Monday, July 18, 2011

Its been a while (Race Report!!!)

Phew! Almost 2 months since my last post. I've been meaning to write about how my triathlon went, but lets face it, I'm lazy.

Anyway, before we could leave for the hotel, the Mrs. and I had to wait for the mail truck to come. You see, I had ordered a tri-top and tri-shorts 2 weeks prior, and they still hadn't come in the mail. And so, patiently, we waited. We figured, it was early Saturday morning, we would double check our bags at my house and once we saw the truck pull up, we would head out. We never saw the truck. We waited, more impatiently rather than patiently, for the mail. When my parents got home, they were surprised to see us. I calmly explained the situation, and so my father went out to the mailbox.

Yup, it was already there. It was a real "FACEPALM" moment for me.

I ran upstairs, new outfit in tow, and tried it on. And it actually fit. And I didn't look half bad. I was quite pleased with myself.

With peace of mind, we set out for Redondo Beach.

We first stopped to pick up my race packet. Having never done a triathlon, I also stayed for the tri-clinic, being put on by the race sponsors. Very informative and helpful. Excellent tips on setting up the transition area and putting on/taking off the wetsuit.

After that, we went back to the hotel to wait for our friends (hooray support group!!!)

Once they arrived, we went out to dinner with my buddy, Tim (couldn't think up any clever nicknames, sorry Tim!)

Carboloading was fun, and Tim and I hung out and got caught up while the Mrs. and friends got fro-yo.We all chatted for a bit, joking around and the like, and then we said goodbye to Tim and headed back to the hotel.

Back at the hotel room, I started practicing putting on and taking off the wetsuit. Then it was bedtime.

But I couldn't sleep. It took me a while, and I don't really know how much I slept. I was kinda freaking out. Would I get a flat? Would I get two flats? What if I couldn't make it through the surf? What if the water was too cold? What if I got attacked by piranhas?

Well, 5:00AM came around, and without any hesitation, I shut off the alarm clock and started getting ready. I put on my top and shorts, then some sweats (it was 5AM, obviously it was gonna be cold), double checked my transition bag, and sat around doing nothing. Then I realized I was should probably eat something, so I downed a Clif bar and some water. The Mrs. (God bless her soul, I love that woman) got up and drove me to the event so I could set up my transition area early. She went back and got more sleep. While I set up my transition area, I met and became acquainted with my neighbors, who were all in the same wave. Some were clydesdales, and some were old, but all were nice. One guy put a balloon in our area, saying that once we got into the transition area to look for the balloon so we would know where we were. Smart guy! I downed another clif bar and some FRS, got marked with my bib number, put on my wetsuit, and before I knew it, we all were corralled towards the beach. It was time.

My wave was 5th to go, I think. Very glad about that. In the first wave, a guy wearing only swim trunks jumped into the water and then immediately jumped out, dropping out from the race. That was a bit worrysome, but I had a wetsuit on. When it came time for my wave, I felt I was ready. I would dive under the waves, get into my cadence, and do the swim in 30 minutes. Ok, great. I was ready, I can do this.

The gun goes off! Fattys and oldies and dudes with mountain bikes ran/hopped/dove into the water, working furiously to get past the fearsome (3ft) waves and out into open water.

I was not ready. When the water hit my face for the first time, I freaked out.

Oh my god, I can't do this. Why am I here? F***, I can't do this.

Seeing me freak out, a lifeguard came over and asked if I needed help. At this, the turning point as I like to call it, a few thoughts ran through my mind:

1) I can't go back to work and face my co-workers without having done the damn thing.
2) I can't go back to my fiance and see her disappointment in me not having done the damn thing.
3) I can't go back to my friends and family and see their disappointment (a few would have an "I knew he couldn't do it" look in their face) in me not having done the damn thing.
4) I can't go back and think about all the money I spent on gear and entry fees without me having done the damn thing.

I was doing the damn thing.

I pressed on, telling the lifeguard I was fine, and dove under the water, touched the sand, and pulled myself foward.

Eventually, I did make it past break point. I passed the first buoy, and turned right. I was on my way.

I was still stopped a few times by a few more lifeguards who wanted to be sure I was ok, but I knew I wasn't going to stop.

And then my leg started cramping.

Once more, the "Damn Thing" conversation took place in my head, and in the back of my mind, I saw his holiness, Jens Voigt, smiling down on me. I knew what I had to do.

I started swimming with only my arms, while I stretched my calves and used the cycling mantra "Shut up, legs." Sweet, I can keep going. I eventually made it through the water, but coming back to shore was just as hard as leaving it. The waves kept pulling me back. Realizing I wasn't going anywhere, I started trying to body surf, dolphin kicking when I had lost momentum. It worked, and I stumbled out of the water. I eventually made it back to the transition area, where I really started worrying. I was feeling dizzy. Almost sick. Salty, even. I took a swig of some water, trying to get the salt out of my mouth and nose. I had some Clif shot blocks, and some FRS, and immediately felt better. I got out of my wetsuit, into my bike shoes and helmet, grabbed my bike and headed out of the transition area.

The bike leg of the triathlon was uneventful. Doing a 3mi loop twice was very restful, and very fun. I hit a new top speed going down a hill (32.4) and I never dismounted to walk up a hill. I finished the miles, got back to the transition area, got out of my bike gear and into my run gear, then headed out for the final leg of the triathlon.

I was pretty beat by that point. The shot blocks and FRS helped, and I knew I could finish it as long as I didn't get hurt. I started doing a run/walk pace, and eventually I decided to just go for it and keep running (it felt to me like running, to anyone else, it looked like a fat man trudging along, dizzy after getting up from his seat too fast). Once I saw the finish line, all the "tired" went away. I saw my dad and my fiancee, waiting for me at the finish line. I sprinted. The announcer and the crowd were cheering me on.

Strong sprint through the finish line!

I slowed but still ran into the arms of my father and future wife. I'll be honest, I cried a bit. I never would have thought I could ever do a triathlon. I am so happy I was wrong.

After the adrenaline wore off, I realized just how tired I was. I got some food, sat down with my fiancee, dad, and support group (yay friends!) and ate. I was, to put it lightly, cooked. I finished 2nd to last in the clydesdale division. I was exhausted, and my legs felt like jello.

But, in the end, I finished the damn thing.

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