Sunday, January 30, 2011

losing the cherry - a race report

last year i was meant to complete my first olympic distance triathlon at point walter.  however this became a run-bike-run when hail and rain did not allow any swimming in the river.  sadly i have also learnt (thanks to garmin) that the final run was only about 9k and explains why my time was better than expected.    i had raced at the city of perth (langley park) venue before but for me a great deal has changed since then.  i was also a volunteer when the world long course championships were held here in 2009. 

at the beginning of the season i had tagged this event as my second 'A' race.  but when it came down to it i was the least prepared and had a terrible week leading into it.  i struggled with niggling soreness, i never felt fresh although i had backed off the training and my nutrition was terrible.  mainly due to an upset stomache i just couldnt shake.  stress does that to me and i think the problems with my job became a massive distraction.  so when they said a cyclone was on its way and would cross the coast on sunday i started to feel much better. 

these weather people cant predict jack shit.  it turned out to be a perfectly hot summers day and we were notified at 5.15 am that the race was all go.  i had got organised the night before but  just to top things off i had a terrible nights sleep which included being up at 2 am checking the forecast and then dreaming about arriving at the event without my bike (again). 

had the usual pre-race jitters.  nothing has changed there.  i didnt eat enough solids - not even my faithful banana.  organised transition and then sat back and relaxed chatting to silke (arch nemesis) and pip (speed freak).  it was just what i needed.  this week someone reminded me why i chose to compete in triathlon.  it is about 'being fit, having fun and becoming a better person'.  and the swimming of course.  but i had started to get way too serious about everything and i needed to get back to just having fun with it.  finishing would make me happy. 

swimming in the swan river is not the best swim.  the water is brown and murky and leaves a slimy sludge all over you.  the water has a salty taste and maybe why it does not bother me the way champion lakes does.  it is famous for the moustache and beards it leaves on competitors.  i was determined not to be seen running with a beard but sadly no matter how much water i threw over myself it seems i had one.  did i mention the jelly fish ? they were everywhere and some were so large you thought it was a person you were touching.  but they dont sting so you get use to it.  it was a deep water start and these always result in a better swim for me.  and i was right.  from the very start i started swimming well and felt relaxed.  i did feel the twinge of a cramp in my toes and one leg but it didnt get past being a twinge.  other than a few people getting in the way it was all very civilised.  it did seem to take forever and i went slightly off course towards the end but when i got out of the water i felt really good. at this stage i was happy so i was very surprised with the time.  35.12 is 2.20 pace per 100m.  this is very, very slow.  the swim did not feel like this at all and i have had bad swims that were faster than this.  this was not a bad swim.  so either the course was longer than 1500m or there was a current that i did not notice.

then i got on the bike and my legs were tired from  the start.  bummer.  i tried anyway.  they had shortened the course back from the traffic lights and so it was five laps.  the wind coming back was okay - i have ridden when it was much worse.  i hate any form of cheating and in the last two rounds they have introduced the 'green zone'.  you are not allowed to overtake but you can draft.  these are generally dangerous parts of the course and they do this to ensure people dont hurt themselves.  i thought it was smart to use this section to draft and save your legs but it was amazing the amount of people who just kept overtaking others.  i could feel my leg cramping up a bit on the bike but my lower back was far worse.  it really hurt and that is all i have to say about that.  according to garmin the bike course was 43.5k.

by now the weather had got hot.  really hot.  i had consumed my bottle of powerade on the bike and a gel.  some people had packed enough food for a picnic.  i knew it was going to be a long 10k as soon as i started to run.  in the first 500m i really did not know how i was going to finish.  i clearly remember thinking that i cannot do this.   the course was three laps of 3.3k.  i walked through every aid station and if i didnt drink i was throwing water over myself.  during my hot runs i had noticed that my feet would swell and it would radiate pain up my legs as my shoes became too tight.  so i made the decision to run without socks.  i do it for 5k no problem and it would have been okay if i had remembered not to soak my shoes when pouring the nice cool water over myself.  around 5k i could feel them squelching.  i ate my other gel to take my mind off things.  i knew if i got to the middle of the second lap i would make it so i focused on that.  i ran on the grass for a bit as my knee started playing up and i knew this would help.  on the last lap i started talking to people.  i thanked all the volunteers as i ran past.  one girl had got her ankle torn up in the swim and had blood swilling around her shoe so i didnt feel as bad.  i saw one competitor being loaded into an ambulance.  i never looked at my run time once.  i knew that overall i was going to miss coming in under three hours but otherwise i could not have cared less what speed i was moving at.  i was moving. 

i got to run through the finish chute on my own.  i did try to wipe my snotty, slimy face in case a photo opportunity was at hand.  it was a feeling of huge relief.  i have a new PB of 3.07.01 and  the olympic distance cherry is finally gone.  silke, pip and martin were at the finish.  i remember silke taking off my  timing chip. i had no clue and martin had the coldest and most delicious coke i have ever drank.  it was wonderful.  this was also when silke informed me that i did indeed have a beard.

from there we stayed around recovering and hoping to win a spot prize.  pip left early which was unfortunate as she placed third in her age group and was a fantastic effort - especially taking into account the conditions - and one to be remembered.  i think anyone who started out and made it down the finish chute had a great day. 

i headed home and went to have a shower to wash the slime and sweat off.  when i did i thought i had somehow got a stinger from the river stuck in my trishorts and i was having a very delayed reaction.  it stung like you would not believe.  turns out it was chafing that reacted badly to the soap.  this was new.  i seriously do not know how guys handle these delicate issues.  my trisuit doesnt have great padding and it is not as wide as my other tri shorts so i got some rubbing on the top of my legs near either side of the bum bones.  you get the idea.  a bit delicate but with the snot and beard i think it completes the picture.  not to mention the operation i had to perform on my feet to pop blisters.  

i managed to use my garmin correctly for the whole course.  both transitions are added into the official bike time.  my swim was out by 20 seconds and my run was only off by one second.  my gps tracking for swim looks hilarious and it appears i doubled back on numerous occasions. 

official results
swim 1500m - 35.12 - 2.20 pace p/100m
bike 40k - 1.27.13 - 27.5k p/hr
run 10k - 1.04.35 - 6.27 pace  p/km

they did provide the splits for each lap of the run - mine were 20.00 (6.03 pace), 22.27 (6.48 pace) and 21.44 (6.35 pace).  this is the slowest i have ever run but i am not bothered by it at all.  in the heat it was an excellent run. 

garmin results
swim 1500m - 34.53 - 2.19 pace p/100m
T1 1.58
bike 43.5k - 1.23.42 - 31.1k p/hr
T2 1.42
run 10k - 1.04.34 - 6.27 pace p/km

i was 303/459 overall, 76/118 gender and 7/15 age group. 

this event is known for being hot and windy and it delivered on the hot.  next time i am taking the monday off work.  i am tired but quietly satisfied.  and today at least  i do have a 60 minute massage to look forward to.

No comments: