Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Win or Lose Mom you are still my Hero...keeping things in Perspective!

Going Home! No matter how IMSA was to go I felt like a winner before the race even started!
I had been waiting since November of 2011 to do IMSA. I put it in my schedule early on as I could not think of a better IM to do than a race after my crash last year. I thought about going to this race often. What it would feel like racing,crossing the finish line,getting on the podium, the crowds, the support, the sun and the african feel. I knew this was the right choice for me and I was motivated to train and race all through the winter. After months of hard work and a busy schedule of racing and training to prepare, race week approached. I made one last adjustment in the decision to bring my daughter. Whose persuading words that I was her hero and she needed to travel with me as we were travel buddies. I booked for her to join me on this adventure. My mom would be meeting me shortly after arriving in Port Elizabeth and I would be able to continue my race day preparations as I normally would. Bringing Sydney with me on a race trip always provides an element of fun and excitement and pure joy. Yes some may ask is it a distraction to my race..yes it is but in a good way. I wanted to have her be a part of my experience and if I was to do well I wanted her to share in my victory! Sydney posing in the lion cage!!!
Entertaining herself while i get a pool swim in!
Race week was filled with all sorts of fun but making sure I got plenty of rest too. As she had not been to South Africa in six years I wanted her to appreciate all SA had to offer. The lion and elephant game reserves,the beautiful landscapes and the prerace excitement.
All week, the weather while a little cool and windy, was beautiful. I became well aware that the hot race I had envisioned was not going to happen. With them moving IMSA back from March to late April the weather would be considerably cooler with the increased chance of rain and wind. Those would be the exact conditions we were to race in. Checking my bike in...Confident and relaxed!
Race morning after what seems to be a pattern of no sleep the night before big races I walked down to transition. On the way down the rain started. At first a light mist then a steady rain. My legs were feeling sore and stiff and I was a little concerned. I went over many times in my head that no matter how cold it got I had been training in some windy cold conditions and I would be fine. The word was out amoung the athletes...Ironman South Africa would be one of the most difficult Ironman South Africa races to date. Merely crossing the finish line was a challenge in itself. Athletes would face choppy waters and blistering winds, not to mention the occasional downpours! Just staying upright on the bike would be the biggest challenge!
< As we went through race day preparations, the wind really picked up and it was blowing everything around. I wandered if the swim might be cancelled or the bike cut short. I tried to stay warm in the tent until I had to head down to the water for a warmup swim. It was still dark out and as I stepped through the huge puddles and down onto the beach I entered the water to find out the temps too had dropped and it was freezing. I went in, did a few quick strokes, could not see a thing and decided that my warm up was not going to happen. So I headed down to the start a little shaky with confidence. I have got hypothermia in a race before and it was not good. My mental outlook right there was the beginning of what was going to turn out to be a tough day and I believe my demise to this race. I had so looked forward to this race, I had envisioned it many time..just not in the cold, rainy, windy extremes that was going to either conquer me or be conquered. The athletes gathered down on the beach and despite the horrific conditions everyone seemed quite relaxed to me. The pro's would start about knee to waist deep in the ocean with the age groupers lined up like angry bulls ready for a sprint down the beach only a short 15 /20 meters away. This is a rule I wish they would change as it is an unfair advantage. When the gun goes off we have literally 5 seconds before the big line backers sprint over us punching, kicking anyone in there way. I will say this would be the second thing to affect my head and keep me on the wrong mental path. The pro girls were engulfed and I was being dunked in every directions. I was no longer thinking about an Ironman race, but about keeping my teeth, nose , head, goggles from being hit. It becomes a bit frantic. The rough, choppy water was not a bother, but the slower I swam the worse the swimmers seemed to get and strokes would turn into breastroke kicks at any time. The first loop took forever and I was disappointed to see a very slow first split. Onto the second loop and I tried to find some open water to swim. But I seemed to be still swimming with a group of fighters. I thought back to the days before the race where we had had the most amazing experience swimming with the dolphins. They came in a pack of hundreds…all swimming next to each other..so peaceful. Why could we not all swim like this!! I was frustrated and between the cold and the stress I think this start to the day played a huge effect on the rest of my day. Exiting the water with my worst IM swim split ever…I was in disbelief and believed that all the girl had to have put ten