Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tri Latta Sprint Triathlon 2010 Race Report Part 3/3

I was in an out of T2 which was pretty impressive because I was wearing the Vibram Five Fingers. They have been known to be a little difficult to put on but I have honestly never had a problem. So I put on these shoes and I was on the trail…Trail! This is a trail run?!

The Five Fingers are a barefoot alternative shoe…and by shoe I use that term loosely. It is more like a glove for your foot than it is a “running shoe.” The shoe is very sensitive. One time I ran over sand and felt the grains of sand under my feet. It’s awesome running in them because I feel so connected to the Earth. The way God meant for us to be.

This, however, running barefoot deal was new to me and is still new to me. I had trained in these shoes on the hardtop and wasn’t prepared to run on trails in them. Now this trail run wasn’t like hard packed dirt. It was more like gravel. There were portions of this run that were packed rock with pointed edges! Now if I could feel grains of sand in my foot imagine what these rocks felt like…IT HURT!!! Every time I took a step it felt like my feet were being pierced by these rocks. I certainly wasn’t prepared to trail run in these shoes.

About a mile and a half in, my feet were in SOOOOOO much pain. I really wanted to quit. I really, really did. Something had to happen because I am not a quitter. I began to think about another body that pierced for me. And the suffering He endured. Such a small sacrifice I was making to bring Glory to His name running over a few more rocks. Every step I took HURT. Yet every step I took, I thanked God. About a half mile to go, I prayed “Father this hurts so much! Thank you for your Son. Father please give me the strength to finish this race.”

Two minutes later I hear a voice, “PETERSON!”

I look back and it was…

The stranded cyclist, Ben Wooten!

“Peterson, man I have been trying to catch you!”

I thought to myself jokingly, “Yeah brother, I wasn’t letting you pass me on the bike!”

I said, “Ben! Brother I’m hurting! These rocks are piercing my feet with every step. Go on ahead”

“Im not leaving you man! I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you. I will pace us in!”

God had answered my prayers. We had a little under a mile to go and Ben was running strong. I could tell in his voice he had been bitten. Bitten by the same bug that bites all of the triathletes! It is a feeling of victory and accomplishment! It is the feeling that ONLY endurance events can bring. I was excited for him. And I was really excited he was pacing us in.

I asked God for strength and He gave it to me. What Irony?! The same person I helped on the bike and had helped finish the race, was now repaying me by pacing me on the run to take my mind of the pain I was feeling in my feet. In doing so, helped me finish the race!

I stayed right behind Ben who was clearly the better runner. We finished together and it was the BEST feeling I had after a triathlon. It was awesome to see God work in me and to see him working in Ben. I thought that I would become closer to God on this journey to the Ironman, but I certainly wasn’t expecting this!

Tri Latta Sprint Triathlon 2010 Race Report Part 2/3

In my brief triathlon career I have nailed the two key moments of the triathlon. The first is finishing the swim and the second crossing the finish line; both are equally important. The swim is what makes us triathletes. I was certainly glad that this swim was over for a number of reasons. One: it was over! Two: After proving I wouldn’t die in the open water without a wetsuit, I feel like I can do any swim that is giving to me; as long as I am praying and singing in my head. This swim put a HUGE dent in my apprehension of open water swims.

I get out of the water and I see some Fellowship of Christian Endurance Athletes and they were cheering! It was awesome! I didn’t have a clue who those guys were! Who knew the relationship that would develop…that’s another story!

I run past them and Scream “all to the Glory!” (Glory of God that is) I make it to the bike and I become emotional. The triathlons are more than just endurance events for me. They are small miracles. They directly contradict who I once was. The lost soul who hurt. Who wanted so badly to die and not brave enough to live. Who thought everything was impossible! At the time, living was impossible! Today, nothing is impossible. I just have to keep my faith in the right place.

I suck it up and I’m out on the bike course. My last baseline testing I, unfortunately, showed little improvement on the bike. I think there are a number of things that played a part in that but that too is another story. Today, I felt like a beast! I was moving today and, like in New Orleans, looking at my bike computer speedometer thinking it was broken! Except this time I was moving faster than expected. I couldn’t believe the speeds I was posting. I was going to PR on the bike! That was going to set me up for a faster overall time than I expected.

