Most of the times, I am super excited to write about my races. I have lots of fun and I always learned one of two things about myself on race day: mainly on time reactions regarding adversities, how to reassess the situation and move on. Overall, I think I have done a pretty good job. But looking in retrospect (and reading all my race reports), I never really had a bad race day. I had to readjust because my transitions took longer, change nutrition because I lost a bottle but never I had a bad day. Not until, Louisville. I will try my best not to be too dramatic, but girl, I had a BAD day out there. It was also a long one and I was too stubborn (not to say stupid) to quit.
The truth is that I had high hopes for this race, I trained like a maniac this year. I woke up at 4am to run, I went to bed late to keep deadlines at work and made it to early rides, I swam 5k to get ready, I ran on 90F with no shade all season long. I wanted to do good, I wanted top 15. I was ready for it.
The picture in my head was just too different from reality. Like a cold race. Who pictures that? But oh well…
Leading up: First big hiccup: my boyfriend had a last minute business trip and couldn’t make it. I am upset but I got over quickly. It was out of our control. Luckily, I have great friends and Carolina came with me. (Best Sherpa Ever!).
We hit the road Friday early morning and the road trip was surprisingly too long. It was 400 miles full of anxiety! Once arrived, I was happy to see that my hotel was steps away from the finish line and a quick walk to swim start. I was a happy camper til I got to the room. Hiccup #2: there was no fridge, and later I found out, no kitchen/room service. For the record, I stayed at The Seelbach Hilton.
Settled in, walked to the village and got checked in, grabbed everything and suddenly realized that it was pretty damn cold. Cold for this Brazilian girl living in the South. After all, not once this season I trained on those conditions, Atlanta had been really hot this summer. Luckily, I was prepared in terms of clothing. As any other triathlete, you obsessively track the race location all year long hoping for the best. I was out of luck and brought all my winter gear. You know, just in case. I am glad I brought all of my gear.
The day before: I would like to highlight that even though the weather was cold, it was a sunny Saturday and it could be a nearly perfect weather race. Sadly, it was just the day of the athlete meeting. Nothing much was done, I used my air relax boots, I put my legs up and I prayed that my upset stomach from last night’s pizza got better. And I selected layers and layers to put into my transition bags. I did only the mandatory: bike and bags check in. Then I sat in the room, hoping that the rain forecast was a big mistake. I had to take imodiun for my stomach and hope for the best.
The morning of: I was rested. I woke up and immediately went to look out of the widows. Yes, it was raining and the thermometers were on the 30’s. All I could think of was it will be chilly. I had breakfast while thinking it was going to be a tough day. I had a cold ham and cheese sandwich, coffee and orange juice. I rested in bed trying to visualize a hot day. It was tough, my stomach was better. I went on to get ready. I decided to walk out with my wetsuit under my clothes. Best decision I have ever made. It kept me warm till the
start late start. (But I’ll get to that in a second).
It was raining and cold. As I walked to the transition, I was in good spirits. I was still warm with tons of layers on top of my wetsuit, and still hoping it would get better eventually. As we walked to the swim line, I figured it would not get any easier so I started to prepare mentally for that. My friend Carolina was such a trip, I cant thank her enough for being there for me. As we stood in the rain waiting for the start, we hear that the start was delayed. Mainly because they had to change the swim course last minute, since the pros jumped in the water and couldn’t move up because of the current. So they took those guys out and let them shiver till they figured out the whole new course thing.
