Final tri of 2011. I love this race, it’s got a small town vibe, well run and is entirely respectful and considerate of newbies. Although I’m no longer a newbie (this was tri 49 I think) I still love the vibe moreso than the uber-competitive mega-races which seem to be taking over.
The other thing I like? The wave seeding is based on swim time. In reverse order! Fastest swimmers first, yippee! I’m usually in the last or second to last wave. This means I normally start about NOON! No getting up at 3am to get to transition and setup in the dark. However, this year due to low enrollment I had a start time of 10:30. Oh well… I can still get up at 5am like I do every day and get myself out of the house by 7. Easy and relaxed.
Packing now is simple. I grab my bag and go on a virtual shopping tour of my garage. I was done in about 20 minutes, including checking over my bike for mechanical issues.
I get to the race, check in – the ladies know me by now, since it’s the same volunteers pretty much every year. I unpack, setup my transition and I’m ready to go.
I check in for the swim and they are running 15minutes EARLY. Crap!!!! Now I do NOT have a lot of time. Ok, haul butt and get my warmup in. I go ride 3 miles on the bike, easy/hard/easy/hard/easy – it’s all good. Feeling fairly strong although my legs are complaining a wee bit with the surges… this is pretty normal, so not worried. I get my running shoes on and run about a mile – stopping to stretch whatever part is complaining. Feels “ok”. Not great, not bad, just kind of ok. Alrighty, I’ll take it. finally rearrange my transition and head back to the pool to see IF I’m going to get a swim warmup. I check in again… now they are only 10min AHEAD. Ok, cool. I hope in the 100degree warmup pool. ACK! They aren’t kidding, the warm pool IS so freakin warm. Since I have very little time I hit it hard right away and crank out 10x surges or so with some short recovery. CRAP my shorts are not staying up. Dangit!! I need a bigger butt I guess! LOL
Get out, get in line and park myself in the cold metal chairs. Meet my lane mates, say howdy, and we wait. It’s actually drafty so I’m a bit chilled, which means the lady next to me MUST be freezing. She looks nervous, maybe it’s just cold? Anyway, I don’t wait long and we’re lined up in the pool. I’m “B” swimmer (2nd) in my lane. I’m thinking I will do about an 8:00 (500yds), I C swimmer him his seed – he thinks he will do 7:45. C swimmer thinks she will do a 7:50. Ok, yeah we’re all messed up. Anyway, we talk about how to allow a pass in case…
It’s a fairly unceremonious and we’re off. This is basically an all out effort complicated by my stupid shorts coming down a bit after every flip. Within 100yds I’m on the feet of the A swimmer. Within 200yds C swimmer is on my feet and makes the pass of us both! We pretty much stay in this configuration though the rest of the swim, with me drifting back almost 20yds behind them. GRRRRR. guess I cannot really complain I am in the fastest heat and I’ve NOT been swimming much since Ironman… so… yeah whatever. Done in 8:00 – well, at least I knew where I’d be! Hop out of the pool and run to the bike. Immediately the legs tighten up into tree trunks, but luckily it is not far to transition.
The transition was fairly routine. Shoes, bike jersey, glasses, jacket, gloves, helmet, GO! then the awkward run to the bike mount. I hit the bike mount line before Mr C swimmer – which means his transition must be have been really slow.
Then run starts off with 2 substantial hills, not what you want to do for warm-up, but no choice. I hit the small gear and ground up the first one and then used my momentum to fly up the second. A 90degree turn to the left and now we’re on the straight second with a small uphill grade.
I got into a groove. Passed several, got passed by a couple but nothing special for the first half. I managed to keep the legs in a constant state of agony. Normally I have 2 rules for Sprint Tris
1. If it doesn’t hurt, GO FASTER
2. If you can breathe, GO FASTER
Simple. ONCE your body is ready for this distance – or longer, then you’re really to just go all out and that’s what you do. No pacing just drive at maximum. However, with all the long distance training over the last year for Ironman I was not at all prepared for a sprint. I did so little SPEED work so the legs were screaming but the breathing part was fine. I was breathing a little heavy but no where near max. I just couldn’t get the body there. so I did what I could.
It was pretty cool out and it started to rain. Lightly at first and it just kept increasing. That mixed with the winds made things a bit rough. Oh well, not like I haven’t trained in the rain. Pretty much the same, just need to keep off the shiny spots and watch the turns.
Finally hit the turn around, which was a switch back and started heading back in. About 1 mile out though I noticed the back wheel was feeling a bit wobbly…. looked at it and oh no…. FLAT! CRAAAAAP. I was feeling good about my position but CRAAAAAAAAAAAp. Stopped, now it was POURING. Ripped the back wheel off easy, got out the tools – clumsy – and got the tube out. Only have one spare tube so I needed to find out WHY. I looked and looked and looked and FINALLY found the tear in the tube. Nothing IN it so looked on the TIRE and it took forever to find it. A tiny bit of glass going perpendicular to the tire. Arg. Ok, remove glass, one more feel around the tube to be sure that wasn’t it. New tube in tire quick, first half of tire on quick, but the second was a real pain in the pouring rain. I couldn’t get a good grip on things. Eventually I did, got wheel back on and off. Elapsed time…. just over 10 minutes?!? OMG. Well, not that I had a great chance for 3rd but this certainly means I must have lost a bunch of positions. Oh well, might as well hammer it home anyway and consider it purely a training day.
