Harvest Moon Aquabike – Race Report

A week and a half before the biggest race of my life, I was told by my doctor that I have Left Ventricle Hypertrophy (LVH) and that my left ventricle is bigger than my right and that it is probably due to untreated high blood pressure. This FREAKED me out! Some of the days I would not work out because I was afraid of dropping dead. Some days I decided to work out because I’m not just gonna sit around doing nothing until I drop dead. Either way the stress of what I was supposed to do next was probably worse than the LVH. I was not finding out a lot from my doctor since I needed to wait to see the cardiologist. I was told that I might not want to workout alone just in case. What? I trail run and do open water swimming with no one around me. How was I supposed to function like that?

Well, I saw the cardiologist for an Echo-cardiogram last Thursday. They found that my heart was only 1mm bigger than a “normal” heart. They didn’t find anything else wrong and I got the “go-ahead” for the race! I was, however, put on high blood pressure medication…I’m officially old.

So there I was Sunday morning lining up for the longest race that I’ve ever attempted to do. I signed up for the Harvest Moon Aquabike, which is basically 2/3 of a 1/2 ironman, only the swim and the bike portions with no half marathon run! I had decided that I just wanted to finish. I didn’t want to go fast (not that I could) or be flashy (not that I am), I just wanted to survive it and enjoy it.

I got up at 4am, loaded all of my pre-packed gear into the truck, which had my bike already mounted on the roof and started the 1.5 hour drive to get to the race venue. I set up my transition area and was feeling pretty calm about the whole thing. Got my wetsuit on and headed down to the beach area to warm up for the 1.2 mile swim. I was in the very last wave and decided to be in the back of the pack just so I could remain calm (and unbruised) from the swimming frenzy of being in the middle of the pack. This worked great. I was just swimming along like I do in training twice a week. At the half way point when I had to turn around and start swimming back to the beach I was getting pummeled by the waves that had been created by ALL (minus 2 that were behind me) the other swimmers ahead of me. I swear that for every two strokes I took I was being pushed back one. It was rough going but somehow I was still enjoying it. I think I was laughing at myself for being in the midst of something I never thought I could do and I was getting it done. When I hit the beach I slowly ran into transition with the clapping of only a few spectators because most had moved on the watch the other legs of the race. I was grateful for the ones that I did hear.

Now on to the bike leg. I started off well, eating my first GU, washing it down with water, and taking a few sips of my Cytomax. I felt strong and didn’t think that 56 miles was going to be all that hard. I mean, I thought I’d be sore the next day but thought I’d cruise through it. The first hour I was riding hard (probably too hard) passing people, taking in my nutrition like I had planned (one GU every hour, wash down with water, then several sips of Cytomax every 15 min). This was fun and I was really enjoying myself. I was so relaxed that I started just looking at things around me, the country side, the cows, the mountains way in the background. At mile 23 I noticed I was riding through “grasshopper graveyard”! They were all over the road and I kept hearing the crunch of them under my tires as I rode. Ew, gross! At one point I found myself swerving to miss a caterpillar crossing the road. I was really not worried about this ride.

And then it happened…at about mile 30 both of my sides started hurting. I felt like an alien was on the inside of my core pinching me. I first thought that I must have taken in too many electrolytes so I quit popping the GU’s and Cytomax. I thought that maybe it was like the side stitch that I get when I run so I pinched my side and tried to exhale forcefully. That didn’t work and I realized that my sides were rock hard (not in the good way) so I figured it must have something to do with not getting enough oxygen into my core from being hunched over in the aero position too long. I started sitting straight up on my bike and trying to breathe like I do in yoga. Still no relief. This pain grew in severity with each and every mile and I was starting to feel it in my diaphragm. By mile 40 my sitz bones were hurting from riding on such a hard seat. This is normal with cycling so I just tried to suck it up and deal with that pain but the cramping in my diaphragm was making me want to cry. I ran out of water with about 9 miles left and I ran out of Cytomax with about 3 miles left. Somewhere in between that I was only riding about 6 miles per hour and I just stopped. I looked up the empty road and down the empty road. No one around and nothing to do but push through the pains. I got back on the bike and started to pedal. As I got closer to the reservoir, I must have looked half dead because anyone who saw me cheered me in with enthusiasm. With only 1 mile to go the idea of just quitting still kept popping into my head. I rode to the T2 transition, dismounted my bike, and ran to the rack. I quickly put my running shoes on since I still had to run 200 meter to the finish. As I was running I realized that I no longer had pain in my core/diaphragm area. Huh, and just like that it was gone, and just like that I was done.

I finished (4hr 47min) the race sliding on my stomach through the wet Slip N’ Slide that they provide for anyone wanting some “extra” fun. All and all this race was a blast and taught me a lot about proper training, nutrition, and a little about myself. I think one day I may just be ready to tackle the “whole” half ironman but until then I have some serious training to do. 🙂

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~ by willtriforbeer on September 14, 2011.

3 Responses to “Harvest Moon Aquabike – Race Report”

  1. Jen…way to go! It’s ok to contemplate quitting but you didn’t give-in! Take your learnings and sign-up for the 70.3 in Boulder 2012 with me! Training and Racing is so much more fun with a buddy! Glad you’re my training buddy!

  2. Great race! Scary about the heart / bp issues. FWIW, I’m on bp meds too!

    Isn’t it crazy how you’re feeling great one moment then it all changes? Then changes again…So proud that you kept pushing and finished!

    I love your blog! You’re saved at the top of my favorites list! I’ve been bad about posting on mine – you’ve inspired me again!

  3. I biked a couple of times this week and went on a hike yesterday. This still made me feel lazy, it could have had something to do with the McDonalds sausage biscuit I was eating at the time…..way to go Jen!

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