Professional athlete and 3-time Ironman champion

Back to Boulder, Back to Work

Home

I arrived back in Boulder yesterday and am back to work!

I’ve ben gone a month, and it’s great to be back to my home away from home; back with my squad and my coach and back into a routine.

I’ve gotten some emails from folks saying, “Where’s your Lake Placid Race Report?”.  Quite frankly, I hadn’t been inspired to write one just yet.  Why?  Well…what was inspiring about my Lake Placid race?  I couldn’t think of a thing.  I didn’t want to write for writing’s sake, cuz, well…that’s just boring and I DO have standards.  Nothing soothes me to sleep faster than, “Well, I woke up on race morning….had my pre-race breakfast, and went to transition…….”  No sh*t, Sherlock!

When I tried to think about my race at Lake Placid in the context of a blog?  I had nuthin’.  The race was remarkably unremarkable.  Then it dawned on me…..that, in itself, was pretty darn remarkable!

But let’s back up.

I left Boulder on July the 11th.  Unfortunately, my flight had been booked for July the 10th.  Very un-Dede of me to miss a flight like that.  I’d gotten a flight status email on Wednesday morning and thought, “Hmm, odd of them to send me an “on time” flight announcement more than 24 hours ahead of time.”  Doh.  A mere 72 minutes on the phone with American Airlines later, and the agent was so mortified, due to “systems problems” that I had no change fee and no change of fare fee to pay.  Well worth the 72 minutes of the AA theme song being drilled into my brain, intermittently with a kind reminder that my call was very important to them.  Liars.

I made it to Muncie after a long day of travel and tried to relax and unwind.  I typically travel 3 days before a race, spend my first day on site doing pre-race things like driving the course, making sure I wasn’t a moron putting my bike together  and having my pedals fall off mid-race, and going about general preparations for the race.  That gives me the pre-race day to relax as much as possible and stay off my feet.  In this case, and due to the Saturday race day, I only had one day (and thus, probably the reason I booked my flight for Wednesday…..dumbass).  Still, got it all done and was race ready, including a couple hours of mindless TV to unplug and relax.  This time, “Rivals 2” on MTV.  Classic, and brilliant television!  I might as well have held my breath under water for 3 hours, and simultaneously sniffing paint and pounding a bottle of Jägermeister;   I’d have killed the same number of brain cells.

Muncie wound up being a mistake.  I’d gone to the race thinking I could “fake it” thru, and get one more race opportunity under my belt before Lake Placid.  However, I learned that there’s a difference between “faking it” and “faking it while simultaneously in denial”.  For over 3 weeks, I’d been in denial about being sick.  When DaveyG’d come for a visit to Boulder over July 4, I’d been sick.  So, in accordance with Murphy’s Law and how our lives seem to roll these days, we spent a good half a day at the walk-in clinic.  The doc took one listen to my lungs and said “I think you have left-lobe pneumonia”. 

Who in the hell gets pneumonia in JULY?  …...apparently this girl does.

The doctor’s supposition was that because Boulder was in peak allergy season, and despite the fact that I’m not really an allergy sufferer, all the stuff in the air, combined with the altitude, combined with my asthma had caused some irritants to get into my lungs, where they’d settled, festered and turned into pneumonia.

Perfect, except I don’t think she was 100% spot on, as she’d said she didn’t think I was contagious.  Tell it to poor Rebekah Keat who came down with the same bubonic plague some 3 days later.  Yep.  Sorry Keatsy.  I’m a bad friend.

Anyway, I’d spent the better part of 2+ weeks before Muncie suffering raging coughing fits, puffing on a nebulizer, and faking my way thru training sessions with the logic that once my lungs cleared and I got back to sea level?  I’d feel bullet proof.

Once the cannon fired in Muncie, it became painfully clear to me that I’d grossly mis-calculated.

The water temps in Muncie were quite warm; so warm, in fact, that I wondered why in the heck we were wearing wetsuits.  I had a solid brain boil going before I’d gotten to the first buoy.  Editorial Note?  I really wish WTC would go back to a separate wetsuit rule for the professional athletes.  We almost always have a separate race start these days so I don’t see what’s holding us to a common rule.  I understand the desire to have amateurs in wetsuits for safety…..actually, what I really wish is that there would be a way for WTC to make all participants demonstrate some sort of swim proficiency before being able to even register for a race….but I realize that’d be about as popular as a fart in church with many amateurs, so I’ll leave it alone and just say I wish the pro wetsuit rule would go back to 72 degrees.

brain boil

 

I ran up the beach (OK….walked) and got to my bike.  “Stay positive.  Let your heart rate settle.  Build into it.”  10 miles in, I wasn’t feeling so positive.  My heart rate hadn’t settled.  I’d coughed up what was left of my left lung and there was more of a break down going on, rather than a build up.

I made the very difficult decision to pull the plug.  You can tell it was difficult by looking at my Garmin file.  I turned around once and started pedaling back to transition, but then beat myself up for quitting and turned BACK around and tried to re-engage.  After about 45 seconds, I considered Lake Placid and what good was I doing myself to slog thru what would be a mediocre performance in Muncie, if only to set my health back and jeopardize Lake Placid?  So I turned around again and started soft pedaling back to transition.  But then I beat myself up again, and turned around.