I had forgotten about my faith that had just gotten me through the swim course. I didn’t forget about ME and MY times though. Somewhere early on in the bike course I saw a stranded cyclist. He said he had a flat. I intended to get off the bike, throw him a spare tube and some CO2. I would be on my way in no time still able to post the fastest bike time yet! When the cyclist told me he didn’t know how to change a tire my bike times suddenly didn’t seem that important. I stopped and changed that guy’s tire. It took me about 10 minutes to change his tire. It’s kind of a story but here is the brief version.

When I reached the cyclist, he had his rear tire taken off, kind of. Long story short, he made a bit of a mess when he took off his tire. One thing he didn’t do was release his brake lever. So uhhhh, yeah it took kind a while to take the tire off because of how he had the chain positioned. I mean I cant even describe it. It was just a bit of a mess. The biggest issue was when I tried to put the tire back on it wasn't sliding into the rear tire well. I was like hmmm. So I finally turned the bike over and saw what was going on. The brake lever had not been released so it was preventing the rear tire from going into the tire well.

Once I figured that out he was on the road. During my time with the stranded cyclist, I learned this was his first triathlon. It was awesome that he was now going to be able to complete it. I jumped on my bike and decided in my head I wasn't going to let this cyclist pass me! I had already bombed my race time but I still wanted to have fun! Making the friendly pact in my head to not let him pass me kept it fun for me. I was still posting pretty good speeds and you know…that cyclist didn’t past me…on the bike. More on that later!

I apparently started making some ground because as I started passing people they asked if I was the guy changing the tire for the other cyclist. When I said yes they said I was an inspiration. I was seriously speechless. I realized that God made this race His and all of these races are His.

Benjamin Wooten, the stranded cyclist, and I had the same swim wave start times. If I didn’t have the stomach issue on the swim and stayed with the pack during the swim, I would have never been there to help Ben out! God was at work the entire time! That was WOW moment when I realized that.

I hit my T2 which had a looooong walk. I learned how difficult it is to walk in cycling shoes. In the future, I will work on taking off my cycling shoes and pedaling on top of the shoes.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Tri Latta Sprint Triathlon 2010 Race Report Part 1/3

On June 12, 2010, I participated in a sprint triathlon. While the distance didn’t frighten me, the swim created a little anxiety in this triathlete

What was causing me a little anxiety was the open water swim. I still am very inexperienced when it comes to the open water. In New Orleans Half Ironman, I had a safety net; my wetsuit. The wetsuit provides buoyancy. It is nearly (I said nearly) impossible to drown in a wetsuit. You can just lie on your back effortlessly and float. Of course you can do the same thing without a wetsuit but you have to be focused on staying relaxed. No focus needed in a wetsuit.

In New Orleans, I had that added security. During the Tri Latta triathlon, I had to trust first my Father, and second my ability to swim. I was admittedly having trouble trusting either of the two. A couple days before the triathlon I watched a movie called Facing the Giants. It is an AWESOME movie. That movie totally inspired me! I also took a song from their sound track called “The Voice of Truth” by Casting Crowns. It became my theme song heading into the triathlon.

The point of the song is to trust where God has put you and listen to HIS voice. I played this song, no kidding, at least a hundred times in the days, hours, and minutes leading into this open water swim. I was terrified and I wasn’t sure what to do so I turned to my faith.

We get to the race sight and the event was exciting! I saw a couple other police officers who said they were doing this event. I secretly had this inner plan to beat them! I learned later that beating someone wasn’t important at all.

I had an early wave which was exciting because being a back of the packer it gets lonely if you have a later wave. I felt good going into this event; well minus the swim. I did the body marking, chip pickup, bike check-in and the must visit to Green Gold! I was a little disappointed this event had sold out with 800 participants and there were !ten! portalets! The line was extremely long and I barely made my swim start!

So, this thing happens to me when I’m really stressed about an endurance event. It’s not good at all! I get nausea and usually have to get sick. My very first triathlon in October ‘09 it happened to me. In fact, it was the last time it has happened. It also happened before some of my key half marathons. I was curious as to why it didnt happen in New Orleans. Well, going into this swim start I was extremely stressed and had nausea. In fact, in a video right before my swim start KP asked me how i was feeling. I said I am going to be sick!

