Sunday, October 13, 2013

Oktoburrrrrfest Tri (race report of sorts)

Less than 50 day to IM Cozumel and go from feeling pretty confident to scared shitless.  I mean seriously, what's the worse that will happen to me??  Will I forget to make a left hand turn while on the bike and I go flying off road and into the ocean??  Reality is.... I will be in pain and my creeky knees will not let me forget that I didn't listen to them and signed up for the race anyway.  I watched in awe yesterday as I was streaming the World Championships in Kona.  Completely amazed and in Awe.  Miranda just blows my mind.  Running a 2:50 marathon after swimming and then that little 115 mile bike ride.  She was dancing and on fire after she crossed the finish line.  Looks like she could have easily done another 20 miles or so. 

Oh yeah there were a few hundred guys in the race as well.  None luckier then TO.  Top American male finisher in 4th and Miranda's Fiance.
 Ahhhhhh relationships.....that could be a blog in itself with me.  Perhaps some other time, I'll spill my guts about that but for now......  Let's get back to triathlons......In my life, I would be estactic if I could break a 3:30 marathon let alone let it be the last leg of a triathlon.  That truthfully is a personal goal of mine.  One I am not sure if I will ever achieve nor am I aware of how much time I will put into trying to make it become a reality.  It is a nice dream.

So my latest attempt at a triathlon was nothing short of a comedy of errors.  All in all it was a great day and just another excuse to laugh at myself on my IM journey.  I have to stay focused in my objective, To finish the race with a smile on my face and beer in hand soon there after.  It would be great to come under 12hours but when I look at the time I have/havenot been able to put into training, realize that I am learning how to ride a TT bike and swim and doing this pretty much solo.  Well, with the exception of late night chats with Rugger.  
Not now Dad, I'm chasing prairie dogs.
Focus Marty.....focus........It's 4am and the alarm sounds after just getting about 4 hours of sleep due to working late the previous night. OK "here we go" I say to myself and I get out of bed.  MAN it is cold!!!  I check the weather, it calls for potential snow.  Back in the sheets I go.  I'm cold and tired and the day hasn't even begun.  I can get away with another hour of sleep and keep my body warm.  I lay back down.  I can still pack my items and make it there in plenty of time.  Typically the night before a tri, I lay out all my equipment and then pack it leaving a few nutritional details for the morning of.  But not this day.....mistake #1.  I can't fall asleep and I lay there, then make breakfast, then go back intothe sheets.  I toss and turn.  What good am I going to achieve or get out of racing in the friggen cold.  My throat hurts a little, I'm tired as all hell.  Heck it will be better if I stay in for the day and train harder tomorrow.  
Race you wuss...It's tooo cold go back to bed.
Ahhhhhh the struggles,  the rationalizations.  I can't dare call my coach and tell him that I can't make it. I'm stronger than that.  Flip a coin, look at the clock.  You still have to work all day outside in the cold after the race.  Auuuuuuuugh.  Silly as I write this now.  It's not like I am solving world peace here but boy was it an internal struggle for me.  Then it happens....I tuck my tail between my legs and I text my coach....."this is hard for me to text but.....just about ready to walk out the door and I'm struggling to go to a race that is in the low 30s.  Thinking of bagging it.  Not sure if the benefits of doing this sprint outweigh the potential negatives of it."  There I did I!  I'm a wuss.  I can't believe I just texted him that.  What an idiot I am.  Then his reply..........."See you there".  Crap and damn those three words.  Covers off of me in a second and I am out the door.  It is now 7:00am it'll take 30 minutes to get to the race.  I think they will be closing the transition area at 7:30 and the race begins at 8am.  I am never going to make this.  Oh wait.......I fogot my swim goggles......I need to get to the gym.  So I turn around and back south I go to the gym.  I run in and out and back in the car.  Driving as carefully as I can (read into that however you'd like) to try and get to the transition area before they close it off.  And I start to do the mental check list of the haves and helmet.  But there is no way I can turn around a second time I'll never make if I go back again.  I drive on.  I'll just ask at the registration table if there is an extra helmet around somewhere.

I arrive at the race site and I am surprised to see other people just parking their cars.  Can they be as late as I am?  Are they spectators?  Are they letting people go out on different waves that I am unaware of??

I check in and inquire about a helmet.  We have a few extra helmets but I think they are all kid sizes.  "Perfect" I say "I have a small head"......ummmm not but with out a helmet you are DSQ.  And that is not going to happen.
Believe me it was more painful to wear then to look at.
So I enter the transition area and I'm running around to get myelf settled.  I see everyone in long winter parkas and knit hats.  This is seriously f*cked, I think to myself.  And then appears my coach.  He was talking strategy and letting me kow about the course.  And where there are sharp turns and where it is easy to take a spill on the bike if I am not careful and yadda yadda yadda.  I felt like I was in an episode of Charlie Brown where the teacher is talking and you can't understand a word that she is saying but you know she is talking.  whaaa  wa waa wwaa wwa awa.  I'm thinking, I've got not time to get myself together, I gotta lay my stuff out, forget about warming up.  A)  I don't know if that is humanly possible as it is in the mid 30's and B)  the gun is gonna go off in 2 minutes..  Or is it???  "Coach, what time does the race start?"  "8:30"he replies  fuuuuuuuuuuuck, I have another 30 minutes.  What an ass, I could have gotten my helmet, I could have drove even more careful to get here, I could have been breathing the last 25 minutes.  (Insert loud laughter soundtrack here).  OK...the world starts to slow down and Charlie Browns teachers words start to make sense and I am able to select a decent place to set up shop.  

