So the Olympic tri is now history. And what a history it was for me! First, two disclaimers: (1) I said I would be the last to finish and I was; (2) heat training has not been something on my agenda so far this year.
Johan's Trifest is held in Monterey Township, near Dorr, Michigan, a small, bedroom community south of Grand Rapids, MI, where I live. My dad and brother actually live within a few miles of the race site, so it is an area I am familiar with, however, none of us are originally from the area.
The tri location is a man-made lake community nestled among the rolling hills and farmland. They have been generous to us letting us use the location for the past 5 years, so I am hoping the tradition continues.
I arrived before 7 am and already the temps were warm, probably in the 70s; in one sense, better than in the 40s like we had earlier this week; in another, an omen of heat to come later.
For me, this race is "local," and most of the volunteers and race coordinators are friends. Everyone was very encouraging and happy to see me finally getting out there again to race, but I did warn them, "I can promise you I will be last, so wait for me, okay?" They all pooh poohed me, but I knew better. (Disclaimer (1): My training as far as bricks has been almost non-existent; my run training is only beginning to improve. I knew looking at the participant list that there was no likelihood anyone would finish after me.)
I had the distinct pleasure of meeting IronWil, and we actually shared the same bike rack. I got to talk to her before the race. Good thing too, because she was probably already home, two hours away, before I finally finished. So in addition to catching up with old acquaintances, I got to meet a blogger sister. Hopefully I'll have a picture to post soon. Waiting for one of the guys to send it.
Before the race started, I had to take care of issues with my bike I have been dealing with all week. What luck is that to have problems crop up just before a race?? The last thing to do was get my computer working. I am one of those people who needs to see what I am doing to judge what I can do. So the bike shop guy fiddles with it and we finally get it working and I am happy. Or so I thought. The bike tire is holding too, so that is a major relief.
Its time to get the wetsuit on and start getting into race mode. There is a lot of chatter and joking around on our bike rack, and I am happy where it is located: near the swim entrance/exit, and near the bike return.
I bought new goggles the night before and still wanted to be sure they were tight enough and didn't leak, but by the time the National Anthem was over and I was organized to go to the water, it was actually time to start heading down to the beach.
This year it was decided that there would be two swim waves. I'm still not sure how they divided it up, although I was told it was by number: first 120 first wave; second 120+, second wave. I was in the second wave, fortunately. I did not want to worry about anyone swimming up behind me.
For me, the swim is not a problem unless I panic, which happened in my only tri last year. I decided to prevent that this time by just starting toward the back and finding a spot, not charging into the water and thinking I am going to get out front. This plan worked, and I had no panic whatsoever, just a smooth, and almost uneventful swim. That is until a guy swam across me, on an angle no less, and then somehow managed to swim back across the opposite way. I don't know how people do this. I can't understand why they can't see someone next to or in front of them. Its not that hard people! And even though initially I couldn't see the buoys, I was able to follow a fairly straight path most of the way. Out of the water, onto the beach, cheers from people I knew, pictures someone was taking, and take a quick peak at my watch: 36:26. Okay, not too bad. So probably 37 something after crossing the mat.
Onto T1. I was surprised to see so many bikes still on my rack, and pleased too. I knew I needed every advantage to keep ahead as long as possible. Strip off the wet suit, and I am even happier to say that the darn thing pealed (sp?) off all in one stripping. My old wetsuit was such a pain. You could barely get it over the hips and it would get all bunched and jammed up, then again at the thighs, the knees, and getting it over the ankles about caused a hernia. New wetsuit=new T1 PR. Probably 4 min. Remember, I am a Slowsky, so this was doing good for me. I usually am so wiped out and frustrated getting the wetsuit off I am exhausted. Today, none of that. So far so good!
Onto the bike. Okay, now I know there is no way in hell I was riding 22 mph in the park, so what's up with that? By the time I got on the road, I was up to 27 mph. And I noticed my time seemed to have been running for a while, and a couple other things I can't explain. So much for the computer working. I never knew how fast I was going for sure, but most of the time I figured it was about 10 mph off real speed. The time and distance never matched my watch or the road markers either, so pretty much it was worthless. At one point, I actually was going 42 mph. I didn't think my computer could go that high, let alone from my biking. One thing I did notice was no quad fatigue like I usually have after the swim. Could be from two things, but most likely the wetsuit issue. So off I went, hoping to gain some time if nothing else on all the others still behind me. I knew it wouldn't be long and I would be passed. Yes, passed again, and again, and again. Probably at about 8 miles, IronWil passed me. Not surprising. It was much hillier than I remembered from 3 years ago. And it seemed like they were running the course backward, but obviously my memory failed me completely on this course. I also didn't remember it having such a long stretch to the turnaround. Good grief, would it never come?? And then you can factor in the wind and your day was pretty much made. By the time I hit the second turnaround, it was no longer fun, I was sick of the wind and hills, and my neck was hurting a lot. The only things good about the bike at that point is there were still people behind me and my time was a little better than I expected. Again, I was happy with this because I wanted to gain as much extra time for the run as I could. I had a time I hoped to finish the race in, and this would only help.
