I have a few more thoughts about Raleigh and then I will move forward.
The overall experience of registering for, training for, and going to Raleigh 70.3 has really been a learning experience well worthwhile. Over the past ten months I have trained harder and greatly improved my fitness, especially in the water and on the bike. I have worked on nutrition and now understand what I need to do during training and during a race. I still have much to learn but am much farther along than I was a year ago. I also need to remember how far I have come not only in three years, but in the past year since getting back on a full training program after my Achilles tendon surgery.
Experiencing what it is like to go to an Ironman event and talking to a number of the Ironman employees was well worth the trip. On Friday Kelli and I went out to Jordan Lake and the guy who is over the swim portion of Ironman events was there getting ready – and I am sorry that I never did ask what his name is. We had a really interesting discussion about what he and his crew do to set up swims and to assure the athletes are safe. There were 20 divers in the water, kayaks and paddleboards every 50 feet on both sides of the swimmers in addition to several ski boats with supplies on board like food, water and towels. The kayaks had water for swimmers who needed to drink something besides the lake. I was taken to the ski boat by one of the official Ironman employees who was monitoring the course to make sure everyone was safe and that the volunteers were all doing their jobs – which they were. The EMT’s on shore were also great. There were several and they were attending to all of us who had been brought out of the water. Most of us were like me and had cramped in the rough conditions. I think about half of my age group wave did not make it through the swim. I talked to some other athletes who told me their swim times were significantly slower than normal.
Three years ago I never would have imagined that I would enter a lake for a 1.2 mile swim. I realized that I have actually been swimming over 1.2 miles in several of my training sessions. I made it 1100 yards in the swim and I am pleased with that. I still need to gain confidence in the water and get started right off the bat. I managed to get in my “Meme box” and stay there though. Next time will be better. I did feel fairly comfortable once I got going and got around the first turn. I was not as nervous out in the deep water as I thought I might be. That made me feel very good.
The hotel where we stayed – Doubletree Brownstone – was fantastic. It was, as I told the manager, one of the most triathlon friendly places I have stayed. We had refrigerators brought in to our rooms, there was breakfast every day and they provided early morning grab and go breakfasts earlier than the restaurant was open on both Saturday and Sunday. The staff was really great and even gave us notes and ribbons under our doors if we had participated in the race. Kelli’s and my favorite employee was Katie, our server in the restaurant. She was the bright spot of our mornings.
Nutrition wise I have also added to my knowledge. I had a well-developed nutrition plan and race plan. The issue is that nutrition is cumulative. The past few weeks have been difficult and my nutrition has been somewhat off so I didn’t have the stores I needed. On race morning I followed my plan but about 20 minutes before entering the swim I was very ill. I lost everything I had stored up. It was too much and I was most likely dehydrated. There was not much I could really do at that point. When I get home (I am writing while Kelly is driving), I will be laser focused on nutrition – for training, racing and day to day. I still have some weight to lose and that will also help. (People think I have lost more but my body has just changed over the last year. I am in better shape than ever before but I still have pounds to lose).
The important thing that I take away is the number of people who care about me and who I care about. I had so much support going into the race, throughout the weekend and after. Friends sent notes and called. Strangers who I just met – and now will call friends – supported me. My goal is to keep going and not look back in any negative way. Yes, I’ve had some off races this year. Most people do and if you race and have not, you probably will at some point. You never know what a day will hold.
I am going to close with a story I have not told. Many people tell me I inspire them and I really appreciate that. I hope to help others through what I have done and by continuing to write about it on this blog. There is a man on campus who has shown me that I have done so. Billy was overweight, diabetic and not feeling well at all. We had gotten to know one another because he is frequently in the library. My story was featured on the Rec Center website a little over a year ago and he saw it. He stopped me one day outside the library and told me he had started walking and was eating better and that I was an encouragement to him. He said he didn’t know if he could do it but I encouraged him to take things slowly and he could. I see him from time to time and we talk. I saw Billy coming toward me about a week or so ago. At first I was not sure that it was him. He looked like a totally different person – and he is. He has lost almost 40 pounds, is eating much better, is off his medications and has greatly improved his health. He looked happy and healthy. I am so happy for him. We talked for a few minutes about his progress. If I had a part in it, then everything is worthwhile.
On Saturday I will go to Oak Mountain for Buster Britton for the third time. I’m going to have fun but I will push myself to do the best I can do. And I will remember one of my favorite quotes from Dave Scott, “Do what you can do in the moment.”