history does not repeat itself!
400m pool swim, 10 mile bike, 5k Run
Heading into this year’s race, I was a little concerned; on the plus side, I had focused my offseason on swimming and biking, and upgraded to a new bike, this 2015 Felt B16. The thing that had me worried, as it always had, was the run. If you’ve been reading, you should know that my 2014 season ended with some injuries. When race day came, I hadn’t run in three months. I had done some light jogging here and there, and the occasional endurance WOD at the gym, but I just had this deep pain in my butt and on the point of my hip from last summer/fall that just never really went away. My pre-ankle surgery athletic career involved thousands (probably an exaggeration, but you get the idea) of miles of running, all without incident or injury. My post-ankle-surgery athletic career was still evolving, or devolving in this case. Due to my lack of running and also lack of diet discipline, I was about 10 pounds heavier this year than last at 230 (and up overall about 25lbs). I will defend myself a little bit because being in chronic and continuous pain is very taxing emotionally, and for me, the thing that pretty much always breaks down is my diet. My love for pizza and beer is strong.
Well I definitely warmed up too early, and I felt extremely sluggish in the pool. I got out of the water probably about 30 minutes before the race started, and then went to a very cold staging area, where I sat for a long time as the race was delayed. By the time we started moving to the pool deck, I think it had been over an hour since I had really done any serious warming up. I believe we have established that I am dumb, so of course I didn’t get the blood flowing well enough before starting even though I know the value of a proper warm-up. Also, as per usual, several people foolishly moved ahead of me right before the start, so when I swam over their legs coming out of flip turns to pass them, I didn’t feel bad about it (however they would, like always, pass me on the run). It took about 300meters before my arms loosened up and I finished the swim right about where I did the prior year, however made the run to the transition area with a lot more pep in my step for a time of 6:10 (26 second improvement).
I don’t recall having any issues with this particular transition, however it was a poor time. The prior year I flipped my bike and fell down. This year I was 45 seconds slower, not really sure what happened here. I assume I was trying to control everything a bit better and not wreck my 4 week old time-trial bike, but I don’t really remember anything happening in particular. AT2 time: 1:53
Don’t flip your bike running with it: check. Don’t lose your end caps: check. Don’t knock the chain off twice: check. Don’t wreck and break your hand: check! A really strong (and cold April) wind was the biggest factor of this bike leg, and I was happy to have my Felt and aero helmet. As a quick aside, those two things really do make a huge difference in windy conditions. For the most part I was alone on this ride. I started the swim farther back than I normally do so I didn’t get ahead of the super cyclists, so for the most part it was just me and the wind and the occasional full-disc tri bike (and where I live there are some really nice bikes) would fly by me with that crazy sound that they make (which can be pretty scary sometimes when you’re just plugging along by yourself thinking dark thoughts and with no warning some guy or gal buzzes you). A few times on this ride I felt like I was over-exerting myself, but remembering my last race, I dialed it back in and stuck to my strategy. Nice, clean, cold, ride with a solid dismount into the transition area.
Final bike time: 29:21 (improvement of 2 minutes!)
Legs felt great, got the bike racked without incident, and slipped into my sock-less Zoots with ease, grabbed the race belt and was gone for an 8 second improvement.
T2 time: 1:01.
So I definitely don’t recommend doing a triathlon without having run in three months and still having quite a bit of hip pain. I pushed forth though, say it with me know, “because I’m dumb!” Last year’s major thought came again, this time even earlier. “This is the worst thing I’ve ever done.” My legs felt alright, but my hip was burning, and the extra 10 pounds felt like I was hauling a tire. My lungs felt great though, so all I had to do was finish out a couple more miles and I had a real shot of breaking my one hour goal. As usual, I started out all alone (other than this elite teenager literally sprinting out of the transition area and up the hill past me at an astonishing pace that made me wish I was young and skinny again) and eventually passed repeatedly by the strong runners. This time though, there were no clear Clydesdale guy passing me, my cardio was strong, and I started to pick up the pace after cursing myself after a dreadful 9 minute first mile (actual time, not an exaggeration). Once you get up the first hill though, it’s a mostly flat course (it’s a mostly flat state) and as my hip loosened up I was able to finish with an 8 and 7 minute mile and finish with a good sprint down the finish, and a second straight Clydesdale victory!
Final run time: 23:59 (7 seconds slower).
Final Time: 1:02.27. 1:41 faster than previous year, no missing end caps, no broken bones, no bloody knuckles. First Place Clydesdale. Official results here.
This year’s race was a heckuva lot smoother than last year’s. I hadn’t run in 3 months, and it felt like it, and my hip/butt was instantly back to being sore. Once again, awards took almost three hours to come out, which is highly annoying, and of course, the Clydesdale awards came at the very end. Don’t these people understand that post-race is feast time? I HAVE BEER TO DRINK DAMNIT! Also, pretty weak medals.
I was feeling pretty confident at this point (totally ignoring all the signs of a major injury) and felt like this was going to be a special year, and even circled the Clydesdale Sprint National Championship, which was only a 5-hour drive to Grand Rapids, MI, on my calendar. I projected my time there to have a real chance at winning, and I was determined.
Of course, my spirit was willing, but my body was weak, and a second race in 2 weeks would not set me up for success.