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September « 2010 « Tereza Macel's Blog

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Archive for September, 2010

Hawaii Day One

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Switzerland and Hawaii are a far, far ways apart. But luckily enough the trip was pretty smooth, no crazy stories. My timing leaving Leysin was just right. Most of September had pretty amazing weather, pretty much until my last weekend there, when the temperature plummeted, and the rain started. My last ride I was wearing a hat under my helmet, and full gloves, a sign that it was time to go soon. So although I was very sad to be leaving Leysin, the thought of not needing to pack mittens for Kona was a happy one. It even made the long trip a little more bearable.

One day the grass is green, the next there is snow on the hills.


My first day in Kona was a cloudy, rainy day, just to make the transition from Switzerland a little easier I guess. I was all excited to swim in an outdoor pool. I am not sure why, but swimming outdoors is a treat. It is still the same black line at the bottom, and the same small space, but somehow is much more fun. Of course it does present some big challenges- tan lines. Swimming in an outdoor pool means you will tan faster than Paris Hilton can get her spray tan done. So, the very important decision to make is- low or high? Do you wear your swim cap low down, so that it merges with your goggles and hence no tan line? Or do you wear the cap really high, so it just touches the top of your forehead and the tan line is in line with your hair? Seems silly, but once you see someone with half a tanned and half a white forehead you will never make the same mistake again.
The most exciting thing at the pool was that I found someone who is worse at flip turns than I am- Chrissie Wellington. Yup, she was in the lane beside me, and after a few turns I realized I gain at least a body length each time we turned at the same time. Now in most workouts when I start a turn beside someone else I most often find myself a bit behind after the turn. Frustrated one day I asked Doc why I was losing time on the turns, not that it matters in an open water swim, but in a pool workout it adds up, and making pace times is tougher if I lose a few seconds each time. Doc just laughed, said it was nothing technical, I just wasn’t very hydrodynamic compared to most of the others ( meaning a bit too much bossom- not enough sleek flat surface).

There is a hill there somewhere- just covered by fog or rain or mist today.

The first time

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

I am back in Switzerland, and back to training, next up is Hawaii.
I have not spent September in Leysin before. It is kind of nice, to actually remember what autumn feels like. Last year I went from winter in Canada to summer in the Phillipines, to summer in Switzerland, summer in Canada, to warm weather in Korea, to scorching weather in Kona, to winter in Toronto, without getting to feel the nice crisp mornings, and cool but sunny days that can be so nice in the fall. So although I am may wish for warmer hands now and then while riding, I am also trying to be appreciate September, and getting to wear my favourite sweatshirts again.

Training is going fine. Good days, and tough days, and sometimes both at once. It is funny, some days you have lots of speed, or gears or choices in training, and other days there is only moving, or being still. The other day at swimming was one of those days. Usually I have a slow, medium, fast, and faster speed, but yesterday the only gears I had were on and off, or swim or sink. There was no fast, and there was definitely no very fast, since even moving forward seemed to require all my energy. I was not sure if it was a good or bad thing that Doc was not on deck. If he had been he would have probably would have had to throw in the inflatable life saving ring, since I pretty much looked like I might drown at any moment. Or he could have simply let loose one of the famous motivational talks that go something along the lines of “ If you are not bleeding out of your ears you are not going hard enough”.
Speaking of Doc’s stories, the other day he reminisced about a trip to Wilkes Barre for a triathlon.

Well, I remember Wilkes Barre and my first ITU points there, way back in the day when everyone was still riding aluminum bikes. Jasper Blake, Loch Vollmerhaus and I went on a road trip, in Jazzy’s Westafahlia. Half the time I have no idea where I am going, or where I have just been, so I had to look it up, and even decided to share the map.

Long story short- walking around after the race whenever anyone asked “How was your race?” My answer was “ I AM GETTING DRUG TESTED!”. How awesome. This was my first ever drug test, which in my books meant I must have had a good enough race to warrant drug testing. How exciting. Well, the excitement wore off a bit when an official had to follow me around, every moment, until I was ready to pee. So I drank as many bottles of water as I could get my hands on, and finally was ready to do it. Of course then I found out you first have to fill out a ton of forms, which I did not take into account, and my ready to pee moment, was soon must pee, was soon am bursting to go pee, while still filling out form after form, selecting which cup to pee in, which vial to store my pee in, which plastic bag to put it all in after, and a million other little choices you usually do not have to make in a normal bathroom break.

Finally, the paperwork done, and I found out that an official must come into the bathroom with me, and watch me actually go pee. Ok, this is not so glamorous anymore I thought. But my excitement was not to be destroyed so easily. It was a pretty memorable experience. And when I hear the name Wilkes Barre all I can think of is my first ever drug test.

Is the universe trying to tell me something?

Monday, September 6th, 2010

I might not have visions of grandeur, but for a little while there I thought perhaps I might have developed super powers kind of like the main character in “Unbreakable”. I travelled to Ironman Canada last week, my second Ironman in two weeks, and unfortunately it did not go so well, and I did not complete the day by crossing the finish line. I found out that I was not a super hero after all.

