T and I went to pick up our race packets for the San Jose International Tri (which was today). We took our bikes along with the plan of riding the *run* course. We'd already ridden the bike course a couple of times, but wanted to see what the run course had in store for us. We later realized that if we had been smart we would have done a brick workout to get a real feel for what the course had in store for us. Ah well, live and learn. :-)
Packet pickup was scheduled to start at noon, and true to form so far (same organization that ran Uvas), they were behind schedule. I have to say, when you claim that you are the "best run" triathlon in the US, you might want to have things start on time and be a little better organized. Anyway, we gathered our goodies, which included all the free Gu and Gu20 we could grub. Then we hopped on our bikes and headed out to the run route. There were arrows on the ground and mile markers which we kind of followed to get an idea of the route. It was so toasty that I actually got a little burnt even tho we weren't out very long. We also took a peek at the buoy set up for the swim course and I freaked myself out with how far it looked. I had to remind myself that it wasn't too much further than Uvas, so I'd be fine. We were home by 1-ish to rest up, pack up and get to bed early for a *very* early start on Sunday.
Once again we were up before the sun for a drive down to San Jose. T picked me up at 4:30....yes, 4:30 AM...and we were in the parking lot by 5:00. We are definitely early birds, but I think standing/sitting around waiting beats rushing to find a spot and get set up. We were so early in fact, that there were less than a dozen people there and unlike Uvas, the transition here WAS first come first served. One of the guys setting up gave us the low down on how transition worked and we picked what we thought would be a great spot. And promptly changed our minds and moved. :-) Once we got our areas set up we had a bit over an hour to wait and worry. We walked down to the water to check out the swim buoys again and try to figure out the route. Then I made a final pit stop at the porta-potties and we suited up and headed down to the water. Soon enough the first group was off and T started warming up. She was in wave 5, while I was in wave 9, so I had plenty of time to warm up after cheering her off.
Pretty soon my wave of folks was sent on its way and I was pleased to note that I didn't feel anxious at all. I mean there was the usual anxiety about maintaining some space for myself and settling my breathing and stroke into a pattern, but there was no panic. The only time I felt a tiny bit of panic was when I accidentally inhaled a huge mouthful of water and starting choking while I was trying to keep swimming. The swim didn't feel too crowded and I tried to remember to keep good form and really extend my stroke, keep good body position, keep my head down, etc. It seemed long, but not horribly long. I swam until my hands brushed the bottom of the shore and then stood and started running for the transition. The transition area was quite a bit further away than at other tris I've done, so I expected some fairly long transition times. I had forgotten my watch, so I had no idea what my swim time was, but had predicted it would be around a half hour.
Into T1 to strip off my wet suit and pop on my bike shoes, helmet, sunglasses, bike top, grab my bike and run, run, run, out of the transition (not only was it far away, but it was a BIG area). Get to the mount area and hop on and start the almost 25 mile bike ride.
I felt pretty good heading out and was keeping a good pace, around 18-19 mph (I'm pretty sure it's slightly downhill at that part). About 6 miles into the ride I saw a lady on the side with her bike upside down (a sure sign of a flat) and she yelled out as I approached, "Do you have a spare tube?" I pulled off to the side and stopped to give her a spare tube (I was carrying 2 in my pack), as she apologized for asking me to stop and explained that she had blown-up her spare tube with her CO2 cartridge. I felt bad for her and was glad to help out. I'd sure want someone to do that for me if I was in her shoes. Of course, the devil on my shoulder was yelling at me that I was losing time and people were passing me by! Yeah, haven't quite shut that competitive little demon up yet. But, I did a good deed and hoped to get some karma kickback at some point. I figured with my luck I'd get two flats and be by the side of the road myself.
Luckily that didn't happen and although my pace slowed a bit, I was still keeping a good clip (for me). Sadly I was getting passed again and again. At least I could entertain myself with checking the ages of the super athletes flying by. At least until that started to just depress me. Hahaha. Somewhere around mile 14 I started onto Bailey road where *the* hill of the course awaited. It's around 1/2 mile long steady uphill and as I started up I did manage to pass several people, which made me feel better. I slightly underestimated where the final uphill push was, but I made it up without too much problem. Unlike the training ride we did here, I never felt the need to just pull over and stop. Maybe that competitive little guy isn't so bad after all. Zooooooom down the hill and back towards the transition area. Around mile 20 I really started feeling wiped out. I'm going to say this was partly from pushing hard, but I think it's mostly from lack of nutrition. I had a nutrition plan going into the race (which is a big change for me), but I just didn't execute it at all. I managed to take in a little food and a couple drinks of water/Cytomax, but that's it. Just sad when the calculation was that I had burned through at least 800 calories so far and still had 5 miles to bike and a 10k to run. My pace fell off to a disappointing level in those last few miles, but according to my Garmin I managed to average 15.8 mph for the route.
