Sunday, July 6, 2008

Pac Crest Race Report

Overall Time 8:54:36
Swim 40:08 Frickin' Awesome
T1 4:13
Bike 4:34:31
T2 6:14
Run 3:29:29
19/19 in my age group

WOW! Let's see if I can get this all out of my memory and into words. My first two nights in Sunriver were less than optimal sleep wise - new house, HEAT, Mai sleeping poorly - but come race morning despite little sleep, I was feeling fine, no nerves to speak of, happy and ready to get this thing going! After a 6am set up time of T2, Dad and I caught the 6:30am bus along with many of my teammates out to the lake - about a 40 minute ride of everyone handling their nerves in their own way. We got to the lake and it was just perfect weather - the sun was already so warm people were stripping off sweatshirts and getting busy doing pre-race checks on their bikes - Dad was a popular man with his much wanted bike pump. I was surprised at how few people were getting into the water for a warm- up, but us TNTers slid into our wetsuits and got right out there as we've been trained to do. The water seemed MUCH warmer than it had the night before. Friday I was told the temp was running in the upper 50s but by race time I think we were at 61 or better.

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 - We're off!! I can't believe this - 1.2 miles sure looks like one BIG ol' bit of water to cover but I'm feeling no stress, no doubts, and once I get going it is ALL FUN!! I hit my stride and never looked back. I rounded the last bouy and as I was heading in towards that Red Bull arch all I could think about was that this leg of the race was ending way too soon - it was so fun and just awesome to see snow covered mountains or the moon in the perfect blue sky with each breath. Just awesome. I came out of the water and saw all our oly teammates cheering me on and a high five from Coach Dano and I couldn't wipe the smile from my face as I left T1.

I was feeling great on the bike. Had lots of racers slow down as they passed me to say something uplifting - I was called a Stud more than once - more often people just said I was crazy for riding my mountain bike, but my favorite was "It's not the bike, it's the motor" - that one kept me going for a good while!!. I stayed good in the pack for quite some time and still had that smile stuck there - feeling good, strong, movin' along, but eventually they all pulled away from me and right before the hills came I got a cramp. A weird cramp or stitch in my right side at about mile 28. It never went away. Eventually the hills arrived and so did a bunch of my problems, but the problems could wait for a minute as I passed around Devils Lake. Seeing the blue green lake surrounded by the snow was so beautiful I cried for the beauty. After the lake, though, the heat really started to get to me and my back was cramping up in addition to the stitch getting worse. I had already known I would probably walk some of the hills but it ended up not being a choice but rather a necessity when at one point I became so dizzy that I almost fell over. I felt so weird and decided to get off my bike, but forgot I was clipped in and was barely able to catch myself before a car whizzed by too close for comfort. Once off I realized that I was able to walk just as fast as I had been riding - 3.4mph and so I kept it up for a time before I realized that I might be heading into heat exhaustion. I could see Amy C up ahead a bit and it looked like she was putting snow all over herself so I leaned over into the snow bank and grabbed a bunch of snow and smashed it into the air holes in my helmet and then packed a bunch more on top to slowly melt onto my head and cool me down. What I really wanted to do was drop my bike completely and hop in the snow and make snow angels, but I seriously doubted if I would ever get back on the bike again if I did that. I was unable to take in much food or gatorade after that - nothing sweet appealed to me and all I really wanted was water. In the end, I think this probably more than anything caused my even bigger problems on the run: too much water, not enough of anything else. Once I got to the top I figured that the downhill was going to be a breeze but when I got to the flats I was once again in for a mental challenge. I was just praying and praying and praying to God to please get me off the bike (which is funny because at about mile 5 of the half marathon I was asking Him for the bike back).

It was so incredibly disheartening to arrive at T2 and see all the other bikes racked up and realize that I was one of the last people to hit the run. At this point it was at 98 degrees people. C'mon - what is going on here?? 98? Seriously? Mind games begin...