Now, at the point I am COLD. VERY COLD. I have completely cooled down and so getting back onto the bike and pounding it was rough. Legs were absolutely PISSED OFF at this choice and I could barely see with the rain in my face. Thankfully I always race with my sunglasses on so this made it better but it was still hard to see so I just focused on 10ft ahead of me at a time.
Finished off the bike somewhat uneventfully. The final 2 hills were rough, as usual, and left my legs a bit more fried than normal. I did a very slow and controlled dismount off the bike due to the rain and ran the bike in.
Transition was pretty quick. Dumped the jacket (I radiate heat when running) but left my gloves. Even though soaking wet then were helping cut the wind so my fingers weren’t too bad. I got my shoes out of the bag (since Rain was in the forecast) and put them on, hat on and grabbed everything else and started running. I put on my Amphipod belt and race number as I ran.
The run starts with a hill and then goes into the trails. Seeing it was wet out, I knew this would be a sloppy one so I took the downhills pretty easy to prevent from falling on my butt. Within the first mile a couple people passed me and I passed one. For me, that’s not a bad ratio! Legs immediately got used to the run, which was nice, so I started picking up the pace. The end of mile 1 includes a bigger uphill section which is always unfun and then up and around a field. THIS is where things get real messy as we go to the low ground. True to form, yup they did. They’d put some wood boards in the worst of it, which was nice, but still it was ankle deep in places.
Similar to the bike, I just stayed in a controlled state of agony. The muscles were screaming but the lungs were not doing too bad – but I was working hard. I was getting hot. Good sign. Mile 2 I didn’t pass or get passed by anyone. Huh. That’s actually pretty cool. Hit the big bridge, which was SLIPPERY with the rain, and man did the legs appreciate that flat ground for a while.
Up the final trail before the football field I managed to pass FIVE people. WOW. 2 walkers, 2 runners, and one person who was looking real bad. They were limping it in it looks like. I asked if she needed she said no, she was going to walk it in, she had fallen. zoom zoom I’m out of here! Once I hit the football field it was AWESOME. FLAT EVEN ground was just what I needed as I was starting to really have to focus on my running. yes it hurt, yes I knew it would hurt, but at some point in every race there is the point at which mental fortitude is challenged. We were AT that point and the football field was welcome relief. So I picked up the pace NOW I was fulfilling both rules of Sprints. IT HURT. I COULD NOT BREATHE. Perfect. Now we’re racing!
Another section of uphills through the trails and I knew I was in the final stretch. This section stinks because it’s off camber, never a fun thing when you’re already hurting. I didn’t walk a step, which I think I have every other time on this course, so I was happy. Not that I was going real fast uphill and off camber… but I ran. Then it flattened out and some turns and we began the descent. I got passed at this point by someone FAR faster than I. Must have been a late registration. I also caught two others before the descent was done.
Finally off the super steep downhills and I had a section of pavement and sidewalk. Maybe 1/4 mile. I picked up the pace. It hurt. Bad. Final 100yds I picked it up some more. IT REALLY HURT. Perfect.
Across the finish line finally. wow, I’m wobbly. Don’t want to puke, so I still left some out there (never have puked post race but I have wanted to a few times) the volunteer girl wanted me to take my chip off. HAH! Not gonna happen sweety. I was working on not falling over. I told her to give me a moment and I walked in circles. An older lady came over, nabbed the scissors from here and snipped it off. Clearly, mom did not approve I thanked them both and wandered to the food table.
I had no appetite so I just walked a while until I recovered and grabbed a few cookies and an orange. I walked back and gathered up my gear and brought it to the car. One of the advantages of being in almost-the-last wave is awards weren’t too much later. So I put all my stuff away, got a shower, and hung out for awards. I was certain I didn’t get anything but I wanted to SEE my competition. The disappointing thing about Clydesdale division is they don’t usually do a weigh in. More than one race I’ve seen these guys and NO WAY were they over 200 lbs. I watched awards, ok, all 3 guys were Clydes. I managed 5th (no award). Without the flat I would have been 4th. But STILL 8 minutes behind 3rd so my soul was at rest. I did the best I could have done. You cannot control who shows up for the day, so you make the best with what you have. Another day….
It’s my goal that in 2012 I will land podium at this tri, or another. I’ve got an entire year to focus on speed. I could easily drop 45s from my swim, in transition, on the bike. This means I need to drop about 5 minutes on the run – maybe a bit more. Focusing on short distance I think this is possible.
All in all, a fun day!
p.s. I got home and BOTH tires were flat. I must have run over a patch of small glass shards. BOOOO!!!