Guts to Glory: How To Train Like an Archer

Surly says: “Yeah bitches, you want some of this?!”
Sometimes we get a gut feeling during a race…no, not the GI cramps from your last packet of GU.  More like a hunch that our time is gonna suck.  We no longer care about how fast we are or who’s passing us…we just want it to be over.  Yeah.  That’s pretty much how my first triathlon went down. 
For the past week, I have been making jokes about my lack of training.  Sure, I’ve been smashing out miles on the bike but lacked the motivation to run and keep up with lap swim.  I figured being a super sprint triathlon, I would just “man up” and suffer it out for an hour or so.  I woke up this morning and realized what I had done…signed up for a potential death march.
I woke up at 4am to gather my things, drink some coffee and pray to the triathlon gods.  “Please, just don’t let me be last”.  That’s always my main concern.  Always.  I loaded up the car and headed out a wee bit too early, but better to be early than late, right?  I jammed out to some old school hip hop and car-danced my nerves away.  I was skerrrd.
I pulled up to Legion Street and began unloading my gear.  I felt like an idiot.  I imagined the day looking more like a junk show.  I had NEVER EVER practiced a transition.  I hadn’t been in the pool since July and my running days have been FEW and far between.  I couldn’t imagine doing well…or feeling well.  This is the way of an Archer.
It was nice to see the sweet faces of all my friends.  Amazing people and STRONG athletes.  I knew I had to be tough, not only for myself but for them.  I had to show the world I wasn’t afraid to come out and risk looking like an untrained idiot…I wanted to show myself what I am capable of.  The highlight of my morning was seeing “Coach Williams” walk up in the bike transition area.  Jamie has always been a solid rock for me no matter what…her support meant the world.
Go time.
After taking a few warm up laps in the pool, I lined up with all the other competitors and attempted to look calm.  My heart was in my stomach.  Luckily they had C&C Music Factory’s “Everybody Dance Now” blazin’ out of the speakers…I couldn’t help but dance my nerves away.  Jams.  Megan likes the Jams…even if they are from the early 90s. πŸ™‚
It was my time to jump in..ready set go!  I immediately forgot about being nervous and focused on not drowning.  I know how to swim…just not like an Ironman.  I probably went out a little too hard because I started feeling like shit by 150 meters.  I let a girl pass me because she was right on my toes, only to have her stub up in front of me.  “Seriously?  You’re gonna pass me and then slow down?”  I pulled over to her left and swam right next to her…she gave me motivation to paddle harder.  I might have looked like a choppy nightmare, but it got me there.
I felt pretty good coming out of the water.  I jogged over to my bike and had a bit of a balance issue.  I fumbled around with my bike shoes and got ready to ride.  I ran out of transition and used my newly obtained “cyclocross mount” to get on and start riding.  I popped a Chocolate #9 and put my legs in “go mode”. 
Just so you guys know, the course is NOT flat.  I was spittin’ mad game about how it was only 380 vertical all morning, only to find out I would be doing some serious work for every one of the 9 miles.  I got passed up on the first climb by some dude on a mtn bike with a camelbak.  I started to catch up to him until I realized he was on a relay team and didn’t swim.  “Why am I trying to keep up with a relay team?”.  I let him go, even though everything inside of me said “DON’T LET THE MTB’er WITH THE CAMELBAK BEAT YOU ON THIS ROAD RIDE!”
I then put the words of Duckman into motion: “Pick someone out in front of you, work your ass off to catch up.  Pass them and then pick out someone else to pass.  Pick them off one by one”.  So I did.  I never gave myself much of a break.  On the big descent I got in my drops and geared up to gain some speed.  I don’t know how many people I passed, but I remember thinking how I would need the bike advantage for my run.  I needed to pass as many people as I could, because the run would kill me.  I came into the last stretch pretty darn hot and thought I could pull off a CX dismount.  I didn’t take into account that my legs would feel like jelly and I almost speed wobbled into a crowd of people.  I’m sure I looked like a sketchy gaper.  Oh well…it was time for the turtle shuffle.
I felt great coming into transition…then I started to run.  OUCH.  I immediately felt sore and tired and crampy and bitchy and moany.  I felt like a bag of turds.  I kept telling myself “don’t stop” and “this is your dark place”.  I knew my lack of training runs would hurt me…and it did.  I finally made it back to the long stretch where I could see cones and hear people.  This is where I shine, no matter how bad I feel.  I kicked it up a bit and as soon as I got to my first orange cone I kicked it up a lot.  I was in my “sprint till ya puke” mode.  I crossed the line…I finished strong!
As soon as the nausea and hypoxia wore off, I felt pumped.  I felt like I could do it again…and MUCH BETTER if I actually trained.  Imagine the surprised look on my face when I found out I placed 1st in my age group?!  Yep.  That’s the look I had, too.
I’ve been in shock all day about so many things.  Mostly, how strong I’ve become on the bike.  I’m amazed every day.  I feel a wave of motivation coming over me…it’s been a while since I had one.  I’m ready for CX and excited to see what I can get into next tri season.  I also have some 8, 12 and 24 hour mtb races in my sights.  Maybe I’ll train a little more for my next race…or maybe not.  I’ve got Archer blood in me and you know how that goes πŸ™‚

One Comment Add yours

  1. Allie says:

    You done good Archer. Keep it up!-Allison

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