I suit up and head to the water.  Joining the polar bear club never really interested me in my life.  I much prefer a hot tub or steaming hot shower.  My toes were numb just on the walk over to the water.  I remind myself that the water is actually 14 degrees warmer than the air temp.  33 vs 47. and try to convince myself it might actually feel better.  NOT!  Let me write that again NOT!!   Coach eric must have caught my body language as I step foot into the water as soon thereafter he was by my side.  "Marty, this race is not about time or distance.  You swim 5 times longer than this in training.  This race is about how you as a racer handle the elements and what gets thrown your way and how you handle that adversity.  That is what this race in the cold is about.  Can you turn it off and still race or will the elements get the better of you?"  I think to myself...the elements almost already won while I was still in my nice warm sheets until I texted you. "Cozumel will be hot and humid and will potentially have some nasty cross winds.  You will have to contend with them."  He continues.  He is right.  His advice to me in our short relationship thus far has always been right.  I walk out in the water and my body is shivering uncontrollably.  Dare I?  I have to.  I put my face under the water and my breath & heart stops.
Not a group of happy campers.
The race director turns into Charlie Browns Teacher...waa  wa wa waa around that float...wa..wawwawawaaa bike wawawwwaaaa  waw awawaa National Athem.  I stand up.  Take off my swimming cap, hand on heart and sing.  First wave to go in 3 minutes followed by young guns then us older bastards.  For the next ten minutes I just sit in the water and I breathe.  I put my face in and blow bubbles exhaling and turn my head to the right and breathe.  I do this countless times.  I find myself saying Nokk Nokk Nokk just in case that bastard is lingering around somewhere.  Old guys up and go.  And they are off and I still sit and I watch and I enjoy the moment and how beautiful the surroundings are.  And I start to swim.  I swim up to my group and I pass the last few people and am in the thick of the gang.  I swim side by side with a guy and I am happy to be in this scenario and not panic.  Literally stroke for stroke until I decide to swim away from him.  I catch up to a few young guys and even one or two people in the first wave and then the fast gals come flying by.  Swim done.  That was the best feeling swim I have had to date in a race situation.  Out of the water and towards the transition.

It feels like it takes forever for this transition.  I have no feeling in both feet as I try to slip on my socks.  I purposely did not wear my tri top in the water to have something dry for the ride.  And I am off.  Three loops on the course and back to the transition.  As I am riding out, a race official tells me I have to buckle my helmet.  "Ok" I say.  I try and there is no way this thing is gonna buckle.  I continue to peddle off.  About 3/4 into the first lap another official tells me to buckle up or be DSQ'd.  No way am I going down like that.  I hear my coach saying "never stop"  slow down but never stop.  I try and try but finally I just stop.  I loosen the helmet as far as it will go and actually disconnects it an plop it back on my head.  I can't barely open my mouth to breathe as many broken noses ago I had given up on breathing through my nose while exercising.  So this was a chore to say the least for me.
Otherwise the bike was uneventful.  I was passed initially by lots of people and ultimatly I caught most of them with a few other sprinkled in.  Damn Sprint tris.  The only thing about the bike was that I felt I had no feeling from the ball of my foot through my toes.  And into transition I go fo the run.  Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.  A much better transition than the first and I am off running.  Each mile going faster that the one previously.  Seems to be how I do this triathon thing.  But no feeling in my feet.  All I can think about is peg leg and that is how it felt to run.
Somewhere between mile 2.5 and 3 my toes started screaming at me.  Hot needles piercing in my feet like when some body part falls asleep on you and comes back to life.  I almost fall down twice during this exchange.  If not for the pure beauty of the snow capped mountains to hold my attention I may have gone down.

I do my traditional "Flying to the Finish" and cross the line.  My splits final time was.......I my age group and my sex.  To be honest, I haven't a clue nor do I really care.  One day I may.  If I continue with triathlons one day I know I will.  But right now that finish line, that smile and that cold beer in my hand in Cozumel are the only things that matter to me in my triathlon life.  Well that and maybe finding my own Miranda. :-)

After the race I suited up and went to work but not before texting my coach......Thanks for those 3 words.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


No....not that kind....
This blog is actually about a streak that came to an end today.  It started 11 months ago at a crappy race in San Antonio.  Crappy because the course was boring, it was humid as all hell and just not fun.  Except for sharing in the misery with my buddy Colin it would have been truly a miserable day.  Who would think that it would lead to 10 months of racing an having a blast and being the catalyst for deciding to do an Iron Man.  I am sure this is no big deal for many of you and it is not really for me either it is just a realization.  And I'm slightly sad over it.  What a great ride and 10 months of racing it has been.  Marathons, 1/2 Marathons, Swimming Races, Tris yadda yadda yadda.
It is not that I didn't plan on racing in September.  On the contrary I had two great races planned.  I was supposed to race in a 1/2 maarathon with two rugby brothers in the city of brotherly love and the next week I was supposed to do a tri in Longmont.  Mother Nature would not have it.....
Kieran & Paulie Post Philly Race
Longmont Post Flood
The storm and flood has been a very long and arduous deal for many of us.   I could write pages of what those days were like.  Let's just say many wonderful and beautiful things can come out of tragedy and some very sad and heartbreaking things occur as well.

So now I am working on a new streak....... today being the 31st day in a row of working.  This isn't even close to my record but it is a record I do not want to break and I hope to end this streak very soon.  The rush and immediate action with insurance adjusters and Fema and corporate visitors and displaced homeowners and leaky roofs and drying out carpets is coming to a slowdown.  I have this Sunday as my target date to end this current streak and Saturday I will perhaps start my new racing run with the rescheduled Oktoberfest Sprint tri.  Not my favorite distance but it'll be great just to be out there.