I had only done one tri beforeóa sprint distance last summeróso I was pretty nervous leading up to this, especially about the swim. I had biked and ran the course several times leading up to race day, but hadnít had an open water swim since last year. Plus, my training was a little behind due to knee surgery in January and time constraints. So I didnít know what to expect on race day, really.
Got there at 6:15 or so, and I was in the 3rd wave, so I didnít have as much time to prepare as I wanted. In fact, I barely stretched before I had to go wait in the spot-a-pot line and hustle over to the start.
The swim was every bit as bad as I imagined. I tried to stay out of the main pack in the beginning but still got kicked and bumped like a punching bag. I couldnít get in a rhythm, kept having to stop and start my stroke again when I collided with someone, and then started to hyperventilate. Thatís never happened to me before, and I thought sót, I wonít even finish the swim part. But I slowed down, started taking big breaths and somehow kept going. It helped that Iíve heard other club members talk about hyperventilating, because I figured I could maybe work through it. And sure enough, I got some clear space and started getting in a sort of groove. On the way back after the last buoy, I realized I was way far outside and started coming back to the left closer to the buoys and the rest of the pack. Then I got kicked again and water filled my right goggle. I could barely see then but made it to the finish and staggered out of the water, off balance after standing up. Swim time 29:23, I was surprised to learn later, with everything that happened.
The bike was kind of a blur to me. I felt like I was going really slow, and all kinds of people passed me, but I ended up finishing in 1:26, which was faster than any of the practice runs. I guess the adrenaline just kept me moving. My legs started to burn at the end, so I took it a little easier for the last few miles. I wanted to have something left for the run. Nice to see Chip and Scott blow past me looking really strong, giving me encouragement. I had 2 gels, accelerade, and water on the bike to keep my energy and hydration up.
I had had some shin problems the past month when Iíve been running, so I expected that to be a problem on the run course, and it was. The shin pain started just after the first big hill on the lake and I was sort of shuffling rather than running until the 3-mile mark or so. Then the shin pain subsided, and I got into a pretty good pace after that. What a great feeling it was coming back onto the lake path and hearing the cheering at the finish line, and then seeing my wife and kids on the side of the path over by the dam rooting me on. I crossed the finish line, got a high-five from Vigo, and kissed the ground, just happy to be finished. And my overall time was 2:56:17, much better than I imagined.
Kudos of course to the MMTC tent staff for putting on a great post-race spread. You guys are amazing! Iíve been sore in my legs, had an upset stomach (probably drank too much lake water), and the dreaded wetsuit rashes since Sunday, but Iím still on that finisherís high. Congrats to everyone who finished from MMTC. It was great to see all those shirts out there on the course and encourage each other. I might even take a week off now before training for Philly in 5 weeks!