Wildflower Long Course 2011- Shannon

Hi H.I.T-STERS,
So that I don’t bore you with the play by play, since you were there, I wanted to just relay to you how much I enjoyed training with you all and highlight some things that I took away from the experience of training and racing in my first ½ ironman distance triathlon.

After breaking through my post race depression (admit it, you suffered too) and thinking back on the incredible weekend I have ultimately realized deep down that it is about the journey and not the destination.  From the incredible athletes that you are and the privilege it is to know you, sharing a deluxe RV for the weekend, gaining wisdom and guidance from experienced coaches, to the other racers on the course that passed me with words of encouragement and those I passed encouragement to as I passed, to the boisterous spectators cheering us on.  All these things bring a smile to my face and warmth in my heart as I reflect back on this experience.

I can honestly say that without a few guardian angles on the course I may not have made it across the finish line.

Guardian Angel 1

The swim and bike went as expected.  Enjoyed the swim….probably too much and too leisurely, but I had fun and finished with plenty of energy to continue on.  The bike was my strong point although I had to ride standing up over half way due to back pain.  The downhill was phenomenal and gave me that extra boost to press on to T2 and the run.  I thought I was ready for the run, however, when I hit the trail I could barely put one foot in front of the other.  I passed a young girl that had thrown up twice within the first mile of the run and when I asked if there was something I could do to help she said she was turning back.  I tried to get her up and press on, but she would have none of it so I pressed on.  The first 3 miles I barely surpassed a 14 minute mile which dashed my hopes of getting close to the 7 hr goal I’d set for myself.  About mile 4, climbing the hot, dusty hills, alone, no cheering spectators, just myself, in my own crap….tears came, I pressed on at a snails pace.  As I began to fret about not finishing in time to gorge on the GGTC carnivore bbq feast, I came upon Eric, my first Angel of the day.  He saw my tears and offered many words of encouragement and jogged with me for a few miles.  We hit a transition station at about mile 6 and he said he had to walk; I was surprised that I was actually pulling him along.  I cried out that I needed him, he said no…. I didn’t and that I could do it….and you know what…..I did…my pace had sped up to 10.5 minute mile.

Shortly after leaving Eric I saw an older man weaving back and forth on the trail.  I slowed to ask him if I could help and if he needed anything.  Of course he said no, as most of us stubborn, bonking athletes would say.  But I didn’t take no for an answer….I reached into my pocket and found a double espresso Clif shot and offered it to him as if it were the secret to life.  His eyes perked up and his mouth dropped open as if wanting me to feed it to him.   He thanked me and said keep going, he’ll be ok.

So I pressed on…..

Guardian Angel 2

I started losing steam a few miles after espresso man so I focused on passing each struggling runner in front of me at a time, offering encouragement, then moving on.  I finally came upon a woman from Chile that wanted to chat and jog as my pace, which sped up since I thought she wanted to go faster.   I think we are down to a 9.5 pace by the time we hit GGTC/TMF cheering section around mile 8……

Guardian angels 3, 4, & 5

As I neared our cheering section I first encountered a huge sign waving wildly, behind it was a very excited Chris Nosek, Angel 3.  Tears welled up in my eyes immediately, however, Chris quickly yelled, “don’t you dare cry or else you are going to make me cry!!!”.  I sucked it up, thanked her, and then rounded the corner to see the frenzy of characters (Santa, Bud Light Year, Yogi???) and fellow RV/Team mates.  Liz, angel 4, taking photos and selflessly offering support and guidance throughout the weekend was standing next to GGTC president who, dressed as Bud Light Year, Angel 5, opened his spandex covered arms and gave me a big hug.  Just the energy I need to get in and out of “The Pit”.

After all the commotion died down I quickly caught up with Chile girl who slowed down to see the spectacle.   It all happened in slow motion, yet so quickly over.  The last 5 miles my sole focus was on finding glide, Vaseline, even asking for KY from the hot guy in boxer briefs, cowboy boots, and 10 gallon hat.  Chile girl said there was a guy holding a spoon of Vaseline a mile back, which I’d thought was peanut butter and very perplexed by the offering.  At mile 10 I was kicking myself for not being “in-the-know” about chafing.  Why didn’t I realize, when I hoarded the tiny sized glide from the racer lounge at the exhibit area, that they were offered for just such a time in the race.  Oh well, I learned the hard way.  Especially when Chile girl offered a last resort option of applying GU to my under arms.  BIG MISTAKE!!!   I found myself running like a chicken flapping its wings with my sticky fingers spread wide apart, singing Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto, domo…domo (80’s song).

(I’m running out of patience with writing this report and friends and family wanting to know the details asap I’ll finish with short phrases……)

Flapping my arms like a sticky, tarred chicken, sprinting down the last mile, down the finish line shoot, raised my arms high, handed a cool towel, gratuitously accepted my finishers medal, hugged Alicia and Coach Tracy (BTW, thank you for being there!!!)……7 hours and 17 minutes and I’d finished my first ½ IM.  Aimlessly walking around looking for anyone from my team, turned to find Espresso Man, hugged, cried, thanked each other.   Where’s Eric?  Chile girl?  I have to thank for getting me to the finish……..

30 minutes…no teammates…where are they?  Walked to transition,…..nobody there?  Laid on my towel, face down and cried….why? I don’t know why.   Decided I needed to jump in the lake, collected my things, walked down the boat ramp and there they were,….my TEAMMATES and ERIC…..tears, hugs, congratulations……THIS IS WHAT ITS ALL ABOUT!!!!  (Well, that and DaveG’s incredible Pre-Race Gourmet dinner, the GGTC post-race BBQ, and Sunday Brunch with Memosas, and cheering for the Olympic distance racers….)

VINEMAN 70.3 here I come!

For additional photos and breakdown of my race times click here

Cheers,

Shannon

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