Friday, September 30, 2011

on winning a national title & getting dope tested

as you can tell from the title of this blog post, yesterday i won a national title, and as a result got drug tested. it was in the heptathlon of track cycling, an event called the international omnium. (except, instead of 7 events, it is 6 events...and instead of getting points for doing well, you get points for doing bad....and, thus, you obviously want less points, not more.)

i will not give a play-by-play of the two days, as that is pretty boring probably. pretty much, kit karzen summed it up when he said something along the lines of: "my therapy bills for the last two days are off the charts. it's like: ihatemylife, ilovemylife, ihatemylife, ilovemylife." the event would really be about a hundred times easier if all six events were held in one day within an 8 hour time span, instead of spaced out so much.

so, what does it feel like to win a national title?

let me tell you, it went like this:

i came into the final race with a 3 point lead, so i had a bit of a buffer. the final race is a 500m time trial. when i first started track racing, i figured this was going to be *my* event, as i liked running the 400m. unfortunately i was approximately 100% wrong with my prognostication. i pretty much suck at the event. i mean, if they started timing about 50m after the start line, i think i'd be respectable at it. but unfortunately that is not how the race works.

now, it is no mystery to anyone that my start sucks. but last year, i remember reading a story about tara whitten (the reigning world champion in the event). i guess the year previous she was leading going into the 500m, and lost the title in the last event. the next year, she worked on starts every time she went to the track, and when the same situation occurred she nailed it and won.

this was very inspiring for me, so i followed suit... i did starts at the track for every workout session for the last 6-7 weeks when i was training at the track. and i got good at them. well, good is perhaps an overstatement. good enough. i mean, i at least wasn't embarrassing myself anymore.

and you know what? all that practice and all that visualization was a big, big waste of time. what did i do when it really counted? i got so nervous, i jumped early, false started, and unclipped. i tried to play it cool, as one more false start is a DQ, but i definitely was anything but cool. "just don't false start again, start clean, and you will be fine" i told myself as that clock ticking was going.

if i could describe my start visually, it would be like this: you know when a beginner comes to the track on a rental bike and you see them do their first start ever? weaving down track, then taking several seconds to move 5 meters forward? well, that is pretty much what it looked like. i was pretty much scared shitless at this point, seeing the whole race shatter before my eyes... i heard kevin masker screaming his balls out at me in turn one, and i tried to sprint as fast as i could for the next two laps, all but knowing in the back of my head that there is really no making up for that, and i lost it.

i crossed the finish line and the only emotion i felt was pure despair. i had blown it so incrediby bad. i rolled around for a lap completely devastated.

i came off the track, very sad, and then someone said i won, as lauren hall who was in 2nd place to me going into the event, was only one place ahead of me. i really couldn't believe it. i had just fucked up so royally there is no way i still could have won.

ya know, of all the times riding and training and day dreaming thinking about what it would feel like to win a national title, it never quite played out like that. i more pictured me having a fast ride, screaming, putting my arms in the air, jumping up and down... or something along those lines. ya know, the normal things you feel when you are on an adrenaline high. even after i heard i won, i was still upset about my 500m and in a bit of denial and disbelief that i had actually won.

sarah hammer said to me on the infield right after the race: "that's the omnium for you!"

and i guess that is the omnium for you. 6 races. 2 days. ilovelife, ihatelife.

on getting dope tested

so, like i said... it really didn't set in very quickly. i mean, after such a major f-up, it's hard to actually believe you won something. but i finally believed it when the USADA lady came over to me, and said she was going to be with me for the next hour. my first response?

"can i get a picture." i mean, this was cool shit - getting drug tested!

after the picture was taken, i said: "do i have to wait an hour? i can go now." i am not overly confident about a lot of things. but finishing my dinner plate and being able to pee-on-demand, are too thinks that i am quite confident about. she was surprised i was so ready to go, so she said okay and walked me through the track to the upstairs.

anyway, we walk inside and she has some paperwork, and i see on the top of the form it says: "Address, Zip, Phone."

now, to say i was still pretty rattled about the 500m is an understatement. as i was walking into the room, all i could think was: i can't remember my address. is it 4727 or 2742. now, in my defense, we had just moved about 4 weeks ago. but still, that is pretty stupid i am 29 years old and can't remember my address. address, phone number, and right/left is pretty much the first test one must pass in kindergarten. and here i am. when did i become such a dumb jock?

so getting drug tested goes like this. i take the cup and walk into a stall, and this lady starts following me in. i pretty much give her the WTF?!?! look, and then realize: a) oh, they probably do that so you don't do anything shady, and b) i had just walked into the little stall, as opposed to the big stall, and it is quite a bit cramped in here. as i try to close the door of the little stall, she suggests we move to the big stall, she is the professional here, so i comply.

