The race venue was about an hour and a half away and has a 9am start time. I could have got up early and made the trip but I decided to get a room and stay the night before. Making the drive on Friday would also allow me to pickup my packet and chill. This race has one of the largest fields that I compete in that’s not a National event. Last year when I did this race there were over 600 racers so I was expecting the same this time out. My hotel was about 20 minutes away from the venue and I’d decided to get there early, not because of race reason but to get a parking spot in the parking lot. Last year cars got stuck in the mud out in the grass field they were using for overflow. I knew rain was in the forecast so I just wanted to avoid being out there.
I got to the park and for some reason I just felt a little off. I’d been feeling that way for the last couple days. I’d had a really light workout week so I didn’t think it was fatigue but for whatever reason I didn’t feel my normal jovial self going into a race. I had plenty of time before transition opened so I just sat in the car and closed my eyes for a bit. There was some rain over night and a few sprinkles during the drive in but it looked like it was going to be a dry day. It was overcast early on but the sun would break through, it got hot quick after that. I was already sweating setting up my bike in the transition area. The water was 74 degrees and I probably could have swam without my wetsuit but decided to wear it anyway. I waited till the last minute to put it on so as not to get over heated in it.
Swim (.5 mile)
As my wave was wading out to the swim starting spot I could see that a guy in an earlier wave had tapped out and was being brought in holding onto a canoe. Then one of the ladies who was suppose to go in the wave ahead of me also decided to tap out and didn’t even start. Those were the first times I’ve actually saw people not start a race. The swim had a treading water start. I decided to take advantage of the buoy closest to the shore where it was shallow and stand there until right before the start. There were a lot of guys in this wave so I knew there would be some bumping. The race horn sounded and I took off. I had a plan and stuck too it…go out fast then get into my relaxed pace and keep sighting the buoys, don’t rely on anyone else. There was lots of bumping during the swim. My feet were being hit and I was hitting other swimmers feet. Just over half way through this guy started bumping me on my right. He wasn’t just hitting my arm he was whacking me in my back on his stroke. Each time he’d do it I would adjust by swimming to my left but he kept swimming back into me. I was thinking damn dude, look where you’re going. Then this freakin guy just went right over me…forced me under the water. I stopped and said to myself “WTF” then immediately got back into my stroke. I couldn’t let that bother me because I needed to swim my rout. I came close to getting kicked in the face a few times as I was catching slower swimmers. As I was swimming along I could feel the sun on my back. It was like the water wasn’t even cooling it. Once I hit the shore I was glad that was over. I had a good swim at 14:06, much better than last year and one of my better half mile swims. It probably would have been under 14 if not for the guy swimming over me incident!
I knew exactly where I had to go amongst the large field of bikes. They had flags posted on the rows but I think they were a little too similar. However a guy had put a yellow sign near his bike that was close to my bike. I got to my bike, got my wetsuit off, helmet on and was off out of T1 in 1:26 which was one of the top times of the day.
Bike (16 miles)
I got a nice running start and got into my shoes, which were already mounted on my pedals, quickly. I had no issues on the bike…passed a lot of racers from the groups that started ahead of me and a few from my wave. I got passed by 2 riders in my group, one of which I kept site of for most of the ride. The ride was mostly uneventful which was a good thing as I had to just go fast until the end and make sure to get fluids in during the ride. It was the dismount from the bike that things started to go wrong. I slipped my feet out of my shoes to do a running dismount. I crossed over with my right foot and as I slowed I stepped off the bike, right foot first then my left. As my left foot hit the pavement I stepped right on a small rock. It jabbed right into my heel. Man that hurt but I kept going…I didn’t even break my stride but I was running off my heel on that foot. Looking at the results I was about 13th or 14th coming out of the water in my age group but I had moved up to about 4th going into T2.
I got a little distracted and turned one isle too soon going to my transition spot. I realized it kind of quickly but I didn’t want to turn around so I just leaned my bike over and ducked under the bike racks. I think the guy I was passing obscured my view of the guys yellow sign so I looked at the flags…again, they are too similar. Next time I’m just going to count the racks! I got to my spot, racked my bike, helmet off, running shoes on and was off running in 1:29, another good transition.
I started off OK but quickly started to feel the effects of the heat. I could just not get my legs to go and my breathing and HR was just too elevated. I had to really slow it down just t keep going. I saw my buddy Travis during the run when he was heading back to the finish line. It was good to see him as I think we started doing tri’s at around the same time in Cortland! After I made the turn to head back I tried to pick up my pace but that was just asking too much so I slowed it back down. I was jogging along and still managed to step in a hole and rolled my left ankle a bit. It didn’t hurt but I knew I’d feel it the next day. Eventually I just started walking…it seemed like that was the only way I could get myself under control. Each time someone would pass me and say “you can do it, keep going” and I’d start running again. I did this about 4 or 5 times. Finally this young lady came up on side of me, she said something and I said OK OK and started running. I said to her it can’t be much further and she said only about a half mile. I said good and ran along at her pace. Her pace wasn’t too fast and the little time I ran with her seemed to help me recover enough to speed up. Once I could see the finish line I took off and sprinted to the finish to catch and pass a guy that was in my age group. After that I grabbed a water bottle from one of the volunteers and went and sat down under a tree. I sat there for a minute or 2 but I saw an open picnic table to sit at. So I grabbed my water a stood up and immediately got dizzy and things got a little fuzzy. It just so happened that there was a canopy post near me so I grabbed it but I could feel my legs going and I kind of bobbed up and down. I probably would have fallen to the ground had that post not been there. There was a lady standing near me that helped me sit back down then she went and got someone from the medical tent. He came over and asked if I was OK. I said yes, that I just stood up too fast. I told him I would just sit there and drink my water. That was a little scary but I eventually got up (slowly) and sat at the table. I still didn’t feel right and realized that I was probably dehydrated (I should have brought more water on the bike). After that I went over and got something to eat and more fluids. It was probably the reason I couldn’t get my legs to go. I did take water at the aid stations during the run but at that point I was probably too low for it really benefits me.
I eventually went over to check the time sheets. I finished in 1:32:19, slower than last year by about 2 minutes but I finished in 84th place out of 562, 8th in my age group. Last year I finished in 112th place. My run time was a very disappointing 29:17. I think not doing my normal gel shot at the beginning of a race might have hurt me here or most likely that I haven’t done much training in the heat…I’ll have to change that!