I've never done a race report, but at the urging of my buddy Deb Taylor, and given the relative lack of training I did for this race, I decided that this was potentially funny enough to post.
The list of reasons that I shouldn't have done this race is long but includes:
1. I'm a Fat B*****d
2. I haven’t raced since October of 2008
3. I haven't done a ride of longer than 50 miles for almost 2 years
4. My longest run this year was about 7.5 miles
5. I'm hopelessly lacking in self discipline
6. I stay up late at night eating bon bons and watching rubbish on TV (see #5, above)
7. It's currently 12:45 AM Monday morning and I'm watching "River Monster" on Animal Planet while writing this report (see #6, above)
Given the above, I considered transferring to the sprint on Sunday, but as laziness generally dictates my fate, I never got around to transferring. Regardless, my watch chimed at 4:45 Saturday morning and I found myself at Lake Anna, lying in bed beneath Bill Wheeler (err… it was a bunk bed). Bill had set me up with a place to stay in a house with Chuck and Michelle Potter. Many thanks, guys. That worked out perfectly. The time spent with Jellyfish was a treat. He’s a great guy and phenomenal athlete, as evidenced by his run being 3rd fastest among relay teams - after having done the swim three hours earlier! He ought to kill at Eagleman this year.
Ate some breaky, packed up and got to the race. Weather was great, although it was warm enough to concern me that it might be hot on the run. I had brief flashbacks to E-man ’08, but suppressed them. The wind was picking up, which I had hoped would have held off until after the ride. No real concern to me, though, since I wasn’t too worried about my time.
I agree with Bill that the water was perfect for a wetsuit swim. It would have been tolerable w/out one, but was cool enough that overheating wasn’t an issue. The swim course looked shorter than I expected, especially compared to my memory of E-man. I took off in the second to last wave, 4 minutes ahead of Bill. I always have some difficulty finding a rhythm at the start of a swim, but this one started about as smoothly as I’ve experienced. Due to the wind, there was some chop, so I was conscious of keeping a high elbow and enforcing a good body roll when breathing, and the waves weren’t an issue. I’m pretty comfortable breathing on whichever side works best for the course and conditions, but if I’d been an exclusive left side breather, the swim would have been more difficult through the middle of the course, with the wind strong from the left. Got slightly wide left on the way in, but was able to correct in time. I thought I collided with Bill near the finish, which was cool, because we might come out of the water together, but when I got out, I didn’t see him. Apparently he made a wrong turn and headed for open water, letting me beat him in. In the transition area, I turned around to find the racer next to me (an older bloke, probably 55 or so) standing there buck naked! I commented that I really respected his immodesty, to which he replied with a dead pan “Thank you, sir”. Seemed like a retired military type. I don’t know my exact swim time, but think it was between 34 and 35 minutes.
Transition was slow and then I was riding. I knew my cycling form was poor, so I decided to dog the ride and save my energy for the run. What I failed to consider was that, at my fitness level, there was no way to dog a 56 mile ride. The course was two laps of a very pretty course. It was windy in some areas, although a lot was reasonably shielded by the woods. About 40 miles in, I was feeling pretty fatigued, despite taking it quite slowly. I began considering that I’d probably have to do plenty of walking in the run and if so, might not make the cutoff of 8 hrs. When I finished riding, I was glad to get off the bike. Among other things, my ischial callosities weren’t prepared for a 56 mile ride starting with wet shorts. My feet also felt fairly bad, but improved when I put on my running shoes.
I thought that maybe I should just bag the run and go and eat, but since the run was a three loop course, I thought I would at least do a loop to see how it felt. I felt best at the end of the loop, probably because the final third of a mile was down hill on a shaded trail. I considered bagging again, but this very insolent voice that I occasionally hear in my head said something to the effect of “Look, jackass, you got yourself into this mess, now take your medicine”. I also began a running calculation of my chances of making the cutoff. I was doing about an equal amount of running and walking, and my running pace was probably slower than a good triathlete’s walking pace, but in spite of that, it looked like I had a chance of making the cut. I forged on, drinking water and coke at the aid stations (HEED didn’t sit very well) and eating numerous orange wedges, which I found really refreshing. By the third and final lap, my running was more frequent and faster than the first two laps, although when I reached the 12 mile marker, I remember thinking to myself that I was entirely depleted of energy, and the voice was saying “You got what you deserved, moron!”. When I finally reached the Start/Fin area, a large extended Hispanic family that was picnicking in the park was strolling down the beach trail in front of me. I had to weave my way through them, and suddenly realized that I had been relegated to the ranks of the poor souls that you see at all triathlons, still on the course as you leave to go home or out for a beer somewhere. Don’t get me wrong, I have tremendous respect for these folks, just don’t want to get in the habit of being one quite yet. As a write this, the voice is saying “You have no right to be smug, you fat S.O.B.”
As I approached the line, Bill was waiting for me, cheering me on. Really appreciate it, bro. I made it 5-10 minutes inside the cutoff, although don’t know my official time yet, due to some difficulties with results posting. Bill graciously offered to drive home to EC, so I just kicked back and chatted the whole way home. Got home to a house with no power, but it came back on within an hour or two. By 8:00 pm I was showered and ready for a couple of hours of mauling by the kids before bed. It was a long day and a hard day, but I ended it smiling and without injuries. I’ll take that.
And the voice says, “You’ll get what’s coming to you at Columbia…”