Race recap

I have meaning for some time to do a product review post, because I am a product junkie.  Ok, I’m a shopaholic.  There, I said it.  I will get to the review later this week because I wanted to do a quick tediously long race recap.  It may take you 98 minutes (the length of time of my race) to read it.

My first triathlon was this weekend.  It was the Triangle Triathlon in Apex, or maybe it was Holly Springs?  I am not sure.  Anyway, I have the White Lake International distance triathlon on September 7, but felt like this would be a good tune-up race since it is significantly shorter, i.e., I have not been in the pool nearly as much as I should, so I wanted to gauge my fitness (or lack thereof).  Also, as mentioned earlier, my friend Sherman, who has done a handful of Ironmans, basically forced me into doing it.

Last week I had one good workout.  I had been battling a stomach bug for over a week, and the old me would have used that as the perfect setup to excuse a poor performance.  Instead, I decided to just take the bug head on by overdosing on Imodium and Pepto.  After a good 72 hours of medicine, which apparently is contrary to manufacturer recommendation, I felt more than 50% normal.  I did not do any workouts on Wednesday or Thursday as that was when I felt like death was warming over, but apparently this made for a decent taper.  On Friday, Sherman and I did about 10 quick miles on the bike and a fast mile (well, rounding up significantly) after work.  I felt like a pile of warm sludge.  This could not bode well, right?

I made a list of all the things I needed on Thursday night, and packed my bag Friday.  I painstakingly selected a tri suit, oh wait, I only have one kit.  I also set a reminder on my iphone to bring my USAT card or else I would have to pay $12 at the race venue in order to pick up my packet.  I guess I missed the memo about bringing my ID as well.  More on that later.

Super Girl also chose Friday to get some sort of illness, and naturally, she woke up three times in the middle of the night.  Super Dad, as per usual, woke up with her the first time, so as to give me some extra rest.  The other times, I took one (two, three) for the team.  Basically, by the time the alarm went off at 5:15, I felt like I had gotten maybe 39 minutes of shut-eye.  Awesome.

Sherman and I swung by McDonald’s and had a nutritious breakfast of egg and cheese biscuit for me, and sausage and egg platter for him. Oh yeah, we had pizza the night before. Apparently this is some thing that triathletes do?  I guess I really was destined to get into this sport.  How ironic after my last post on nutrition.  We got to the race venue around 6:00 and the race was to start at 7:30.  Plenty of time, right?

By the time we lugged all our stuff from the parking lot to the transition area, met up with some of Sherman’s friends, and went to check in, it was almost 7:00.  I just needed to get out my USAT card and ID to pick up my bib.  Oh wait, I didn’t have either.  I left my USAT card in the truck (one mile away) and my ID at home.  They let me use my facebook page to authenticate my ID – wow, really? And I had to borrow $12 to pay the one-day fee.  Of course.  By the way, I owe Cameron Simmons $12.  Better set a reminder on my iphone.

Fast forward to the swim start.  I was in the 6th wave, so I had to wait about 24 minutes to start.  We warmed up before the swim, at which point I learned the temperature of the lake was 90 DEGREES.  What?!?! A 90-year-old would get hot in that lake. Not good.  I warmed up then stood around more nervous then you could ever imagine.  I seriously almost tossed my cookies.  I had not been that nervous in over a decade I would guess.

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We lined up in the water and I realized it was on.  These girls were hardcore.  I had heard about fighting during the start of the swim, and people drowning and punching each other.  I didn’t drown anybody and managed to escape with no bruises, but I had a minor panic attack when I was trapped in a pack for about 50 meters.  Eventually, we evened out and I was out in the lead with two other girls.  I got really really warm about halfway in (400m), and when we caught up to the wave in front of us, there was a lot of water gulping going on because these were not the most fluid of swimmers.  I just kept my eyes on the girl right in front of me, and perhaps drafted off of her a tiny bit.  Kept me from having to do all the navigating.

Came out of the water tied for second.  I looked down at my Garmin and almost laughed when I saw how slow the swim was.  Yikes.  Maybe time to start training in the water some more. T1 went uneventfully, though I was shaking as I put on my shoes and helmet.  Still nervous!  Got through to the bike start and it took what felt like 4 minutes to get clipped in.  Oy, I should have just tatooed “Novice” on my helmet and back.

