Monday, July 18, 2011

Triathlon #2: ChelanMan Olympic


This is it. This is what all this training has been for. It was a blast and unexpected too.

Let's just say that I was quite nervous in the week leading up to the race and could not keep from smiling during the race.

Here are the stats (BuDu Racing):
Swim Time: 0:29:53.2
Swim Rank: 116
T1: 4:38.5
T1 Rank: 419
Bike Time: 1:53:34.7
Bike Rank: 494
T2: 2:05.
T2 Rank: 305
Run Time: 1:02:38.5
Run Rank: 342
Age Group Place: 19/21
Gender Place: 219/228
Overall Place: 439/503
Overall Time: 3:32:49.9

OK, now here is the long (ish) post (I am tired).

Day One: The Night Before

Sj, Cr, and I drove out together. Rather Cr drove while I lounged in the front seat chatting idly about this and that. It seems so long ago and I honestly cannot remember. Mostly (I suppose) it was about what was happening over the weekend and what we were looking forward to. Sj is coming back from a stress fracture so her goal was to finish, enjoy everything, and have fun. I had been training and wanted to race. My left hip and leg had been bothering me and I knew that that could present a problem on the run. It is an odd thing that all of this soreness simply disappeared the closer we got to Chelan.

I love the drive. The terrain reminds me so much of the hills behind Santa Barbara and the warmth radiates. It is almost as if the land has nothing to hide. You can see every contour under a grass, bushes, and the widely spaced trees. It has been a cool spring and summer in the PacNW this year (here is why) and there was a hint of green mixed among the yellow of the dry grass. Here and there, evidence of the last round of wildfires in blackened tree trunks. I love the smell. Chaparral and other scrub. I love the cliff faces, naked and jagged. Through it all run the rivers of the northwest, strong, cold, and life giving to the communities that line their banks. It was nice to just watch, to loose myself in the scene.

We arrived at about 4:30 and checked in. I was sharing a condo with four other guys. Two were doing the Long Course (Half Iron), two (including me) who were doing the Olympic, and one who, having just completed Ironman Coeur d'Alene, was going to do the Sprint on Sunday. There was tri-gear all over the place competing for space with the various personal effects and food that we had all brought. Triathloning is turning out to be one of the heavier sports I have ever tried.

Off we went to check in, pick up our packets, and rack our bikes for the evening. Very smooth process. Very organized as you can imagine. Two very cool race shirts. Why two? I'll explain later. Race briefing was interesting. Interesting because it was hard to hear and over complicated. Briefing everyone on 3 or 4 simultaneous events has to be a challenge. I was most concerned about the no-drafting rules for the bike. Three bike lengths, passing in 15 seconds, and dropping back if you are passed. There was a USAT Ref out there and, as this is a sanctioned event, they would be monitoring things closely. I

And then it was off to eat dinner and get gear ready for the next day.

I inhaled a spinach pizza and a salad (huge) at one of the pizza joints next door and went back up to the condo to ready my gear and go through my checklist. Not only is this sport heavy it is complicated too. That done I retired early and read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows before lights out.

Bunk beds are not the greatest thing ever invented. I understand that they are efficient and probably fun if you are a kid but . . .

I did sleep but, like everyone else, kept on waking up and checking the time. 0500 seemed to come every 30 minutes or so as I would wake up, grab my phone, and check the time only to fall back on my pillow for X number more minutes of sleep. P, who was sleeping on the couch, got up at about 0430 and I decided to just do the same thing. Breakfast (PBJ, banana, and coffee) and a shave (gotta look good for the cameras AND any iota of smoothness will just enhance my hydrodynamic and aerodynamic efficiency). Things were to kick off at 0700 so at 0600 we headed out the door and to the park to prep our transition areas.

The sprinklers had come on during the night and soaked the ground. There was a grassy mud puddle right next to my rack and most people's bike numbers had gotten so wet that they were already disintegrating. I borrowed Sj's pump and got my tires up to 100 psi all the while hearing little explosions as people over-inflated their tubes. At each discharge a little knowing and empathetic sigh would go up. The RD was calling out briefings and urging us to get out to the beach for the swim start.