I was so happy to finally see the last turn, the last mile, the transition area. I actually was able to dismount and walk quickly to my stuff. This time, however, everyone's bikes were back, and I was now going out on the run pretty much alone. The last 4 people behind me on the bike were already heading out on the run before I got myself out of transition. Didn't check my time this time, although it wasn't bad for me. I'll have to get the stats later.
So the run. Yeah. The stinging words of a helpful "friend" were ringing in my ears: I didn't think you had enough training for something like this. At this point, I had to agree. What was really getting me was the heat wave that hit me as I started running. I knew it was going to be hot, but honestly didn't expect it to bother me the way it did. Before I even ran one mile I was getting a terrible stomach ache and was working on nausea. I don't think it was anything I ate or drank, as that seemed to work pretty well. It was the heat and the extreme pain in my left foot. Ah yes, the dragon was back. Now not only did I have to deal with the heat, which is always a problem when I haven't trained in the heat, but my foot was so numb I was getting shooting pains into my foot and up my leg to the hip. That's was caused the stomach distress. I could barely put any weight on it, and even with my new ChiRunning technique, it was extremely hard to concentrate on anything.
There were two other people ahead of me walking so I finally gave in around 2 miles to a walk/run, such that it was. My foot hurt no matter what I did, or what surface I ran on. First we had gravel, and it was fairly uneven, so that felt horrible, then it was the slanted road, and that wasn't much better. Oh, and did I mention that this course is 99% sunny?
By 3 miles I was strictly walking. I actually felt okay walking, the stomach was settling down, and my foot was beginning to feel somewhat better. But at this point I was so hot and uncomfortable I wasn't even going to consider running again. There were still 2 guys in front of me walking, but I could never catch either one of them. I was trying to be very cautious with my foot, just picking it up and putting it down, in an attempt to not stress it out any more, so there was constant forward movement, but I couldn't get close enough to them ever.
Another thing that usually bothers my stomach is lack of cold water. I detest warm water in the worst way, and even though my water bottle had been partially frozen, by 3 miles it was pretty much lukewarm, and the water at the water stops was almost bath temperature, having been sitting out in the hot sun for hours. The Gatorade was horrible warm too, so I didn't dare risk drinking much of that. Fortunately I had tried a method with my hand held bottle of water, where I mixed Succeed caps into the water and then froze it, because I really think that helped get my stomach back to normal. I wasn't thirsty much after I actually drank most of it.
Mile after mile I trudged, never getting any closer to the guys ahead of me. They finally disappeared out of site around mile 4, and by mile 5 the race vehicle was behind me picking up cones, signs, and water stop materials. I ignored them. I decided I was going to walk, not stress myself out, and get done with the race, rather than risk ending up in the hospital like apparently a few others did. What really saved the day at this piont was when one of the women in the truck gave me a COLD bottle of water. Oh thank you thank you thank you! I guzzled that thing almost all the way down at once. It really tasted good. I felt like I had been walking on the dessert for days until then. The truck always kept its distance and never made me feel like I had to give it up. I wasn't going to anyway. After all, I paid the same money all the others who likely had finished and gone home had paid for the same race. No one said we had to finish in a specific time.
I can say though that I was thrilled to finally see the 6 mile mark. Shortly after this too Don came out looking for me. I broke out laughing. I knew he was wondering what in God's name I had been doing out there all day. He always complains about the people at races who trail in an hour after most of the other finishers, and today I was one of them. I didn't want to look at my watch because I didn't want to see how late it was. I was going to finish and that's all there was to it.
He handed me a cold towel. "Pat saved one for you." Thanks, Pat. She is a super fast, but had enough empathy for someone not so fast to think about their comfort after the race.
So, over 4 hours. Pretty pathetic, but that was due to the run. Was I trained enough for the race? Not for the run, at least not with the heat issues. Had it been 20 degrees cooler, I probably could have pulled off a good 4 miles before I was reduced to walking. Today that didn't happen, but I did finish. Hopefully pics later.