Sorry for the late race-recap, but I kinda figured I should get my first RR in before the start of my second race…
I was first introduced to the sport of triathlon in 1986. I was watching tv one weekend and saw Kona. I was inspired by the look of determination on their faces, some competitors were bloodied, some could barely walk, and yet there was this omnipresent attitude that screamed out from each of them that they were going to finish. I was 12 years old at the time and I told myself that someday I was going to do that too. But I was young and out of shape and figured there’d be plenty of time to get to that later. Through high school, through college, after college – still more or less out of shape, but the dream remained. Finally I decided that I wasn’t getting younger, and if I didn’t get started on it now, it’d just be that much more difficult to pursue my goal later on in life, and besides who knows what ailments could pop up between now and some unknown future date. I decided it was time to get serious. I started going to the gym, I dropped nearly 40 lbs, I was swimming regularly, and was on my way. I signed up for the triathlon on September 7th, 2010 - the day registration for the Columbia Triathlon opened. (I can also tell you that the registration for the Nautica NYC triathlon went on sale at 12:01 am Oct 18th 2010, mostly because I was attending a concert the previous night and left my place in line to meet the artists so I could make it home in time to register for the NYC). I mention it only because I had signed up for 2 Olympic distance triathlons before I had a bike (which I finally bought in late November).
Anyway, onto the event…
I woke up around 4-430ish, took a shower, made 2 pbj sandwiches and jumped in the car. While waiting in traffic I ate one of the sandwiches. Finally got parked, ate my 2nd sandwich, then went and setup my transition, made a few trips back and forth to the car for various things. Around 6:15-6:30ish, I made my way over the MMTC tent, ate some sport beans, and tried to just remain calm – this was a life goal for me, for months the mere prospect of participating in a triathlon got a lot of emotions stirring in me – and here I was, race day, at the MMTC tent right next to start/finish. There were a LOT of things on my mind that day.
THE SWIM (29:48) – ok, so I was a bit nervous about the swim, well not so much the swim, I knew I’d be fine on the swim, I just didn’t want to spend any more time in my wetsuit than I needed to. With 10 minutes before my wave start I still wasn’t in it. With assistance from Susie, and Theresa I got put it on, got slathered in Body Glide and found my way down to swim start. The water was warmer than I thought it would be, and the wetsuit was far more buoyant that I had expected (even though I had multiple ows sessions with it). I kinda felt like I was sitting in one of those floating pool chairs while waiting for our wave to go off. We were told to self seed and I figured I’d be one of the slower swimmers (35-39 ag) so I stayed towards the back of the pack. Shortly after we were given the go-ahead, I was rethinking my decision, I felt that I had gotten boxed in behind some slower swimmers and if it weren’t for an inability to find some path to get me through them all, I could’ve easily moved up some. Luckily the group broke apart a bit as we hit the turn buoy to go north and I felt like I had a bit more ability to swim at my own pace. I hustled out of the water, ran over the timing mat and into the transition area. I walked to my bike, my hr seemed a bit high. I took my wetsuit off, grabbed a long drink of water, downed a gel, then headed on my way.
THE BIKE (1:42:22) - I hadn’t properly set up my bike computer prior to the beginning of the race… while trying to head out of the park I was messing around with it trying to get my stats cleared, and get the comp to the right page… seemed to be a big waste of time, why I hadn’t done it earlier I’m not sure – mental note to self, take care of BEFORE hand. The first bit of road seemed difficult. I wasn’t really comfortable with the way my seat felt, and I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere near the amount of power out of my legs as I should. I was happy to finally be on Homewood Road and was encouraged by all of the people sitting in their lawns cheering us on. I felt as if people were constantly passing me, I was mostly ok with it, I just didn’t want to run afoul of position, blocking, or drafting fouls, I was willing to give up a lot of positions if it meant I wasn’t going to get a penalty or even worse disqualified from the race. I made it past the first traffic circle without incident (site of my nasty spill the week prior). I didn’t take any water at the aid station and felt pretty good heading into the back section of the course. Heading up Green Bridge Road, I dropped my water bottle. I stopped to pick it up and figured I’d take a gel and down a bit of water while I was off my bike. Without any further incident I finished the bike course.
