I arrived at the Quassy Amusement Park early Friday (6/4/10) afternoon. It was a beautiful, sunny day. The amusement park was much smaller than I had expected, but it looked like a great area for a triathlon. It was on a pretty, but small lake with clean clear water which would be ideal for the swim. The parking lot wasn’t very big but they were in the process of clearing the field next to it readying it to handle all of the race day parking.
I wandered over to the registration area to check-in and pick up my packet for the Olympic distance race the next day. When I walked up to the table at registration they asked which race I was registering for, which gave me a momentary surprise, I had thought I would have to come back after Saturday’s race to pick up packet for Sunday’s 1/2 iron distance race. So I told them I was doing both and the problems began.
I should start off by saying that even though this race would prove to be one thing after another for me, the volunteers and staff at the race were incredible. They quickly took care of me, and made this as easy and pleasant as possible. The problems that occurred that were under their control were all computer glitches that were taken care of very promptly.
When I told them I was doing both races they checked their lists but could only find me listed for the Half and not the Olympic. I told them they I had definitely registered for both. Without questioning me or placing any blame they got me my stuff for the Half and went to work getting me set up for the Olympic. I was given my numbers, swim caps, t-shirts, etc. and then personally escorted over to the timing chip area where they explained the situation and made sure my timing chip was set up for both races.
While getting timing chip taken care of I was asked to check my info they had on the computer. Half of it was correct, but my address and birth date were wrong (I would find out later this was a common problem as there was some glitch between registration site and race site that scrambled that info). When I told them they corrected that and had me on my way to transition to check in my bike.
Checking in my bike and racking it was quick and simple. I did have two young female racers that asked me to switch rack spaces with them because one of them had a hybrid bike that didn’t fit in their assigned spot. We made sure it was ok with the person in charge of the transition area and I put my bike in the new spot. I put my race numbers on it and before I left I let a little air out of the tires because I didn’t want to risk them blowing from sitting in sun on hot pavement.
This done I made the short drive to my hotel. I got checked in, moved everything into my room and went after pizza. I brought the pizza back to my room and spent the rest of the evening relaxing, eating pizza and slowly getting everything ready for race morning.
The next morning I got up extra early. I almost missed the start of my race the previous weekend and didn’t want to make that mistake again, especially since I was in the first wave. This time I vowed I would be on the beach and ready well before the start.
I got dressed in my race gear while eating my breakfast pizza, grabbed my gear bag and headed out the door. It was only a 15 minute drive to the park and it was raining lightly. The forecast had been for scattered showers most of the morning and they were here. The light rain didn’t affect the drive and I was in transition a short time after leaving the hotel. I grabbed my gear bag and trudged off to setup my transition area. I had plenty of time, but I wanted to get it done and relax and maybe even warm-up a bit before the race. A short swim would be nice.
During my short walk to transition the light rain stopped. The sky looked ready to dump some more, but for the time it was done. When I got to my space I started unloading my gear and setting things up. I pumped up my tires to full pressure. Then I pulled out my helmet put and put it on my aerobars. Then I pulled out my bike shoe bag and went to put the shoes in their correct place. Unfortunately, I had grabbed the wrong shoes. These were my old ones that really, really hurt my feet. I could use them, but didn’t look forward to torturing myself. So I ran back to my truck hoping that I had my new ones with me too.
I got back to my truck, dug around in the back a bit, and there they were. Whew, as much as I didn’t look forward to do any Olympic distance race in the old ones, I was really afraid of having to come back the next day and do a ½ Iron distance in them. That might have been too much.
I ran back to transition and put the bike shoes in their spot. I dug into my bag for my sun glasses only to find that they weren’t there either. Back to the truck!
I ran back to the truck grabbed my sunglasses and ran back to transition. Put them in my helmet and then pulled out my gloves and secured them to the handle bars. I quickly looked over everything and felt confident my bike setup was complete.
I then focused on my run gear. I dug in my bag for my Vibram Sprints and, yep, they weren’t there! WTH! Did someone slip something in my pizza last night?!?! I swear I had everything set and in my bag ready to go. So, once again, I ran back to the truck, dug through it, found my Sprints, and ran back to transition. I put them in place w/ my run hat, and gel packs.
Gel packs? Shit! Forgot my nutrition bottles! I finally remembered that I had stuck them in a separate bag from the other gear in case they leaked. So back to the truck I ran and back to transition again. All this extra time I thought I was going to have before the race was quickly being eaten up. So much for a warm-up swim I thought, at least I’d done enough running to and from the truck that my legs should be ready to go.
Finally, I had everything in its place. I checked the time and saw that I had a few minutes left before I needed to grab my swim gear and head to the beach. So I sat down to relax for a bit and sip some water and munch on a granola bar. About 10 minutes later I got up, grabbed my wetsuit, dug in my bag for my goggles and timing chip and they weren’t there. Now I was really starting to get mad at myself. I’ve done probably somewhere over 1000 races in my life and I was making every beginner mistake possible. I didn’t have a single thing ready.
Calling myself derogatory name after derogatory name, I ran back to the truck for what I was hoping would be the final time. I quickly found my goggles, timing chip, swim cap and my number belt with my bib number on it. Oh yeah, swim cap and bib number, kind of need those too! I ran quickly back to transition. Now I was going to really be cutting things close.