Swim: Once they figured out and the line started moving, everyone started to get ready. I wasn’t too far behind, but the organizers were only letting one person jump in at a time. It took forever. We all stood there, getting colder and colder. Hitting the water was actually a relief, the water temp (65F) was much higher than the air temperature (40F). The current was really strong, I barely swam. There was a lot of yelling to move away from the cement bridge. I might have put my head down a couple of times, before getting yelled again to be aware of the only bridge on the course now. It turned to be a really fast 0.8 mile. Time: 16:10, Division rank: 33/205
T1: I walked out of the water to step on the coldest ground ever. There were strippers to help take the wetsuit but I kept mine. It was too damn cold to be on my swimsuit so I kept till the tent. As I took it out and got butt naked to put my dry clothes on. Oh boy, it felt good to have all those dry layers. My heavy gloves and beanie were definitely life savers. I had plastic under my kit, a base layer, arm warmers, vest, leg warmers, shoe covers. I mean, you name it. I was ready for it. Thinking in retrospect, I needed more layers for sure. But you race, you learn. I went on to grab my bike. The weather was around 40F and the rain was still coming down. Lightly as this point. Time: 18:05
Bike: I saw some familiar faces standing in the rain cheering and that always puts a small in my face. As I started cycling (maybe 10 minutes into it), the rain picked up and my shoes and socks were soaking wet. Oh boy, this will be fun. The course was a lollipop. The straight out was hard with heavy rain and wind. I started shivering before the first loop. I couldn’t barely feel my hands. Changing gears became increasingly difficult. I had to stop countless times to go to restroom and to have volunteers open my nutrition (By the way, the volunteers did a wonderful job keeping us in good spirits. They were also out there in the rain and cold weather). I am glad for their help, I wouldn’t have done it without them. My hands were too shaky and too numb, I was tired. By the end of the second loop, I was exhausted from shivering. I was hungry and cold but I kept moving forward, closer to the T2. The rain also didn’t get us a break. I saw lots of people standing of the side of the roads but not for a second, I felt I should join them. I just wanted to do it so. By the time, I heard the noise of T2 and started to see people, my heart got a little warmer. It was lonely, cold, gray, sad day for me. I usually enjoy the bike. I didn’t enjoy this one at all. Time: 7:07:53, Divison: 45/205 (Funny fact: my moving time on the bike was 45 minutes faster. This shows how many times I stopped to pee and eat. Way too many, right?
T2: As I got in the tent, I needed help from the volunteers again, to unclip my helmet and take my gloves off. I sat down closer to the heater so I could stop shivering. It took a while. Then at some point, I said out load: “I don’t think I want to do this”. One of the staff person said “you should be proud to made this far, over 200 people were picked up on the bike”. I thought to myself, oh man… I can’t quit. I didn’t make this far not to finish. I dried myself, changed the shirt, got my new gloves and went out hurting. And still cold, but no longer shivering. Time: 17:58
Run: I made a pact that I wasn’t going to walk this marathon, the exception were the aid stations. The run course is my favorite type of run: pancake flat, 2 loops. I kept repeating to myself: move it, move it. It was cold and rainy so it might have helped the body a little. A tired body from shivering for nearly 7 hours. I ran every single mile, to my surprise I had to stop another 6-7 times on the run. I had this urge to pee and it was kind of frequent. (Later, I learned that it was my body’s response to hypothermia. No kidding, I was really cold). I saw some familiar faces but nothing made me stop running. I wanted to get it done. Especially after the first loop. You run towards the finish line and they make you turn for the second loop, when you are a block away from it. MEAN! I passed lots of people, I think I kept running out of desperation. Desperate to finish it. Whenever I got close to mile marker 25, I charged it. I ran so fast that I still can’t believe it. I was ready to get it done. I was faster than my 5k pace, I was going for it. As I recognize the mean block of turning away, I broke down. I cried as I crossed that finish line. My friend Carolina was waiting on me, I cried and she hugged me. (What a good friend, I was nasty!) I kept saying: ” that was so hard, the hardest thing I have ever done” while crying. Time: 4:27:21, Division rank: 32/205
Looking in retrospect, I shouldn’t have started. I was too stubborn, once started I know I couldn’t stop but I knew that it was NOT the race I was trained for. What an awful experience that was. I learned so much on this race, here is my list:
- I can easily put my mind into shutdown mode and let my body do the work;
- I am a hot race kind of person, I’d rather sweat than shiver;
- I have great friends supporting me;
- I am never doing Louisville again (unless they move to the summer).
The good news is conquered. The DNF rate was pretty high and that doesn’t surprise me.