>> Saturday, August 30, 2008
Or, “Why am I running during the swim?”
Or, “Why not to watch ‘Jaws’ the night before a race.”
As I explained in my quick, short post early this morning, I signed up for the St. Croix Valley Triathlon yesterday because I realized that I hadn’t competed in an event this month. I’ve done an event every month so far in 2008, and I didn’t want to break the streak. So I had to do something this weekend.
I was up at 4:15 a.m. I had breakfast, had a good pre-race poop with PERFECT consistency, got everything loaded, and was off around 5:15.
I wondered when I would hit race traffic when I pulled into Hudson WI. I got to the exact intersection where the race said it was going to take place, and I saw nothing. For a moment, I thought I had the wrong day. But I got out of my car and saw the transition zone.
I walked by the main pavilion, and it was dead:
It was strange not seeing the buoys out yet
My spot is right behind the woman in blue at right/center
We had a pre-race meeting where we were warned about the hills on the bike. Super. They warned us that there was a fast, curvy downhill on the way back that we had to keep under control. They asked us to try to stay under 30 mph in that stretch.
After that, I hopped in the water. I was in Wave 1, which was new to me (I’ve never gone out in the first group). Wave 1 was pretty big: it was for males 35 and under. That’s a lot of people. I took a tinkle in my wetsuit, took a couple of strokes, got lined up (on the outside), and was ready for the gun.
1/3 Mile Swim:
The gun went off. I was going to try to stay calm early on. At the Chisago Lakes Sprint Tri a few weeks ago, I went out way to hard, and it hurt me on my way back to shore. I wasn’t going to make that mistake again. I kept to that game plan pretty well.
When I got near the farthest buoy, I started seeing weeds under me. For some dumb reason, I watched “Jaws” on TV last night. When I saw those weeds, I pictured that scene when Richard Dreyfuss’s character is scuba diving when that head (missing one eye) comes bobbing out of the broken ships hull. That scene always makes me jump. Why did I watch that last night? I rounded the buoy to do the short stretch parallel to shore before turning back to head in.
When I was nearing the final turn towards the beach, I thought I better take a quick look at what direction I’d have to be heading: we were all ready to turn DIRECTLY into the rising sun, and it was going to be pretty much a blind swim back to shore. When I popped up to check on my angle, my feet hit the bottom. “What?...” I was at the farthest point out from shore on the swim, and I was running on the bottom in 5 feet of water. So I took 8-10 seconds to “run” as a little break before putting my head down to start swimming again. I noticed that I was “running” faster than a guy swimming on his back next to me. I was tempted to poke him and say, “Hey, it’s shallow here, so if you need a breather, just hop up!” But I didn’t. Anyway, it was awesome to be able to hit the bottom in the middle of a swim!
I made the final turn toward shore, and I still felt pretty good at how I was swimming. But I noticed the bottom of my right foot was throbbing a little. Without realizing it, I had cut it on a rock while I ran on the bottom a minute before. Crap. I hoped it was going to bleed out on the swim and be good to go for the bike and run.
I hit the beach. I ran up to T1 and my watch read 9:15. That’s freakin’ fast for me! That swim may have been a little short, but I DID swim it pretty well. (But not THAT well.) Anyway, I was happy.
Nothing fancy here. Normal T1 stuff: off with the wetsuit, struggle with my shirt, get everything else on, pondered the growing divide between the middle class and upper class along with what our next presidential administration can do to remedy that, etc, etc.
10 Mile Bike:
Yes, only 10 miles. But it was going to be hilly. About a mile into it, we were riding into the sun, and there was some nasty glare. A biker just 50 feet in front of me misjudged his distance from a parked car and ended up nailing the back corner and flying off his bike. It was dramatic, and it looked nasty. The guy right in front of me couldn’t react, and he ran over the bike (but thankfully not the athlete). The guy who jumped the downed cyclist’s bike asked if he was OK at the same time I did. We both slowed up. He shouted that he was OK (and he sounded a little embarrassed). We kept going.
