Monday, April 2, 2012

Wildflower Practice Weekend - A wild ride of emotions!

"You have to experience it" is the only phrase that could describe my Wildflower weekend's swim and bike course.  The only other ride which I've experienced with more difficulty was the Auburn Triathlon, also known as "The World's Toughest Half."

Arriving Friday afternoon with sunshine and  temperature at about 72 degrees was purely deceiving.  It in no way prepared me or my team mates for what we would be greeted with at mile 20 of our bike ride the following day. 

When I arrived at the camp grounds on Friday, I was pleasantly enjoying my shorts and tank top.  Even the evening temperature was pleasant making the overnight sleep tolerable and the morning very bearable.  Although it was chilly at 5:30am, I didn't think it would remain that temperature the entire day!

Our 7am start time came quickly but unfortunately we didn't actually start our event until 7:50am.  The delay in the race start was due to the EMT's arriving late.  But once they arrived we were quickly rushed into the water.  Prior to jumping in, I took several deep breaths, trying to calm my nerves.  The cigarette buoy’s looked farther than they did the day before when a few of us went out to the lake to view our swim course.
We are BADASSES!!  Go Team IronTeam! Woo!
  So after hearing someone say "Cannonball" and jumping into the water, I took the plunge as well.  The freezing water went straight to the bone.  The last two weekends we had done open water swims, but I swear the temperature was much colder.  I tried to slow my breathing and tell myself it will all be over in an hour. 
Nothing but SMILES! ♥

That's me waving! Hi!!!
As we all treaded water waiting for the green light I tried to make the best of a cold time by waving to those volunteers on the dock.  But once we heard, GO, I started swimming.  Barely at the 1st cigarette buoy, I found myself stopping several times.  Earlier that week and the previous weekend I had experienced a few bouts of vertigo and again, was experiencing it.  I felt nauseous and panicked a bit.  It was then that I saw Rich and Lindsay.  He asked, "Are you okay."  I would respond "Yes" and then started swimming again.  After about the 4th time I stopped Rich finally said, "Tyza, come swim with us." And I did and felt so much better.  He remained positive the entire time, each time we completed a buoy, he said, one down let's go.  He encouraged me to keep going and it was comforting to see Lindsay on my right.  I used her the first half of the swim as my marker.

When we finally reached the 4th cigarette buoy, I knew I was halfway done which gave me this burst of energy.  I think at this point my body finally acclimated to the water temperature.  We all began swimming together and then I just kept swimming.  I didn't stop much until I reached the dock and by that time I was exhausted.  I could feel my right calf a little tight and thankful I finished without cramping, or so I thought. 

As one of the volunteers pulled me out of the water, an hour and 3 minutes after I had began my swim, I cramped.  I must have looked like a fish out of water rolling around on the dock trying to let the pain of the tight muscle disappear.  Once the pain subsided and my muscle relaxed I got my body up and began walking to the transition area. 

When I finally did make it to the car, I quickly changed into my bike clothing, had a little nutrition and off I went.  Mistake #1 was the right turn I made, adding an additional 1/2 mile to my ride.  When I hit a dead end, I realized I must have gone the wrong way, so I turned around and when I came back to where I started, I saw team mates and quickly followed them onto the bike course and I was on my way!

I felt good.  I warmed up; my calf didn't ache too bad and felt like I had a good cadence going.  There were a lot of gray clouds but I had no idea what was in store for me.  When I finally reached the 1st water stop at mile 19, I thought it would be a good idea to refill my water bottle, take off my full coverage gloves and take my skull cap off.  Little did I know what a bad idea this was.  After thanking the volunteers for their assistance, I was off.  Immediately I was met with crosswind and the temperature seemed to drop 5-10 degrees.  And then the rain began.  All this in a matter of a few miles; and it continued the remaining of the ride.

I was met with ridiculous gusts of winds of 20-30mph, rain that was coming from every direction (even upwards) and rough roads.  I tried to keep positive, and thankful when the rain went from a hard downpour to light sprinkles because when you are on your bike going 30-40mph and you have rain hitting your face, it feels like tiny pin pricks.

I was cold and miserable for most of the ride and didn't even stop at the 2nd water stop.  I knew if I slowed down, I'd get even colder and I was already beginning to feel the mental fatigue, so I peddled through. My knees were aching, my calf felt tight but I kept peddling.

We received a BIG surprise right about Mile 42! NASTY GRADE!

