I’m On No Sleep, No Sleep!. You Don’t know What It’s Like In There…
Race morning did not get off to a good start. I hardly slept a wink the whole night and was tossing and turning trying not to look at the clock. I am not sure what if it was the large chai tea I had after dinner or just the excitement of the race. Maybe both. Regardless it was not a good way to start a race day. On top of that I had a pretty lame hotel breakfast of a bagel w/ almond butter and a Clif Bar. I had brought oatmeal, but forgot to bring a bowl to make it in. Duh!
I got dressed and packed up my gear, but didn’t give myself ample time for bib pickup and transition setup at the race. I really don’t know what I was thinking here. I should have gotten up earlier since I could not sleep anyway. On our twenty minute drive to the event we got behind some guy with and Endurance Multisport sticker that was going slower than shit. We had a line of cars behind us too. We feared passing him since we would probably ended up missing the turn and he obviously knew where he was going since he had obviously picked up his bib already.
We got there and I quickly proceeded to registration and got my bib, chip and swag(t-shirt). By the time I got to transition, I only had 10 minutes until transition closed. The thing that sucks was I had a whole hour to wait until I actually started racing. I just don’t get that! I managed to setup my transition spot and threw on my wetsuit pretty quickly and then it was down to the water to listen to the pre-race meeting, national anthemn and then watch the other waves start out.
The Big Chill
It was freaking cold and windy! The temp was around 43-45 deg F and the wind around 10MPH. I kept my sweatshirt on over my wetsuit and it was still chilly. Denise was anticipating me getting in the water so she could put my sweatshirt on over her DOWN jacket. We hung out waiting for my start for what seemed to be forever. I was a bit anxious to find out whether the water would be colder or warmer than what it was outside. As the previous waves started, the lifeguards were busy returning the many folks abandoning the race before the first turn buoy. Not sure if it was the cold or the muddy water at the start from everyone kicking it up. I did hear one girl say her wetsuit was too big for her and it was taking on too much water. She had never used it before…rookie mistake there.
Finally my wave(purple caps for men >40) was called. We were after the yellow caps and the pink caps. I made my way to the narrow aluminum ramp that took us into the water. It was not too bad really. The bottom of the lake was that really soft murky mud that just seems to hover over the bottom. That usually freaks me out, but it was actually kind of warm so I let my cold feet wallow in it with pleasure. I got into my spot a couple rows back from front and slightly to the right and before I knew it the race director was yelling “Go!” from the shore line. Yes, nothing fancy here like a start gun or cannon. He didn’t even have a bullhorn. The start was pretty typical craziness with feet, legs and bodies hitting you from every direction. The water was so thick with mud you could not see anything. It was total darkness in the water. Didn’t really bother me too much, but I could see how a newer triathlete could lose it. My face had started feeling a bit numb from either the coldness of the water or the cold air when breathing, not sure which. I did get used to it. The madness continued to the first turn and then slowly mellowed out until the second lap.
I kept burping the entire swim which was very annoying. Almost felt close to puking a couple times. Not sure what caused that: the bagel(which I don’t normally eat) or the caffeine-infused Clif Bar I ate. As I made my way onto the 2nd lap, I could see Denise standing on the shoreline and I gave her a quick wave with my right hand. I thought that was funny that I was waving during the swim. I settled into a nice rhythm during the second lap and before I knew it I was exiting the water onto the aluminum ramp. There were a few of us exiting at the same time and one guy in a yellow cap took the underwater railing right to the family jewels…Ouch! I looked at my watch and it read 23 minutes…nice! That caught Denise off-guard too since I told her 25-30 and she missed me again coming out of the water. I yelled to her as I went past and surprised the crap out of her.
The run to transition was pretty long and it tacked about 2 minutes onto my swim time. T1 went pretty quickly as I opted for no socks and wearing my bike shoes to the bike mount(as opposed to clipping them in and running barefeet). Another long run to the mount area and I quickly jumped on my bike and away. I was fearing the coldness on the bike with only a tri tank/singlet top and no socks but it wasn’t too bad. My toes were numb at this point so, the socks would not have made much difference anyway.
“Did You See The Size Of That Chicken??”
I settled into a ~20 MPH pace on the bike which was feeling pretty good considering the stiff crosswinds. I found out later that the wind was around 10MPH at the start and increased to around 15MPH during the bike leg. Sometimes there were gusts that had to be worse. The course was 2 ~20 mile out-and-back sections. The 10 miles out was the worst wind-wise, but neither way was a cake walk. The course was extremely flat and if it wasn’t for the wind it could have been a mid-20 MPH average pace. I kept playing cat-and-mouse with one girl on the bike that was in severe need of a bike fitting. Her seat was way too high and her hips kept rocking up and down. It was amazing she could maintain that speed with such an aweful-looking pedal stroke. I would try to pass her and get far enough ahead of her that she would not pass me again, but eventually she would and then she seemed to slow down right after she passed me. I even took some time to ease up behind her just so I would not have to pass her again. Eventually she disappeared. Not sure if she got ahead of me or behind though.