I stuck my bib number with my Vibrams, slathered myself in body glide, stuck my timing chip on my ankle, grabbed my swim cap, goggles, wet suit and sprinted for the beach. They were giving final instructions as I ran up. I rushed into my wetsuit, pulling the legs on as quick as I could, and then the arms. As I was pulling on the second arm I felt the wetsuit give and sure enough, I had torn a hole in it. Perfect! It wasn’t a huge hole and it was repairable, but just one more thing to add to the list. This day really wasn’t getting off to a good start.
I was finally zipping up the suit as they were starting to line my wave up on the beach. I hurriedly pulled on my swim cap and got my goggles positioned correctly as I ran over. I had all of about 5 seconds before the gun went off and we were plunging into the water.
I was slightly winded from all of the running around so I struggled the first 100 yards getting my breathing under control. After that though, things smoothed out and I started to swim well. I’m not a fast swimmer, but I am a strong swimmer. It is always hard to tell during a race, but I seemed to be holding my usual position toward the front of the middle of the pack fairly well.
The water was like glass it was so smooth and it was crystal clear and cool. Perfect conditions for swimming and despite my normal dislike of this part of the race I was actually enjoying myself. I was holding a good line and moving past the buoys steadily. It seemed like no time before I was making the final turn to head in to the beach and the swim exit.
The muscle milk swim exit was next to impossible to see. It’s brown and white coloration blending into the trees and the sky. Fortunately there were a couple more buoys and I focused on them, but soon I was past them as well. I tried to get a fix on a point on shore straight ahead and kept going. However, as I neared shore I started hearing a lot of shouting near by that I knew had to be out in the water. I popped my head up for a better look and found myself about one stroke away from swimming directly into a swim raft. Thank you kayaker! That would probably have hurt.
I veered around it and was finally able to make out the swim exit and I raced quickly through the final stretch. As I reached shore I pulled off upper part of my wetsuit while I ran for transition. I wasn’t sure of my swim time but felt I had put in a decent one (for me that is).
As soon as I reached the bike mounting area I jumped on my bike and almost wiped out. Both feet slid right off the pedals. I tried clipping both in again and again both slid right off. I tried the right one, nope. The left, nope. Right, no, left no, right… I was swerving all over the place like a drunk on ice skates. I couldn’t get either foot to lock in. It was like I had a cover on my cleats…
Shit! That was exactly what it felt like and I was sure I knew why. When I bought the new shoes I got new cleats for them as well. And, I figured I would get some some coffee shop covers for them to help them last a bit longer. I fricking forgot to take them off!
Sure enough, reached down to bottom of right shoe and grabbed a cover. I pulled it off, locked in, pedalled a couple strokes and did the same for the left. It only took about 100 yards but I was finally off and riding. Over the next mile I pulled my gloves off the handle bars and put them on. Finally, I was fully on the hammer.
The roads were a little damp, but were drying quickly. The clouds had started to part and it looked like the rain had given up totally for the day. There were almost no riders on the road (I was 12th in my wave in the swim, so I really was almost alone out there), which felt very weird, but was not surprising since I went off in the first wave. There was nothing to slow me down and I cranked away at the pedals.
The bike course turned out to be much more challenging then I had expected. There weren’t any hills that I considered tough, but they just kept coming at you. There was virtually no flat anywhere on the course. That coupled wiith the lack of other riders in visual range most of the time made for a tough ride, but I kept the speed up pretty well.
The bike course wasn’t closed to traffic, but there were plenty of police and volunteers limiting cars and keeping things safe. About one mile from the finish of the bike I heard a car coming up slowly behind me. I glanced over and saw an elderly lady driving. She took over 1/4 of a mile to fully pass me. Just as she got slightly ahead of me, still in the other lane, we came over a hill and I saw stop sign right in front of us.
I start to brake, but not fast enough. She pulled over at an angle and came to a complete stop directly in front of me. I locked the brakes, but had no chance. My rear tire slid around to the left of me and I slammed right into the side of her car. I no sooner hit and she starts driving again. I’m leaning against the side of her car trying desperately to get my balance again while not sliding down the side of the car toward the rear wheel. I can see the volunteer that is working the intersection over the top ot the car. He was a teenage boy and his mouth is just hanging open in shock. He had no clue what to do.
I rode on the of her car almost 50 yards before I finally got enough control that I was able to push off with my shoulder and get off the side of her car. I’m positive she had no clue I had hit her or that I was still there. We turned seperate ways about another 50 yards down the road, but I was unable to really get going again. I just spun the pedals the rest of the way in.
When I got back to transition I slowly dismounted and jogged my bike back in. I was in no hurry. I pulled off my helmet, gloves and shoes and stuffed my toes into my Vibram Sprints. I took a sip of water and jogged out of transition.
It took me a good half mile to get anywhere near pace and longer than that to get my mind back into the race. At the first water station I yelled out for a couple of people I knew on twitter, so I could at least put a face with them, but didn’t see a response. I found out later that they heard me and yelled back, I guess my mind was still too unfocused.
Somewhere between the 2 and 3 mile mark I finally got my game face back on and started pushing the pace. I still had the 1/2 iron distance tri the next day, but there was no reason to hold back and I emptied the tanks. I finished the last 4 miles at a strong pace and had a solid race, despite everything, in my first attempt at the distance.
I finished with a final time of 2:44:03 (swim – 24:47, T1 – 2:44, bike – 1:22:28, T2 – 1:33, run – 50:29). A lot went wrong, but it was a solid performance on the day and I was happy with it. The run was the only section that was completely problem free. My feet felt great in the Vibrams and I was confident they would work great for longer distances. Now it was a matter of getting ready for the 1/2IM the next day, things could only get better…