When I finally hit mile 41 I saw Ron's vehicle on the side.  I knew "NASTY GRADE" lied ahead and I told myself to push through it.  I knew it was going to be 1000 feet of a 2 mile climb from 3-7% grade.
I told myself as I peddled up the hill that I had to think of something other than looking at the top of the hill, so I began counting my strokes.  Pedal 20, stand for 20.  I did this for a good portion of the hill and then I see writing on the road, "WHAT HILL?" and I thought to myself, Huh?  What does that mean?  Little did I know that once I made my next right, I had another MONGO hill to climb.  At my right turn, I got an encouraging "WAY TO GO TYZA" by Coach Ron!  Thank you Ron - for that helped me out so much!!

As I neared mile 48 I caught up with a team mate, Jennifer Oh.  I had been alone most of my ride, passing a few people and being passed by a few as well.  So riding with someone when you are cold and tired and share the same experience with is refreshing.  We both shared how awful the rain and wind were.  I remember at one point my bike felt like it was going to tip over from a wind gust.

As we neared mile 54 we looked at the yellow arrows (which indicated what directions were to proceed.) 4 miles later, with several downgrades and finally hitting a dead end, we realized we went the wrong way and had to turn around, which also meant MORE hill climbs.  AT this point I wanted to scream and cry.  So back on the bike and off Jen and I went.  Back to Lynch Road we headed, back another 4 miles.  On our climb up we saw Harold descending and I screamed, "Turn around, you’re going the wrong way!"  I'll leave out the details of his response, but it was much like that of what came out of my mouth most of my ride.

So as we neared Lynch I knew it was going to be a steep descent but I was overjoyed we made it.  I knew the end was near.  I was mentally broken at this point.  I had added an additional 45 minutes and 8 miles to my ride trying to figure out how to get back.

Entering the parking lot, 5 hours and 15 minutes later, I was numb, my fingers had shooting pain like needles each time I tried to move them and my fingers were purple and pink.  I stripped off my drenched gloves and bike gear, grabbed my run gear and felt like a baby because I headed to the restroom to change.  As I approached the bathroom Coach Ron greeted me asking how I was, I almost broke down in tears and at to my relief, he said we didn't have to run.  Just get warm and rest.  

What I learned was that several team mates were sagged in from the bike course.  The conditions were horrible.  And later we found out that those few who did run the course had to walk/hike a large portion of it because the paths were so muddy you couldn't run.  So after, I changed my clothing I joined a few teammates in Iron Team’s manager’s car to warm up. 
Danielle and I trying to warm up in Dennis' car!

One thing I can say is this was a bonding experience like no other.  We all experienced the same emotions.  We all felt mentally beat.  Mother Nature was cruel to us, but the amazing thing is we did this course is such extreme conditions.  This took our mental toughness to a new level.  

This morning I posted on my Facebook - 
“Blessings sometimes show up in unrecognizable disguises.” - I think this weekend was one of those blessings ♥ Rain, 20-30mph winds and cold builds "mental toughness." That is what I gained this weekend.  Although I was temporarily broken mentally after my ride I can reflect and know I can get through worse! 

Eugene & Anna - Love them Both!

Our weekend ended with music, sharing of each one's experience on the ride, swim and run (for those who did the run,) hugs, smiles, laughter and positive encouragement toward each other.  The relationships between all of us have grown deeper and stronger.  We BONDED and that is nothing Mother Nature can destroy!

IronTeam are amazing individuals from the Coaches, Captains, Mentors, Volunteers, Honoree's and Participants.  I have nothing but unconditionally love for each and every one of them.  I look forward to the workouts, in whatever conditions they may be because of the positive energy we all provide one another.  
This man amazes me.  Honoree Keith did the swim, bike and even the run!  Way to go Keith!!  You inspire all of us on IronTeam!
I found strength in Jen Oh while we got lost.  She kept me in line because if I was alone, I may have lost it.  Sharing stories with Teresa, Gladys, Chienyo, Irene, Farin and all the other team mates is absolutely PRICELESS. Seeing Beth dance off with Eugene was heart-warming.  We had memories that will stay with us forever. I am thankful for each one of you IRONTEAM!

Iron "G" & Iron "T" in Da House!

To endure the pain of getting to the next phase in life(whatever it may be,) is nothing compared to the pain of not even trying.  To feel the pain and discomfort reminds us we are full of life and challenges us to do more, be more, and give more!  This weekend was painful, but I gained a higher level of "Mental Toughness".  Without this experience, I wouldn't be stronger today than I was a few days ago.  So to me, it was worth every bit of discomfort, pain and misery.  Go Team Iron Team Woo!!

We are FAMILY! ♥

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