Well, I've done two Sprint Tris over the course of the last two months and now it is time to try my hand at an Olympic distance race. The difference between the two is that an olympic has an extra 1/2 mile swim, 10 more miles on the bike and 3 more miles running. Mentally, I have been saying to myself that the Sprint Distance is not for me. Too short. It seems that once I get warmed up in an area then that discipline would be over. Here, back in the Boat, is my chance to see how the next level works for me. To me this is just the next logical step in my growth, progression and learning about the world of triathlons and getting ready for Cozumel.
So what am I going after today? In my final prep email from Coach Eric lays out a basic game plan for me.....
Swim: steady and long in the swim
Ride: steady! like you did in the TT loop is pretty good. bike pedal around 170 watts. coast when you can on down hills etc.
Run: find your rhythm in the first mile then try and run faster each mile to the finish!
Nokk, Nokk, Nokk.....saying his name three times out loud keeps him at bay. It's 7:30am and I say these words as I stand on the bank of Lake Catamount. Three times, 9 times, 27 times...who knows. I just recall saying his name in threes. He won't get me today. I will live to swim another day, I think to myself.
8:05am is the start time and I want to do a few minutes in the water loosing up and mentally make a final check of all systems. I overhear people talking about algea and that there is a ton of it in the water. Nokk and ton of algea this is gonna be a great start to my first Olympic Distance Tri. I complete my warm up swim and feel nice and relaxed. I may be swimming in pea soup but there will be no Nokk today.
The race begins. The older racers first, a 15 minute delay then the young guns go a three minute delay then the middle aged dudes are next a three minute break followed my the fast women and so on. I take a last minute view at the field and floats out on the course. My game plan for the swim.... steady and long, defeat Nokk. But how??......the gun goes off for us Middle Aged Dudes. Everyone takes off. Not me. "Hurry hurry Nokk will get you!!!!" Nah, not this time, I wont let him. I wait almost a full minute to allow the racers in my age group to get a comfortable lead. I am not worried about my time, I want perfect execution of the race. Now I can swim Long and steady and I feel good. Nokk, Nokk, Nokk I say one more time and away I go. I am just before the 1st turn bouy and I catch up to those slower racers in my age group. I notice a guy hanging onto the bouy for dear life. I try to send him some comfort and make the turn.
So I am sure there comes a time in every racers journey when they realize the call of nature has come knocking. I've had a few funny stories of ducking behind cactus in Arizona etc. There is always this judgement call to me, can I hold it or let it go? Is it impededing my performance or can I ignore? Wait, I'm in the water swimming in this algea ridden lake what is a litte urea gonna hurt?? If Nokk is on my heels perhaps this will help keep him at bay....aaaaaahhhhhhh. I say his name three more times and off I continue to go. The fast gals are starting to pass me as I make the final turn for the long last stretch.
What the.....?????? I am not literally swimming in seaweed? With each kick or stroke I feel like I am pulling up this plantlike substance from the lake floor. I am picking it out of my mouth as I try to breath. It is on my goggles and creating a rope burn kind of sensation as it wraps itself around my arms and legs. Damn you Nokk!!!! You've come in another form. But wait, this is happening to everyone as I observe people cursing and going through the same struggles. This is just a hurdle we all must clear equally. I laugh to myself. No Nokk today, just all the damn algea. Today Nokk has been invisible.
|Nokk turned into Sigmond (this race)|
I am out of the water, I am feeling relatively good, I head into transition.....slow is smooth and smooth is fast. Don't be distracted, be the distraction. Coach E's words ring through. I down a GU, drink some fluids and I am peddling away, out for my ride.
|My little transition world. Organized and ready to go.|
I check my power meter. .5? huh? Oh wait I see a 100. Wow I thought I was peddling more powerful than that. Oh wait it is building....151....170.....185....200....how can this be I am on a slight downhill. Something must be wrong with my power meter. Then I laugh out loud...my watch is reading miles I am traveling not my power output. Dang, I am supposed to ride at a solid 170 Watts. How will I know am and doing that? No worries, ride by feel and ride Steady. That's all I can do. Similarly like the other Tris I have done, I am being passed by many people on the initial start of the bike but I notice one by one after 5 to 10 miles I am passing many if not most of them. Then around mile 15, I notice I am passing people I have not yet seen in the race. I am fueling, I am powering up some hills, stretching out my leg muscles on the coasts to get ready for the run. I feel real good and think about dropping the hammer a few times but hold back. I still have the 10K ahead of me. I just realize that I have not run the distance of a 10k since May and I don't want to burn myself out. Need to keep some in the tank I say and I enjoy the rolling hills of River Road and head back to the transition area.
