It should go without saying that if, on the day of a race, you have to visit the medical tent before the start of the race, you're in for a rough day. Such was the case for me yesterday at the Ironman Longhorn 70.3 Triathlon, held in Austin.
Earlier in the year, I found myself without sufficient motivation to go out and do anything, so I decided to register for a race so late in the season that I would, in theory, remain constant with my training. It didn't work. What did work was signing up for one race after another, including Ironman Coeur d'Alene -- that was the real ticket. But back to the race at hand.
Despite the fact that Austin is less than an hour's drive from the house, N--- & I thought it best to stay the night in A-town, which wound up being a great dry run for how the morning of CdA should work, in terms of lodging, food, and so on. I was hoping D--- & K--- were going to be able to make it down, but D--- had the great misfortune of being selected for jury duty at the same time his company swamped him with a great deal of work. And I moan & groan about how busy I am.
Before the race began, I did my now-usual stretching routine, and, in the process, managed to lodge a tiny splinter in the palm of my hand. The nails on N---'s fingers were not long enough to get it out, so I had to make the aforementioned trip to the medical tent for a pair of tweezers. They were without that handy tool, but they did give me a hypodermic needle with which I was able to prick enough of the skin off and dislodge the offending hunk of whatever it was. Minor medical emergency aside, here's how the race went down:
1.2-mile Swim | 34:31
Mine was the fifth wave to go out, originally slated for a 7:41 AM start time. That didn't happen, as a number of athletes & others were delayed by the shuttle service from the Travis County Expo to the race start. Having been slowed down by getting to race starts before, I can't b&m too much, but delaying the start by 20 minutes? Grrr...
At race start, the water registered at 77.5 degrees, making it just barely cool enough for a wetsuit. My wetsuit, though, was lying in my closet, recovering from a mending job of a fingernail tear; breaking in the new Vortex2 will have to wait until open water swims start in the new year. Despite the "cooler" water temperature, I'm glad I left the wetsuit, for I found that while swimming, when I wasn't getting kicked or slapped in the head by my fellow competitors, the feel of the water was pleasantly reminiscent of Canyon Lake and the summers spent playing in the lake until all hours of the day. I felt truly relaxed and focused in the water, which helped set me up for a good bike. So good, in fact, that I was able to sprint up the ramp into T1 and onto the bike while those who finished in front of me were still fumbling to get out of their wetsuits.
56-mile Bike | 2:41:43
A good TT bike will set the owner back several thousand dollars. Those dollars represent quite possibly years in the design process, coupled with countless hours spent in a windtunnel to find-tune every facet of the bicycle for maximum velocity. Why, then, are the number stickers for the bicycle so <expletive> big? Looking at these things makes me think that every aerodynamic advantage designed into the bicycle gets negated by the sticker. Wait, where was I? Oh, yes, the bike leg.
Mounting out of T1 was slick, and the first 20 miles ticked by nearly effortlessly. Then I began to realize the painful truth: I had to pee. Because it was beginning to adversely affect my mental state (I literally felt faint at one point), I did something around mile 32 I'd never done in a race: I stopped & peed. On the side of a road. How redneckish of me. It probably cost me two minutes in up flat time, but the time it saved over the remaining 24 miles of the bike leg was incalculable. It didn't do much to regain my 22.3 average speed for the first hour (the wind was tough, despite the super sweet Zipp 606 wheelset M--- hooked me up with); the remaining time saw me wind up with a 20.8 average, which was respectable, but off the pace for which I was shooting. Next time, I suppose.
13.1-mile Run | 1:50:51
I suck at trail running. For this course, it certainly didn't play to my advantage, as the course was nearly a 50-50 split, with the toughest sections being off road. One section, in particular, was a hill affectionately referred to as "Quadzilla." We got to run it twice. Joy!
Fortunately, the entire run course was staffed by mondo-enthusiastic volunteers, including a group at the base of Quadzilla in superhero costumes, ranging from Batman to Superman to Buzz Lightyear. On the second round, Batman gave me a knuckle pump and said, "Good job," to which I replied, "Thanks, Batman."
"Thanks, Batman"? Did I really just say that? Good thing there was a little less than two miles left in the run; I was surely losing my mind.
Running into the finish chute, I had a good sprint to the finish with the guy in front of me, but he nipped me at the line. However, it felt good to finish with such a rush. I think it would have made a good picture.
The Ironman Longhorn 70.3 was the toughest Half course I've raced, but I am thankful for that, for it offered me the opportunity to really push myself, both physically and mentally, while, at the same time, setting a new PR. Will I do the course again next year? Not likely, as continuing training in the early part of swim season is proving too difficult. I need to get this sort of thing out of my system by summer's end...or, at least before morning practices start. Then again, if D--- is up for it next year, I could be easily coerced.
Speaking of, I need to wrap up this long-winded post of mine and head to bed, for morning practice is just a few hours away. To those of you who helped to get me to the starting line and across the finishing line, you have my most heartfelt thanks & gratitude, especially to my personal cheering squad: N---, Mom, & Dad.
My season will wrap up with the SkirtChaser 5k this weekend and the San Antonio Rock-n-Roll Marathon on November 16. Then, it's nothing but training for CdA. I can't wait, and I'll bet you can't, either. Read all about it here. Thanks for reading.