I didn’t feel too great about the first half of my ride. I hit the turn around at mile 5 with a slower time than I’d wanted (17:52, which is around 18 mph).
But then we got some hills in our favor.
I was coming up on the big downhill that we were warned about, and there were 2 guys in front of me. I figured I’d do what they do. They both stopped pedaling and just tucked into their bikes. I did the same. I figured, “If they don’t wipe out, then I won’t wipe out.” When we hit that turn near the bottom, Big Rhonda was a little shaky. I had gotten a bit too fast. I tapped my brakes, and everything was OK. (Later, I looked at my bike computer, and I had hit 40.1 mph on that downhill. Oops. That’s faster than the 30 mph that they asked us to go.)
About a mile past the bottom of that hill, my chain fell off the front set of chain-rings. SUPER! I slowed up, quickly hopped of my bike, got it put back on, mounted (hee-hee) my bike, and was off. I figure I was only off my bike about 7 seconds, and it probably took about 20 seconds from when I started slowing down until I was back up to speed. But 10 people passed me in that time, which was a little depressing. Oh well.
I saw a piece of seaweed stuck under my watch from the part of the swim where I thought I was going to be attacked by Jaws. I smiled. I grabbed it and ate it. Just kidding. I threw it on the road and kept biking.
I made it back to transition in 14:24, and that made me feel better about my poor performance on the way out. I’m not taking credit for doing so much better on the second half; I just realized that it was more uphill on the way out than I thought. I had raised my average to 18.6 by the end of the ride.
Normal T2 stuff. Almost fell on my face when I took off my bike shorts.
4 Mile Run:
The run is my event. This is where I rock. I took off and passed a group of guys right away. I kept pegging them off. I felt GREAT!
Mile 1: 6:38
“OK, good ‘mile 1’ time. Now try to hold on to that.”
Mile 2: 6:14
“Sweet! Now what can you do over the next mile?” At the turn around at mile 2, I had counted that I was 30th from the front (as it was an out-and-back run, and I kept track of the runners going by). I picked off 5 runners in the first half-mile after the turn. There were 2 more runners in front of me that were 200-300 meters away. I had them in my sights.
Mile 3: 6:03
“Holy Cow! Nice mile!” I was nearly at those 2 guys in front of me. I caught them soon enough. But now I was feeling that 6:03 mile. Overall, though, I still felt GREAT on the run! There was one more runner that I could see in front of me with about 300 meters left. He saw me, and kicked it up a gear. I tried to chase him down. I never caught him, but he gave me a great run.
Mile 4: 6:11
Before the race, I had hoped to finish under 1:15:00. I hit the finish line in 1:11:10. I can’t complain about that! I had a negative split on the bike (due to hills) AND on the run!! And I was very happy with my swim performance! It was a good race!
• 1/3 Mile Swim: 9:15 (probably short)
• T1: 3:04 (ouch)
• 10.0 Mile Bike: 32:18 (18.6 mph - hilly)
• T2: 1:26
• 4 Mile Run: 25:08 (6:17 / mile)
• Total: 1:11:10
• Overall Place: 39 out of 529
• Age Group: 8 out of 29
• Kept to the game plan and felt GREAT in the water!
• Had a hard time on the bike, but followed it up with a run that felt spectacular!
• Had the 11th fastest run out of all 529 athletes! (and didn't get passed once!)
Overall, it was a great venue. The only issue that kept coming up at the race was that some of the longer bike racks kept tipping over:
After the race, all the athletes got a cup and a lei:
You can see the red finish line at the far right
Well, that was it. I headed back across the border into MN and was home by 10:30. Then I went to the Y for a quick upper body workout. What a great morning!
And don’t you all forget: next weekend I’m doing the Square Lake Half Ironman with Pharmie. And I will be doing the full 13.1 mile run dressed as the Grim Reaper! What a race that will be!!