That Sucked

I tried to come up with some kind of witty and creative title for this blog.  I swear, I really did.  But, there isn’t absolutely anything to say about what happened on Sunday other than it sucked.  Totally, utterly, completely sucked – in every way possible.

Well, okay, not every way.  I did take six minutes off my swim time – so it started well.  I felt strong on the swim and though my time is still not fast, I definitely felt like things went better this year than last and was pleased when I got out of the water and hit T1.  I got to the bike pretty quickly and my awesome (not to mention super cute) handler Matt rocked it on the transfers and helped get my feet all strapped in, then I threw on my “fuel belt” (aka fanny pack – yes, I’ll admit it) and I was ready to rock.

(Side note: when you’re all tucked in and ready to bust out of T1 and someone says to you, “What about the sunscreen?” – the appropriate response is most definitely not, “Oh, fuck it.  I’ll be fine.”  More on that later.)

The start of the bike in Lubbock is pretty killer – scratch that, the whole bike is pretty killer – but, you literally come out of transition and hit a monster hill right away.  There are a couple other climbs to get through in the first few miles and then you hit some long straights before climbing again.  Anyway, I got through the first hilly section and settled into what felt like a comfortable pace, though I was cruising at 17-19 mph, which is very fast for me.

Conventional thought would tell you that I was out there killing myself to try to catch the amazing Trish Downing who had made a last-minute decision to try to tame the Buffalo one last time.  Honestly, I didn’t think I was working that hard and I was telling myself that as long as I felt comfortable and held a steady pace, I thought I had a good chance to catch her at some point.  But, I wasn’t trying to make up all the ground in the first 10 miles.

I wish I could pinpoint where and why things went badly, but all I remember is that sometime around mile 35 or so, my body just imploded.  I could barely turn the cranks over and the more I tried to collect myself and get my strength back, the worse it got.  I stuck with my nutrition plan and I was hydrating, but something was just not working right.  It’s hard to describe in words what it feels like to “bonk” (yup, that’s the technical term), just know that it blows.

There were even times when I wasn’t sure I’d be able to finish the bike.  The sun was scorching and the wind was just pummeling me out there, but I kept thinking about the words the incredible Jason Lester, one of my heroes, told me before the race.  He said, “Don’t Stop!”  I told myself every time I turned the crank, “Don’t stop, don’t stop, don’t stop.”  There were times I was only going 3 or 5 mph, but I knew that if I kept turning the crank, eventually I’d get to transition.

Last year, my bike split was 4:25.  This year, I thought a 4:10-4:15 was realistic and that if I had a totally kickin’ day, I might even be able to pull a 4:00 – though I knew that would be a huge stretch.  Well, my ass rolled into transition a smidge over 5 hours and I was most definitely thinking I was going to die.

At this point, I knew Kona was a lost cause and quite frankly couldn’t have cared less.  This was now a matter of survival.  Not to mention, Trish was out there having the race of her life and totally crushing the course – this was clearly her time and her day.  In the midst of my misery, I was so psyched for her and proud of what she was out there doing.  So, that slot was rightfully all hers and my race was simply all about not dying.

When I came into T2, I thought there was no chance I was going out on that run.  I was a little dizzy, couldn’t lift my arms, had cramps in my back and was suffering the consequences of my decision to say “Fuck it” to the sunscreen.  But, Mama Katz and Mandy were there to greet me – as was Matt with cups of ice water to dump over my head and some awesome Junior Corps volunteers to bring me cups of cold water and Gatorade to drink.  I could feel their belief in me just seeping out of their pores and it gave me a sense of hope.

Then, the amazing Carlos Moleda came over, looked at me and told me that if I didn’t get out there and try to finish, I’d never forgive myself.  He encouraged me and told me to at least get out there and try.  I had started to come around a little bit and thought, yes, the least I can do is try.

So, in the racing chair I got and I headed out of T2.  I knew the test would come at mile 3 when I hit the first monster climb and if I could get up that, I figured I could make it.  I slowly made my way around the lake, at times thinking I might be getting some strength back and at other times wondering what the hell I was trying to prove.

My concerns at the time were that it was unbearably hot and getting hotter.  The course cut-off was nearing and the thought of being out on those roads alone and not 100% in the right state of mind, knowing the immense difficulty of the course as well, made me think it simply might not be safe for me to be on the road.

By this point, Jill Prichard (from CAF) had joined me on the course and as I started to head up the hill, I came to a complete stop and absolutely was not able to push myself any further.  I had started to get a little more dizzy and my arms were shaking.  I had nothing left to give and for the sake of my health and safety, I made the decision to stop.

It’s gut-wrenching, humiliating and embarrassing.  I didn’t even finish the race.  Kona?  Like I said before – who cares about that. I’m pretty sure I wrote on this blog before that qualifying for Hawaii was in no way the measure of success for Sunday.  All I wanted was to give all I had and race to the best of my ability.

So many people have been supportive and encouraging to tell me that I did those things, irregardless of crossing the finish line, but right now it just feels like I’m swimming in a giant pool of fail.  It’s hard to accept that on a given day your best isn’t even good enough to finish what you start.

Uh, I just re-read that – “swimming in a giant pool of fail” … I known I’m prone to exaggeration, but that is so overly dramatic. Even for me.  Okay, so “giant pool of fail” and all, where do we go from here?  There were a few moments on Sunday when I thought maybe the half-Iron and Ironman distance thing wasn’t for me.  That was definitely the disappointment talking.

I reminded myself that Sunday’s race was only my second triathlon race – ever.  Yup, second ever.  The first being this same race last year.  Most people don’t start with a 70.3, much less one of the toughest 70.3 races in the series.  But, I don’t do things small and I don’t do things the easy way.  Clearly, I’m not even close to ready for a full Ironman, much less the granddaddy of them all. That doesn’t mean I won’t be ready eventually.  In fact, I’m now more determined than ever to become an Ironman and one day race in Hawaii.  I know I’ve got it within me and even better, I’ve got the most kick ass support team anyone has ever seen.

No turning back now.

HUGE thanks go out to Mama Katz, Mandy, Challenged Athletes Foundation (specifically Jill Prichard, Carlos Moleda & Patrick Doak), Mike & Marti Greer, Tricia Downing (You’re my inspiration! Go kill it in Kona, girl!), my handler Matt (you totally rocked) and all the super-awesome, incredibly amazing, awe-inspiring members of  Team Katz – there are no words, I love you all.

Peace out.

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3 Responses to “That Sucked”

  1. Jamie Blanchard Says:

    I adore you Katz!

    • slk22 Says:

      Not possibly as much as I adore you! We’re having a “No Kona? No Problem!” Happy Hour on Thursday. Think you can make it?

  2. Lindsay Says:

    I really enjoy reading your race report because I understand it all, even though I’ve yet to tackle my triathlon dreams. I think that despite the outcome, you have a LOT to be proud of here! I didn’t realize this was only your second tri, and I can’t wait to see how things go in NYC and Chicago! (right?) 🙂

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