Sunday, May 29, 2016

Race Rehearsal - Grandman

Roadtrip! Destination: Fairhope, AL. Everyone met up early for an ad hoc race rehearsal. Training for our next event: Grandman. The first time for almost everyone. So they wanted some experience with the course ahead of next week. Beautiful day for practice, too. Bright. Slight wind. No rain. Moderate humidity.  Of course that's before the sun finds us...

Started with a lovely Gulf swim. Your Humble Narrator jumps in first. Tests the waters. Slightly warm. Not too deep. Maybe a foot over my head. Then the rest of the overly-worried crew takes one last breath.. ...and jumps. Splashes everywhere and a cannonball, or two. We're all together, swimming across the waves, towards some orange buoy that never seems to get any closer. 

Things go well, until we negotiate the turn. Then one of the newbies (her first open water swim EVER!) rolls onto her back. And my ear goes sideways after too many too-sharp turns of my head. Vertigo threatens. Bile comes up in my throat. And we're both bobbing like ducks, trying not to panic and searching for the sandy bottom with our toes. Rest of the pack keeps swimming. Leaving us alone with out panting and fears of salty drowning. After staring at one spot (the girl's head!) for a minute, my ear calms down, the vertigo crawls back into its cave, and the bile subsides. But the new girl keeps struggling. She's moving furiously, but her hands are pounding the water, not pulling her forward. Like a wicked liquid hamster wheel. After she hears me yell to slow down, to reach, to calm down, and we get into shallow water, she calms down. But instead of 600 meters, as we waddle to shore, we have almost 1000 meters on our watches. Now the best experience for her first time, but she didn't die and my vertigo didn't ruin the rest of the day. So notch those up as minor victories. 

The bike went well, despite nearly getting lost and a couple of stretches of unforgiving headwind. Did  nearly 2/3rds of the ride at close to race pace. Then dropped back and worked with Wendy on her pacing and gearing. Did my best to motivate her and try to keep her focused. But when you're new to endurance events, your brain loves to trick you into slowing down, or even stopping. And that's always a difficult challenge to over come. Even with IronNerd on your wheel with reassuring words and rarely-clever advice...

Eventually we finished the bike portion of the show and did the laziest-ever transition to something vaguely resembling a run. By now, the sun was in full effect and we were all spent from practicing the hill that squats angrily at the beginning of the bike/run course. Jogged/walked a mile up and a mile back, still encouraging Wendy and looking forward to being done... 

Good times, but tiring. And hot. And humid! We were all ready to get home and cherish what was left of our weekend. Quick bite to eat at Two Sisters.  Then traffic on the bridge. And the trip home seems to last twice as long as it should. But such is the life of IronNerd. It never ends. And it is certainly never dull.
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