This last weekend was the 28th annual Mountain Man Olympic and Half Iron Distance Triathlon. It’s been on my race calendar all year, but after Boise 70.3 and before SOMA 70.3 it was considered by me (and my awesome WannaTri coaches) to be a “B” race. This essentially means that I would be racing it with very little training taper, and would be trying not to concern myself with performance goals. I would basically be racing it on general fitness and would focus on getting more experience and polishing up things like transitions.
With all of this in mind, I entered the race weekend in a much more lackadaisical mode. I hadn’t even checked my swim wave number, cap color, or start time prior to packet pickup. If I was focused on anything, it was trying to be as nonchalant about racing as possible. I really wanted to go into it with NO stress. I feel now with a couple years of racing under my belt that I can go into a race without the typical nerves and worried behavior. I packed my transition bag without a check list. I even waited until right before bed the night before the race to put on my race wheels, adjust the brakes, and lube the chain. The one traditional thing I did do was shave my legs (albeit with soap and not shave cream….living on the edge I tell you).
One big factor that helped me not stress about racing was switching my focus from Jeley’s Training to being supportive and trying to be Super Sherpa for Christine in her build up to Ironman Arizona. It really is nice to be able to focus on someone else, and not worry so much about shoe-horning my own training into our already hectic lives. I do what I can to stay in shape, but I am certainly not hyper-focused on it like usual. So, even though I had a race to do, which was in Flagstaff, it really was a convenient excuse to get out of the super hot temperatures in Phoenix, and go up north so Christine could get some high quality training miles in cooler weather and at altitude. I spent a large part of Saturday just driving around Mormon lake making sure she had plenty of water and nutrition during her 70 mile training ride.
On Sunday morning, we got up around 4am and I got my bike loaded on the Rover, got my transition bag and nutrition loaded and off we went to the race start. Even in this I didn’t do my usual “must get there as early as possible”. Again, I just wanted to deal with things as they came, rather than preparing for every possible scenario. I guess I was just putting aside my usual need to be Super Risk Mitigation Manager. I sauntered into transition, found a reasonably good spot for my setup, and got everything laid out. Smooth as can be. The only hiccups being I had to ask Christine to take my race bib back into transition for me, since for some reason I was wearing it…and then I nearly forgot to get body marked. I got into my wetsuit super easy and headed down to the race start.
I got into the water a little late so I didn’t get a warm-up, but that was fine, I usually don’t get much. I lined up far right to be directly on the bouy line and right at the front….the gun went off and I went BALLS TO THE WALL for 100m and THEN…….the altitude hit me, I started gasping. I wanted to take off my wetsuit and started looking for a kayack. I dog paddled for about 30 seconds, got dropped by the main pack, got mixed in with all the people that had brought Barka Loungers to the first turn buoy and then FINALLY settled in about 100m past the turn. I went through some mental bullshit where I just figured it was gonna be a really slow swim and that I would be in the bottom 5 – “hey it’s a B race” I told myself. Then all of a sudden I started catching and passing people VERY quickly and managed to swim a VERY straight line. I got through the last turn before the leaders of the next wave caught me and I stayed connected to their pack all the way to the swim exit.
I swam HARD! Really HARD! It felt great. I have wanted to do a swim where I really just went after it and once I had resolved myself to finishing last, I just went for broke.
I got to about 100 yards before the boat ramp and
idiots athletes were standing up and walking already. I swam all the way until I literally could not swim cause my hands were dragging, then stood up, took 2 steps and kicked a boulder like I was trying to win a game of kickball…fell forward and face planted and yelled FUCK. I got to T1, hurting a lot, and the toe looked really mangled, but no blood, so I started to put on my bike shoes. I put my foot down on my towel and my toe just exploded like it had a facesucker alien in it…I then remembered that after 30 minutes of swimming you don’t have much blood in your feet.