THE RUN (1:09:53)- I spent a bit more time in T2 that I should’ve. I drank nearly half a bottle of water took a gel and then went on my way. Right out of transition I took water from the first aid station. Perhaps I was pushing myself a bit too hard right off the bike, but I was struggling before I even made it to the first hill. Looking down at my heart rate monitor I was close to 180 bpm. I had been hoping to make it the entire run without stopping, but clearly with the way I was feeling that wasn’t going to happen. I looked around, saw other people walking up the hill, and when I slowed down to walk I felt no shame. Making to the top of the hill I resumed running, only to have to slow down again a hundred yards or so later, my heart rate had spiked again. At the 2nd aid station I took a cup of water and doused myself, and drank one. From there I kept a slow pace but managed to run almost a full mile, but again feeling the need to slow down when starting up the climb to head out of the park. I completed the rest of the run course in much the same manor, grabbing 2 cups at each of the aid stations and being cautious when it came to the hills. I was still somewhat concerned that I might not finish the course, but with about 2 miles remaining, that thought finally went away… coming back into the park, running down the hill, seeing the lake, seeing the dam let me know that I was going to make it. I was exhausted but smiling, but the emotion that I had expected wasn’t there – I was just sort of blank. I kind of expected there to be tears at this point. It was part of my visualization when I was training – starting with the first complete run around the lake, when I crossed start finish, when I recognized that I could do this thing, I’d start to well up a bit, and every training run thereafter, whenever I’d run that final stretch and envision myself coming down the chute to the finish line – the pride, the emotion, the love, it all just kept on building. But like I said, it was absent… finishing the dam, and then turning right, crossing the bridge… I looked and saw the photographer and a blue mat and I wasn’t euphoric, or happy, or elated, I was sad. I was sad because my race was over, and the run didn’t go well as I had hoped, and I knew I could’ve pushed harder and gone faster. I was disappointed and sad, and I looked up and almost with disbelief came to the realization that the blue mat wasn’t the finish, that I still had 30 more yards to go, I looked at the clock and it was ticking away towards 4 hours, and almost as if on cue this voice went off in my head and it said “GO, FAST!”. My arms dropped to my sides, my legs fired like pistons, and in that final stretch I ended up passing 2 guys in my age group. Of course, I was now in a full on sprint, and right on the other side of the finish line there was a wall of people with their hands up saying “STOP”. I got a medal placed around my neck, Theresa who was volunteering said “Good job – I have to get your timing chip”. I couldn’t talk, I wanted to puke, I felt like I was going to pass out… I hunched over the barricade as she did her thing then I worked my way out of the crown and collapsed onto the ground behind the tent. I laid there for what seemed to be an eternity. I looked down at my watch and saw that it was more realistically 2-3 minutes. I drank some water and got some watermelon and just enjoyed the moment.
I learned several things during the race that I hope to improve upon for next time:
1. Hydrate more, hydrate more often – probably the biggest single thing I could do to improve my overall performance
2. Tape gels to the handlebar – I knew about that going in, but forget to bring tape.
3. Don’t stop to drink water in t2, if I need that much bring it and chug on the way out, or just grab water at the aid station just at t2 exit
4. Attack earlier on the run – no sense in waiting for the finish line.
5. More swim/bike bricks, and practice with less time in transition.
To wrap this all up, I would just like to send a special thank you shout out to Susie ROCKS Montoya – she has been so supportive, helpful and informative in getting me prepared for this race over the past several months – after the race I told her that I may have crossed the finish line by myself, but I never would’ve made it to the start line without her – thanks again for everything!!!
Ok, that’s it, time for bed, I got a race tomorrow, and I swear next time the race report won’t be nearly as long.