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As time permits, in-depth musings on myriad subjects will be posted. Abbreviated adages will be announced via Twitter.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


Several years have passed since I last filed a race report and that is because several years have passed since I have raced. At least full-on triathlon kind of racing. Sure, there's been the occasional 5k, but nothing on par with a solid effort for more than 20-ish minutes. That streak of silence in racing came to a close on Saturday with the Gator Bait Triathlon.

Curiously enough, the Gator Bait was the last triathlon I did, during summer of 2011, when Nicholle dashed up to Colorado for the weekend. That was interesting, in I dropped her off at the airport en route to Boerne Lake. For the 2014 edition, I made the whole trip solo, though what it took to get to that point was very much a team effort. But more on that in a bit.

Get Ready
Friday was a busy, rather blessed day—or the morning was, anyway.

The bulk of the day was spent at EdCampSA, a unique take on professional development for teachers. Although I had read about them and followed some of the goings on of various EdCamps, I had never partaken in one, so, when one was scheduled to take place, I took advantage of it and went. Glad I did, too.

While there & during a lull in the conversation on flipped classrooms, I, like so many others, decided to check my email. In it, I noticed a donation had been made to my fund raising campaign for the 2014 National MS Society Bike MS: Ride to the River. While nice, it was the size of the donation that caused my eyebrows to raise, my heart rate to accelerate, and me to excuse myself from the room. I do not know if I am at liberty to say from whom the donation was, but at nearly $3,000 (yes, three thousand dollars), I am truly blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life.

The rest of EdCampSA crept by, with a highlight coming in the form of plans to hang out with a high school buddy (Carl), probably going to a movie and maybe grabbing something from Earth Burger.

Once The Boy had been collected from daycare, it was home to ready dinner (eggplant parmisan for them; traditional pre-race meal for me: baked sweet potato topped with brown sugar, tofu [fakin' bacon was substituted, since we were out of tofu], and a fried egg), pack the transition bag, and get the bike in race shape. This is where things started to go south.

Right after fastening the Slice in the work stand, Nicholle called to say she was on the way home. While she told me a bit about her afternoon, the work stand fell over, Slice & all. Fortunately, the only damage was the rear brake lever got twisted a bit out of place, so a quick twist back in place was all it took to fix it. Whew.

As I was twisting the brake lever back in place, I noticed The Boy shoving a few 1" drywall screws into his mouth. It was obvious I would not be able to get anything done outside. So, all screws fished out of his mouth (with none swallowed), the Slice was removed from the work stand, and The Boy & I went inside to pack my transition bag. This was far more productive, and the Slice was polished up after the bedtime routine had come to a close.

Race Day
The alarm sounded at 3:52 AM on Saturday morning, and I was up, ready to get moving. I stayed quiet to allow Nicholle & The Boy to stay asleep; no way did I expect them to be roused so early to go all the way out to Boerne Lake for my little race.

A breakfast of waffles topped with honey took care of hunger cravings. Pre-race hydration was made ready (water [x2], pre-race mix [1 tsp salt, mixed with 20 oz. of Gatorade G2 & water in an 800mL bottle], iced coffee), had me out the door & rolling by 4:35. Boerne Lake is quite a drive from Schertz.

The absence of traffic at that early of an hour had me parked by 5:15, giving me time to spare before transition opened. Perfect.

Once transition opened, I set up my space, made a few new friends, stretched, and went for a mile or so run prior to the athlete meeting & race start. I had not felt as nervous before the start of the race since my first open water tri all the way back in 2005.

Like Lemmings
Redemption Racing uses time trial starts for their races, and had us self-seed ourselves by what we thought our 100 meter swim times were. I was mid-pack when I realized I still had my wedding ring on, and I did not want a repeat of what happened at Ironman Texas in 2011, when I lost the ring in Lake Woodlands in the opening meters of the swim. Lucky me, I found a kind soul in transition who was able to put the ring in my bag. On the downside, I lost my place in line.

After re-seeding myself towards the back, my goggles began to fog, so I again dashed out of line to get some lake water in them (I've never felt comfortable about spitting in them like so many triathletes and/or swimmers do) to find myself with an un-fogged view of the very back of the line. I was literally the last person to enter the water and start the swim.

Swim (32:03)
The 1500 meter swim was a counter-clockwise, triangular-shaped course, taking us almost to the other side of the lake. Water temperature was purported to be 77°, making it wetsuit legal; some actual rejoiced, ferreting their wetsuits out of transition bags. I was shocked that some even thought to pack one, let alone bring it along with them to a race in south Texas in mid-to-late June. But, whatevs; I knew I was set with just my racesuit (one piece DeSoto number—my first tri suit, also from way back in 2005), swim cap, and Tyr Remix goggles.

A few steps in, and I lost my balance, slipping a bit. However, once I dove into the water, and completely immersed myself to begin the swimming, it was like being home again; this had happened before, and it would all happen again.

