Monday, June 8, 2009

Good Days and Great Days

One of my favorite quotes is from Lance Armstrong "I take nothing for granted, I now only have good days, or great days."
Sometimes I allow myself to take for granted my health, strength and ability to participate in activities I love. I guess the universe thought I needed a reminder, because that is what I got this week.
I have had an excellent early season. I've had success in races and have seen some results in training that are very encouraging. This week I did a particular 80km bike ride that involved some longer race pace intervals and I was flying. I had one of my most impressive training rides and was feeling especially happy with my ability to push hard on the bike. I also had some great swims including some 1500m TT efforts that were my fastest to date. I felt like I was in good shape to have a strong swim/bike in Hinton on Sunday. My running was the big question. I've had some issues with my shin and despite taking the entire week off running, as of Saturday I couldn't run more than a few minutes without pain.
I threw most of my time goals for Hinton out the window due to the state of my leg. But I was sure I would be able to crush the swim and bike and was pumped to test that out.
Race morning I woke up feeling tight, sore and grumpy. It was a really cold morning and on the drive from Jasper to Hinton there was frost on the grass in the ditches and my Jeep thermometer read ZERO degrees. My enthusiasm was definitely lacking and I was seriously thinking of sitting out, the thought of freezing my ass off for 40km was soooo unappealing. I have done my fair share of COLD racing and it is not my thing. I hate the cold. I was also pretty unprepared clothing wise as I hadn't even considered that it might be this cold.
Once at the race site I was still undecided. I got out of the Jeep and saw all the people wandering around transition in down jackets, touques and mitts. June? Really?
I finally decided I would just suck it up and race. I needed to do something with my grumpy energy anyway so I may as well burn it off in a hard swim/ bike and hopefully a run.
With this attitude, it isn't a surprise that I didn't have a great race. I never felt quite right in the swim, the bike was soooo freaking cold I seriously considered stopping several times as my hands and feet were completely frozen and I was in pain! I really wanted to ride hard and fast, as much to warm up as to have a decent bike time. Unfortunately I couldn't get my body to respond. There was just nothing there to push! It was a tough 20km out into a cold wind and uphill. But the 20km back, while faster, was worse because the speed going downhills made it even more bitterly cold.
I got off the bike and fumbled my way through transition and into some shoes. I couldn't feel my legs or feet (which was actually a good thing) and my hands were aching from being cramped up for the entire ride.
I decided I would just jog as long as I could and hopefully warm up! It didn't take long, as the first mile of the course is a long uphill. I shuffled up at a painfully slow pace, unable to push off very well as it aggrivated my shin. I continued to jog along and was not feeling any worse. I started to feel somewhat better in fact, although I was unable to run at the speed I wanted to. At the 5km turnaround I was passed and I wanted to badly to run with the girl who passed me. That is how I normally run and it was somewhat frustrating to be stuck in low gear. I tried to stay positive though and just keep moving and stay grateful that I was still running! With about 200m to go I looked over my shoulder out of instinct and saw another girl bearing down on me. I decided that there was no way I was going to get passed at this point and did everything I could to pick up the pace and cross the line.
I would be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed a little. I was 5mins slower than my time from last year and I know I had the potential to PR on this course. In the big picture, it is not important as I know there are more races to come and this was just one day. I was able to compete and complete and for that I am happy!
The really great part of the race was that we had lots of our friends and team mates there and the GP althetes really did well. My good friend Lori (with me in the pic at the top) rocked the bike and had a great race. She finished 1st female and our friend Dennis was 1st male.
D had an awesome race despite a flat that he was able to change and still finish just 3 mins back from 1st place! I have no idea how he did it with frozen hands/tire. I don't think I could have.
It was also great to finally meet Naomi and have a visit with her and her hubby. Having so many great friends involved in this sport makes it even better. There are so many reasons to be happy and greatful, my pity party was very short lived :)
Onwards and upwards, looking forward to some solid training over the next few weeks leading into my A race for the season- Great White North!
The results:
15 2:36:38 Amber Dawn HUNTER Grande Prairie
3/5 F3039
Swim 16 27:22 1:50
Bike 24 1:22:07 29.2
Run 12 47:09 4:43

We had a stellar weekend in Jasper, spent lots of time resting and enjoying the beauty of the place. We did more hiking and walking than we usually do and it was a nice change. Harley thought so too!


Naomi Rae Nicholson said...

Awesome to visit with you and Darin as well! :)

Great job on the race to both of you, as well. Those conditions were COLD and you got it done. Good for you! :)

Julie said...

Excellent, excellent post. First off, HUGE high five for even attempting the race being sore and under dressed. I agree with the WTF is up with toques and mitts in June!!

Thanks for being so open and candid about your experience. It's all too easy to write about how we conquer something or how great things are when we are on takes a deeper and meatier type of fortitude to accept the days that aren't that....great. :) :)

You rest that shin and you will be back in fighting form in no time. You still had an AWESOME race for feeling like shite and racing in shite weather!! Unreal that you ONLY were 5 min. slower -- that is amazing what you did out there!! :) :)

Amy said...

Man, you guys have had some bad weather as of late (just got done reading Julie's blog). Congrats for starting and finishing the race. Had the weather been better you would have squashed your time from last year. You should be proud of yourself for racing despite the nasty conditions.

Amy said...

PS- sorry to hear about your shin pain. :(

Kelly B. said...

You and Julie are far tougher than I...but good for you for toughing it out!! This has just been a crazy spring for triathlons.

KK said...

Congrats on your race and especially for gutting it out despite pain and cold. I hate the cold too, but you really showed the cold who's boss.

Also, what's a touque?

You have a great attitude and I enjoyed reading this post!

Amber Dawn said...

Thanks ladies! The comments mean alot.
And KK

Lisa G said...

Congrats on a tough day! Too bad the Alberta weather has not been cooperating for races lately. Good job on pushing through the negative self-talk and finishing it up! Use it as a really hard workout/tune-up before your next race!

Missy said...

Man, you poor crazy people up north have been having some wild weather lately. Yeah, I would have totally bailed. You get a prize for even starting. When the water is so cold it takes my breath a way, I stop;)