minutes on me as I could not see anyone besides Natasha who I had swam by. I was already out of the race...but I know this is Ironman and a long day, anything can happen in Ironman. So I tried to regroup and headed onto the bike. I decided in transition that if rainy windy and below 60 I would wear a long sleeve so I would have no excuse of being cold as I have dealt with hyperthermia. I would put my head down and bike hard and hopefully catch up to the girls ahead. I was pushing the watts Coach Jesse had told me to push but I was amazed that the girls did not seem to be getting any closer. As a three loop course we would ride with a heavy crosswind along the coast, a huge headwind out and then an even heavier cross wind section back down to the ocean and the a super fast loop back into town. I found myself wavering mentally. I was biking well but distracted by the effort. At every loop the wind would pick up more to the point where I was riding up out of my bars a lot. I had passed a few girls but just never seemed to make progress. By the third loop my power had slipped drastically, yet my heart rate was getting higher and higher. I was not feeling good. My legs hurt, I had a headache and I was feeling the disappointment of my race already. I could not pull myself out of it but yet as I made the transition I gave it one more push to pick things up on the run. The run too would go from headwind to tailwind. The crowds were amazing and my legs came around on the first loop. Just hit my pace that Coach Jesse and I had spoken about I thought. This would mean faster miles in one direction slower into the wind. I seemed to be making ground but my strength did not seem to be there and I gradually slowed pace. I pushed as hard as I could for as long as I could and enjoyed seeing my mom and daughter and friends out on the course. The last 13 miles I basically just finished the race. When one of the pro girls passed me I had nothing to respond to her. The last lap was brutal and I could not have been more happy to see a finish line than I did on Sunday. I ended up 10th women pro 56th Overall out of 1800 people...I think 400 did not finish...a huge drop out rate! Ironman is always a challenge. Its like life…there are many ups and downs and how you choose to handle them is key. I dug deep but did not have it from beginning to end Sunday. It was a slow day for everyone and I was so impressed for all those athletes who I know had to dig even deeper than me, just to finish. I have never done an Ironman and seen people walking on their second lap or riding 3-5 miles an hour just trying to stay upright. This was truly a brutal race and it proved to much for me race day. I have gone over the race many times in my head this week and will continue to with Coach Jesse to see what went wrong. Was it too much racing prior too, perhaps the lack of strength to handle the conditions, a weak mental performance, a hydration/heat factor….Probably all of these resulted in me having a mediocre day when I was ready and fit for an exceptional day. So happy and proud of World Champion Natasha Badman who continues to inspire me and many others with her commitment and love of racing.
Thanks to Ironman South Africa for putting up a great race and too all those that competed who gave it there all! Well done! I hope I make it back there to race again…I do love it there!!! Thanks to Action Cycles PE for getting my bike race ready and to my sponsors Rev 3, Pearl Izumi, QT2 System, Kestrel, Blue Seventy,Recovery Pump, Louis Garneau,Power Bar and Torhans Hydration systems. My daughter was there after the race to put things in perspective as usual for me. Win or lose you finished mom and what you did was so amazing!! She was so happy for me after the race... Mom no matter how hard it gets you never quit...I am still her hero and she is more proud of me than ever. She reminded me of my constant words to her…Its not about winning its about having fun and finishing. Hard to explain to a nine year old that sometimes you really want to win. <
Post race fun or not...


Chris said...

Wow, that looked awesome! You have such a great perspective Jacqui, and I agree I love the "positive" distraction that kids can be at the races. I am not, however, a big fan of that snake you're holding!!

Kelly said...

HOLY SNAKE! You are WAY braver than I am, Jacqui!! :) I hope to see you soon at the races!

Jacqui said...

Nobody seems to like the snake....I agree looking at how BIG that thing was I don't know what I was thinking. Actually I did not have time to think...I stood next to the guide for a photo and then he asked if I wanted to hold his tail...next minute I was holding the whole thing!!!!! That is not really a smile on my face ...more like a look of panic!~ :-) See you guys soon...Quassy?

Bre said...

From the mouths of babes...nothing like a kid to put things in perspective. Especially when that kid is as awesome as your's are!

As for the race...you are a freakin rock star! You are going to come out of that race so much stronger because of it. You will truly appreciate the sun at the next IM :)

Lions are adorable, the dancers are amazing (so jealous), and the beach is beautiful. The snake. I can't even look at the picture without freaking out a bit. It goes under the same level of panic as fish and water creatures. ;)

Can't wait to cheer you on at the next one!

Jacqui said...

Thanks Bre!!! When do you leave for your big training trip! Hopefully soon!