Sunday, August 9, 2009

Mountain Lakes Triathlon

The work leading to this event has been hard and long. It has been part of my master plan to train for my big event of the year. In just a few short 48 days I will be attempting to fulfill my goal of an Ironman 70.3 prior to my 55th birthday.

We left on Friday afternoon at 2pm, just as we had planned. The distance to Guntersville, AL was either underestimated or the drive time was really overestimated. We figured it would take us somewhere around 2 hours. It took us just right at three. The printed directions had us going one way, the gps route had us going another way. We opted to trust the gps. Down to Huntsville, east 31 miles, south 30 miles and we were there.

Upon arrival we met up with some of our HEAT friends. We drove to get registered and then to eat. Back at the hotel by 7:45pm. My wife, Monica and I went down to the boat docks and sat there for a while enjoying the fantastic views and back in the room and in bed, lights out by 9pm.

As it has been a norm, I woke up umpteen times during the night; at least 7 times. Not sure if this is due to the nerves or fear of oversleeping. Had the alarm set for 5am and a wake up call scheduled as well, for 5 am. So, nerves has to be the reason.

Woke up in a hurry. Nothing seemed to be ready. All my gear seemed to be scattered everywhere. Nothing was where it needed to be. Took what seemed to be hours to get everything back in its proper place. Went to the van to check on the bike and what did I see... The front tire had a blister the size of a small pancake. How in the world did this happen and what could I do to fix it this late? Our friend Allen from ACME magically appeared, not sure where he came from, but there he was. He took the bike from me assuring me that he would get it fixed in time. My wife was just standing behind me with that "I told you to check your bike at home" look. I let Allen take the bike and trusted that he would come through for me. Nothing else I could do. I was still having trouble getting everything else in place. I was not really sure I had everything I needed. I was entering a panic mode, but at this point it was useless to try to figure it all out. We got in the van and drove to the race site. Went to find Allen and my bike and sure enough he had it fixed. He too, had that look on his face. "Next time bring the bike to the shop before you leave for a race, we'll check it out and ensure this doesn't happen." I took the bike to the bike transition area. I had done this several times before. All triathlons are organized pretty much the same way so I couldn't figure out why I was having trouble figuring out where my bike would go. I found my spot and there was not room left on the rack for my bike. I had to squeeze it in a very small spot left. "Why would someone, everyone take so much space if they know there needs to be room for all?" Placed my transition mat on the ground and started organizing my stuff. Running shoes, visor, race number...check. Helmet, socks, bike shoes... bike shoes... where are my bike shoes? I didn't bring my bike shoes! How could this have happened. Stop, think, what to do... Okay, I'll use my running shoes, yes that's what I'll do. Wait, I can't I have clips, not cages on my bike pedals. That won't work! I'm done. The race is over before it even begins.

And then the alarm went off, the wake up call came in. I was breathing hard and had somewhat of a cold sweet breaking out all over me. What the heck was that? One heck of a bad dream. A nightmare more like it. Immediately I turned on the light and looked around the room. I had left everything ready the night before and after a quick check, I sigh of relief came through. Yes, I AM ready. Let's do this.

After racking my bike, getting "marked" and doing all the necessary preparation, went to the water and jumped in to get a feel for the lake. It was like a bathtub. Water felt great. The distance looked very manageable, I thought. This was good news for me. Mind set had to be perfect and it appeared to be.

With 910 participants, my number being 605, it would be a while before my turn. So it was time to go into "hurry up and wait" mode. Time to take some pictures, at least this would make the time go by quick. Or so we thought. We gathered everyone from HEAT and took this nice shot. As we were gathering for the picture, I noticed everyone around was looking at our group. That felt pretty good. We looked sharp, and as my wife later told me, one of the other triathletes standing behind her while she took the picture said that we looked pretty cool.

My turn finally came and off I went. Slow and smooth. My goal for the swim was to finish in 20 minutes or less. Yes, I know... pretty lame. But mind you, for me that would be a huge accomplishment. Slow and smooth I went. Tried to keep a close eye on my heart rate, didn't want it to get to high. As I felt it creep up, I would just turn and swim on my back for a couple of strokes allowing the hr to lower itself some. This I had to do three times. I still have some trouble sighting the buoys to figure out where to I'm going. To do this more effectively I tried the breast stroke so I could see where I was going. This seemed to work for me pretty well.

As I came out of the water my wife was telling me how good I did! Was she just encouraging me or did I really do that well? Once again, I was very happy to be out of the water, but the difference today was that I felt no sense of frustration as I had done in the previous tri. The unofficial swim time showed me with 18 minutes plus. Do not remember what the plus is because as soon as I saw the "18" minutes nothing else mattered. I had beat my goal!

Off to T1. I was pumped! Run hard get up there quick and make a fast transition. Found my bike without any problems. I was not very happy with my T1 time. I really need to work on this. What takes the most time? Drying my feet and putting on the socks. I will work on going sock-less. This will make a big difference. It will take at least a whole minute of this time. I know it will.

It may not look like it from this picture but I can assure you I was running out of T1. Made it to the bike mounting area and my shoe wouldn't clip! Took several tries to get this done but finally it did. Off I went. Cranked it up from the git-go. I felt great! Before I knew it I was humming along through the bike course. My gps told me my average speed was increasing with every mile I rode. The max average hit 20mph! Couldn't believe my eyes, couldn't believe my legs, couldn't believe it all.

The bike course was pretty flat, slight rolling hills here and there but nothing unmanageable. The course was beautiful. For the most part you could see the lake to your right.

I found myself passing several folks and I began to wonder if I was going to fast. Will I have enough left for the run if I continue this pace? Gosh I felt great, didn't want to slow down. Several folks did pass me but I noticed that most of them had the "xr" mark on back of their right leg. That meant that they were part of a relay team. Others that passed me were of the younger variety. 20-something, 30-something and such. At one point on a straight away I hear this weird sound. It was like a swarm of bees coming up behind me. The closer the noise got to me the louder it got. And then this fancy carbon fiber triathlon bike just smoothed its way past me at the speed that must have been 25mph or higher. Remember thinking... "if I had a bike like that, I'm sure I could go that fast!" Or maybe not.

Towards the end of the bike course I slowed it down some. Again, I was afraid not to have anything left for the run. When I crossed the bike finish line the gps read 19.1mph average, slightly over 50 minutes total. My goal was 60 minutes. I was happy to say the least.

T2 was a bit faster but still slow. Again, need to work on this. I opted not to take my garmin on the run for I wanted to see if I could pace myself without this gadget. I just took my watch. I was on target at each mile marker. Mile one at 9 min 32 sec, mile two at 19 min at small change. Finish time was 28 minutes and several seconds. Will have to wait and see what the official time records.

Overall this was a great race. Well organized, magnificent venue, great people, awesome friends. This will have to go on my list of triathlons for next year.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on the race, great work. I'm excited to hear about your'll do great! PS - if you have great bike shoes, sockless is the way to go (for me). Try in in your training to see if you like it.