A quick flip into my running shoes, put on the visor and my race number and I am outta here. Just a 10K to go. Again, starting relatively slow, I watch some folks pass me by. Goal of the run, faster with every mile and finish strong. I look at my watch to see my pace and realize that it is still just showing miles covered. I really need to figure out this damn watch. Some one once suggested I read the intructions. Mile 1 as I am being passed the person turns and asks, "Hey what pace are you running at?" "The tortoise's pace" is my reply and I keep digging. After mile 2 my legs start to loosen up a little and don't feel as heavy. Standing out in the middle of the course is this guy who I would classify as a Richard Kind look-a-like.
|You are the BEST!!|
He is clapping for everyone. Right in the middle of this desserted road. I wonder how and why he is there. But he is clapping for everyone telling them how wonderful they are and that he is soo proud of them. "Hey, YOU ARE THE BEST", I shout at him. "No, YOU ARE THE BEST!!" He replies. Too funny and fantastic all in the same breathe. Mile 3 is an uphill and my goal is equal exertion. I notice a young guy who is next to me in the transition area who this is first race coming at me and think he has got about a mile lead on me. I see a few people that had passed me earlier come at me as they have come through the turnaround. "Wow have they put that much distance between me" I think a few times. I really must be moving slow. Mile 4 I see the backs of those people who had come at me just minutes ago and realize that I am making ground on many of them. I then see my friend who asked about my pace at mile 1 and laugh to myself. I don't say a word I just pass them. "Hey", he states "You are a machine! The tortoise alright strong and steady" I smile in my mind. I then catch up to the younger guy from the transisiton area, we exchange plesantries. He was like, "Wow that was fast, you caught up to me quick"...."Nah, just pluggin along" I reply, "Have a great finish and enjoy this" I remind him. Enjoy this, I think to myself, that is why I am here. For no one or no reason but to enjoy this ride, take deep breaths of this life and be thankful for my journey. I look up and coming at me is a competitor in a wheel chair. I saw him prior to the race and wished him well. He was all smiles, I remember thinking.....God Bless him. He is awesome. He sees me, our eyes meet and he sticks out his hand for me to slap. "Go get 'em brother" I say as I slap his leather gloved hand. "You too man, great job" What a positive race and day this has been. Mile 5 marker. Where is Richard?? There he is. He sees me, runs out to me and gives me a high five. "You're the best!" he says. "No way man, you are the best" is my retort.
One last hill to the finish line, I hit the 6 mile mark turn the corner and begin my Flying to the Finish end run. A few high fives and the announer states "New to the world of triathlons, this is Marty's 1st Olympic race he comes from Cozumel ummm Boulder ahhh this is quite a way from Cozumel, How do you like the elevation difference?" I wonder how they got any of that info and just laugh to myself one last time as I cross the finish line.
|Post Race Bloody|
So...some immediate afterthoughts of this race. I had a bit left in the tank so I am not sure if I was able to follow my coach's words of max effort. I know I played it conservatively as I was unsure of how the new distances would affect me. I hated the algea and seaweed and for this reason alone, I might not sign up for this race again in the future. I overheard someone saying that they had done this race the past 8 years and it was never this bad. All in all although some dissappointment as I guess you always want to do better. It was a decent effort for my first Olympic outing.
Secondary thoughts......a few days later my coach stated he was happy with my effort. That considering I could not see the proper display on my watch I rode steady and increased my pace each mile in the run. That I executed the game plan exactly as we had wanted. A smile comes to mind and the thought on how hard we are on ourselves. Odd how hearing those few words from him made me feel much better about my efforts.
What race is next??? I'm unsure but I know I will always smile when I look back and think about Steamboat Olympic and I will continue to look forward to my experiences that will lead me to Cozumel.