Alright... onto the "race". With the exception of my first triathlon ever... I've never approached a race like I approached this one... without expectation. Well, I shouldn't say that... I actually did take the time to sit down and write out an actual plan... but the goals were conservative AND I didn't necessarily expect to meet them... they were just there. It was a very weird experience for me... in a good way though. Somewhat validating.
Pre-Race: I pulled into a balmy Guerneville Friday afternoon. It was odd coming to a race completely solo. It was just Sally and I. She's great company but there was a large contingent of triathletes from Tennessee that were staying at the same place... so there was never a dull moment and plenty of opportunity for hick jokes. There was also 2 couples from Texas that were freaking out about the size of the hills on the course. Pretty entertaining. I actually went to the welcome dinner and was treated to some overcooked pasta and vegetables. I did however get to sit down with Mirinda (drool... pitter pat) and chat for about an hour. I'm still trying to find one of them "fiber" bikes Rinny... I'll let ya know.
I'm just gonna fast-forward to race day so you don't fall asleep...
Pre-Race: Oatmeal, bagel with peanut butter, banana, all set. I walked out the door and into the cool morning air down to T1 to set up my transition. My wave was set to go off at 0825... so, I had plenty of time and was completely relaxed and ready to go. I always love the atmosphere before races. There's this great mix of excitement and anxiety underlining everything... each person dealing with it in his or her own way... its just really interesting to see. I watched the pro's and a few other waves take off and then sauntered, (yes "sauntered"), over to don my wetsuit.
I was in the 1st of two separate waves for my AG. For those of you that don't know... its a river swim... against the "current" on the way out... with it on the way in. So the idea was for me to go out hard initially and stay closer to the bank... minimizing the drag of the current.... then come back at the turn around more in the middle of the river using the current to my advantage. BAH! Whatever man! I just swam... and had a good time! It really did feel effortless. There was so brawl at the start and it was smooth sailing the entire time. I suppose I could have gone harder... actually, I know I could have... but... ehn... wasn't feelin it. The only interesting thing that happened was at the turn around.... people were actually standing up and WALKING a bit! Hilarious! I actually stood up and did a few duck dives to get out of the quagmire... but other than that it was an uneventful yet fun swim and I came out of the water feeling fresh. I do need to work on my "Water Exit Smile"... what the hell man? I look like I'm gonna kill someone!
Just call me Mr. Pokey-pants. I did have a nice conversation with a dude that was completely decked out from head to toe in KSwiss apparel. Seriously... not only was every item covering his person KSwiss... he also had 4 different KSwiss tattoos. Yeah. Overkill I think.
In classic form... I launched my first bottle a mile into the ride. Yeah. WTF??? What IS it with me and loosing my nutrition. Here's the thing about having a relaxed attitude about my results tho... I giggled, (not like a little girl... more like a lumber jack), and just kept pedaling. If you've not done this race... I would HIGHLY recommend it just based off of the bike course alone! Seriously. It's technical, relatively hilly, and challenging but not overly so. 90% of it literally rolls through a BUNCH of different winery's! SO pretty! Anywho... the ride appeals to my bike skill set, (yes, I just used "skill set" in a sentence... ugh... someone punch me in the neck), in that I corner well and I have zero fear of fast downhill... which maybe isn't a good thing. I had a ball the entire ride! There were two unpleasant moments: 1) I had to pee so bad at one point that I thought I was going to burst. By the time I reached an aid station that didn't have a line for the porta potty's, I wasdesperate and cramped up! It took me 5 freaking min to relieve my overly full bladder... all the while I had an older lady pounding on the door of the john. Not helpful. 2) I had a huge moment of doubt. Let's face it, despite the outstanding training plan that Coach Liz has been working me through since Jan... I've been nothing but inconsistent. My training has suffered badly... a side-effect of the huge life changes. So I had a moment where I was like, "Wait... this ride... right here is the longest you've done all year... and then you're going to have to get off the bike and run.... the longest you've run all year! Ugh. I dunno Rob.". I'm serious. I had doubts. BUT... I just pushed it out of my mind for the moment... and figured whatever happened... simply happened. I rolled into T2 feeling remarkably good. I nailed my nutrition and was so conservative on the bike that I actually felt ready to run.
Yeah. I think I actually had to put effort into transitioning this slow. Actually... the initial entry into T2 was pretty narrow... and I got stuck behind old slow guy walking his bike. Ehn. Oh well.
Despite the pained look on my face in the picture at left...
I exited T2 feeling really good. I had one gel with me and a flask that was full of water with a heavy dose of Base salts. It was juuuuuuust beginning to heat up a bit and with the cramping problems I've had in the past I thought it a good idea to have the extra sodium. I felt great! I had told myself that I was going to force an overly conservative pace. I sorta did it... but you know how it goes when you feel that good. I yucked it up with people and just concentrated on having a good time. On the way out I saw Chris McCormack on his bike, "CHRIS! Run with me!"... he laughed... but didn't get off his bike to run... the bastard. Everything went along swimmingly until around mile 9 or 10... and I started hitting a wall. Hints of cramping and just reeeeeeeally low energy were affecting my pace severely. It occurred to me that maybe taking in more than one gel to this point would have been a good idea. The problem was... my stomach felt shloshy and I didn't think I could take anything in besides a bit of water at the aid stations and some of my salts... besides... I was almost done and figured I'd just get through it. I eventually did come around after drastically slowing my pace within miles 9 through 11... then I was able to suck it up, come around, and finish strong.
Total Time: 4:59:52
Overall I'm very pleased with this race. Considering the gaps in my training, life stress and whatnot, I did exactly what my body was prepared to do... no more, no less. Coming into the race with a relaxed attitude and no pressure was a breath of fresh air for me. It was also pretty validating. The reality is that I can enter a race, relax, and be confident that I can still put together something to be proud of. This is a long life we live... and I have more than enough time to "go hard"... when the timing is there. For now, I'm just tickled to be able to participate. I am blessed.
Thank you for taking the time to read. Hope you're all happy, healthy, and whole.