Sunday, June 6, 2010

Honu 70.3 - Let the race begin (unabridged) (part 1 of 4)

I am sitting in Starbucks on Palani Drive in Kona, Hawaii at 5:15 PM on Sunday night. My flight doesn't leave for over 5 hours so I figured hey, I've played enough solitaire, maybe I should write a blog post, but what in the world would I write about? Oh, yeah - this thing I did yesterday.

Blatantly ripping off the "out of order" race report style from others. I'll talk about the race in this post and then other stuff that happened over the weekend in subsequent posts.

(I was trying to think of a nice segue, but I'll just launch into it.)

After setting up our transitions we headed down to warm up for the swim. MM was the only person in our group I could find so, as I had been doing all weekend (why change, right?) I latched on like a barnacle. The warm up was good. They started calling us to line up as MM and I were kind of floating around. Well, I was peeing, it's really the only reason I do a swim warm up.

MM suggested we swim to the start instead of trying to plow through the crowd on the beach. There is a large rock outcropping that we had to swim around (it's not in the course, don't worry) and as we rounded the corner directly below was a HUGE honu (that's a sea turtle for the mainlanders.) He was just floating there. Definitely a good luck omen.

Our group had all swam the day before and MM and I seemed to be pretty close, speed-wise, so I stuck close to her as we picked our spots - a little ways away from the pros, but definitely in the front row. I kept her in sight, but didn't want to be too close because I would have hated to tear her goggles off or have her punch me in the face when the gun went off because when the gun goes off there there are no friends. (And, frankly, MM is fricking mean.)

The wind and current kept blowing us in front of the start line and they kept telling us to move back, but it was getting close to the start and I couldn't imagine them holding up the race to get a fluid crowd of swimmers in a straight line. I kept moving back as instructed, but I had my body turned to go and it's a good thing, because they fired the gun without warning. I don't think I've reacted to anything as fast as I reacted to that gun. I had probably 100 people directly behind me who wanted to get to where I was as fast as possible. I wanted to stay in front or on top of all of them.

Immediately after my first stroke and kick my left calf cramped. It felt like a baseball on the back of my leg, but there was NOTHING I could do except keep going. I may have kicked with my toes flexed or just dragged my legs behind me - I can't remember - because all I could think of was I need to get the fuck out of there.

I swam with my head up for about 200 meters (which probably didn't help my calf) over everyone who got in my way. Miraculously I came out unscathed. Had my goggles, wasn't grabbed, punched or stabbed, wasn't swum over. I had taken the hole shot.

I busted ass to the first turn buoy. I was swimming fast but under control. It was hard at this point to find any feet to get on. I was bouncing between people trying to figure out the best line. I finally settled into a good strong rhythm, was able to work out my calf and was sighting to the first buoy with no trouble. I ended up taking it a little wide because I didn't want to get stuck in the scrum that would happen because the pack hadn't spread out. The problem with this strategy was that I took too obtuse of an angle (didn't cut back hard into the line) and found my self alone, WAY outside the pack (I have a tendency to do this.) Now I had to angle back into the pack, try to sight the buoys and battle directly into the chop that had now blown up. I was basically sighting on the spray from the main column trying to get back in the chase.

After what seemed like an eternity, I got back into the main group and I then, miracle of miracles I found someone's feet. Then someone found my feet. I was thinking - "Holy shit! I am fricking racing this." At this point I had no idea where I was - either on the course or in the pack. I just kept hammering.

(There was a lot of swimming at this point so I'll just jump to the end.)

As I was coming to the swim-out there were not a lot of people around me. I was worried that I ended up in no man's land and wasted a lot of energy on a slow-ass swim. I expected there to be a lot of people around figuring that people who live in Hawaii and California would have strong open ocean swimming skills. I had swam one open water swim this year prior to this. In a wet suit, in a lake, smooth as glass, consisting of two ten minute legs. I trotted up the beach and saw the clock flip to 30:01. I really wanted to go under 30 minutes, but with my scenic route and the windy conditions I was OK with it, but I still had no idea where I was in race.

I got up to the bike transition and then realized why there weren't many people around. There were a lot of bikes still in the racks. I had swam way faster than I realized. And it felt so fricking easy.

I was 56th overall in men for the swim and 6th (out of 206) in my age group. I know it's a triathlon and not a swim meet, but it was an unbelievable way to start the race.

(I'd like to tell you all about my fantastic transition, but it was a damn horror show. I was very deliberate getting all my crap on and then when I needed to mount my bike, it was like I had never been on clipless pedals. Sometimes my transitions are smooth and fast and other times, like this one, they are struggle fests.)

1 comment:

Teresa said...

Way to swim FISH! So glad to have finally met sounds like your bike "mounting" experience may be as eventful as mine...yikes....can't wait to hear about it!