I blinked and suddenly the 2016 race season is well underway. I had a lot of changes during the off season including a move (across town) and the start of a full time position as a music therapist in the behavioral health unit at a local hospital. My hours at the hospital have me starting at noon which is pretty ideal for training. Not so ideal, the fact that I've made a valiant attempt at keeping my private practice in relative full swing while simultaneously trying to get that base season training in. I was reminded, once again, of the importance of sleep as I rapidly began to break down both mentally and physically.
And now, is where I begin to talk about a wind that will go down in infamy. For the entirety of my stay, I don't think the wind dipped below 18 mph and was gusting over 30 at times - super fun when you're in aero position with some big old race wheels. Usually, wind is my absolute nemesis, the one condition that I can't seem to get through mentally/physically. For days, however, I repeated to myself that we were all racing on the same course in the same conditions so "get over it Hinz, you're fine." Low and behold, it was fine. The swim was brutal (though not as bad as Silverman) as buoys were blown across the harbor and we were slammed by waves. I missed the lead pack but managed to come out of the water in 6th. Hopping on my bike, it was so breezy, my still-wet spandex kit was flopping in the wind and signs were being blown across the road. There was one pretty sketchy area where I was literally getting blown across the road (fortunately I was by myself and no one heard me screeching profanities) but the ride out was primarily about hunkering down and pushing pedals. At the turnaround, the real fun began as that tailwind flew my stead and I home. Out onto the run course, my legs loosened a little quicker than usual with the wind at my back. The turnaround, however, was like hitting a brick wall and my splits increased by nearly a minute. I relaxed and kept those short little legs of mine moving though, mentally screaming, "WHAT WIND?!"
I crossed the finish line in 7th place, a bit disappointing when the payout goes to 6th but a huge improvement over Cali and a true "start" to my season. Then came what was probably the best part of my day; my homestay lived about 8 miles downwind from the race and just off the run course, I decided to ride back to the house along the course. It was such a neat experience to cheer on the athletes still out there and to thank the volunteers (seriously, the true MVPs of the day for chasing down cups/debris and keeping us safe and speedy). After packing up my girl and having a soak in Jacuzzi conveniently located in the backyard, I headed to the French Quarter and Bourbon Street to experience a piece of New Orleans with fellow athlete Erin Spitler.
Next up, Ironman 70.3 St. George ... but first, I sleep.
Thank you to MP Multisport for getting me through the ups and downs (In the words of Coach Mace, "mostly ups"), and to my phenomenal support team Pro Cyclery, Pro Motorsports of Fond du Lac, HIE Cycling, BlueSeventy, Hammer Nutrition, and Riplaces.
This all came to a head a few weeks ago in my season opener at 70.3 California. After a full day of work and picking up my bike from Pro Cyclery, I headed to California on a Thursday night. Despite my late arrival, my awesome homestay, Skip and Linda, were waiting for me with their two enormous and loveable dogs. Friday went off without a hitch and I got to see my teammate Steve Mantell at our pre-race meeting. Unfortunately, one night of sleep (and no real day of relaxation) was just not enough. Saturday morning, I felt a bit of a time crunch but got to the start and through the swim without a hitch. Coming onto the bike I felt strong and fast ... that is, until mile two when I felt the thud thud thud of a flat tire. Fortunately, my bike sensei Eric had tubes with valve extenders pre-set and the bike support crew was not far away which helped me get back out on the road in much less time than it would've taken me on my own. Unfortunately, my head didn't get back out there so quickly. In addition to riding alone from behind, my heart rate data died on me (PSA, change your batteries and clean the rust from the sensor) and I found myself getting complacent. More than that, I found myself getting tired to the point that my eyes were drooping mid-race. Once I hit transition, I was ready to be off the bike. One of my socks somehow disappeared from transition and after desperately searching for a bit too long, I gave up and took off sockless. The blister that ensued was no joke, especially after it burst around mile 7-8. And speaking of bursting, my stomach was, well, let's just say I decided that I was having a bad enough day that I didn't need to add insult to injury with some stinky shorts and ducked into a porta-potty for the first time in my tri career. But hey, I didn't get last and I crossed the finish line upright which is always a bonus. The spectators were fantastic and I was able to meet/catch up with some Vegas racers as well which was big fun.
Don't lose your socks!
Reunited with Rammie/MP teammate Steve
Bike Out - and still smiling
This dog though ...
On my drive home that (because I had to be to work Sunday), I had some solid time to think while waiting in traffic for the plane crash on the highway (why yes, that did actually happen). I started to ask myself, what would I say to my patients in this situation? Are you happy? Is it worth it? Is this sustainable? No, no, and no. So what needs to change? While I fleetingly had that thought of "maybe I'll just retire from racing," my heart hurt at the notion. Am I in a position to quit my job? Absolutely not. As much as I love my "career" of racing, it doesn't exactly buy the groceries (I'm fairly certain I lost about ten dollars an hour training/racing in 2015). The universe had been giving me hints for about a month, however, as I had some troubles with a few of my private clients; I made a decision to stop pushing to continue their services cut back to just one private session per week bringing my work week to 40-45 hours as opposed to 60-65. The following week, I went out of my bubble for an evening to see The Killers (my favorite band) open the new T-Mobile Arena. A night of fun and a slightly less manic schedule seems to have been exactly what I needed and I woke up the next morning with a brand new positive mindset and haven't cried from sheer exhaustion since.
So, this past weekend, I headed southeast for redemption at 70.3 New Orleans. I once again was blessed with an awesome homestay which I shared with fellow athletes Jake Rhyner and Thomas Gerlach. Not so blessed was the weather. I was able to dodge raindrops for a quick spin on Friday but wasn't so lucky on Saturday; thankfully pro athletes were given a hookup at the gym so I was still able to get in some version of a spin, run, and swim.
*gusting much higher* OUCH
BRING ON THE BEADS!!