The bike went as well as I could expect.  I feel like I know my bike pretty well at this point.  I got passed by quite a few girls on what appeared to be $5,000 tri specific bikes with $2,000 race wheels (that’s what I am telling myself) but I passed a lot of men on hybrids if that’s any consolation.  I am a pretty decent climber but need work on going fast on flats and dropping down to get more aerodynamic.  I can say I was probably the only person with a road bike that did not have aero bars.  So I put an order in for those already.  I am sure I looked like a goon sitting up in spin class as I came down those hills on my aerobar-less bike.  Oh well, it was a learning experience.

I felt good finishing up the 17.5 mile bike, which is perhaps a sign I didn’t push myself hard enough. Or so I thought.  I had a pretty quick T2, slipping into my  laceless Zoots.  Housed a few Stinger energy chews and chugged some water on my way out to the run start.  Feeling pretty good… until about 1/2 mile in.  That’s right people, I pretty much hit a wall at that point. I didn’t have my Garmin on gps mode because I was using it on stopwatch mode during the swim.  I had no clue how fast or slow I was going, and there wasn’t a mile marker until mile 2.  Oh, and at what I presume was the 1/2 mile mark, we went from a paved surface to a trail.  Not like a single-track, break your ankle trail.  But gravel, sticks, and mud puddles.  What?  I really need to spend less time watching Bravo tv and more time reading course descriptions.   I wanted to cry.  I was so tired and hot.

The only thing keeping me going was “only 18 more minutes- assuming I am running an 8:30 mile pace, only 15 more minutes, only 10 more…” Plus, I wasn’t getting passed by very many people.  There was a girl right in front of me who was also in my age group and I remember her passing me on the bike.  She had an Ironman tattoo on her right calf.  I was thinking “wow, she is really struggling and she has done an Ironman.  I don’t feel so bad about myself anymore” and “there is no way I am ever doing any Ironman.  Those people are crazy!” Sorry Sherman and random girl, who I ended up passing.  Woo! At the 2 mile marker I got my 13th wind.  I looked at my watch and realized I was somehow well under an 8:00 mile pace.  I felt like I was speed walking at that point.  Suddenly I was at the 3 mile marker, and then I was done, having finished the run portion in 23:30.  Not too bad after a 750 swim and 17.5 mile bike.

As soon as I finished all I could think was “I am NEVER doing a triathlon again.  Ever.”  And then I thought “Oh hey, they have free Mountain Dew and Papa Johns?! I am definitely doing another triathlon.” Usually you get little pieces of bagel and half a banana after a marathon.  Maybe some beer if it is a St. Patrick’s Day race. But these triathletes do not play around with the pizza and soda. I limited myself to one slice and waited for my buddy to finish.

I finished 6th in my age group and realized that with just a little extra effort in the pool, better form on the bike, and some more strength work, I could actually get on the podium next time.  Hey maybe I could even win if someone wanted to pay for private coaching lessons and a Felt tri bike for me.  And pay my mortgage and daycare so I can quit my job and train full time. Ok, I guess that isn’t going to happen, so I will just buy a book about triathlon training, get the local tri shop to tweak the geometry on my bike, and have them slap on my new aero bars.

My goal this week is to get in the pool twice and do at least one strength training session. We are already on Tuesday and I have done neither, so I guess there may be some doubles in my future. Ouch!

Do you have any favorite exercises to increase leg power?  Any suggestions for positioning on the swim, other than taking up Kung Fu? Anyone else race this weekend?  How did it go? Any triathlons I need to put on my bucket list?

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4 thoughts on “Race recap

  1. My race recap was slightly different…The day before my anticipated sprint triathlon dual against Mad Lindsay I was in top shape, posting career best training times in my secret training facility. I had arrived the day prior in Raleigh, my hometown, to a heroes welcome. After a reception at the Governor’s Mansion where Raleigh Mayor, Nancy McFarlane, had awarded me the Key to the City, I headed out to Umstead Park for an evening pre race shakeout run.

