Saturday, April 28, 2007

One of those days

It kinda felt like one of those days. Not just personally, but for a bunch of us. And not just the competitors, but the staff, and the event its self. Don't get me wrong; it wasn't all bad. In fact, I was quite pleased by several parts of it. But there were several learning experiences mixed in.

I honestly felt pretty well rested when I got up at 6AM, but maybe my body was just in shock. I don't like early mornings, especially on the weekend. I actually hadn't slept as well as I had hoped, but felt good and started hydrating and supplementing immediately. Start time for the first ever Langley Pond Sprint (and International) Triathlon was in two hours, and I had a lot of prep work to do. "Wake up Grace!" She's a night owl, like her daddy, and apparently shares my love for mornings.

I set up my transition spot (speck?) and felt good. Walk around, talk to Grace, chat with acquaintances and friends, try to stay loose. Well, about 25 minutes to start time, better go get the wetsuit and stuff. This is the start of the large self-inflicted hurdle for today, yet unknown to me. I hadn't swam with this wetsuit, a really nice borrowed one, prior to the event. For some stupid reason, I decided to avoid any warm-up swimming. Either would have helped me fit the suit better to me. I also broke better judgement, and lined up in the front for the mass start. Off to the side, but still in front.

I started strong, but began having problems getting my air. Possibly due to the fit of the suit, not pulled up high enough on my shoulders. Possibly frustration from all the people with seemingly no perception of themselves in space and time, weaving back and forth, running over me and under me. I kept checking, and I was swimming arrow-straight. I backed off and got into a clearer area, and tried to catch my breath. "This SUCKS! Why do I think I can do stupid triathlons? I hate open water! blah-blah-blah..."

I sucked it up, got around the buoys, and noticed I was actually swimming quite fast when I was swimming. I kicked it back in, and finished the swim about dead in the middle of the pack. Frustrated, I ran up the hill to transition. Mendy was there to take a pic, but forgot to turn the camera on. That made me chuckle (and feel a bit better), and Grace was there cheering me on (which made me feel a LOT better).

I hit transition, made the decision to carry my bike shoes to the road - there was a 200yd run from transition to the pavement over dirt, grass, and rocks - so I was out relatively quickly after pulling off the evil wetsuit. I jumped on the bike, strapped down the shoes, and started to feel really good about things. We had pre-driven the course, so I knew what to expect. I was already passing a bunch of folks, but still reserving quite a bit for that first long hill. Once over that, I hammered the ride hard until...

I pull around the corner to the final stretch back to the event site, and see a race official advising me to slow, and shaking his head. Huh? You have GOT to be kidding me! A train??? Yep, we stopped for several minutes waiting on a train to pass. Slooooowly! This was actually to some benefit to me; I was able to catch up to some dudes that were way ahead of me, and actually out-sprinted many of them back to transition. Yay!

So, off to the races, if you will. I was staying very conscious of my stride, keeping it short and quick to match my cycling "stride" and cadence during the ride. I felt good, and started picking people off again. One guy, also wearing gear, passed me and kept going. I told him I was glad he wasn't in my age category! Apparently the residents weren't too aware of the event, and some old woman came driving between all the runners laying on her horn. I almost threw my water cup at her car, but decided to be an ambassador instead.

The course came back into the site, around transition, past the finish, out and down beside the pond, back in, and finally across the timing mats. I thought it was never going to end, and a GPS mapping of it confirmed that it was a bit long: 3.6 miles, roughly. It felt good to get the race behind me, since it was less than ideal for me. Now the wait for results...

I had high hopes prior to the start, but the swim dashed those.
The results came out after some delicious turkey chili and re hydration, along with some playing with Grace and walking around. The list had me at 32nd overall (men) and 8th in my age group. Later, the online results put me at 29th overall. Not horrible, but not as good as I had hoped. But, I learned!

So, now I'm a multi-time triathlete, and I know where my weaknesses are. Next stop: large event, open water, mass start. Yep, a little race called the Clemson Sprint Triathlon


Mendy said...

I hate swimming!!! it sucks... Nah, it's part of the triathlon and you're going to get better and faster at it. It was a great time to watch you compete, especially with the competitive edge you already have. Like I said, this is just the beginning. Clemson is in 2 weeks, and you're going to do great at it!!! I'm very proud of you and look to you to unknowingly inspire me to push myself.

Gotta Run said...

The greatest part of these smaller races is in the mistakes. It is one of the best tools for making the bigger ones count.

You are doing a fantastic job so keep it up. I would bet money that you will place in the top of your age group before long. You are just that driven.

Scott said...

COOL PICTURES MAN ! ! ! Really like the one with you on the bike...FOCUSED. Very cool. This is only the second one is a series of 10 correct? Real proud of you my friend...not many people can do what you are doing. My triathlon over the weekend was beer, burger, that order.