I looked at it and thought “I can still ride” and then I thought “I wonder how much blood I will lose in 25 miles and if I can do it without passing out”…and then I went to the ambulance. EMT guy was super nice, but I don’t think he had done EMTing before. He wrapped my toe up like he had learned it in an online course. Once EMT had completed making my toe look like a Godzilla sized Q-Tip I was still thinking I might give it a go, but decided that i had already lost 10 minutes, so there was no point in risking further injury to finish in the bottom half.
Once I decided to DNF I was suddenly gutted. Because I had such a great last 2/3 of the swim and was feeling very strong on the bike, I am pretty bummed about the injury…it’s such a boneheaded thing. I had taken 5 minutes off last year’s swim and that includes swimming like a noob for 500 meters. I really think I could have done that swim in 30 minutes or less.
The thing is if I had finished the race in 3:20 I probably would not have cared cause I went in with NO expectations or pressure on myself at all; but because I had such a great swim and am so confident on the bike, I was just devastated when I realized I needed to stop. I had been wandering around T1 asking anyone I could find “where is medical?” because I was in a hurry and wanted to get back in the race…I just kept thinking if I can control the bleeding I am fine, lets do this. When I finally realized I was done, I just packed up transition and wandered back to the team tent.
When Christine realized I had dropped out, she was so bummed for me. She knew that I didn’t really care going into the race, but she could see that I was disappointed. She is so awesome. She could see that my foot was really hurting and she noticed that EMT Man had done a terrible job wrapping my toe. So she did what she always does, she stepped in, without provocation and took charge of fixing the situation. She unwrapped my toe, and cleaned it up again and re-wrapped it, like EMT Man should have. The rest of the day, she was just so focused on me and my needs. I didn’t even need to tell her that I wanted to leave, she could just see it and said “let’s pack up and go”. Here I was, so committed to her weekend and her training, and as soon as she got back from her 9 mile run and saw me withdrawn from the race, it was like the only person in the world was me. She’s amazing like that and I can’t manufacture the words to convey my thanks appropriately.
So…that was my race. 30 minutes of swimming in Lake Mary, eating a handful of Dolly Madison Donut Gems and hobbling around yacking about my misfortune.
Next year I am gonna wear steel-toed boots.
You’ve probably had one of those rides. The one where you just aren’t “feeling it”. The kind of ride that within 3 miles you tell yourself it’s okay to do the rest of the ride at cruiser speed; then you struggle with that decision for the rest of the ride because you feel like a complete pussy for not hammering it out. But try as you might, no amount of internal debate, self cajoling, or plain ol’ bad-assdome will convince you to ride harder.
Then about mid-ride, you hear exactly what you were hoping you wouldn’t hear, but you knew deep down that you deserve every bit of; the guy that rides up behind you. You know he’s just gonna pass you and look at you with the half-wave and that condescending look that says “nice bike, too bad you can’t ride it”. You have to make a decision at that point, do you swallow your pride and just let him go? Do you try to stay with him or do you try to keep him from coming around. But let’s be honest, you gave up on this ride 10 miles ago, you HAVE to let him go and telepathically tell him “dude whatever, I’m on a recovery ride”.
Well, that was me yesterday. I’ve been in this situation more times that I can count. However, in this case the guy didn’t come around me…the fucker just sat on. Seriously, here I am feeling terrible about myself and wishing this ride would just be over and this guy just settles in for a draft all the way down Lafayette Road.
“Oh that’s they way you’re gonna play this” I tell the guy under my breath. “Well jack, you’re not gettin a free ride from me at a measly 18mph.” So I shift to the big ring and pick up the
base pace a bit. The hanger-on shifts as well, and moves up…nice and close, making sure there is NO gap. I point to a few obstacles just to be friendly. Now we are going 20mph and he is settling in nicely. A couple more gears and we are at 22mph….still there. One more shift and I’m in a it for a nice 2 mile L4 grind…26mph.