Almost immediately, I was in a steady swim rhythm, as I began to pick off those who did not want to let me regain my place in line. Sighting of the buoys was actually easier than it had ever been (blue lenses are a wonderful thing, regardless of the light conditions), so I was able to hold a pretty steady line for the bulk of the course. My only hesitation was after the last turn, checking to ensure I had turned at the right spot and not cut the course. It would be just my luck to have such a fantastic swim only to get disqualified.

The official time for my swim is clocked at 32:03, although I had it logged as 30:58, from the time I was told "Go!" to the time I exited the water & began the dash up the boat ramp to T1. But, again: Whatevs. I felt great.

Bike (1:11:16)
Traditionally, cycling was my strength. When I entered triathlon, there were few other newbies who could touch my bike splits. Cycling is probably the one area where I felt I was weakest, logging pathetically few miles over the past few years, especially in comparison to what I once did and was able to do. Still, the split was decent, and I felt at home & comfortable the whole time. Much of this I attribute to the use of a Cobb Cycling 55 JOF saddle.

For the record, I am not sponsored by, nor do I receive special consideration from John Cobb or Cobb Cycling. However, I have known John since 2001 (he did my first real fit on a bike) and have always held his expertise in the highest of regards. Saddles of his design have found a home atop my bikes since at least 2010, so when I needed a new place to park my butt, I needed to do little looking before settling on a Cobb.

The 55 JOF has received mixed reviews from shops & those who have tried it, but I was sold on it almost immediately. Granted, it did take quite a bit of tweaking on the Slice (no easy task, thanks to the impossibly ridiculous design Cannondale put into the seat clamp) to dial in what I think was an optimal position, but, once dialed in, business could be taken care of. I found myself fidgeting around far less, and in an A-1 powerful position the whole leg of the bike at Gator Bait, including the grind up Heartbreak Hill, an impossibly-steep climb.

On the way back down the hill, my front wheel hit a rock in the road, causing a bit of wobble at 40+ MPH, so I had to slow down & fight to regain control & not crash. Hurray for bike handling skills & muscle memory! Really, about the only issues I seemed to have on the bike were primarily with secondary equipment:

  1. Forgot to have the Suunto t6d search for the speed sensor, so I had no clue how fast I was going at any given point
  2. I fumbled a lot more with the straps on my shoes (still rocking the Nikes) coming into T2 than I ever had, but this is probably due to my being out of practice

As a consequence of #2, I entered T2 a little less gracefully than planned, but I arrived in one piece and with a decent bike split, too.

Run (44:21)
When I last raced Gator Bait, the run was primarily an off-road run on the non-lake side of the dam. Apparently, many folk complained, and the course was changed.

The 2014 edition featured a 2-loop run along the dam before venturing into the park, following some of the disc golf course, before dumping finishers by the pavilion. While my run was decent (although I did not think so at the time), I much prefer the off-road run, instead of the 2-loops of the dam. It kinda got crowded.

Because there were no mile markers to be seen after mile 2, I had no idea what my splits were. I didn't feel like I was in a good place or a good rhythm, but, as it turned out, it wasn't too bad, since my mile average figured out to be 7:30. With a bit more training, track work, and better diet, I could probably shave another 10 sec/mi off of that time. Possibly more.  Still, it was a good enough finish.

Yeah, You Know It
After crossing the finish line, I learned that my 2:30:01 (official) time had slotted me into a third place finish for my age group. And, since I was the last person to start and was not passed by anyone on course, I knew I would be able to stay there. Then the awards ceremony happened.

When my age group was finally reached, the third place name wasn't me. I guessed someone else had somehow nipped me, but such was not the case. Rather, out of the fix folks in my age group listed on the results page, I ranked #1; not only did I finish my first triathlon in three years but I also won my age group. Nice.

Thank Yous
Needless to say, there are many, many thanks to go out.

At the top of the list is my wife, Nicholle. Without her, I would likely still not be involved in triathlon, let alone still racing with as much motivation as I have. She's been patient & supportive when I go to swim or bike or run, which has been a lot more as of late.

Of course, The Boy is a great deal of motivation, as well. He's growing up with triathlon being a central part of his life & routine, and his smile and the energy with which he throws himself into "swimming," "biking," and running around the house helps me HTFU when the going gets tough. Naturally, I don't use that particular phrase around him.

Other thank yous go out to...
  • Greg & Bicycle Heaven for getting the Slice race ready after a year of sitting idle in the garage.
  • City of Boerne Police & Kendall County Sheriff for keeping an eye out for athletes while on course, intersections blocked, and traffic under control.
  • Redemption Racing for putting on yet another quality race. True, some vegetarian friendly offerings for post-race fueling would be awesome, but I'm in the habit of bringing what I need with me to pretty much everywhere I go, so races are no different. 
  • The Emily's Place Coffee Shop running group for giving me something to look forward to each weekend, as well as someone to run with.
And the list could go on but would probably wind up sounding like an infomercial or paid post, and that was not the purpose here. Another time, perhaps.
Thanks for reading.

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