I here an announcement “Men 34 and under, if you are wearing a yellow swim cap enter the water now.” I had an adrenaline dump! I could feel it burning the veins in my body like a poison! I was panicked! As all of the other swimmers walked confidently into the water I stood back. There was a flash! A demon screamed as loud as it could! I stood on the edge of the ground and the lake too afraid to commit. Too afraid to get into the water. It was at that moment that demon YELLED! PULL OUT!!! Dont SWIM!!

I looked around for KP for reassurance but i couldnt see her. I didnt know it then but i was learning a lesson about my God. I started to hear the words of that song in my heard! “The voice of truth tells me a different story. The voice of Truth says do not be afraid” I had taken a small step toward my fear. I was in the water only but I was only ankle deep. What I learned was that I needed to depend on God in those moments. I need to look to him first.

Announcement “Two minutes.” I could still feel my heart beating rapidly. I began praying and hearing the lyrics to the song in my head. Slowly I began to move forward into the pack of standing swimmers. Anouncement: “One minute” Something weird was happening!!!! I couldn’t believe it. The closer to the start time, the more i prayed, the more i sung that song in my head, the calmer i was becoming. “Ten seconds!” HORN! Nothing! No rapid heartbeat. No panic; just calmness; another day at the “pool”. I was standing with Christ! I was so calm it was scary. The firth 400 meters went by quickly. I was sighting well and i was even staying with the pack! It was awesome to finally be with the pack for once. I was even passing people!

I passed one guy with his hand raised and I prayed for him to be ok. I put my head down and kept moving forward. The water was warm (80 degrees) and i was able to swim the same way I did in my swim workouts. I breathe on the fourth stroke, then the second stroke, then the fourth stroke, then the second. I was focusing on my technique which is something I didnt do in New Orleans. In New Orleans, I was breathing every two strokes and moving my hands in any manner just to get through the swim. It was a tough swim and I was just trying to survive. This swim was different. Well, until 400 meters out and 350 meters to go.

Something was happening to my peace; to my great swim I was having! That nausea, and possibly that adrenaline dump, was catching up with me. I was getting sick. I was feeling like I had to vomit. I, unfortunately, had to stop and hang on a kayak for a minute or two until my stomach settled. I didn’t let it ruin me though. I continued my swim and then passed some people that had passed me while I was hanging on the kayak. I made it out of the water and I was excited. I had just completed my firs open water non-wetsuit swim! I wasn’t as fast as I have been in the pool but at least I gained confidence!

The standard used to determine if I had a good swim today meant I survived it. And I gained confidence in the open water. Both happened during this swim. I also learned a lesson. I “wished” I would have pushed it out more and swam through it until the point I had actually gotten sick. The reason is now I wonder if that nausea was psychologically induced. Or, if it was a true physical issue, even if it was a true physical issue I wished I had swam through it. This, however, all pointed to something God was planning for me. A blessing that was coming later.

Tri Latta race report

This is just a quick snippet of the race. It was shared with my Fellowship of Christian Athletes members!

This past weekend I participated in the Tri Latta Triathlon. It was my first non-wetsuit open water swim and I was terrified. It took me a few days to realize where I needed to take my fears. The days leading up to the race I was singing “The Voice of Truth” by Casting Crowns and praying.

At the start of the race, I was still nervous but not totally terrified. They announced the two minute countdown and my heart rate peaked. I heard a voice in my head tell me to walk away and quit! Then, I could hear those song lyrics in my head “The Voice of Truth says do not be afraid.” That wasn’t the Voice of Truth telling me to run away. I continued to pray and at the one minute mark I could feel myself calming. I continued to pray and sing in my head and I felt like I was in Christ’s arms. I remember how safe I felt and how calm and ready I was. The horn sounded and I was off in the water still singing and praying.

I came out of the water and I was so excited to have completed this swim! So excited, in fact, I forgot this was God’s race. I jumped on the bike and was cycling faster than I had expected and I was feeling good! So, good I was expecting to PR on the bike!!! Except on the bike I wasn’t singing and praying. I lost focus and only thought about ME and MY personal best bike time.

