The best worst race...
It was hard to know what to expect since this was the first time this race had ever been held and since there was nobody that I knew there. Sounded easy enough, 400 yard lake swim, 16 miles of rolling hills for the bike, and a double loop 5k course. This race was more of a challenge than I expected, although most of that was probably my fault.
I drove over Saturday picked up my packet, wasn't wowed by the expo so I headed to the lake to check out the course and get in a little swim. The water was hot and I was a little concerned about the size of the swim course. It looked tight and with a wave start I knew it could be dicey; I was right. I drove both the run course and bike course and both proved to be a little hillier than I thought, but that isn't terrible since I'm used to hills.
I'm not convinced this was a mistake, but perhaps I'm wrong. Athens has some good beer and how could I pass up my all time favorite? Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar was delicious and well worth it.
So it has been really hot all summer and staying hydrated on training rides and runs has been a challenge. I made sure to get up and drink plenty of water, take some salt pills and get my body ready. The problem with that is, the sun didn't come up till about 6:45am, the race started at 7:00am, and it never really got that hot. I absolutely over hydrated and I paid for it later.
I knew the swim would be key. More than 100 people on a small beach racing toward a tight square 400 yard swim course. I started in the front, the plan was to hammer out of the gate and then settle into a easier pace about 100 yards in. The first 50 yards went as planned. I was not leading, but near the front and in pretty clean water. Then it was like I was torpedoed. goggles knocked off, punched, kicked, I felt like a guest on the Jerry Springer Show, being tackled by a security guard and two pissed off women at the same time. I was no longer in clean water, I was in a war zone. The remaining 300 yards it was all about survival and breathing. Hands down the most physical swim I've ever done. I left the water feeling like I had work to do and probably had the best transition of my life. Third fastest transition of the race.
The bike is where I do my work and this course turned out to be some work. Tight roads, a lot of bikes, a good number of cars, and a tractor. I hear that some police even stopped bikers to let cars pass through. There were several occasions where I had to cross the double yellow to complete a pass simply because there was so much traffic. I guess this is the nature of sprint triathlons, especially when swimming is not your strength. The bike leg was going smooth until we hit a sharp turn, exiting the turn I shifted gears to try and hammer to the next downhill and then my chain slipped off. It was stuck in my back gear ring but I was still going 25mph down the hill. First thought was maybe I can fix it while I'm on the bike. Hand would not reach. Maybe my foot can do it. After almost cutting off my toe with a spoke I decided I needed to stop. I was at the bottom of the hill anyway. No idea how long it took me to fix the problem, but long enough for a cop to stop and ask me if I needed help. Bike split ended up being pretty fast, but I assume at least a minute.
Coming off the bike the legs felt good, but the stomach did not. I had the overwhelming urge to puke and this did not get much better. Immediately I was passed on the run by about three guys, one of them an old man with white hair and a ridiculous mustache. Not a confidence booster. Luckily I was able to keep that group in sight and settle into what I thought was a nice pace. This was the second race without a watch so I had no clue where I was on any of my times. Despite feeling terrible the pace stayed consistent, and I kicked a little the last half mile. Crossing the line I felt tired but not dead. Here are the results
Second place in my age group, I was almost two minutes out of first, but 30 seconds out of fourth. It was good enough to qualify for Age Group National Championships and even though I'm not going to race the National Championships it's nice to know that I could have for the second year in a row. I guess they need to make the qualifying standards a little tougher.
Now back to Ironman training.