Ready or not, the 2010 triathlon season has kicked off. I set off to do an early season international distance race before my usual May half Ironman at St. Anthony's Triathlon. Many of my friends and readers have done this race, but I had not. Due to a grammar school-like vacation policy at my now former employer, I planned to fly into Tampa on the last flight in Friday and the last flight out on Sunday. This is never 'ideal' but we make due with the time we have available.
My expectations of myself in this race were... well, weren't. I wanted to go race and see if I had some snap in my legs or the spark to race. The spark was there, but the snap wasn't really there. I decided to race in M40-44 rather than M40+ Clydesdale because I wanted to see where I really am versus the fast boys not the big boys. I am 195-201 these days. Down from last year (sadly) but not training has a way of doing that. Need to get that down and I'm watching my diet closely but that will take time. More about that another day.
I kept thinking of the word "lunchbox" that ELF coined on a few guys in the Thursday night ride. I'm "thinner" but not fast at all right now. 9 minute/mile pace on most training runs is about where I'm at. Sad from when I used to do ~9/mile for an Ironman. All I can do is keep working to get back. While I'm sure that some readers of this blog will give me shit about being slow and/or fat; strap 50 lbs. to your ass and see how fast you are folks. That's where I'm at right now. My friends and supporters outnumber the nay-sayers that live in the blogosphere. The entire theme to 2010 is (in the words of the movie Ricky Bobby) "Get your balls back. Go fast again." You'll see that much work is still to be done.
The plan was to go strong and smooth and see what happened. Well, I think I got the smooth part down. Strong seemed to enjoy the race from the box seats.
Pre-race went well. We arrived at transition about 5:25-5:30. The rush came in about 5:45-6:00. Thanks to two guys in our bike rack who didn't show for the race, we had plenty of room to set up. At least the experienced guys did. The Team in Training guy across from me from Pennsylvania raised his voice to me, even though I asked him if he had enough room and he said he did. About 6:20 (10 minutes before transition closed) I grabbed my wetsuit, cap and goggles and was just about to start walking away when he yelled, "HEY, I NEED MORE ROOM. I ASKED YOU BEFORE." (He hadn't, but I wasn't going to debate Mr. Psycho-passive-aggressive.) I just looked at him and calmly said, "OK, I'll just move over a little. I asked you earlier and you said you were OK." Mentally, I took his anxious energy and harnessed it for my own race. I literally moved over 1" and he said, "OK, perfect." I was just trying not to think about him. I did however note his race number and noticed he was in my wave. Death before that guy beats me. I beat him by 1 hr 15 minutes and was leaving transition when he was coming back in.
The pre-swim warm up went well. I didn't get to run in transition so when we went into the water to swim I did some water running and over-kicking to get the legs warm. The water was warm and wetsuits weren't really needed, but since they are legal - I'll use a floatation device too. We needed them! WOW! The swim start went off fine. The guys in my wave spread out real well and only a few bumps and bruises. I got hit in the mouth (accidentally) once, but other than that the swim was pretty uneventful as far as contact. For the first two buoys I swam shoulder to shoulder with a guy and we worked in the waves together. We had one wave crash over our heads and another time when we went to breathe the wave had come up so I turned my head and "breathed in" a lung full of water. I kept swimming while I coughed it all out. Ah, fun times. We navigated pretty well and didn't have to sight very hard or go left or right even with the strong current and waves. The last buoy was a different story. The bay seemed to take pleasure in pounding us on the last stretch. I dropped my swim partner temporarily until we re-united on the run. I never really pushed the swim, part of my problem, so the time shows a nice "easy" pace in tough conditions. 28:20. You can see how waves were crashing onto the interstate from this picture. A post race review of my heart rate numbers show... I never even got into warm up pace let alone "working" or "strong" pace. My avg. HR? 138; normally I warm up at 150.
T1 was slow. I ran and wrestled my wetsuit. It went well and came off quickly. Off to ride. 2:53 in a slow transition; I treated it like a 1/2 IM and therefore had a transition time of a 1/2 IM. 174 HR avg - so running to the end of transition got my HR up.