About 5 miles into the bike, God reminded me this was HIS race. I saw a stranded cyclist and he had a flat. I intended to throw him a tube and CO2 then I would jump back into MY race to get MY personal best. That cyclist told me he didn’t know how to change a flat. My personal best didn’t mean much to me after hearing that. It took me about ten minutes to change that flat (loooong story). During that time, I learned this was that guy’s first triathlon. He didn’t know to carry a flat repair kit. He didn’t know how to even change his tire. I was so excited this triathlete was going to finish his first triathlon! I remember how excited I was after I completed my first! Now he was going to be able to do it! He would be able to finish.

Once we were back on the bike, I made a friendly deal in my head that I wouldn’t let him pass me on the bike and he didn’t! On the run, I was wearing Vibram 5 fingers (the barefoot alternative running shoe). This was my first time doing a trail run in the shoes and it was a bad idea. Every time my foot hit the ground, it felt like the rocks were piercing my feet. The last half mile I began to pray for God to give me the strength to finish. Two minutes later, I heard a voice coming from behind me calling my name. It was the stranded cyclist! He said, “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you! Let’s finish this race together!” I told him about the pains and he paced me the last half mile! God had given me exactly what I needed in this race.
Several people had come up to me and thanked me for changing that guys tire. One person said I was an inspiration. Me? The recovering alcoholic…an inspiration?! I know God is working in my life when that happens! I do feel a little guilty though. I think I got the bigger blessing out of the whole deal. I had a front row seat at God working in my life!

Monday, June 7, 2010

I guess I am finally blogging again!

Wow! It feels like forever since I was last on my blog! How I have missed it! How I have missed people, the other people whose blog I read. People who I have never met, seen in real life, and people I would fail to pick out in a photo. They, however, are the same people who share the same passions as I do. In triathlon, this passion is synonymous with blood because triathlon is a family; a brother/sisterhood. It feels good to be back home!

I have been out of my training slump and have been actively following my plan. I don’t think of it as a slump anymore. It was an extended recovery week ha! I was recovering from surgery for about two weeks. Even after the doctor gave me the go ahead to run it was still extremely painful to run. I never did more than a 5k. My cycling and swimming picked up to compensate.

This past week I was doing some of my baseline test (a lot of time trials) to see where I am and give my coach a chance to see how to proceed. I can tell you, the athlete I am today is a far cry from the athlete I was when I first started this training. My swim speed is 16 seconds faster per 100 yards! My 3 mile time trial a few months ago was a PR for a 3 mile run. Well, this time I PR’ed my PR by a minute! I took a minute off my fastest 5k run! I couldn’t believe it! After it was over, I felt my legs cramping. I tried to slow down to cool down but the minute I did I could feel my muscles seizing. So I just stopped and sat for a while. Tonight I do a cycling time trial (if it doesn’t rain!).

Well, I have consistently been doing the P90x Ab Ripper and finally have all the pieces to actually “officially” start P90x. I feel so much stronger. I feel like the time I spent recovering from surgery was the best thing I could have done. I probably spent a month away from training but was doing maintenance the best I could per my plan. That is the best part about having a LIVE coach. He customized the plan during my recover (I could swim and bike but not really run) so I wouldn’t loose the endurance I had achieved. And look, I was a minute faster on my 3 mile run. Thanks Coach Lance!

It feels so good to be back! I’m feeling so strong in the training.

Now the flip side, I am not feeling excited about my next triathlon. Well, the swim at least. It is the Tri Latta Sprint in Charlotte, NC. It is one of the most popular triathlons in the area. It will be the first time I swim open water without my floaties (wetsuit). I get so nervous about it and then I laugh at myself! I swam a half ironman! I do 750 meters for fun (in the pool). It’s not my first rodeo. Although, sometimes when I think about it feels like my heart is going to explode! I get super anxious when I envision myself taking the first few strokes. I seriously get an adrenaline dump!

The best part about it is…it is a training day! Not an A race or a B race…but a C race. One of those races you do for fun. So, that is what my goal is...to have fun while knocking out my first non-wetsuit open water swim. KP asked me what am I freaking out about. I swim without a wetsuit all the time! (don’t we swim without wetsuit in the pool) She’s right! I can’t wait until this Saturday. To get that rollercoaster feeling I get going up on rollercoaster and toeing the starting line of an endurance event (the oh my….what have I gotten myself into feeling).

It feels great to be blogging again.