Huffing and puffing can be heard from behind me…time for another gear change. Now I’m in a 53×13 and doing 27mph, the wheel-sucker frantically makes a shift…make that two shifts since he fucked up the first one. I look down at the shadows…a gap opens, and I can almost here the “POP!!!!” as he legs tell him he’s done. I haven’t even reached the Strava segment yet. Another 10th of a mile, I hit the start of the half mile Strava segment and wind it up to 31mph and I hold it there…finally I afford myself a look back. I can barely see him.
I’ve made it to the end of Lafayette, the guy is gone. I can finally relax back into my earlier easy pace, but now there is no self-deprecating thoughts; just the satisfaction that I dropped a guy while leading from the front and without putting in an “attack”. I just simply rode him off my wheel. I’ve been on the other end of that many times…it is better to be on this side of it. I’ll take it!Read More
IronMan Arizona; for local triathletes the week leading up to IMAZ is almost like Superbowl Week or Daytona 500 Week for most of the rest of the (US) population.
IronMan is a triathlon that is 140.6 miles in length, 2.4 miles swim, 112 miles cycling, and 26.2 miles running and it has to be completed in 17 hours or less. Along the way athletes will have to complete each discipline within certain time limits. For instance, the swim must be completed within 2 hours and 20 minutes.
Athletes that are competing in an IronMan typically train 15 or more hours per week starting about 6 months before the event. Suffice to say, most people, the mortal ones at least, do only 1 IronMan race per year (if they do more than one in their lifetime). For those of us that compete regularly in triathlons and are not doing IMAZ we are just a bunch of fan-boys. This is a chance to watch our friends bury themselves in athletic endeavors at the cost of $600 entry fee, ridiculous cash spent on nutrition, countless hours training, and aggravating the hell out of their families and friends by not being able to discuss even the most current events simply because they have nothing but Swim, Bike, and Run on their brains.
The obvious motivational impact of IMAZ is not felt only by the athlete that is competing, but is felt by nearly every other triathlete in the community. Even though our “off-season” has already started, we still get up early and head to the pool for a little more intense speed set than usual. We hop on our bikes when we would be typically headed to a big stack of pancakes at our favorite breakfast joint. We strap on our running shoes right before the sun goes down and try to log a new 5k PR, even though we already did 5 base miles earlier in the day.
We can’t wait for the IronMan trucks to arrive in downtown Tempe. As early as Wednesday before the race, we find ourselves commuting over the Mill Ave. bridge so we can see the T1 transition area being setup…even if we don’t work anywhere around Tempe. The site of all of those empty bike racks in the grass at Tempe Beach Park is immediately replaced in our minds-eye with the same area filled to the sides with shiny $5000 aero machines and wet triathletes scrambling to put their helmets on and get their bikes off the rack and head out for 5+ hours of riding the “Beeline”.
We begin to imagine ourselves headed out of T2 with all of our run gear on, our legs heavy with 112 miles of biking, and wonder how in the world WE would survive a marathon after everything we have already done. We see our friends, teammates, and families standing on the side of the course or riding by on bikes and yelling encouragement. We see ourselves running down the finishing chute and hearing Mike Riley’s voice as he proclaims us “IronMan”…
For those of us not competing in the 2011 IMAZ, we get inspired by the venue, the race, the athletes, and the stories of how hard it has been to get this far, and how rewarding it is to realize the dream of competing in and finishing an IronMan…and we start planning. We start saying to ourselves “I can do this” and “When can I start training for next year”.
It starts this week, and it starts with going to IMAZ events, the pro press conference, pro “meet and greets”, the kids 1 mile run, the IronMan expo and then the race. Some of us will volunteer on the race, some of us will just watch and cheer. Some of us will pay very close attention to every nuance and think “how exactly am I going to handle this next year?”…
IMAZ week is here, time to train that much harder, stalk pro triathletes like they are celebs, buy M-dot gear like it’s going to be in-style, and prepare to spend 17 hours watching a sporting event that is like no other.Read More