I was not far into the run at all when Dano showed up. We talked for a few minutes and I told him my legs were feeling strong but that my tummy and side were giving me troubles. I tried to jog with him but had to drop it back down to a walk right away. Just as he left, a car with two teammates drove by and stopped, got out and tried to give me encouragement but just seeing them made me start to cry and I had to high five them quickly and keep going before I completely broke down. Less than a minute later I arrived at the last of the hill before reaching the first aid station and I could see my Mom and her friend and Steve and the kids and the tears just took over. I was so cramped up and overheated and feeling a bit crazy actually. Mom tried to console me and told me I could stop but I told her I couldn't - especially after she said Dad had passed by an hour earlier and looked great. I drenched myself in water and was ready to take off again when Steve made his ill-fated decision to ask me if I wanted him to ride along beside me for awhile. I don't think he expected me to say Yes, but I did. He went off to get his bike and by the 2nd aid station he was beside me - and that is where he stayed until mile 13.1. I actually hallucinated at different points. I was so confused as to how the same girl could be at all the aid stations?? I was obviously having problems at this point. I was drinking so much that my stomach was just sloshing over with fluids and my back was so cramped up that I couldn't stand up straight. Somewhere after the stables I saw my parents coming for me on Cruisers. I started to tear up and wave and was ready for their hugs and then I finally realized that it wasn't my parents at all - I think these poor strangers were as embarrassed as I was.

I really did try to run (on occasion) but it was obvious that this was going to be a long haul and I basically walked the whole thing. If it had not been for an incredibly emotional talk from Terry and Bob Jordan the night before at our pasta party (I too tried to go 60 butterflies per hour, Terry!) and for Steve riding along beside me every painful step of the way, and for my Mom - I would have quit. I would have just stopped and that would have been the end, but there was NO way I wasn't going to cross that finish line with all the emotional stuff going on in my heart and head. At about mile 6? a group of TNTers shot me good with some super soakers and about 1/4 mile away from the finish line Coach Seth and Coach Dano came out to run me in. They brought the first new tears and then as we came closer to the finish there were my teammates on both sides of the path in their purple shirts cheering me on. I bawled my way across the finish line. I probably could have swam across with all my tears, but I stayed on my feet.

It wasn't pretty, but it was beautiful. I'll remember this day forever and it is one of my proudest moments. I am also so proud of my dad - he finished the Duathlon with flying colors and was the true athlete of the family at Pac Crest!

Our team raised over $340,000 for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society!!

The moment I crossed the finish line I already knew I would be back next year. Pac Crest kicked my A$$ this year, but I'll be doing the kicking next year! What a hoot! Post race I figured out a couple of other problems - TOM of month had arrived and I did not know or expect it on race weekend. I can't believe that usually I am fairly incapacitated in normal circumstances for the 24 hours before but I was actually competing in an endurance event during those same 24 hours this time around. This may have accounted for some of the back cramping and the "side stitch" but who knows. I also had one man come up behind me on the bike and mention that my seat was too low. The day after the race I remembered his comment and checked and my seat was an inch lower than I usually ride it at. I need to work more on finding better fitted nutrition for me as well. Lots of time and more fun races to practice with before Pac Crest 2009 - lots of time!


rockstarmom said...

Girl - I am SO SO proud of you for such a multitude of reasons. You are unbelievable in strength, stamina and sheer will and drive. You are a hero. And you have the heart of a warrior.

I bow to you today. Congratulations.

Anna with Revolution said...

Congratulations. I am sitting here all verklempt.

You have the heart of a champion!! I am in awe.

I just read Paula's post. Great minds?!!


Melissa H said...

Oh my gosh Julie, I am in awe and tears. Wow. You are amazing.

Anonymous said...

JULIE!!!! I wept when reading this post. I am so proud of you. You amaze me, and through all of the agony you were still able to see and appreciate the beauty around you!

So VERY proud!!!!


Well Behaved Krissy said...

Julie I am so very proud of you. You are amazing and what you did will live on in the memory of your friends and family for years and years to come.

You are an amazing, inspiring and faithful woman. I'm proud to call you my friend.

Blessings, Krissy