This is my journey from couch to athlete.

Monday, July 07, 2008

GWN Take 3....and the last 3 months

Am I ever far behind! It's part laziness on my part and part training schedule. I'll try to recap the last 3 months but sadly, I have failed to document the real ups and downs of Ironman training. 

After the St. Albert 10 miler, I had a chance to try for that PB again at the Mother's Day 10km and was ecstatic when I had another textbook run and managed a PB at 1:07! Not only did I set a PB but I set it the day after  doing a long ride. It was a great day.

A couple of weeks after that I did Coronation tri but was warned by my coach that I may not see a better time because it was being done in the middle of training. I did a 4.75 bike ride the day before and although my time was a bit slower this year, I was happy that I managed to take 2 minutes off the swim, and still be able to run most of the 8km even though I was really tired. This gave me a real boost of confidence heading in to GWN that I am now able to run even when I'm really tired. 

June saw my largest training weeks ever!!! I went through a small panic period where I looked at the schedule and felt defeated because there is no way I could manage all that. The training hours were about 16-18hrs a week. I thought that was going to be my peak training weeks. It really helped when my coach told me that this was the maximum amount of training he thought I could handle. He told me to start every workout and do the best I can and then we'll re-evaluate if we need to. Suddenly I didn't feel so overwhelmed. I tried to just focus on one workout at a time, and not think too much about the 6.25hr Saturday training sessions. 3 consecutive Saturdays were spent swimming for 30mins, riding for 5 hours (with a few hill repeats thrown in for fun), and then running for 45 mins. Finishing those plus all of the weekday workouts gave me so much confidence that I was getting stronger. I was really happy to get to rest week and the mini taper for Great White North!

OK - here is the race report (and some post race ramblings)...
The day before I didn't feel completely rested but figured after two weeks of tapering I am ready and my body was just psyching me out. I was sure it would come through when I needed it to. I was watching the weather reports and things looked good until two days before the race. On the morning, the weather showed thunderstorms all day - yikes! I gather up all my stuff and get to the race. We had to park much further than usual and it was a pretty long walk - my legs already felt tired which wasn't good. I get to transition and go to set up my stuff, open up the bag and realize that the sunscreen had leaked all over everything and I forgot my towel (d'uh!) My goggles were covered so I went to the washroom and cleaned them off. Put on my wetsuit and went in to the water to test out my goggles. They weren't leaking, but they kept fogging up. Then it was time for the start.....I was so nervous, my heartrate was 130bpms just standing there doing nothing. The gun goes off and I head in to the water near the back. It starts out pretty good, I feel comfortable in the water and the pushing is not too bad. I sight for the buouy and realize I am off course so I start to straighten up. My goggles just kept fogging up which made sighting really challenging. I get to the first buouy and what a bottleneck - everyone is crowded together when the person beside me decides to breakout in to a breaststroke - hitting and kicking everyone around her grrrrrrr (dog paddle is a better choice when there is no space.) Approaching the buouy to start the second lap I look at the clock and it's at 24 something. I am disappointed since that is slower than last year. Head out for the second lap and people are much more spread out now - I didn't get to draft off anyone for most of the swim (I hope that doesn't happen at Ironman.) As I'm swimming in, I am getting splashed with water and finally realize that it's raining. I get out of the water and look at the clock...51mins - 2 mins slower than last year. I was really disappointed with this because I have been feeling better in the water and my Coronation time indicated about a 4min drop for this. Of course there are rumours that the course was short last year because the first buouy got moved so maybe it wasn't as bad as I thought. But the key was that in my mind, I was having a bad race.

I get to my bike and everything in transition is soaking wet. Guess I didn't need that towel after all. I do the best I can to get my wet socks on, grab my stuff and head out on the bike. I just keep telling myself that bike is my strength, and this is where I'll make up the time I lost on the swim. I start out and feel pretty good, except for the pouring rain. My heartrate is much lower than it was last year. My legs felt tired and just couldn't push hard enough to get my HR where it should be - it was about 150 for the entire ride (except the climbs.) I was watching my time and thought a sub 3hr ride was possible but as I got to the last 25kms I realized that I wasn't going to make it. The last 25kms, I was really uncomfortable on the bike - my hips were sore and my left side was really bugging me. I kept shifting around trying to get in the right position. When I got in to transition, I was in a lot of pain. My bike time, with transitions was 3:15 (last year was 3:18) so there was a marginal improvement there. 

