Yes!!!!!!! I didn't come in last place.
Not in the race, not in my division and not in my gender. Ok, ok so I didn't set any land speed records but I was focused, as Coach Eric told me "don't be distracted. Be the distraction" well accept when I was yelling "More cowbell, this song needs more cowbell" at a spectator and almost rode through a turn. A heart skipping moment of the race and one of the funny moments as I have to laugh at myself. The race to me was fun and funny combined with a great learning experience.
My game plan was simple. Marty "Run as flawless as a race as you could and run a race, not do a workout." Perhaps sounds like a pretty daunting task to ask to be flawless as a first time racer. Run this as a race, with maximal effort. That part to some is easy enough to me maybe the harder goal of the two.
Flawless to me simply means error free. I mean, I'm swimming, running and biking not doing astrophysics. So flawless or error free to me was while in the transition area, make sure I don't forget anything. Don't start the run while still wearing my helmet from the bike. While racing make sure I fuel and hydrate properly. Looking for calories every 45 minutes to an hour. Hydrate at the transition areas and take with me on the bike. Use the water on the course for the run if needed. All very calculated and easy to me. I've walked the transition areas, biked the course had a decent feeling of when I would be where and how much I should ingest when. Its an easy science and the race should only last 1:45 minutes or so. I could get through without fueling and probably without drinking much. But I wanted and needed to practice this stuff for longer races and ultimately Cozumel. Get into that rythm and mindset. So I might as well start the pattern here and now.
The maximal effort part, I worry about blowing up, going hard the first 5 minutes but then having to suffer because I burnt myself out. On the other hand if I am too soft then that is not maximal effort and it is just another zen zone workout. Hell, I run about the same pace for a 1/2 marathon as I do when I run a full marathon as when I do a 5 or 10 k. One tempo, one pace. Will today be different??
|Coach Eric with his final words|
So in the final conversation with Coach Eric it came down to "push it but don't burn yourself out and then give it all at the finish line." Be finished at the finish line. I think I could do that.
To me this is where some of the funny parts and definitely the learning part start to creep in. Back to the transition area to get my wetsuit on and get some warming up in. Go for a swim for 5 minutes to feel the cold water and loosen up.
|Here we go!|
Definitely feeling a little behind timewise and the crunch of not geting a full and proper warm up in. Will this come back to haunt me?? I put on my wet suit and head down to the water. It is packed! People doing laps in the small beach swim area. The race starting corrals, also packed. This is one of those times that you are in a crowd of 1,000+ people and feel completely alone. I do a few warm up laps and feel relaxed and thinking I need to get into my starting corral. But which do I choose?? The corrals are based off of your time in 100 yards. I have not a clue what my 100 yards time is. I start to eye the crowd. There is a novice corral at the end. No time even given just the words "Novice". Hmmm way to lift anyone's confidence but I slink my way into that corral. I'm sizing up the people around me. All types. Young, old, large and small. I start thinking hmmm, I can take that one. I gotta be faster than that one and then the words of my coach came to me...."be the distraction, don't be distracted" and I stopped thinking about them and focused on myself. I ran through a mental checklist. I reviewed the transition area for the 1,000th time in my head and was feeling good about that. Let's get this going is all I could think. Let's do this. I was definitely less antsy than I am in a marathon starting corral. I was moreso at peace. Perhaps because I had less expectations of myself and a time to finish. The National Athem begins. Not live, just a recording with no words. What a shame I think. Surely someone would have volunteered from our community to come out early to sing the Anthem. I take off my bathing cap, put my hand over my heart and start singing as I always do. I realize, I am the only one doing so. Or that I can see at least. Every guy had his cap on and not one person was singing. By the end of the song about 5 people surrounding me were joined in song as well. I was proud of that. May have been my proudest moment of the day. Weird how this affected me.
And the gun goes off!
As I approach the starting line, I remember to high step it into the water. 1st step to be flawless as a few people face plant into the water trying to run into it. I remembered what to do and I was off and swimming. Not even 2 minutes into the race, I realize that I can barely breath. Huh? I am not panicking, I'm not hyperventaliating, I just can't breathe. Is my wet suit too small?? too tight?? I feel like I can't expand my chest and get a full inhale. Oh boy this is gonna suck. I am not even at the first of three bouys out and I have to stop swimming. Am I giving up? What do I do? I attempt to pull or stretch the suit out in order so that I can beathe properly. But to very little avail. I feel like I am hunched over and bent at the waste. Damn. Wait..."don't stop moving, keep moving" even if it is the doggie paddle don't stop moving rings in my head. A 2nd piece to running a flawless race for my game plan, don't stop moving. So I continue on alternating between a somewhat of a freestyle stroke and a doggie paddle so I can come up for air. In the crystal clear reservoir water it was easy to navigate to the bouy. NOT. Bodies swimming around me, banging into me. As I am in my stroke I keep hitting peoples feet and bodies. I realize that when I am able to swim, I am actually swimming faster than those around me and I try to navigate myself between them and just go. I then decide to get to the inside so I don't even have to worry about banging into folks and I can just stroke and doggie paddle my way to the end of the swim. And here starts what felt like my 1.5 mile journey of a swim in a 1/2 mile course. There were several times when I was actually completely perpendicular to the other swimmers. And so began my zig zag of a swim. I now resorted to head down swim hard till you can't hold your breathe any more. Pop your head up to see how far off course you are. Do the doggie paddle so you keep moving. Get some air and sunbmerge yourself again in the cloudy muck of the reservoir. Head down and repeat. A few 1,000 times. I can see the beach and the shore and I am finally there. Part one of the course complete, now let's get out of here and head to the tranistion area and bike. Hello Houston we have a problem.......Problem, I now need to run or walk there and my legs don't want to seem to work. J-E-L-L-O I am completely lightheaded and do what I can to to stay up upright and not passout or go down. Why is this happening? I then spot a friend in the crowd cheering me on and I am able to focus on Kevin and this helps me to somewhat get my legs under me and off I go. Thanks Kevin, I don't think I shared that with you after the race but I would have gone done if I did not have an object to focus on. That object being you. Hey look at that.....Pretty cool, there is this little water spray you go through like a car wash. A human carwash thingie. I wonder...Is this part of the race course or a fun distraction like the water slide or jello shots at the Bolder Boulder?? Is it for us to really use. IT IS!!!! I liked that. I desired to run through it a few more times but I remember those words ....."Keep moving". So I did. Unzip my wet suit, pull it down to my waist and AHHHHHHhhhhhhhh air, I can breathe again.
