This year has been an interesting one for me to say the least!  1 week before Aquaman, I was supposed to do the Coeur d'Alene Triathlon, but for the first time I set my alarm all wrong :( I woke up in enough time to still make it to the race, which was shocking because I did only get about 4 hours of sleep!  Anyway, I got the race, set my stuff up, jumped in my wetsuit, headed out and swam around in the gorgeous lake...then quickly proceeded back to my stuff, packed up and walked back to my car.  And for whatever reason, it felt great!  It was exactly what I needed to do, for ME.  Of course I felt a lot of things, but looking back, I know I made the right decision.
Fast forward 6 days to Aquaman.  The prestigious Friday night aquathon held in downtown Richland, race 4 of the 5 race multi-sport series.  I had been going back and forth with trying to figure out if I really wanted to race or not, until finally I decided that I would much rather run and swim with a bunch of happy people than mope thru a 50 minute run by myself!  
As I pulled up to the race, I was not too surprised to see that I was one of the first ones there...since that's pretty typical.  It was a toasty 90 something August evening...but it felt so nice to be there.  One of the reasons I love being early to a race is because you get to watch all the excited people arriving!  It's sort of relaxing, in a way, to realize you are not the only one that gets worked up over a little race.    With the race rapidly encroaching, I was somewhat calm and relaxed...at least a little more than normal.  I told myself I was really just going to take it easy and have FUN.  Usually I feel like throwing up before a race, but this time I felt fine, just like before a workout.  As we lined up I began to wonder...what is everyone going to really think if I just take it easy?  Then I thought, I honesty don't care, I'm just going to do what my body feels like.
As soon as the "horn" went off, everyone started filing out down the path towards turn #1.  I was surprised to notice that I was right there with everyone.  I couldn't help but go hard, I LIKE to go hard.  But it wasn't strenuous, it felt comfortable...almost like that's where I belonged.  Until, that is, we got to the turn around point and I couldn't breathe!  I had taken nearly 2 weeks "off" of training and my lungs were still in off mode!  Oh well, I thought, there's only one way out of this now...here we go!!!
As soon as I got to the water, I felt sooo incredibly relieved!  The cool water felt amazingly refreshing and it didn't even feel like I was swimming until about half way.  That's when my arms were on fire and for the first time during the race, I felt like puking!  A few boats had passed, making the water really choppy, plus the water is kind of smelly, especially when people with horrendous body odor are swimming by you!  Never the less, I had a decent swim, only allowing a couple people to pass me.  Incredibly I was still the first woman.   For a while I thought it must have been a mistake, but sure enough at the turn around I hadn't seen a single woman!  Thankfully the men all had their tops off, or it can get a little tricky sometimes.  The second run was fine, once I got over the feeling that I wanted to hurl!  I just tried to keep a steady pace and good form.  As soon as I crossed the finish line, I was so happy to be there and SO incredibly glad that I had raced.  Not because I came in first place, but because I really felt like I wanted to be there.  
I will never forget a story someone told me a long time ago.  It was about a marathon runner that had come up to them after a race, in absolute admiration of what they had done.  This person had probably finished around 2 hours after the Marathoner and did not understand what was to admire.  The Marathoner said that running that far is so hard, they could not imagine having to endure it for 2 additional hours!  I think of that story often at races when I see EVERYone out their going as hard as they can.  I don't take for granted that it doesn't take me as long as some, as I'm sure that won't always be the case!  Doing events like this is so inspiring, on so many levels!  Kudos and thank you!


The Drift

During my training run yesterday, I felt really strange.  It was about 5pm and 95 degrees out, but I figured it was nothing that I wasn't used to.  That is, until I noticed my HR creeping dangerously high.  It was a tempo run, so my HR should have been somewhat comfortable.  And for the most part it was, but during my efforts, I would be running along and suddenly could not catch my breath.  I looked down and my HR was 15 beats higher than normal...WTH!!  I immediately started analyzing the performance and figured I was either out of shape, over trained or a big fat wuss!  Turns out we can chalk this one up to a good old fashion "hang-over".  Well, partly anyways.  After further review and consultation with my coach, it has been diagnosed as "cardiovascular drift".  The major factor in cardiac drift is dehydration. I drank at least as much water as I normally do throughout the day, but it wasn't enough to combat the previous night's birthday festivities.  That and the heat.  But, you know what, it was worth it!  So what if I could barely jog home with my HR as high as it would be during a normal race effort.  There are few nights when I let loose a little and forget about the stresses of training and racing, and it feels kind of good to just be a normal person out on the town every once in a while.  Of course, the reality of the day after remind me why I don't do that very often. 
More importantly (to me) is that I'm reminded that the rewards I feel from racing and training are much more fullfilling than that second glass of wine...on most days!