The bike was very windy. I was running a disc wheel and found myself cautious to push hard. Not really sure why. A power meter would have been helpful. I had no computer on this bike and didn't know how hard I was working. I went on feel and the wind felt hard today. Only a few times did I feel good or like I was attacking. Hmm... gonna have to work on that. A time of 1:16:33 (official time was 1:17:05) it is obvious that I was suffering and didn't ride well. My heart rate avg. shows that I rode at a strong heart rate, but I never felt "fast" 168 avg HR. No power numbers to review, so I cannot tell you how much work I did. I did get to see Sarah Reinertsen midway on the bike. She looked strong. Only once did I get the big chain ring running and feeling good. I did notice two problems with my brakes, however, I do not believe they effected my ride. I was just slow. I really enjoyed the bike course (except for the wind of course). This was flat and fast (for those in shape). It did feel good to ride "hard". The race avg. speed was 19.3 mph in the cross and headwinds. I guess that is OK for the 5th ride outside for the year.
Going into T2, I had three 30-34 women in front of me to the left, right and center. I couldn't pass them safely on the cobblestones other guy traffic stacked up behind me yelling. There was nowhere to go and we'd be off our bike in five seconds, so I said nothing. I transitioned fairly quickly and took my sweet ass time getting out of T2 to be completely honest. 2:20
The run started smoothly. My heart rate soared after the first aid station. Though I've had some good run sessions, my heart rate would not come down no matter how I tried to breath, relax, or slow down. I felt like I was slowly walking. It was horrible. A living nightmare. At 5k, I decided to walk the aid stations in an effort to get my heart rate down and finish strongly. You know how hard that is to type? On a 10k... walking an aid station. I am ashamed. 1:00:17 - my watch actually matches the official results. Avg. HR 171
So, 2:50:54. Everyone "says" the race was 10 minutes slow because of the conditions. Slow or not, I realize that although I've made good changes in my physical training and great leaps forward, I have a lot of catching up to do.
On a positive note, if I did race in the Clydesdale 40+ race I would have been 23rd or 24th. Additionally, I am not sore... at all. Sure a few places feel "tweaked"; namely where I've had past injuries: soleus, neck, and left shoulder. I have hooked up to the Compex for help in recovery. My leg needed it most, it was pretty tight. I should be able to put in a solid week of training and have a better finish in the FL 70.3 coming in 21 days. Motivation is there. I fixed the issues with the bike. Probably will have to change a wire too.
If I was a client of mine, I'd have me do a "Plus/Delta". This is a consulting project closeout technique. What did you do well? Plus. What would you change? Delta.
Stayed calm when I could have exploded on a few people and been in the "right".
Raced clean; no penalties.
Didn't spend much money; food only really.
Got a competitive race under my belt. Gained confidence to "finish" the FL 70.3.
Zoot shoes and race suit were comfortable.
Drank enough during the race.
No "eye of the tiger".
Too much salt. I spiked my drinks with sea salt to ensure I'd be ok. No cramping, but I had slightly swollen fingers at the end of the race.
Not in shape yet. Kept expectations down, but I should have ramped myself up earlier in the winter.
Should have pushed on the bike. I never used a strength I have.
Lastly, I really enjoyed the St. Anthony's Triathlon. This is a top notch race. A large field and the age group race was well controlled; the Chicago Triathlon could learn a lot from all aspects of this race. (No offense to those who work hard on it. This is just an opinion after experiencing another large race.) I will be back and hopefully a lot faster.
Upon my return home, Lorrie and Greta were both glad to see me. Greta licked my face and flopped on my feet incredibly happy to see me back home. I put my medal on Greta and she thought it was pretty cool. You can see her blurry tail on her right in this picture. This took the sting out of a what could only be called a sluggish performance.
Thank you to MotorTabs, SRM, Temecula Olive Oil Company and Village CycleSport for their support of my racing; regardless of the results.
PS: Below is a shot of Greta watching How to Marry a Millionaire with Marilyn Monroe and Lauren Bacall with Lorrie. Chick flicks all weekend.