|Swim done ....phew|
Hey, where did everyone go? is what I think when I hit the TA (Transition Area). Am I in last place?? No worries of that, you were in the last swim group or 30 people of the 1,000+ in the race and you swam in circles for god knows how long. Now, where is my bike? I know where it is, I walked this out and I know exactly where to go. Another check mark in the goal and errorless racing strategy. I see my buddy Colin as I approach my bike and am now feeling pretty good. Major Kudos to Colin for being my photographer and supporting me on race day. Truly blessed to have such good friends. Suit off, wipe down, Sun screen, lip balm, lube on the feet, socks on, shoes on, glasses on, helmet on, fuel up, drink up and I am off....Another check on my goal list. I didn't forget a thing.
|Tough to do 2 thumbs up, 1 will have to do for now.|
Bike section, "hill coming out of the park, don't power up it and burn yourself out at the start." I remember his words and I downshift and spin and watch people power up and fly by me. Am I that slow? Dang, I am not looking to catch them, I am not distracted by them, I am running my race. All in all the bike section felt pretty good with the exception of the beginning. It almost felt like it took me 5 to 7 miles to get into a rythm. Keep peddling, "the bike is the only part of the race you can still move forward without doing anything and coast and catch you breath. Though I am not saying you have to coast if you don't need to, then keep peddling" Yes sir! I keep peddling and with exception of the almost running off course for my cowbell folks I realize by mile 10 I have caught up to and passed every person that started out of the transition area and flew by me. Hmmmm, maybe there is something to what my coach says. A big interior smile comes over me and for the first time, I am truly appreciating what I am doing and having a ton of fun doing it. Hello Thomas bib number 342 oh goodbye Thomas, Hello dude with the billion dollar bike oh wait, goodbye dude. Just in my own world picking people off. Not one person passed my the last 5 miles of the bike."Now at the end of the bike it is a sharp turn with rubber mats and it is easy to get caught and stuck and wipe out" Yes sir.....smooth through this potential trouble spot. Dismount and let's get our run on and take it home.
|The end of a decent bike ride|
Body scan...Did I push it too much on the bike?? Nope, not at all. "Finish strong, be tired at the end and don't hold back" Just another quick change in the TA and 3.1 miles between me and the finish. Quick hydration, visor, running shoes and I am off.
|Was wondering if I should sit down or not.|
The 2nd TA time was much faster than before the bike. This finish strong part to me was the scary part. Don't blow up on the run by going out too fast. Last time you ran this section you had a sub 7 minute 1st mile and finished with an 8:34 combined average. Race it smarter. This was the most concerned or worried I had been the entire race. And much like the bike, I am now watching people run by me the first mile out of the transition area. I "Dump water on your head in this area as the day will definitely be heating up by the time you get to the run section and there will be 3 water stations" Check. Final mile to go, hello gal with the orange outfit, goodbye, hello guy with the beard, bye bye....similar to when I was on the bike I catch and pass everyone that passed me earlier on the run section. I feel real good and kick it the last .5 mile trying to time it out so that I am tired on the run the race but don't blow up shy of that finish line. I have no idea what or how long my kick is. I fly to the finish.
|My signature "Flying to the Finish"|
Am I ready for Cozumel........heck no. Am I ready for the next step....damn straight.
My final kick could have started a bit earlier. Not gonna beat myself up over that. I realized that I start slow with each discipline and then I get in my groove, I gotta work on that. I was 4 minutes faster in the 2nd TA over the 1st TA. I must pull up my wetsuit as high in the crotch as possible so that it doesn't pull down on my shoulders and I can breathe.
|Coach Eric and I|
|Colin and I ~ Thanks for being there buddy!|
|Post Race Bloody|
I didn't finish in the middle of my age or sex group as I had secretly hoped but I also didn't finish last in them either. I'll play the pros and cons of what I did over and over and learn from them and grow from them.
Ultimately, I don't care where I came in...it was a beautiful day, I am happy to be alive and participating in life. Simply I had fun, a real good time doing something that is brand new for me and adding to my experiences of life.
I look forward to the next race.
Steamboat here I come