The first loop of the bike course was pretty good. I was averaging about 200 watts on the bike and my legs were feeling pretty good at that point. The wind seemed to have increased towards the end of the first loop and the out portion of the second loop was tough. I could feel it in my legs and was wondering if I was going too hard. I was still pulling 200 watts but my speed had decreased a bit. I held it steady and figured I would easy spin when I got a few miles from the bike finish. There was a water bottle exchange at the turnaround and the girl out there handed me a water bottle that was still sealed. So I am trying to remove the cap and plastic from the bottle while I am riding. Kind of a pain.
On what I believe was the second loop, I was approaching a long dog-leg turn in the course where a police officer was blocking traffic from the side street. I had a slight tailwind so I was cruising around 22MPH when all-of-a-sudden came a cackling black mass 2-3 feet in front of my face. It was a freaking turkey! I never even saw it coming and it quickly put up out of the aerobars, which I needed. two hours in the aero position gets a little rough on the butt and lower back. The turkey came from the side of the road near the cop, so I am sure the officer had a bit of a laugh over that. So not only did the wind slow me down, but that turkey set me back another few seconds too. So much for the time I gained with my carbon fiber wheels and aero helmet.
“I can’t feel my toes! I don’t have any toes!”
I cruised into T2 and had a pretty good transition. I had a little trouble with my socks since I still could not feel my toes. Heading out of transition I made way across several baseball fields and then through very sand driveway gate. The sand was the really dry deep stuff that just kind of sucks you in, making you feel like you are going no where. I tried to avoid it as best I could, but it still sucked my momentum. Then we looped around the school and out the road. My wife was standing out by the driveway so we exchanged some quick comments as a breezed by. Then it was out some flat country roads on route to the ocean.
The run route wound through a quiet little neighborhood and then out some long flat roads flanked on both sides by some very low standing crops. No relief from the wind at all. And now the sun came out to heat us up a bit during the run. I did manage to get a little tailwind on the first half of the run which helped, although the way back I felt the business end of it. There was one small section of woods along the way the provided a little respite from the wind and sun, but it was less than a 1/4 mile and did not last long.
I managed to keep a 8:10min/mi pace on the way out and had aspirations of going under 8 on the way back. That actually ended up going the other way with the headwind. There was one guy a bit ahead of me in my age group which I could see stopping and stretching every so often. I was slowly gaining on him and had hoped I could pass him at some point. One guy came up to me and I stayed with him for a while and we chatted a bit. Slowly he crept away from me and the other guy in my age group must have collected himself since I never got close enough to pass. I tried to pick up the pace a bit in small intervals, but just could not maintain it for a long enough time.
When I hit the 1 mile-to-go aid station, I felt a bit of spark in my step as I knew I was almost there. The biggest thing in my head was being able to take a nap on the drive back home. I looked at my overall time on my Garmin for the first time and it read ~3:36(hrs). I was a bit surprised since my goal time was around 4:00(hrs). I had no idea how I was doing since this was the first I had looked at my overall time all day. I knew from the previous season that under 4 hours would put me in the top 10 of my age group, so I was pretty psyched about that. This helped my pick up the pace a little more now.
I made the turn into the school driveway and as I approached the school I ran up on another guy with the same age group number on his calf. I decided to run just behind him and wait until I got closer to the finish before I made the pass. If I went too early I might peter out and he could then overtake me again. As I ran with him I could tell he was running on fumes and as soon as we made the last turn around the school I went for it. I hit the soft sand again and I could hear someone coming up on me. Fortunately it was someone else in another age group. I hit the finish line at 3:44:12.
Are We There Yet?
I had totally forgotten about being sick the past few days and as soon as I stopped after crossing the finish line I started coughing! Ha…first time all day. I walked around with Denise for a bit to keep the blood from pooling in my legs. I checked out the food and the only thing I could eat was some veggie hoagie thing which looked lame with the hoagie roll. We decided to hit the Thai restaurant near our hotel instead. I also bumped into a guy that did the Troy Jacobson Lake Placid camp with me last year, so I chatted with him a bit. I then collected my stuff from transition and we made our way home. We stopped off at Whole Foods in Plymouth Meeting too and stocked up with some frozen, organic berries and other healthy things.
Overall, I think it was a good race in the fact that it showed my overall early-season fitness is good. I still have a long way to Lake Placid, but I think I am on the right track here. One more half-iron distance race at Rev3 Quassy to go and then it is all Ironman training from there on out. My training plan for next week is not skipping a beat either with a 13 hour week to follow. Fortunately I am feeling good post-race and I am recovering very quickly too. I will attribute that to the plant-based diet.
Until next time, thanks for reading!