||Pumpkin Man: Buffoonery by a Newbie
Ok guys, here is a newbie race report from my first triathlon, a Sprint, conducted at the USAT Club Nationals in Boulder City, NV. First off, let me say thanks to the multitude of people who patiently listened to my endless questions and provided outstanding help and advice. In particular Liz, who dealt with a plethora of buffoonery from me, including my assertion that my wetsuit “leaked” the first time I swam in it and calming me after I told her I was certain I was going to drown in the swim a week before the race…thanks babe. Ok, now for the race report.
Training- Prior to the race, I considered myself in above average shape overall, usually “working out” 5-6 days a week. For the past 8 months, I have been an avid crossfitter (Crossfit.com) who has participated and finished well in a few running events. I had no experience with road bikes and even less with swimming. I elected to really start training about 1 ½ months prior to the race. My game plan was to continue crossfit, reducing it to 3 mornings a week and dedicate 5 days (2 full and 3 half) a week for the tri, usually crossfit or running in the morning and biking/running in the evenings. Yes, as you might have noticed, the swim portion of the training was missing from the training regime I planned. Unfortunately, my success in crossfit training gave me a false sense of confidence in my ability to “get through the swim” purely based on strength and endurance… this of course led to the discovery 1 WEEK before the race that swimming was in fact, FREAKING HARD, hence the panicked call to Liz that I’m going to drown. So, lesson learned #1, swimming is not JUST about strength and endurance, but rather, solid technique and focused training. You would think that would have been obvious.
Race – I arrived in Vegas 2 days before the race to get acclimated and relax as much as possible. Friday, we setup the LATC bikes in T-1 and reviewed the swim and bike portion of the course. The first thing I noted was that the biking portion was going to be challenging….ok, really what I thought was “dear god, this is going to SUCK!!!” Even though it was only a 12 miles, the last ½ of the ride as essentially ALL uphill, with the final mile or so up a very, steep (8 degree) hill.
Date night on Friday night was great! Great company, wine, steak, lobster bisque, decadent deserts…perfect pre-race nutrition right? Lesson # 2, pre-race meals, particularly electrolyte consumption/loading is important, especially for newbie’s who don’t really know how their bodies will respond on race day. I should have spent more time researching that aspect as it greatly affected me on race day. In bed relatively early, happy, full and tired.
I slept like a champ and was well rested and ready for the race. 4:45 wake-up for the 7:30 race start. We got to T-1 nice and early, I set-up my area just so and was totally and completely ready to “get it on”! Donned my leaky wetsuit and headed down to the lake to face my death in the swim. Lesson #3, WARM UP FOR GOD SAKES!!! I got into the water and swam a bit, but no stretching or active warm-ups like I am accustomed to. The start area was a massive cluster F, with people from every gender and age group in the water warming up. The only thing that was certain about the start was that it was in the water, rather than on the beach. I positioned myself well to the side and at the very back of what I thought was my wave. I was unsure of my swim and did not want to get trampled or impede the faster swimmers. I now realize, I was TOO far back, mixed in with people warming up for the next wave. Oh well. The start reminded me of a herd of turtles rampaging towards the beach. Some people in the back started yelling to us to “GO, GO, GO”…no gun, horn or anything, just a trickle then a rush of swimming. So, I stuck my face in the water and started to slug away towards the first buoy. About 50M into the swim, my goggles turned into mini fishbowls, filling up with water. This actually turned out to be a good thing because until that time, I was so focused on breathing, I forgot to sight. For those of you there watching some toad swim 45 degrees off course, alone and unafraid, yes… that was me… Finally got on course, in rhythm and started to feel pretty good. I actually started passing people somehow and managed to finish in the lower, middle of the pack. I fully experienced the drunken stagger out of the water, but managed to pull my wetsuit to my waist without falling on my face and ran towards my “Chariot of Justice” in T-1. Here is where my right leg decided to punish me for my bad nutrition, with a massive charley horse in my thigh…not a good place or time for a cramp. Had to rub it out (so to speak) and stretch for a while, making my T-1 time glacier like. Anyway, off on my chariot out of transition, with my helmet on the right way (which was no kidding one of my goals!).
Getting my feet into my shoes while pedaling up a hill was another thing I should have practiced as it took a while to do…or I could have had a DOSE OF COMMON SENSE and just waited until a flat portion to do it. But no, HAD to struggle through it like Nitz until I got them on. Surprisingly, the biking was tough but smooth and steady. I started catching people in my age group about ½ way through the ride which fired me up. The last portion of the bike was tough for me with my rig’s 11-23 setup (I was not referring to my bike as a “chariot” during the throws of effort up that hill). Another gear or two would have been cash money for me, but I managed. Overall, I finished in the middle of the age group and was feeling good.
In T-2 my enthusiasm came to a crashing halt as I again cramped running to my run bag. My right calf balled up like a baseball and would not release, again causing me to massage and stretch for what seemed like an eternity. It took me FOREVER to get my right shoe on and start running out of T-2. I started pretty strong on the run, but eventually told myself to “ease up francis” for fear of the leg completely locking up. This really disappointed me as the run is really my only strong event and I could not put the hammer down. However, I put my fighter pilot ego aside and decided it was more important to finish the race and become a member of the “team”, so I ran as fast as I thought I safely could. Overall I again finished in the middle of the age group in the run portion, resulting in an overall 19/35 finish for my group. While this was not what I had set as a goal for myself, I was proud of making it through. Moreover, sharing in the LATC’s Club Nationals DOMINATION and being part of a team full of outstanding people was an incredible experience. I can’t wait until next season and the next race with the LATC!!!!