise in sheer will just to choke down my Clif Shots with this level of bubble gut.

So you can imagine what the run was like.

The Run:
In addition to the aforementioned blister and a nagging right knee that progressively become more and more painful, I spent and INORDINATE amount of time in the port-o-potty trying to deliver. But nada – nothing, zip, zero, zilch.

And guess what happens when you have a Poo Baby, and then get a Race Food Baby?


It got so bad that there were moments I actually forced myself to walk because I was SURE I was going to be THAT girl who craps herself. You know - like those pictures you see of the guy running to the race finish with his “down” covered in brown?

Finally, at Mile 9, I had enough and took a stand. So I said, “Hey Butt, I’m sick of you playing this cat-and-mouse game with my poopies. So I am now going to ignore you, unless you have something to bring to the table besides farts and cramps.” And I did. Or tried too.

Tried reeeeeeaal hard.

At the 8-mile port-o-potty, I looked in the mirror and noticed a massive line of snot across my right cheek that no doubt happened at some point on the ride (because my face was COVERED in my own snot over the 56 miles). So…yeah. That was great. Eight miles of aid stations witnessing my snotty face.


But for as distressful as my belly made the run, the run was also my best part of the day. I mean, physically, it was the worst, but mentally, it was the best. I was pretty much reduced to a shuffle most of the time, but so very oddly of me, I never cared. I never cursed myself, I never got snippy – I just ran.

I had less then half a mile to go when I felt the first rain drop. As I crossed the finish line, the rain started to pound, and the winds picked up. I remember thinking, “My first tri of the season, my redemption over last year’s failure, and now it’s raining. There should be some sort of symbolism or metaphor here.”

But then I saw a man with a box of peaches.


I got my peaches, sat my ass on the wet ground, in the rain in transition, cried some happy tears, and called my sister. I told her I was okay, and asked to tell the family I was alive.

And that I finished.


So, I didn't have a crew out there this year - just me - so the actual race pictures will have to come from the race photgrapher and will take a few days. So here is some my awesomeness I snapped when I got home.

What I made to eat because I was really too lazy to get anything else out of the fridge- Recovery shake, cold grilled chicken and bbq sauce, and cottage cheese. Bon appitite!
The brownies Devin made me for finishing - 24 hours later, they are just about GONE.
The blister I ran with from Mile 1 though the finishers chute. Yeah, it hurt.
My Twins. The top part of the photo is my regular belly - the bottom part by my hand is my Twim bloat. Now can you see why I was struggling?


prin said...

Yey for finishing! And for having fun! YEY!

I wonder if all you need is a set of twins to keep your race serenity. You know, like how they say "focus on your breathing", only... not your breathing. :D

Brent Buckner said...

Congratulations - glad you found it worthwhile!

Lauren said...

Yay for you! Yay for redemption! Boos for blisters and poo babies.

You rock!

Carolina John said...

good for you for finishing. bad for you being poo-plagued and underprepared. Glad you had a fun time and finished clean! at least you didn't hit the wall and crap yourself in public. that's always a good day.

The (IRON) Clyde said...

What a day, eh? Those effing winds were like nothing I've seen during a race...and of course because my wave started a half day after yours, I had them from about mile 15 was awesome.

Good job on the finish though!!

Too bad the post race weather was so shitty, would been nice to hang a little more. We cruised right after too.

And no doubt, in some ways I think this race was just as hard as IMWI last year...I can't remember a half where I have seen so many people walking on the run. My legs still feel thrashed.

My race report will be up later tonight or tomorrow. Cheers!

The (IRON) Clyde said...

Oh, and we were yelling bloody murder for you at the start of your wave trying to get your attention, but w/ the music you didn't hear us, you had your gameface on. Ha.

Tri-Angle said...

Nice work McCue!
So....what was the final time?

Sub 6?

rUntoNamAste said...

I hate to tell you this but...I told ya ;p Congrat on finishing and most importantly ENJOYING your race. So are the twins out yet? Do we still have time to throw you a baby shower?

Amy said...

The pic of the blister is pretty fab. And your Tale of Poo Babies made me snort (which means it was pretty dang funny).

perpetual adventure said...

"Twins!" Hilarious.

Congrats on all the little victories of your race.

Tyger Lily said...

You are the shit! (Seriously, no pun intended!) LOL. I am getting ready to do my first 1/2 iron and I'm freaking out!

Congratulations woman!

Laura said...

You are completely hilarious! I found you again after seeing a comment of yours on my blog. Glad Steelhead was a success!

MissAllycat said...

Have I told you lately that I love you?


I love you.

You? Are hilarious. :)

Lassenlaw said...

Great race report! Love the extra info re: snot! You know it's not how fast we go, but how good we look doing it!!

Alili said...

Congrats!!! You're a stud. :)

Borsch said...

CONGRATS on finishing! That is awesome! I'm sorry the poo baby never arried, that would have really helped I'm sure!