3:30AM: I wake up feeling pretty good. As expected, I hadn’t had a good night’s sleep, but that is pretty normal the night before a race. I eat some bread with almond butter and apricot preserves and then go into my preparation routine. After a shower and shave, I have a bit of time to relax and make sure that I have all my tri gear and nutrition in order.
5:00AM: Angela comes over. She wasn’t going to do the race, but comes with me to watch. We make it down to the race without much of an incident. By 5:40AM, I am in the transition area.
6:00AM: Triathletes of all shapes and sizes are busy readying their transition areas. Some are being body-marked; some are planning their nutrition, some are jogging; there is nervous energy everywhere. My transition area is at the head of the rack which means I will save about 5 seconds from my transition times. I pump my tires, setup my towel with a neat stack of my helmet, headband, sunglasses, nutrition and shoes. I get body marked (number 543), use the potty and go by the swim start to relax.
6:40AM: We stand attentively to the national anthem.
6:45AM: The first wave is off. Jon Bird is part of it. Hunter Kemper is one of the favorites. I see them swimming away. They are fast.
|My transition area #543|
7:25AM: After a few waves of the Sprint-distance start, our wave is finally in the water. We are in white caps. Promptly at 7:29AM, we are off. I start swimming in long smooth strokes. The water is murky but doesn’t taste bad. I swim under the first bridge, then the second. A group of white caps are in front of me, and I am swimming with a couple of others in my group. Soon, I catch up with a few of the folks who started in front of me (pink caps). I keep my cadence and sight about every 10 strokes. I feel good. After I turn around to come back, I am isolated; there is a group of white caps in front of me and a group behind me. I swim alone (not the best tactic). I feel that the surf in the lake is against me, probably because the southwesterly breeze. I finish the swim in about 29 minutes. It is slower than expected, but not by much. Total Swim Time: 0:29:05
7:55AM: I jog over to the transition area and drink some Gatorade, put on my heart belt, race belt, helmet, socks, shoes and eat a stinger waffle. I’m off. T1 has taken 3 minutes and 15 seconds. I am about a minute behind my planned time. The wind is up! Total T1 Time: 0:03:19
7:58AM: I am feeling somewhat fatigued as I start biking. I am going against the wind and I am not comfortable on my tri-bars. It is going to be a long day. I tell myself to relax and pedal away. Groups of bikers are constantly passing me. When they do, I draft them for a split-second before dropping back. There is nothing illegal about this. There are lots of twists and turns on this bike course; and I just can’t get my mojo right. My legs feel lethargic, my mind can’t relax, my cadence is not smooth and neither is my stroke. I just want to get off the bike so I can start my run. Throughout the bike, I see nobody I know, not much motivates me and everyone passes me by. On the second loop, the last straw is when an old man with a scruffy beard passes me by and smirks at me. Behind his leg is the marking 73 O (which means he is 73 years old and is doing the Olympic distance triathlon). I just want to finish! I finish weakly and am exhausted. I still have to run and it is getting hot. Total Bike Time: 1:24:43
9:26AM: Mercifully, I am finally off the bike. My legs feel like Jello. I want to sit and rest for a bit in T2, but I am quick in changing my shoes, carrying a Stinger Waffle with me and heading out. Total T2 Time: 0:01:31
9:28AM: I will need to do the run (10k) in less than 47 minutes to have a PR. Fat chance. I start smoothly and do the first mile at a sub 9-minute pace. I pass by that 73-year old who had passed me biking. The route is a 2-loop course going over a couple of bridges on Tempe town lake. There are short hills that separate the men from the boys. At mile 2.5 is the first hill that loops back on to Mill Ave going south. I feel good with a cool breeze and overcast skies. I eat the Stinger Waffle. At the half-way juncture as I am going for my second loop, I see Kristen and Jerry and Caty and Jamie. I still have some spring in my step. Just before I reach the fourth mile, the sun starts shining and the temperature goes up by about ten degrees (or so it seems). I realize that my electrolyte intake has been sub-optimal and all my salts are flushed out in perspiration. To compensate, I have over-hydrated throughout the run. I pay for it by stopping to use the port-o-let to pee. I have also lost steam and walk some of the 5th mile and the uphill on my second lap. This is when the 73-year old jogs by me and gives me some words of encouragement. He actually gives me my second (or third) wind. I start jogging, then running and by the time I reach the end of the race, I am at a full sprint. At least I finish strong! Total Run Time: 0:57:35
In the end, my total time was 2:56:14; a good nine minutes above what I wanted to do. I finished in 17th place in my age group. Jon Bird also had a somewhat disappointing race. He finished in 13th place.
As I write this, I am just a bit sore. I took a long nap this afternoon. The most valuable lesson I learned today is the importance of not just hydration and calories but also electrolytes and salt. Managing all of the above is a challenge but necessary. Now my concentration shifts to IMAZ. I am doing the SOMA relay (bike), but it will be more of a training ride.