It all started with a train being 7 minutes late in Lausanne. I have taken the train in Switzerland quite a few times now, and have only witnessed a 2 minute delay once, for which the conductor seemed very apologetic. In Canada if a bus comes within a half hour of a scheduled time you can celebrate, and be thankful that it was your lucky day. So 7 minutes, maybe that was the first sign. Then there were some flight delays, missed flights, an extra very short overnight stay in Vancouver, and two days later I arrived in Penticton, Canada. All good so far. It meant a very quick couple of days doing some pre race interviews, and getting my stuff organized, and not thinking too much about feeling good or bad, but just getting in a few short workouts.

Waiting for the train

Race morning was cool, but nice, and there was a prediction of a high temperature of about 21 with not much wind. Perfect. I went down to the water about 20 minutes early, to get in a bit of a swim, and not feel rushed. I asked a fellow athlete to zip up my wetsuit, and as she was doing so I hear her say “uhh… this is not right”. She called over another person to give her a hand, and a minute later I had two people standing behind me, struggling to do up my zipper which had jammed. Five minutes later I had 4 people trying to help me out, while the race announcer made the 10 minutes to race start call. I started to think of my alternatives- get another wetsuit- so asked if the race announcer could ask if anyone had a spare suit, close to my size. Meanwhile the zipper is completely jammed, and I am half done up. The 5 minute to race start announcement is made. Ok, my next option was to try to get out of the suit, and swim without a wetsuit. It would be cold, but doable, and I would lose a bit of time on the swim, but it is a long day, and I could still be ok. With 4 minutes before race start one of my helpers says “ok, it is kind of done up, it should hold, swing your arms a bit and see what happens”. So I do a few arm swings, and it seem to hold, so I just hope it holds for the 3.8 km swim. If not and it opens up then I figure I will have to try to get out of mid swim, and just leave it floating somewhere, and finish without the suit. I just hope the kayakers out there don’t see the potentially floating empty suit and start a body search. Ok, my imagination was in overgear. I tried to refocus. I made it t to the start line, part way in the water, the gun went off, and the race was on. So far so good, I tried to get into a good swim rhythm, and not think too far ahead. The swim was pretty calm compared to the pre-swim beginning of my day. I exited the water first woman, ran to the wet suit strippers and said “ my wetsuit is jammed, just pull as hard as you can!” I was lifted off my feet as 2 guys janked the zipper up, but it did not budge. I felt like I was on a trampoline as I was lifted a few more times, with each attempt to get the zipper open. No hope. OK- “scissors, does anyone have scissors” I yelled. The volunteers found some scissors and proceed to cut me out of the suit. Yup, cut me out of the suit, This was definitely a bizzare day. The universe would later remind me that at one point I had a nice cozy suit on, and perhaps should have left it on, the zipper was a sign.

Finally onto the bike, I started to push the pace early, trying to find my rhythm, and build a bit of a lead. All was fine till about 70 km when my legs started to not enjoy the ride so much anymore. My lead was still growing, but so was the weakness in my legs. By 100 km I was barely making it up even the smallest hill, and my legs felt like they weren’t even there. I was in quite a bit of trouble, and am surprised I did not fall over I was going so slow. I must admit, this is were I made a couple of big mistakes, bigger than usual. I stopped eating at the regular intervals I usually do, and I started thinking too much. And thinking not so happy thoughts. Of course low blood sugar means more negative thoughts, and more negative thoughts meant I focused less and less on the process, and more on how badly I felt and what might happen. By now instead of a nice balmy afternoon, the temperature started dropping, the roads ahead were damp, then wet, then it started to rain, then it started to hail. Hmm, where was my warm wetsuit now? Maybe I should have kept it on for the bike ride. The hail was bouncing off my arms, deflected by the goosebumps, and as I headed down the long, fast descent into town I am not sure what was causing my wheel to wobble more- the gusty wind, or my teeth chattering from the cold. This was the final straw, I was hanging on by a thread, trying to get my non existent legs to pedal, and now I was cold as well as just barely moving forward.

I must say thank you to the volunteers in the transition tent, who saw me come in, unable to talk because I was so cold. They were super, two took my hands and started to rub them to get some blood back into them, while the third gave me a huge bear hug saying “I hope this is ok, I am going to try to warm you up using body heat”. I am not sure I would want to be hugging a wet, cold, cranky, hungry stranger, but this lady was a trooper. After some serious help getting my socks and shoes on, I shuffled out onto the run course, not fully sure why, since my mind checked out long before that, and I left my body somewhere on the downhill into town. It is very hard to think straight mid race, so I am still not sure if the decision to call it a day early into the run was a wise one. It definitely was not an easy one, and neither was accepting the disappointment in the pit of my stomach for the next week.

Is it left foot, right foot, or right then left? Who cares, I can't feel my feet anyway.

Well, the universe tried to tell me that maybe I should not go, starting with that seven minute train delay. Then it tried to warn me that 21 degrees forecast in Canada can easily mean 9 degrees and hail, and wearing a wetsuit might have been smarter. Or maybe I am just trying to come up with some answers why some days a race is more about survival than racing, and why some days it comes together while other days you fight for it, and some days there is not enough fight in you to get the job done.