"so how much do i need to pee?"

she points to the 90ml -- which is about half a cup.

at that point, i get a bit nervous. as, when i was all: "oh, i can pee now...i can pee anytime...look how awesome i am" to the USADA lady when she told me she'd be with me for an hour - i thought she just needed a little pee. i can always pee a little. but half a cup is kinda a lot.

but if there is one thing i learned this week, it is: don't underestimate yourself!

so, i gave it go, and figure i'd do what i can. i had a few tricks up my sleeve to generate more urine if necessary, and i thought i could make the half a cup.

so i started peeing...... and missed the cup. fuck i though. that was valuable milliliters! however, just like after the first day of the omnium, i recomposed, made a straight line in, and made it was up to 140ml no problem, without even using my extra-pee techniques such as leaning forward or pushing on my belly. i screwed on the lid, and then wanted to pee a little bit more. but then i felt kinda awkward about that lady was still standing there. i mean, it is one thing peeing in front of a lady when you are peeing in a cup...but it is a bit more weird to pee in front of a lady when you are just peeing in the toilet bowl. so, i decided i would hold it.

then came part two, transferring my pee into the different A and B sample glass containers. that was pretty uneventful. i was just happy i didn't spill any of my pee on the table.

then came part three: declaration of supplements.
USADA GUY:what supplements do you take?

bethbikes!: uhh, i take iron pills

USADA GUY: how often? when was the last time you took one?

bethbikes!: uhhh....when i remember.

:how often is that? when was the last time you remembered?
now, how does one honestly answer this question.? i think the most honest answer would be: i remember to take my iron about as often as i "remember" to do my core work. which would translate into: "three times a week on a good week, but once every 6 weeks is not uncommon."

then came the dreaded next address. i still couldn't remember. 4727 or 2742. 4727 was what first came to my mind, but i was having second thoughts. what the hell is wrong with me? i went with my initial instinct, as i remember someone giving me that advice once when deciding between answers on multiple choice tests. 4727 i tell him. then, i clumsily explained that i had just moved and was really anxious and overwhelmed at the moment and not thinking too great. he told me to come back if it was wrong and they would re-write my form.

i went down for the awards ceremony, found michael and asked him what our address was. "2742" he replied. of course, i thought. i pretty much had freakout number 17 of the day. anyway, we walk back up, and they easily correct it.

i am just thankful i don't have to walk down the street and knock on the door of a crackhead's house to track down my "U.S. Anti-Doping Drug-Free" letter.

and that is a wrap.


phipps said...

Awesome! Congratulations on the national championship!

alicat said...

congrats!! and i'm glad the national champion beth is just as witty as the aspiring national champion beth!

runjoelrun said...

From blogging about "old men at the port" to "national championships". What a long strange trip...

Red Tail Dog said...

CONGRATULATIONS BETH! And amazing writing as usual! Really, describing the lead in to the race and the start had me nervous, even knowing the results! And almost like being there, in the bathroom, I mean.

Anthony Eng said...

Nice work Beth! You going to get the Capt American kit for next year?

Anonymous said...

How did you get them to take a photo with you? They were adamant about not having their photo taken when a friend wanted to take a pic of me in the same scenario, minus a National Championship title of course.

Congratulations Beth.


Anonymous said...

Some things just warm your heart. This is one of them. Congrats Beth. Didn't know about the writing, very good read.

ant1 said...


chr15 said...

On the title, on being able to pee on demand, on producing more than the 90mls required and on eventually remembering your address, maybe you should get some dog-tags or one of those bracelets that leipheimer wears...

But most of all CONGRATUALTIONS on winning that title!!!

Wonder said...

You are just so damn real, and so deserving of every ounce of honor and respect you have earned in this journey of yours. Great work!!

Anonymous said...

Great story and thanks for sharing. You are a celebrity now.