    The trails greeted me as a long lost friend as I easily started and outpaced deer with my light quick strides. Dusk drew near and the whirl of the cicadas grew loud as I entered deep into the woods. My mind practiced the humble words I would speak to Mad Lindsay post race to encourage her as I knew the ego blow of being whipped by someone older and not their specialty would indeed be a difficult pill to swallow. Suddenly it dawned on me the familiar noises of the forest had grown silent. Instinctively my razor sharp senses grew wary. Up ahead, I thought I spotted two human silhouettes but they were so short as to belie midgets. I continued down the darkening silent trail to loop back to my waiting chauffeured limousine.

    As I passed the area of the midgets, I felt a resistance on my ankles and I fell to the grown. Initially I thought I had tripped on a vine. As I setup, with little more than my pride bruised, I realized someone or some thing had tied a thin wire across the trail. As I started to rise everything went black, I vaguely heard childish laughter and I was struck in the back of the head.

    Minutes, hours, days….I had no idea how much time passed, I awoke. My sensation was breathing hot air through a burlap sack. My hands and feet were bound and I was swinging freely in the air. My entire body was drenched with sweat, I was sore from head to toe, I was so thirsty and my head was throbbing. I immediately recalled the relaxation tips the Dalai Lama had taught me on my assent of K2. I had been taken. I had been Taken. Quickly I felt the staccato blow of a hard object whack then childish laughter and me. Then another and another. I heard someone say, “Daddy this is the worst piñata!” I heard heavier movement further away, the clink of glass, the psstt of a bottle top opening and a man’s voice say, “Keep swinging boys!” I groaned with each blow. I tried to speak but something wooden was jammed in my mouth and I could feel a wrapping around my head. The heat was unbearable and I could feel and hear the crackling of a fire below my feet. Suddenly something sharp ripped through the burlap bag and lacerated my kidney. I felt the release of blood and heard the sizzling of the fire. I heard an angry woman’s voice say, “Let’s see him race with one kidney.” I again passed out.

    My next memory was awaking being jostled in a dark confined space. Eventually the motion stopped and I heard tires stopping, an engine cutoff, and see light through the burlap confinement. I felt hands life me from my confinement then felt myself fall onto hard earth. Then, “Daddy can we kick him?” Laughter then my shattered ribs felt the sting of tiny feet as they hammered into my sides. My lungs were already punctured but the pain was excruciating. The bag was ripped from my head and the sun blinded me. I heard the squeal of tires and as my swollen eyes squinted I could make out a small 4-door Camry type vehicle speeding off. I took inventory of my situation. I had been left for dead or to die. I freed my bound hands and feet by rubbing my bindings against the sharp rocks on to which I had been tossed. In the distance I heard a crowd and announcements. I headed in the direction of human voices. As I stumbled and staggered, I came through an opening and it was a local triathlon. I HAD A JOB TO COMPLETE and even impending death would no stop an Ironman.

    I remember little of the race, other than occasionally recognizing 2 small shadowy troll like creatures and a familiar West Virginia man’s accent during the race. I collapsed at the finish line oblivious to time, distance or performance. I awoke at Duke Hospital ICU where I have remained ever since. My condition is being widely studied as I recover from my wounds as a model of what the human body is capable of overcoming. I have spoken to FBI agents about my assailants but they say there is little forensic evidence other than a bunch of beer bottles and a single long blonde hair strand. Their conclusion is it appears a random attack by a group backwoods hillbilly types and I should just be thankful I am alive. Thanks to everyone for all their thoughts and prayers as my super human immune system responds and I prepare for IM 140.6 Lake Tahoe. I will be in good hands as I regain my strength in Kona, Hawaii under the care of Bree Wee. Aloha!

  2. Great race report! I don’t know what I would do with myself in 90 degree water…Probably have a heart attack.
    I’m telling myself I can treat myself to aero bars when I average 17 mph on a training ride…Until then, I’m so slow it would look ridiculous, like custom paint and rims on a Geo Metro.

    • Thanks! Aerobars are for everyone 🙂 I saw tons of aerobars out on the course. It’s just nice to give your hands a break. I am not comfortable with mine yet but my hands started going numb on Sunday so I used the bars a bit. Definitely helped!

      • I’m perpetually afraid of looking like I’m pretending to be a “real” triathlete…Not sure how many tris it will take to get over that, but my bike skills have a long way to go! Maybe I’ll ask for aerobars for Christmas…

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