“Damn it Dede, forget about how you feel and just do your job.”

But I couldn’t forget how I felt.  I couldn’t breathe.  My HR was above LT and my power was less than 100 watts. 

So I rode back to transition, packed my bike and skipped town before the women were even off the bike. 

I returned to Boston and tried to put the race behind me and move forward toward Lake Placid.

Easier said than done.  As I sat on my trainer the next day, I couldn’t help but scroll thru the 67 reasons the universe seemed to be giving me that maybe I shouldn’t’ be doing this any more.  Moreover, I wondered what ill-fate might await me at Lake Placid.  Odds seemed better than not that some sort of bizarre force of nature might conspire against me; getting swallowed by the Loch Ness monster at swim start?  Crashing on a frost heave during the descent to Keene?  Swarm of killer flies attack at mile 32?  I seemed to be a magnet for ridiculousness, and while I pedaled on thru my session, I did wonder…..”What next”?

I put in another week of good training at home, and that led to race week.  DaveyG and I have had some stuff going on at home that has made life kind of topsy turvy lately.  For as much as I tried to stay focused on my race, I actually think topsy turvy provided a good distraction from my “what next?” phobias.

My dear friend Mithra had made the trip to Lake Placid to cheer me on.  Mithra is Siri’s former neighbor in Santa Monica.  I’d lived with her while training there on and off for a year, and she’s been one of the greatest additions to my circle of friends.  She also makes a super sherpa!

 

superfan

 

In fact, on Friday of race week,  she jogged into town and had a swim and stopped on the way home to make me a sign in the Ironman Village.  She presented the sign to me when she arrived home.  I smiled HUGE….for a couple of reasons.  1) She’d made me a sign.  How sweet is that??  What a super fan and super supporter!  And 2) This was the sign:

 

ninga

 

Do I tell her that in her enthusiasm, she may have had a typo?

Me thinks, no.  Every time I saw that sign on race day, it made me smile, until another spectator spoiled the fun and asked her “What’s your sign say?”.  Proudly, she replied, “Ninja!”  “Um, no it doesn’t.  And you are holding it upside down.”  To that dower spectator, I’d like to say _ _ _ _ you and your spell-check, fun-police, mean-spirited pessimism.  I LOVED my sign and because of YOU, sour spectator-man, Mithra threw the sign away. 

I really loved that sign.

Anyway ….the race.

After the race, I’ve gotten some really nice comments.  “You’re my hero.”  “You are a champion to me.”  “You were amazing out there.”

While I appreciate it?  Let’s not get carried away.  I was 6th.  That’s nothing to write home about.  Why all the fuss?

Don’t get me wrong; the fuss is MUCH better than the unsolicited emails I’ve received from “friends” following some other races, telling me how wrong I’m doing things.  How I ought to quit and move on.  Instead of taking those emails and messages to heart, I chose the alternative.

As my good friend Richie Cunningham said, “Sometimes you just get caught in a shit-storm.”  Truer words were never spoken.  DaveyG and I have been stuck in the Mother of all shit storms lately, but we march on and move thru it; happy for the blessings we have and proud of the challenges we’ve endured.  As my manager Tim said, “Most others would have quit by now.”

So my 6th place in Lake Placid?  I swam smart in 2nd

swim startLP

 

I took to the lead early in the bike and rode solid, if not a bit conservatively to T2 in first place, and stayed on my feet for a slow, but steady run. In all, the performance was remarkably unremarkable.  But when you’re coming out the other side of a shit storm?  Unremarkable  can be pretty remarkable. 

finish2

 

I’m no fool.  6th place is not so great.  But there were many more great takeaways on the day than there were question marks.  It’s a welcome step in the right direction.

Thanks to everyone who cheered me on, on race day.   People can say the nicest things and I was overwhelmed by the kind things people said during and after the race.  Sometimes the unremarkable thing you say or do for another can end up being pretty remarkable.  There is extraordinary in the ordinary if you take the time to appreciate it.

After LP, we drove to Cape Cod for some recovery and rest.  We went to the beach, played some terrible golf, had some recovery swims and spins.  We drank some wine and had a lot of laughs….or was that drank a lot of wine and had some laughs?  Egggh; symantics!

 

fun

 

capecodfun

 

Thanks so much to my circle of support.  To my great sponsors, my coach Siri for her unwavering support.  To Mithra for her calming influence,  her incredible sign and the messages of positivity she delivered to me all week.  And to my DaveyG, I have no words.

 

finish


Thanks, Charlie Abrahams for some of the images!

Now, back to work!

Persistence. Determination. Love. The Journey!

BSR BWreynolds carbon wheels logonormatec logo notagline-blkRudys Lube BW Ownway

           Ice edited infinit

 

All Images and Content ©2006-2013 Dede Griesbauer. All Rights Reserved. Website by Paradigm Marketing & Creative.