Hitting bottom is the place addicts get to when chronic unemployment, loss of friendship, living in dire straights, having no money, stealing from people you love, all of which can be attributed to your use of addictive substances (or food or gambling or sex), finally become so over powering that they are forced to face facts and get help and then to change their lives. My hitting bottom is of a different nature by quite a long shot but it still felt bad and it still felt like a real wake up call.
Last weekend I raced Vineman 70.3 for the 4th time. I wanted very badly to PR since times 2 and 3 were worse than my inaugural Vineman effort. My 2nd took place on a day when it was over 100 degrees on the run course. My 3rd was undertaken with almost no training due to work and travel and after that race I vowed never to toe the line untrained again.
I showed up for Vineman #4 severely under trained. No excuses this year – I didn’t travel much and I wasn’t working that hard. I just didn’t step up. What’s worse is that this was not the first race I showed up for minus the training this year. It was the 3rd. I had already raced an Olympic and a 66 mile race and had pretty poor results both times and swore that if I didn’t train I wouldn’t race Vineman. Are you seeing the pattern, yet?
The weekend before the race I had a pretty good training weekend. On Saturday I rode 25 miles pretty hard and had a peppy 2 mile run off. I was feeling oddly confident given that 25 miles + 2 miles isn’t even close to 70.3 miles.
Race day dawned and off I went. I thought my swim was a 4 minute PR based on the Garmin. Then I got on the bike and I felt pretty good. I was moving along at an okay clip. I got to the first water stop and grabbed a bottle of Gatorade (for no known reason since I knew I wouldn’t drink it) and put it in the back bottle cage, grabbed a power bar, missed the last bottle of water and someone ran one up to hand me one so I quickly dumped it in my aero bottle, went to toss the bottle in the bin before I’d gone too far (I was almost past the bin now) and looked up to see myself running into the curb. CRAP! There was no time and down I went – right on to some nasty, chunky gravel – BOOM! A guy helped me up and picked up my bike. The bike was okay so I grabbed one of the bottles that still had water in it, rinsed off the blood and took off.
32 miles later I was off on the run. I can’t remember if I was aware of how bad my bike split was but I had fallen so I just had to deal with it. My run strategy had been to try to run the whole thing but run slow so that’s what I did. Only I didn’t run the whole thing- I walked some of it. I walked and jogged which all together was really slow. As always I just kept going. Once I got to 4 miles I was at the “no turning back because that’s 8 miles anyhow and you might as well just do 13.1” . And I did. I finished.
I looked around for my friends but didn’t see anyone (because they had all finished way before me) so I headed for Medical to get patched up. Only I started crying. I haven’t cried at the finish line since I did my first marathon and I really didn’t understand what was happening but by the time I sat down in medical I was crying hard. It was the kind of mournful, deep crying that comes when you’ve lost something dear to you.
I got patched up and during that process realized I didn’t feel so good. I asked for a puke bucket just in case. They put me on a cot and put a cold cloth on my head and kept patching me up. I stayed there for quite a while and then I saw a friend outside so I stood up to get her – and then I didn’t feel so good. Back to the cot I went and I was ashen faced with grey lips (not a good look on me). They elevated my feet, got me water and gatorade and took my vitals about every 15 minutes. A couple of hours later I was good to go.
I had to think long and hard about the tears and the emotion and what was going on there. I knew I had had a trauma and I was hurt but still – that didn’t really cover it. I’m not a sobber. I believe I was crying tears of disappointment in myself for letting myself go. For not training. For not losing the 15 pounds I’ve gained since Vineman #1. For putting myself last. For not honoring myself by trying to succeed. It was a wake up call and the message is ‘there is no try – only do or not do’ and that’s the decision point for me. At this point I am 3 for 3 on ignoring my own advice and with that we say, “De Nile ain’t just a river in Egypt”
Can I break the cycle? I’ll keep you posted.