It's been ages, folks; sorry for the radio silence here, been busy. Some of you may know that I've been training for a triathlon; I just finished it. The QuakerMan Triathlon (http://www.quakermantri.com) is a 600m swim, 22 mile bike, and a 4.5 mile run.
I did the whole thing in a bit over 2:11, and I'm very very pleased with that. Here's the full report:
The race went well.
I overprepared and overthought and overworried, all of which probably stressed me more than it should have, but meant that I had more than everything I needed, and I think I was more prepared for this than ... actually the race organizers. More on that in a bit.
The alarm came early -- really early. Getting up at 5:25 to get going and go work out is a bit disgusting, but this was the first of many times that training really prepared me. After all those early morning trips to the pool, and those 6 AM runs, it didn't feel any better to get up at 5:30, but it didn't feel unusual, either. Got coffee, drove to the event.
Arrived, set up my bike in the transition area. I was prepared for the swim to look insanely far, but the distance from the beach to the TA surprised me. http://tinyurl.com/lmfjqf is good perspective -- we came out of the water towards the right side of the beach, near those white squares, then ran up the path, across the parking lot, and the transition area is almost exactly where the "A" is on the map. So I got the transition area sorted, went to the bathroom, checked out the beach, and asked a few people about the race meeting. There...wasn't...really...one. Everything was a bit disjointed; they were painfully understaffed, and the meeting was going to be at 7:30...then 7:50...Around 7:55, people were ready on the beach. I'd stripped down to my tri shorts and had my swim cap and goggles (as did most other participants). We were all sort of milling around, when the race organizer yelled to us that someone had walked off with their bullhorn, so we'd do the race meeting at the pavilion. Same map, follow Bank St. back up and it's about across from home plate of the baseball diamond. So 400 swim-capped triathletes do the bare-foot ouchy-walk up to the pavilion, and we get briefed about the course, rules, etc.
Then back to the beach, and we started. I was in the second wave. We watched the first one go, then filed into the water. I started swimming, and after about a minute, thought "It's over. There's no way. I can barely breathe. This is horrible." Fortunately, I knew from the pool that this would pass ... and it did, about the time I rounded the first buoy...and everyone else passed me. OK, not everyone, but it felt like there was a steady stream of people flying by. Four and a half years went by [ok, not really, but time did some very strange things during the race], then I came to the second buoy. I was thrilled to make the turn and head back for the beach. Soon I could see people getting out of the water, and then I was out. I did the "Triathlete shuffle", half-run-half-walking to the transition area. I'd had the foresight to get a spot right next to a flagpole, so I beelined for my bike. I picked up my shirt and tried to put it on fast...and two of the safety pins holding my number on popped off. Now ... I'd been warned (thanks, Tommy!) that T1 is like trying to function after several drinks, so there I was, trying to re-attach my safety pins with hands that refused to work. Two days later, I got it sorted, got my bike shoes and helmet on, and got on the bike without drama.
The bike was GREAT. I was off like a shot and didn't really slow down. I passed a lot of the people who had passed me during the swim, some of whom were on triathlon bikes. THAT made me feel pretty good. Once I'd settled into a good pace, I had one of my gels. The weather had been holding to this point, but about 30 minutes into the ride, we got some sprinkles. Lap 1 was uneventful; I had a good push near the lap-1/lap-2 marker, and then again on some hills about 2/3 the way through the second lap. Towards the end, though, I backed off, wanting to save my legs for the run. T2 was much smoother. I had my shoes undone as I approached the dismount line. I don't really remember getting off my bike, but somehow managed to do it and leave my shoes on, which worked well. Back in the TA; put on my running shoes and was off ... slowly.
It took some time for me to hit my pace on the run, but evenutally, I did. Around the first mile, I thought, "I might be able to do this without walking". By the second mile, I was pretty sure. By the third mile, I was confident. With about 300 yards to go, I started to open up (I didn't realize that there was one last loop through some woods)... I eased off, and then when I saw the finish, I ran HARD, sprinting across the line in about 2:11. All in all, I feel good. I didn't push too hard, I trained well, I ate well, and I did it. Could I do it again right now? No. Can I walk upstairs right now? Yes. So... all in all, a success.
One final note, with two thank-yous. First, to Sonya. She's put up with countless 5am wakeups as I dragged out of bed to head out to a workout, and hours and hours of me disappearing to run, bike, and swim. Through it, she's supported me as I did this crazy thing. Thank you, love. Second, to Tommy. I know that, for the past month, I've bugged you with every little last question, from sock choice to passing strategy. Thank you for your answers and your patience.