After getting my shoes on etc. I head out to the run debating whether or not I should continue because my hips are so sore. I walk about 200m and then decide to try running. Of course my quads start showing they don't approve of this but overall I didn't feel too bad. I start telling myself that I can still go for a better run time than last year, try to forget about the rest of the race. I get running and feel ok, so I shuffle along for the first 9kms. There is a girl power walking near me, and every time I take a walk break she passes me. She was doing great, and was really encouraging but she was driving me crazy because she could walk faster than I was running. Around 9km, I just got so tired and deflated that I just kept walking. I didn't think of it at the time, but my coach had once said that when you get like that on a course, your body is crying out for something. I ate some jelly bellys but my stomach was a little off so I decide to try out the Tums I brought with me (my biggest mistake in 07 was not having these) and they worked really well. I hear they stop cramping too. I run a bit, and walk a lot-telling myself that it's all mental, just start running. For some reason, I just couldn't get my mind to make my body move. I knew I wasn't even going to hit 7 hours (my time from last year) so I spent a few kms fighting off tears of frustration. I have been training 7 days a week (much harder than most people I know), given up lots of time with my family and friends, been exhausted for a couple of months, and spent a lot of money on race wheels and various other tri toys - yet on race day, I couldn't produce any result. I felt like I was letting everyone down - me, my family, my coach, and my friends. I keep shuffling along, running and walking, supporting everyone around me on the out and back course. I come up for the last 2kms and see my husband standing there. As soon as I see him, I just start crying and it all comes out. He was awesome! He reassured me that I was not letting anyone down and then offered to distract me with some crazy stories of his night at work. He had to take his sandals off to run with me, but we started running and he kept talking - taking my mind off everything. He knows me and knows that I could run so he just got me going and I ran the last 2kms with him beside me. I come to the corner and see my mom there! I wanted to pose for a picture but I needed to get across that finish line. I come around to hear the famous Steve comes Kerry Avery - this is her 3rd Great White North triathlon, she was an 8:17 finisher in 2006 and 7 hours in 2007.... I cross at a time of 7:11. I hug my friends and go to the race director - give him a big hug and apologize for not being able to pull it out today. He had made me a deal that he would upgrade my entry if I could take off another 30mins. He had already upgraded my entry but I didn't fulfill my end of the deal. 

I felt totally exhausted and like a complete loser. My friends kept congratulating me but I wanted them to stop because to me, I failed! I lost all of the joy this sport brought me last year. I thought about all the people I know that don't train as hard as I do but still crossed that line before me today. I came to the conclusion that it doesn't matter how much money I spend, or how hard I train; I will always be at the bottom of those results. I try not to compare my performance against other people and race against myself but at GWN this year I didn't beat either. There have been a few tears of frustration post race as I come to terms with my limitations. 

I am SOOOOO proud of all my friends that completed this distance for the first time! Suzanne, Sara, Pete, Bing and Brian - congrats you guys, you all did awesome! I wanted to celebrate with my friends but struggled to get over my own disappointment. 

At the end of the day, it sucks to be competitive when you have no athletic ability. What I do have is thing I'm not is a quitter, and I will persevere to Ironman. I had a good email exchange with my coach, who reassured that this was not the race we're training for so not performing on that day is ok. He says there is only 1 day you need to perform and that was not it. 

It's funny...this is what my horoscope says for today"Even if you have sights set high, you may get discouraged easily if you cannot reach your goals. Patience can be a hard lesson for you, so it's crucial to cut yourself some slack and give your plans time to develop. You may find yourself obsessed today with just one aspect of a project, but it's wiser to focus on  your overall goal and not just one single thing." How appropriate!'s time to head towards my dream of Ironman. I think in some ways it will be easier than GWN because my only expectation is to finish under the cutoff time. The pressure is never as high but the fear is because you just don't know if you can finish the distance. 


  • At 9:42 AM, Blogger Shaunene said…

    Wow - I am so sorry you had such a hard race but I kept thinking as I was reading this that you need to ease up on yourself - you have done 3 half Ironmans, you are training for an Ironman and you are a fighter. A good friend of mine said to me once that it is easy to run a great race it is harder to finish a tough race and it is a sign of dignity, grace and respect to the race when you do. Sometimes you just need to step back - 7 days a week is a lot I would say SPA DAY is needed. You are amazing and I can hardly wait to meet you and see you race this year in Penticton. Whenever I think about how hard it was for me after my first half ironman I always think of your story and I know that I can do it. It is tough for us we are so competitive but I don't EVER want to read that you think you don't have athletic talent that is a bunch of Hooey. You are an athlete and an inspiration.

    Cyber Hugs from a far away fan - Shaun

  • At 9:06 AM, Blogger eastglen77 said…

    kerry, kerry, kerry...a great blog!! we finished, you know there's much more yet to come, and you've got your eyes set on the big goal, things went wrong, you've been training extra hard, and this was just one more step to getting that M Dot thingie....and you know what, only a few of our group can say they're athletically adept, me, i'm athletically challenged (like bing asked me at the start, was i going to race like i race, or race like i trained...)...don't over think this thing, sunday was just another step on an overall road of life, and as someone said, it is, just what it is!


  • At 8:52 PM, Blogger Sonia said…

    Aww so sorry to read about your disappointing race Kerry.... 11 mins is not even a 3% time increase... I know this is not really comforting and you expected more but I hope you can put this into perspective.

    Your training like crazy and this will pay off at IMC!

    ps it's Dr.Sonia!!

  • At 1:31 PM, Blogger Running~Jordan said…

    I'm pretty sure had you not had a bad start to your run you would have caught me there. Your A race is IMC 08. Take whatever you learned at GWN and apply it. I'm always cheering you on, and am always inspired.

  • At 4:54 PM, Blogger krista said…

    Kerry I knew when the clock struck 7:00 and you hadn't showed up you'd be disappointed. Truly I relate. I possess no natural athletic talent but I'm competitive!

    Focus on the prize....... That is all you need to do (oh and train still!)


  • At 6:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sounds like a tough day. Of course in my world, Anything Involving Cycling + Anything Involving Rain = A Tough Day.

    Listen to your coach tho... you've been training through this event, rather than doing it as an A race, so an A result was a bit much to ask of yourself.

    You finished, didn't get injured, and I do hear a note of confidence about Ironman... that's the important thing! Ironman is going to be a HUGE accomplishment, and I'll be cheering you on from (way!) south of the border.


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