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Race Result

Racer: John Lopez
Race: Half Full Olympic
Date: Sunday, October 7, 2012
Location: Columbia, MD
Race Type: Triathlon - International Distance
Age Group: Male 50 - 54
Time: 4:13:42
Overall Place: 136 / 223
Age Group Place: 8 / 10
Comment: Started half-full but ended on empty



Race Report:

Rev3 Half-Full Olympic 40

First of all, thanks to MMTC for the tent, chairs, drinks, food, friendship and support! Thanks also to the athletes who I trained with this year for support, advice, and coaching, especially Liz Flynn and Benjamin Bartlett.

This is my 5th year of triathlons. I trained consistently since January and completed a Sprint, Duathlon, 3 Olympics, and various open-water swims, organized bike rides, 5k and 10k runs, and Rebel Race this year. Although my training had fallen off slightly during the last month, I wanted to do one more event, and Half-Full fit nicely since it’s local and I would see my friends and at least one celebrity.

Transition set-up:
It was great to see Moe, Bryan, Sergio, Hector, and Bill, as we wondered what the weather would throw at us and what gear we would need in our defense.

Pre-race Nutrition:
2 power-bars, Starbucks double-shot, water, half granola bar, gel.

Swim: 30:59
This was my best open-water swim this year! I high-fived and hugged the survivors and ran and dove into the water and it was easy to follow the line of swimmers at least out into the middle of the lake. I really liked the time-trial start. I wasn’t kicked or elbowed or had my goggles knocked off as in the Columbia Tri. I was comfortable in my full wetsuit, aqua socks, and thermal swim cap. My only physical contact with another swimmer was at the far end of the lake. I hope that I helped rather than hurt her as I swam across her legs, since she seemed to be eagerly heading towards the far shore instead of the turn buoy and it was too soon to be hitting Gatorade hill and she wasn’t dressed for it anyway. The last section of swim seemed slower and I was confused by the location of the buoys. I hugged the shore and tried to swim directly to the exit ramp. I would have hit the shore, but thankfully, there was a spectator dressed in white standing at the edge like a beacon in the dark.

T1: 8:50
I was happy to see Debra, Erin and Wendy along the way, and Bryan in transition. I had decided not to wear a top under my wetsuit since I didn’t want it to be cold on the bike. I toweled off and put on a bike shirt, long-sleeve top, and light windbreaker. I also had a headband and heavy bike gloves, which were very useful in wiping the rain from my new clear sunglasses. Another gu and chug of water and I was off!

Bike: 2:03:59
My time was faster than on a practice ride in much better conditions. I held back on the downhills, and I really pushed myself on the climbs. On the first fast downhill, fearing the speed on the wet roads, I tried fluttering my brake only to find that it wasn’t effective in the rain. On one climb, I came out of the saddle, which pumped up my quads. I am usually careful not to do this, since it would come back to haunt me on the run. But, being my last race of the season, I was not going to hold back, especially not while being chased by 30 year-olds, horned demons and other strange woodland creatures. Since the Half-Full course passes near my house, I gave my wife a window of time to look for me at one the traffic circles. I was really glad to see her after the long climb up Triadelphia Mill to Highland. She was more excited to see the guy in black and yellow who had just blown past. I spent the second half of the ride leap-frogging with a 22 year old irongirl and exchanging encouragements. It was great to see all the spectators and volunteers, in and out of uniform, who braved the wet, chilly weather.

T2: 4:55
My running gear was dry in the plastic swag bag. My legs started to lock up as I bent to change my shoes, so I hobbled over to sit at a nearby bucket to change socks & shoes. I was so excited that I forgot to remove my helmet and had to backtrack and toss it on the bike.

Run: 1:24:60
The rain finally stopped and so did my legs. I was able to keep moving up all the hills, and let gravity help me down them, but the level areas caused me to stop, stretch, catch my breath, relax, and fight leg cramps. The pattern repeated and I grew discouraged as more people passed me and I didn’t seem to be making much forward progress. Finally, an alert volunteer at the last rest stop recognized my pain and gave me some electrolyte capsules. Whether or not they worked in time, I was mentally re-energized for the final assault.

Finish time: 4:13:42
There was actually a guy who completed the 70 faster than I did the 40. He passed me at mile 20 on the bike ride, then rode his second loop and ran past me on his first run loop. I wish him well.

Post-race:
I didn’t feel so good after finishing. Most of my races this year have been in warm weather and I know what overheating feels like, but this felt different. I was dressed sufficiently not to have hypothermia, but I felt worse than tired, sore, hungry, or all of these combined. Heather got me a thermal cover and I changed into my warm clothes and staggered around, not feeling very sociable. I started feeling like I was about to pass out, so I went directly to the medical tent. They were busy treating people for hypothermia and bad scrapes. They checked me out and everything was fine, but I wasn’t feeling better and didn’t want to get up and go anywhere, and I didn’t want to become a body passed out under the MMTC tent. After a while, a doctor said they could take better care of me at the hospital. I thought this was stupid, I’m just tired and hungry and there must be worse people than me. I didn’t really want to leave the party, but off I went. The IV they gave me in the ambulance helped me to start feeling much better. I was released from the ER after taking another bag of fluids into my system. My wife cheered me up and got me food and then we went back to the park to retrieve the bike, which was all alone at the 40 side of the transition area. During this episode, it was clear to me how strong and brave the people must be who fight and survive terrible battles such as cancer.

I knew this race was going to be my hardest, since it was longer and hillier than my other ones, but it wasn’t too much of a stretch and I was confident that I could do it. I drank enough, maybe too much, and took gels on schedule until I ran out. I don’t think I got enough sleep the night before. I also blame the combination of the rain and cold, my over-exertion on the bike ride, and the duration of the event for my body’s failing at the end. In retrospect, I probably could have slowed down and added a few minutes to my bike ride, thereby saving 20 minutes of pain during the run, but sometimes, I just live in the moment. I’m glad that I did this race and I wish all the best to club members participating in other events this year.