Sunday, June 02, 2013

Heatwave Classic 2013

The morning of the race turned out far nicer than my night of sleep. Slightly windy, but slightly over-cast. Sparing us from the full glare of the Mississippi sun. And another pleasant surprise: several additional folks from my neck of the woods had appeared! Leonard, Alice, and Ed. Add Eddie, Crystal, and Your Humble Narrator for a total of six Gulf Coast competitors (that I know of) at the event. All of us in high spirits and ready for adventure.

Triathlons start well before the race actually begins. We each setup our own transition station. Few rules. Lots of rituals. All manner of personal touches. Have to admit some pride in the thoroughness and effectiveness of my own setup. Try to keep it minimal. Brainless as possible. The less thinking required, the less time wasted. Still have one additional change to make (stop wearing socks!) but otherwise not sure it could get any tighter. Finish my setup, then start stretching, planning, and psyching up for the real adventures. Again, to each their own.

The swim started for me at 7:12:25. Entered a shallow cove. Maybe 25 meters set back from the main body of the reservoir. Decided to aquajog as far as possible. Get warmed up with a little run. And hit the water with some speed. Like to think it worked, but then the waves arrived.

Aside from my fellow triathletes, I doubt many people grasp the sheer terror of "swimming" in rough, open water. You cannot see the bottom. You cannot touch the bottom. You don't get to stop and get out whenever you're tired. At some point, ancient, lizard parts of your brain wake up and start screaming: TURN BACK!  or QUIT IT! The lizard's voice is a constant, sharp spear into your breathing and technique and personal confidence. Swimming laps in the pool doesn't wake the lizard. Floating in "the river" doesn't wake the lizard. Wading up to your waste "at the beach" doesn't wake the lizard. You have to get into dark, deep water, without anyone to help you. Only then will you hear its voice.

So I spent the first third or half of the race completely abandoning my form and having a verbal shouting match with my own lizard. Lots and lots of the following:
Lizard: WHAT LAKE HAS WAVES LIKE THIS? OH MY GOD!
Jon: It's cool. Breathe.
Lizard: LET'S QUIT! LET'S QUIT! LET'S QUIT!
Jon: You're okay. Stay on target.
Lizard: THIS SUCKS! I HATE THIS! IT'S NEVER THIS HARD DURING TRAINING!
Jon: Stay on target.
Lizard: YOU SUCK!
Jon: Find your form. Find your rhythm.
Lizard: QUIT! QUIT! QUIT!
Rinse and repeat.

While we were swimming INTO the waves, I just moved my arms any way possible. Probably looked terrible. Hideously inefficient. After the first turn, I found some form, found some rhythm. But getting broadsided by waves wasn't pleasant on my ear or belly and I fought to stay on target. Last turn, with the waves pushing us, I finally calmed down, started swimming with confidence and started passing people. (Except for the girl who kicked me in the face.) Total swim time: 16:54. One of the best times on the team. And everyone hated it as much as I did.

Transition #1 (swim -> bike) went well. Except for the tissue in the toes of my new shoes. Forgot to remove that ahead of time. Dripping with lake water and laughing out loud at my own stupidity must have looked spectacular. Even with that delay, I left in 1:34!

The bike wasn't as flat or as windy as Memphis In May. In total, not much more than a dozen folks passed me. But one of them was Crystal! Considering she was 25 positions ahead of me, I thought I was going to chase her down on the bike. But she passed me, and then settled into a pace that I matched for 20 out of 24 miles. The ride back to the transition was INTO the wind, and one (or two) hills completely clobbered me. I lost her on a climb and couldn't catch up. Then rested a bit on the cruise to transition. Total bike time: 1:16:31. Average of 19.2MPH.

Transition #2 went very well. A good, rolling dismount. Helmet off. Visor on. Bike shoes off. Runing shoes on. Boom! Left in 53.9!

The run started well. Mostly shaded. Still a little over-cast. Water stations every mile. My first two miles felt good. Heading into the third, the worm turned. Either I was over-hydrated, over-heated, or my pre-race fueling was bad. Some kind of huge, angry brick formed in my stomach. I started having these odd little burps and by mile four, felt as if I might get sick if I pushed any harder. My legs felt okay. My breathing was okay. I wasn't too hot (unlike Memphis.) But I had to walk most of the last two miles. Completely killing my performance. Total run time: 1:13:40. My worst Olympic run to date. :(

Overall? I was happy with my swim and most of the bike. Proud of my transitions. But baffled by my run. Have to figure out the fuel situation and determine why I'm not able to sustain the same pace after half of the run. If I had hit the times I wanted on the run, I would have finished around 2:31:XX and been THRILLED with my performance. A nine min pace is well within my abilities. Almost twelve minutes is pitiful.

So, back to the drawing board. And planning for future races. Not sure what is next. But it will be an adventure. Always is.
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