Race: Folsom Triathlons
Location: Folsom, CA
**For health background, please see “Preface” in previous blog post “The Fall & The Fight.”**
3 weeks after my last race, California Triathlon, I made a life changing decision for my health – to go Vegan. If you read the Preface to my first race report of the 2017 season, it’s no secret that my health took a turn for the worse towards the end of last year and beginning of this year. Needless to say, it’s been a rough go around this season. Nutrition and diet has played a major role in managing my overall health over the years in battling conditions, diseases, illness, surgeries, etc. Before going Vegan, I’d tried just about every “diet” out there. Some helped better than others – and I believe it helped me make it into remission once upon a time.
In my current disease state, I was running out of options to help get my health back under “control.” Honestly, I was beyond desperate to feel better again. It was time to try something new – enter, going Vegan. I went into it having the mindset of “I have nothing to lose” – if it didn’t make a difference, then no harm done. But, if it did help – oh what a dream come true it would be. Literally life-changing for all aspects of my health. Within the first week, I had already noticed significant changes. By the time I raced Folsom Triathlons, I was 2 weeks in.
In regards to health related changes, I noticed: lessened fatigue and inflammation, and an overall more “well” feeling and less “ill” feeling (kind of a difficult thing to explain accurately to people who have their health). These changes directly contributed to changes in my triathlon training. Changes I noticed in training: increased energy and ability, quicker recovery time, and an overall more “strong” feeling. For the record, the only thing I changed was what I was eating – with that being said, I can say with confidence that all the credit was owed to going Vegan. Did I mention it had only been 2 weeks? Insert smiley face here.
I was feeling great going into race day! Disclaimer: “feeling great” does not mean no symptoms from all my ailments. In my world, “feeling great” means symptoms are cooperating enough to be more manageable than normal. I was so excited to race at my favorite local triathlon venue. I think it’s my favorite one each year! The early morning air was cooler than past years, which made me very optimistic for the temperature for the rest of the day. Past years had been high 90’s and even triple digits – I’ve even had heat exhaustion on this race course before. So the cooler temps gave me an extra boost of motivation.
Kicked off race day as I normally do – got in a little run warm up, stretching, and then the warm up/stretching feat of getting into the wetsuit. The wetsuit part is always a joy! Said no triathlete ever. Got into the water to get acclimated to the cold crispness and take a look at how the swim course was laid out. Just once, I would really love to have a swim course start opposite of the rising sun. Just. Once. I was completely blinded by the sun and could not make out the buoys very well at all. Good thing I’m not the fastest swimmer, because I’d definitely be swimming off course! I started off in a good pace and felt like I stayed consistent throughout the race, and even had some extra oomph to pick it up a bit on the stretch to the swim exit. I will say that I was caught off guard by how choppy the water was the entire course. Swallowed more water than I wanted to (not on purpose) – but it kept it interesting and challenging.
The bike course at this triathlon is one of my favorites, ever. Got out of the danger zone mounting area as quickly as possible, and was soon settling into my happy place on the rolling hills course. (Rolla coasta of love…rolla coasta…oou oou oou!) I was bringing down the hammer out there. That is, until I realized that the course was actually a longer distance then what I had thought it was. In a state of confusion, I checked how far I had come so far, and tried to calculate how much further I needed to go to make it to the end of the bike course. I was close to hitting the 10 mile mark, but was still far out from the finish. Since an average sprint bike course is under 15 miles, I knew something was not right. Turns out, what was “not right” was my thinking that the course was less than 15 miles! The course was 19 miles – which pretty much could have just been the 24 mile Olympic distance bike course. Despite it, I fought my darndest to keep up the pace. Since I didn’t train for that distance, my body was not prepared and I was feeling that the second half of the course.
In T2 my lower body was beat. So beat. My upper body was feeling it too, due to the aero position of my tri bike. Which was to be expected, considering my mistake of not checking the mileage when I registered for the race. Lesson learned! I knew I was in for yet a second beat down of the day on the run course. I felt disappointed in myself because I was really looking forward to doing well on the run this year. One positive? It wasn’t too horribly hot yet. Second positive? I wasn’t doing to 10k. At this point, I was grasping at any little bit of positivity I could to keep me digging deep. Despite how hard I tried to push the pace, it just wasn’t happening. Instead I was plagued by legs cramping the entire way. All I could do was put a smile on my face and run with my heart.
Crossed that finish line and could feel my legs giving out from under me, in 3…2… and 1! Shout out to the awesome medics who get me to the med tent when I can’t do it on my own. Spent some extra time lying down in the med tent icing my legs, hips, and back – then my fiancé signed me up for a massage. Hobbled around with his help, and kept icing as I waited my turn. Let me tell you, the massage I got was amazing. It hurt like a mofo, but afterwards I was feeling SO much better than when I crossed the finish.
I figured that it wasn’t likely that I made podium this time, so we were thinking about just taking off before the results were posted. Once they were up, I figured I’d check them anyways and we could be on our way out. To my great surprise, I did in fact make podium, taking 3rd place AG! I PR’d the swim and the run from last years splits, and had the 2nd fastest bike split in my AG – but, I missed an overall PR by just one minute. Although they weren’t major accomplishments, I was still blown away at what I did that day. And then came the rush of incredible emotion, stepping up on the podium for a second time this season.
Honestly, it’s never really about the actual podium or medal – it is instead about the FIGHT it signifies. The hard fought battles day in and day out with autoimmune disease, chronic illness, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, and the list goes on. I made podium, but achievements like that come with a high price. That high price is enduring the backlash of the all of the above disease/illness/conditions. But that FIGHT – it’s always worth it. As always, a huge THANK YOU to my incredible sponsors, for their undying support and belief in me: Hammer Nutrition, Rudy Project, Love The Pain, Kinetic Cycles, and Team Freeplay.