Monday, June 20, 2011

Gold Rush Triathlon - 6/18/2011

“It’s been a long time since I rock n’ rolled” – Led Zeppelin

There was a time in my past that I did 2 triathlon’s a year.  From the late 90’s to early 2000’s I did a tri in upstate NY in May (a lake swim in freezing water) and in August I trecked to Greenwich, Connecticut to do a tri that featured a Ocean swim (the first year that Jo and I were dating it was in the midst of a storm featuring 4-6 foot swells, and people were bailing left and right.  I thought about it but didn’t want to look wimpy in front of the woman I was dating for 3 weeks).  But by the early 2000’s it just became too much effort.  With all that was going on in our lives at that point (very young daughter, new house, a job that took tons of hours a week), it became too much to train (in fact between 2000 and 2007 I even stopped marathon training).  Also, Tri’s seem to start at crazy early hours (6am) and it just became too much to wake up my family at 2am, pack up all the things I needed in a car, and making the drive upstate or to Connecticut. 

When we move to NC, I saw that there was a tri at the Y near me in Davidson.  The first year, I wasn’t ready, and the second year I didn’t realize how fast it would fill up and I was out.  Well, this year, I did some planning, and decided to sign up.  I was talking to a friend of mine at work, and convinced him to join me, even though he lives down in south Charlotte.  He apparently got the bug, and found out there was the Gold Rush Triathalon, which literally ran right by his house.  Since I was making him come all the way up to my place for the August tri, I felt like I should head down his way for this one.

My training was ok at best.  I’m coming off a IT band issue that I suffered at Disney in January, and every run has been an adventure.  During the 2 months I couldn’t run, I was hitting the pool a bit harder than usual, and was making some nice progress.  My biking picked up as well, and luckily a friend of mine that actually lives near me, had picked up biking recently, so that’s picked up as well.  I’ve been able to start going back out with the Davidson area running team again, though I was still slow and struggling a bit.  Honestly, I was running better until I got sick about 3 weeks ago, and since then every run has been a struggle.  My 5K time has slipped 2 full minutes, so I was a bit worried about that portion.  I had done 1 day with a 45 minute ride on my bike trainer at home followed by 15 minutes on the treadmill and that’s about all I had done to train.  So I was a bit nervous to see how it was going to shake out.

Transition Area

The day of the race came and I woke up at 4am, already tired.  Got my stuff together and headed out in the car for the hour drive to South Charlotte.  I tend to prefer to arrive early to get set up so I was there by 5:30 for a 7 AM start.  A bit early.  Since I had some time I got to go inside and check out the pool.  Every other tri I’ve ever done has been in a lake or an ocean, so this would be my first pool tri.  The pool was 50 meters long and has 10 lanes.  The idea is that you would swim down the first lane, then go under the rope and come back in lane #2, continuing until the end of the pool. 

How to do a triathlon swim in a pool

The pools I usually swim in at 25 meters, so when I got to the pool and looked in it looked really long.  

That's a long pool
And that’s when the first stirrings of nervousness really set in.  Luckily, I occupied myself by getting my packet, setting up my bike, getting my arms and legs marked, and attacheing my chip to my leg.  And then Scott showed up so I at least had someone to talk to until the start.

Panicked on the inside

Scott getting ready to crush me
I may not be ready but at least my bike was
Since it was a pool start, they couldn’t let everyone start at the same time like I was used to.  To solve this problem, they took everyone’s estimated 100 meter time, and put us in order to start.  Scott was 89 and I was 90.  At first it  seemed like it was taking forever to get into the pool.  Once we got to 80 though, it flew along.  Next thing I knew Scott was jumping in.  He took off, and I had just jumped in and was fumbling with my goggles and then I heard “5-4-3-2-1”.  Crap.  I shoved my goggles and nose plug on and took off.  Which went well for about the first length.  Then I noticed that I was having a hard time breathing.  Then I realized this was because my nose plug wasn’t on right and I was slowly drowning as the water rushed in my nose.  I took a second to fix it, and then was heading back down.  On the second lap I caught up to scott.  I thought about passing him, but we were getting to the end of the lap, and he was kicking hard.  After almost getting kicked in the face, I backed off a little until the length finished.  At the kick off the wall, I went under him and passed him from below.  After Scott, I passed 5 other people and was cruising until lap 8.  At that point I guess a bunch of people got tired and decided the end of the pool would be a great place to hang out.  So there was a traffic jam.  I had to wind my way around these 6 people and lost a couple of seconds there.  Then on the last lap, there was a, how shall I put it, “large” woman in the middle of the lane, so I couldn’t get by.  Finally I squeezed by her, though I’m sure I hit her are least once.  Not intentional! Really!

So out of the pool, with my only feel good moment of the day.  I passed Scott.

Out to the transition, and as usual my first transition was terrible!  I can never seem to master the pool to bike transition.  It felt like it took forever to dry off and get dressed.  My personal problem is always getting my feet dry and getting socks on.  Today was no exception.  After a painful 2:36 transition it was off on the bike, which began immediately uphill.  The bike course was 2 6.5 loops.  As the course went by Scott’s house he had been practicing for 2 months.  I, on the other hand was seeing the course for the first time.  And as usual, I tend to be conservative and not push too hard to try to save something for later.  So of course, that was the last I saw of Scott as he took off.  The course could charitably be called “scenic”, but I’d go with “hilly”.  I never felt like I could really get a good downhill burst going without a uphill coming shortly after.  The one highlight was passing Scott’s house where his wife and son were there to cheer us on, even with a nice sign his son had drawn.  

The sign that Scott's son made for us

After the first loop, I had a little better idea of what to expect the second loop (Look out! There’s a huge hill on Providence road!), so the second lap was slightly faster than the first.  As I was pulling in, I saw Scott a couple of minutes into the run.  I was a bit behind him.  Anyways, the second transition was much quicker.  Off with the bike shoes, on with the running shoes.  And out.

And……what the @*&!&@?   The run starts UPHILL!  For a half mile.  Oh boy.  A quarter mile into the run, I was thinking that maybe I’d be ok walking the whole way.  At 4/10 of a mile I convinced myself that Galloway was the way to go.  And for the most part, I did get it going.  .4 run followed by .1 walk.  Rinse and repeat.  Of course in the middle of a couple of those .4 were some brutal hills, and I admit that I did a little sneak walking in there.  But I was going.  It was definitely not my fastest 5K ever.  But I wrapped it up.  I even got a sprint going the last quarter mile to pass a women who had cut the course and moved ahead of me.  Scott had beaten me by 10 minutes.

The finish line

Overall, it was a tough, hilly course, but I finished quite a bit under the time limit.  I need to train more going forward, especially trying to do more biking/running outdoors to work on the feeling my legs get after biking.  Hopefully I can get it all together before August.  I know Scott is hiring a trainer so that will be tough. 

My goal for 2012 is a half ironman, so I obviously have a lot of work to do.