I had lots of energy and dissipated some of it impersonating a sea lion on the sea wall before going for a warm-up swim. The water was a "chilly" 68 or 70 degrees but I found it quite comfortable. The neat part is that is so clear. Clear enough to see the bottom, the fish, and (unfortunately) the occasional beer can. The water even tastes good, a fact I reported to M who, having just recently learned to swim, jokes that he hydrates during the swim.

What wave was I? It is a blur. We cheered the Long Course people off the beach and watched them power into the distance and then at 0730 the Olympic swimmers went off. My wave started at about 0740. I lined up to the left and outside of the wave. This would give me more than 1500 meters but I would also have more swimming room. The RD counted us down and in we plunged.

The Swim

What a difference practice and one other race experience makes. This start was more crowded than at Issaquah but I felt immediately at home in the water and just started stroking. Not thrashing or windmilling as so many others around me were—stroke, stroke, stroke, breathe, stroke, stroke, stroke, breathe on the other side, and so on. Not all out but just steady. Rounded the first buoy and headed for the second glimpsing the underwater line that had been set up. It was pretty crowded on that line so I stayed off to the left and continued to sight. Long leg to the dock (see the map) and there things got interesting. The closer I got to the dock the shallower the water became AND the slower I was moving over the bottom. There was a current that took a bit to claw through. Once through I took advantage of what felt like a following current and sprinted for the finish.

What was I thinking? No singing? No calming. Just enjoying the effort and thinking about the upcoming ride and run. It was nice.

The beach and the swim out. My hands hit the bottom and I gathered my feet underneath my body. Staggered a bit as the sand slid out from under me but heard CL cheering at me. Big smile as I trotted up to my bike.

T1

Much better than last time! Ear plugs help A LOT! I highly recommend these from TYR (Barracuda also makes the same thing or is it sells the same thing). A little trouble getting my suit off. A lot less trouble getting my feet into my socks (baby powder) and then into my shoes. Garmin on, bike off the rack, and off I went running uphill to the mount line. On the bike and then I was off.

Bike:

I love riding. Even though it is a serious business it brings out the kid in me. The love of speed. Make no mistake, I work hard but it is still fun.

This was a 24.8 mile rolling course running along the shores of the lake. I had ridden much of this in May and had a blast on the uphills and downhills. Instead of hugging the shoulder of a busy highway we had the right lane to work in and traffic was being controlled by various volunteers and flaggers. Within .30 miles I was going strongly at 22.3 mph and hugely enjoying it. Was I getting passed? Of course. I would hear the heavy rumble of kevlar race wheels coming up behind me as a rider propelled a very expensive bike pass. I passed people too and traded off with a few. Slowed on some of the climbs more than I would like. Even though I was riding fast (for me) I was also conscious of having to preserve my legs for the upcoming 10K (a simulation of which a couple of weeks ago left me dehydrated and useless for a week) and took it easier on the climbs. Lots of smiling too. The new wheels, Mavic Speed Cities, felt great. Solid. Very solid.

It started to rain. At first little stinging droplets and then harder. The road got more and more slippery and I began to notice lots of soggy race numbers on the side of the road. I went past someone who had been trading off with me and joked "Of course it is raining!" She laughed as did I.

Things were going great. I was averaging 18.5 mph overall with a max speed of 32.5 on a long downhill and a minimum of 7.5 on a climb.

And then . . .

I heard this strange sound coming from my rear wheel. At first I thought it was my race number rubbing the tire (I had it mounted on the seat stay instead of the top bar). No. Hmm. The sound continued and I noticed that my rear tire was losing air. CRAP!

