Monday, July 28, 2008

Lifetime Fitness Olympic Triathlon

I almost forgot my other race.  I will have to write up a report a little later.  Needless to say, it went very well.  The bike again proved to be my weak point, but the swim and run were good.  It was a good warm up for the HIM the next weekend and I was able to try out my nutrition and pacing plans.

I will expand on my experience here.

The Lifetime Fitness Triathlon 2007 was the spark that lit the fire that has become a little bit of a a fitness obsession for me.  To recap for those who don't know the story.  I was talked into doing the swim leg of a relay at the firm I worked at.  Everyone is afraid to swim but it got around that I swam in high school and college and eventually I was pressured into agreeing to swim the .9 mile Olympic course.  To be honest there wasn't a lot of pressure, but I really didn't want to get back in a pool - I was resistant, but lots of people said how fun it would be.  

Well, I swam on my own at the aquatic center and later found out that some friends of my wife were also doing this race.  So I hooked up with them for some open water lake swims to get ready.  My leg of the race went great and as I watched other people complete the full race, I knew I had to do the whole thing.  Which brings us to this year.

The fun started before the race even got underway.  MS and I go to the convention center to pick up our packets.  MS is not listed for her age group and distance.  Long story short - SHE FORGOT TO SIGN UP!  To make matters worse, when I get my packet I am in the 40 - 44 age group.  I don't turn 40 until December!  I am still 39, DAMN IT!

No MS makes me a little nervous.  This is only my second full tri and my first Olympic distance and timing and getting my transition area set up without an experienced friend made me anxious.  Luckily, CS was there.  CS is also known as "Sleeper Cell" because she is pretty laid back and unassuming, but surprisingly very fast and competitive.  CS lives a mile from the course so we decided I would just park at her house and we would bike to the race.  I get to her house in plenty of time, assemble my bike and proceed to make sure my tires are fully inflated.  I was struggling to pull the pump valve off the tire valve when the tire valve snapped off and the tire went completely flat. Son of a Bitch!  CS grabs some tire irons and an extra tube and I change the whole thing surprisingly fast.  I gave CS my extra tube so now that means I will be biking without a spare.  I was anxious about that but luckily nothing came of it.

CS and I are able to set up our transition areas in pretty close proximity.  I am feeling better that someone with experience was around if I forgot anything.  We spent some time wandering around looking for friends and getting a lay of the land and getting body marked.  We got our wetsuits on and went to watch the pros and elites start.  

I got in and warmed up and felt good and loose.  When it was time to get in our groups for the waves, I realized that we would be going off individually every three seconds.  Unexpected, but at least I wouldn't have to deal with a shallow water scrum like last year.  I line up to start and am feeling pretty calm.  I take off and immediately pass three people who were leisurely wading into the water in front of me.  The swim was so much better than the year before.  First of all, I swam in a straight line - that saved me a couple minutes right there.  Second, I could see where I was going.  It was partly cloudy so I didn't have to deal with the glare off the water that blinded me for the first leg of the swim last year.  I was getting into my groove, but as I started to come up to knots of swimmers from earlier waves I realized the water visibility was so bad that I was literally on top of some of them before I knew it.  To make matters worse, the wind picked up and caused a light chop.  It was no problem for me, but it slowed a lot of people down and made for some panicky looks from others.  I finished strong, passing a few more people as I got out of the water and ran up the beach.

My transition was OK.  Better than the sprint tri I did earlier in the summer, but I still struggled getting my wetsuit off my ankles and then I had to run in my bike shoes.  I took probably the most round about way to the bike out and mounted my bike rather inelegantly, but I was up and rolling.  I really wished I would have practiced getting into my bike shoes while they were attached, so I made a mental note to get that figured out by the next week's race. (See my race report on the Door County Tri to find out how that plan worked out.)  Not really much to say about the bike.    It was my weakest leg and I knew it.  I concentrated on maintaining a comfortable pace and eating and drinking enough.  I ate and drank every 15 minutes or so as planned and ended up finishing almost all the fluid and food I had brought without any trouble or discomfort. The course was very nice and I was actually surprised by the pace I was able to maintain. I did see LF on the course which was a lot of fun.  It is great to have fan support. Coming into T2 I was having a mental debate about trying to get out of my shoes while on the bike to run barefoot to my transition area.  I decided that since I had not practiced it (although I felt confident I could do it) that I wouldn't chance it.  I found myself again taking the longest possible route through the transition area.

My transition, once I got to my spot, was fine.  It would have been great to not have to run in my bike shoes, but oh well.  I got into the run more quickly than I expected.  I had not done many "brick" workouts but I was surprised how fresh my legs felt.  I made sure to hold back for the first three miles.  My big fear was to go out too fast and blow up early.  It had warmed up but I had hydrated well on the bike and was able to go on quick sips at the water stops.  I picked it up pretty well on the second lap and felt strong throughout.  I found myself passing a few people who passed me earlier which is always encouraging.  The finish was uneventful and I came across the line alone, so I was hoping for at least a moderately flattering photo. Odds are against it though.

The race felt good and was a lot of fun.  I learned a lot of little things that I got to put into use the next week for the HIM race.  I hope I can do it again next year as I know I can chop off some pretty big chunks of time.  I also hope that my family will come out to watch.  Wandered aimlessly for quite a while waiting for friends to finish.  Ran into MS and family and friends and eventually found CS.  She had a great race and is ready for her HIM in Benton Harbor, MI.

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