I’m not sure if I’m pleased or not – mostly because I don’t have the results with me, only breathless looks at the clock as I went through the transition area. I think my times were: ~11 minutes for the swim, ~40 minutes for the bike, and ~25 minutes for the run, for a total of about 1:15, give or take 5 minutes. The swim, I know, took forever. The whole thing’s still kind of a blur, so the times may be off by up to 10 minutes either way.
So I leave work about 4:30 – half an hour later than planned, but hey, at least I got out of there. I had C.’s bike as well as mine, since hers wouldn’t fit in her car. FLY across the state, stopping for gas, etc.
Get to the park with about 20 minutes to spare. Register, flash my groovy USAT license that I had to print out as I left the office since I’d left my card – well, I don’t know. Isn’t the internet great? Anyway, register, back to the car to drop trou and change. Carry shoes (running and cycling) helmet, glasses, and bike to the transition area. Then realize (Crap!) that I’ve left my goggles in the car. Back to the car – running barefoot; Mark would be pleased – grab the goggles, and run – barefoot again – back to the start.
The swim – Yeah, I don’t know what happened here. The swim blew chunks. The water was low/mid 70’s, so it wasn’t even brisk to swim without a wetsuit. But somehow, after about the first 50 meters, I just couldn’t find a rhythm, rhyme, or reason. I was breathing every stroke, or trying alternate sides, or whatever, and just completely was out of sync. Not a great start. Then, I start getting all worried about getting lost, and try to breaststroke so I can watch where I’m going and keep from freaking out.
In any case, I round the buoy and finish the swim pretty darn close to dead last. Whatever – at least that was over with. See C. leaving the transition on the bike. Guess what’s high on my training plan for next time?
The bike started well – there was about a 200 yard run from the transition to where the road actually started, so it felt all cyclocross and cool. Having been concentrating on feeling light on my feet when I ran really helped me through this. What I did completely flub, though, was the ‘cross style jump onto the moving bike. I had to stop to get on. Hi, my name’s Fred.
After that, the bike course was pretty cool. My heart rate was pegged after the swim – for swimming godawful slow, I put a lot of effort into the water – but once I was on the bike, I was back in my element. Initially, it was a matter of see someone up the road, head down, mash the pedals, see no one ahead for a while.
The course made a wide loop around the lake – under the expressway, up a hill, over a couple of rollers, and back down past the start. The course was 6 miles, so two laps.
As I started up the hill the first time, I felt a twitch in my calf. Ah, crap – cramp. Hmm. Try to swig down some gatorade between gasps for breath – yeah, that’s going to happen. Oh, well, let’s just gut it out. Maybe it’ll work itself out.
On the way up the last big hill before the downhill part of the lap, C. starts passing me and yells “Don’t quit now!” So I don’t. Every fibre of my being as a cyclist says “Hey, a friendly wheel to grab”, but that’s cheating in tri, so I resist. What I do, however, is dig a little deeper, make it over the top, and pass her on the downhill.
Second lap – I’m flying as I pass the turn; happy mostly because I haven’t been lapped by anyone. I’d put on my typical bug-eating grin, but it’s approaching a half hour since my heart rate was below my anaerobic threshold. I’m not quite holding on for dear life, but it’s starting to enter the hypothalamus stage.
Then the cramps come back, this time in force. Whenever I take the tension off of my calves, the muscle fibres knot back around themselves like cub scouts learning knots. C. catches me again; we pass some small talk – the drafting thing comes up, and then another guy starts to pass. Small dog syndrome kicks in, I mash on the pedals because the pain of exertion is less than the pain of cramping, and end up taking the guy on the first big hill.
At about the halfway point, there’s a guy on the side of the road. I yell ahead to him asking if he’s got what he needs, hoping he’ll be looking for a tube or something so I can stop to help him out. He’s busted his crank. Not much I can do for that. So I press on.
Top of the last real bike hill – the cramps are really, really kicking in. I’ve managed to drink about a quarter of my bottle of gatorade, and am wondering if maybe I drank too much water on the drive over before the race. Possible, but not bloody likely. More likely is that I’ve screwed up my seat position the night before. AND the stupid front brake that I worked on last night is rubbing on something. At least the drivetrain sounds clean, and I’ve had no shifting problems.
The downhill’s a pain. Instead of being able to catch my breath, I have to keep pushing hard on the pedals to keep my calves from knotting up. The upside is that I’m flying, or at least I think so until I get passed for like the first time in a while.
Back to the park, through the transition, dump the bike, rip off the helmet and shoes, slip on the running shoes (no socks! thanks to the experiment last week) and hit the road. Consolation from the bike is that at least I didn’t see any runners on the course (the run and bike share about a mile of road), so I haven’t been lapped yet.
Running really feels kind of good once my body accepts that I’m not going to just quit. The course is a smaller version of the bike loop – up a hill, over a couple of rollers in a neighborhood, then back down Main Street to the park. About a mile into it, the skies open up and I start swimming. Pass a couple of people on the run, even though I miss a turn and end up adding about a tenth of a mile.
Back at the finish, I manage to sprint across the line. The transition area looks practically empty – everyone else who is done has moved under the pavilion to get out of the storm. One guy does mention that there were a few people who didn’t even bother starting the run, which makes me feel a little better – at least I finished. But I’m miffed about the swim.
C. runs in not so long after I do, huge smile on her face for finishing. I immediately felt guilty. I’m far from being fast, but I’m used to being slightly above average. (Bluff Point, for instance – 30th out of 109, which is not so bad). Tonight, I was sucking fumes. I suppose it comes out in the wash since the population who’s going to enter a triathlon is probably much less a cross-section of fitness than the folks who enter a local run.
Good post-race swag – I missed most of it taking stuff back to the car. But the crowd seemed friendly. I’m looking forward to the one in two weeks. Now if I can only learn how to swim.