As I approached T2 and noticed that there wasn't anyone too close, I decided to try a new 'trick' I learned a couple of weeks ago. The trick is to reach down to one side, un-velcro the bike shoe strap, hold onto the back of the shoe and slide your foot out, then put your foot onto the top of the shoe and pedal. Repeat for the other side. The idea behind this is that you save a little time (probably not a big deal for someone of my 'caliber') in T2 by not having to pull off your shoes. You may not know, but I'm not *that* great of a cyclist and my control can be a little iffy when trying to multi-task (drink, eat, etc). So I was very excited to not only pull off the shoe trick, but also to be able to swing one leg over the bike and ride into transition and hop off just at the dismount line and go right into a run to my area to get ready for the 10k. So excited in fact that I totally blew my T2. Blew it in the sense that I forgot my water bottle and my Garmin. So now I was running out onto the nice toasty run course with no hydration (except what the course provided) and no idea what my pace was. Niiiiice. Definitely need to practice T2 a bit.
Well, as I mentioned, I had nothing to drink and no idea how fast I wasn't going. I could tell I was getting, or was already, dehydrated because I started to get chills. Awesome...6 miles to go and I'm already way behind the curve. I hit the first water stop and forced myself to down 2 cups of water. I was afraid to take too much and start cramping up. By mile 2 I noticed that I was bonking as well, and knew I'd have to shoot a Gu soon. Actually I probably should have eaten a Gu already, but I don't think I was thinking all *that* clearly. And because I wasn't carrying any water, I'd have to wait until I hit the next water stop. In my case bonking seems to be evidenced by SERIOUS negative thinking. It's not so much that I can't physically do the task, but my brain just starts to lose any hope and tries to take over my body and make it stop. As soon as I could see the next water stop, I pulled out a Gu and forced myself to swallow the whole thing. I don't have a great history with Gu type products, but I'm trying some different brands to find something I can tolerate. It's one of the easiest things to carry that packs about 100 calories per shot. I didn't notice an immediate improvement, like some folks claim they do, but within the next 10-15 minutes I was able to shut the little negative demon up for a while and tell myself, only X # of miles left, you can do this. Oh, and also about the time I hit the water stop, I realized that the course was *quite* different than the one we had ridden yesterday. Turns out the markings we were following on our ride were for the Mountain Bike Sprint Tri that had been held on Saturday. Damnit. So much for preparation. Ah well, nothing for it now but to finish up. It felt like the slowest 10k I've ever done. At somewhere around 5.75 miles my legs just stopped running. One second I was running, the next I was walking. What.The.Hell? I think the dehydration and lack of energy hit me all at once. I walked for a little bit then yelled at myself "What are you doing?!?! You're almost there!!!!" I managed to start running again and saw the playground where I knew the "6" was marked on the ground. Only a little more...keep running....around the final turn, where people were yelling out "100 yards to go"....Tina cheering for me.....I picked out a lady in front of me and told myself, "you are going to beat HER" and picked up the pace. Crossed the finish line (yes, in front of that lady), was handed a bottle of water, chip was pulled off my ankle, and I promptly wanted to puke. Walked around a little until T found me and I made her go down to the lake, take off our shoes, and go for a dip. The cool water felt *sooooo* good. A few minutes spent cooling down and bitching about how all the *ahem* larger and older athletes were kicking my butt, and how I felt like I was running thru molasses and then we went off to change before grabbing some food and scoring a couple of freebies.
All in all, it probably went better than I had hoped for (in retrospect). As I've mentioned in the past, I don't think my runners high hits until I've finished the event. THEN I get all happy and can look forward to the next event a little bit. :-) A little work on T2 is needed, and a LOT of work on nutrition strategy. But for my first International/Oly distance tri I think I did okay. I had hoped for something around a 3:15-3:30 finish time and manged to beat that, so I guess I shouldn't complain too much. Sadly, I think it's hard wired in me to expect more. :-)
projected: 30 min
3:39 (hey, I said it was far away, remember?)
(which works out to 17.1 mph average by my calculation. So much for Garmin's mph average!)
projected: 1 hr ?
actual: 1:04 (about 10:21 pace, a bit disappointed with that)
6/14 Mermaid Sprint Tri (and only about 1/2 a mile from my house!)
6/21 Tri for Fun Sprint Tri (not officially timed, just a 'fun' event)