Totally flat by the time I pulled over. OK, time to get to work. Flipped the bike over in the dirt/mud at the side of the road and bikers whizzed by (just as I had done to others with flats). Across the road a father and his daughter were cheering people on. They asked if I needed help. I said, "No. I can't accept outside help but thanks for the offer" and went back to work, hoping that the SAG Wagon would come by (they didn't). Pulled the wheel, got the tire off and the tube out, and ripped my right pinky finger open in the process (not that I noticed). Ran the inside of the tire with my hand. Nothing obvious. AK and KK drove up and took a picture and asked where all the blood came from. Hunh? Blood? :-P

Got the tube placed and the tire remounted, loaded a CO2 cartridge into my little pumpy thing, and charged the tire. COOL! Remounted the wheel and spun it to check. There was a wobble. CRAP! What was wrong? Tube had bulged out. Deflated the tire. Packed it in, getting blood everywhere, pulled out my next cartridge, threaded it in, and, nothing. The CO2 rushed out but the tire didn't inflate. Well, bugger that. Let me try my pumpy thing. Nope. The tube is not taking anything now. CRAP! I am in a race and I am 3 miles or so from the finish. What to do. I start to run with my bike, in cleats. Then I think. Hmm. Don't I have a run to do? Duh!

Riding on a flat tire is an interesting experience. Luckily for me it was the rear that went and I could control things pretty well although the wheel tended to slew out when the should angled down to the right. Was going along slowly when CL and CP went by. They had been offering encouragement to all of us on the CL team. Stopped again to see if I could get the tire inflated with an undischarged CO2 cartridge that was lying on the side of the road (lots of biking related stuff on the side of the road, I know this because I was watching things very carefully). CL and CP kept their distance as I did this in case a course marshal went by. No joy and I continued on with CP behind me calmly encouraging me.

Whump! Whump! Whump!

I could hear lots of sympathetic comments from bystanders and encouragement too but, truth be told, I wasn't too fussed. Stuff like this happens. It could have been worse. There were sirens in the distance and lots of road rash. Me? I had a flat and a cut finger. Could've been much worse. Besides, it was fun.

The final hill up to the transition was kind of steep and as I whumped up it another racer came along side me and said "Did you know you have a flat tire?" I smiled and said "Yes, I know." I really wanted to add "Thank you Captain Obvious!" but didn't. Concentrated up the hill and then negotiating the turns to the dismount line and in to T2. Weight over the front wheel, back of when the rear began to slide out.

Thinking about things now I am kind of bummed. I was on pace for something just over an hour. Right up there with the leaders in my age group actually. But, live and learn.

Now why did the tire go? I still haven't done the postmortem on the tubes yet and have to take the wheel in to the shop to have it looked at as well (there are some mars on it now but it looks OK). CL theorized that the rain threw up bits of sand which worked its way down between the rim and the tire and abraded the tube. This might explain the slowness of the failure.

In the battle of the bikes Chelan 2, RPD 0 (damaged wheel during Tri-camp in May as well). Heh!

Lessons? Carry two tubes and three cartridges and make sure that the trigger mechanism is fully closed and that the cartridge penetrator is properly lined up.

T2

Faster this time because I just slipped my shoes on and went. Bit of a hike.

Run

Kind of anticlimactic actually. I was slow and started to get hungry pretty early on despite eating and drinking on the bike. Puddlethumper's energy bars are quite tasty.

The course was basically the same as the ride. The sun was coming out and the air was getting steamy. I really had to pee so I stopped at the first aid station, had some water, and took care of business.

Slow run but not a slog because I was so happy to be out there. All the volunteers and the spectators created a sustaining energy. So too did the other participants. Got my picture taken too with a smile on my face.

During the last mile my left knee and hip started to play up and I had to play with stride a bit to work it out.

As with so many of these races it was over before I knew it. The final climb was easy and we finished on a downhill (Yay!). With a smile on my face too.

Challenging race.

Food and then watched everyone else coming in before heading out to explore Chelan a bit and rest. I felt great! Tired but great and I suppose the argument could be made that I didn't really race hard enough. But I am happy and looking forward to the next challenge.

On Sunday I would have Triathlon #2.333, but more on that later.