Wednesday, March 21, 2007

TNT Practice Tri

As part of our Lavaman training program, Coach Gurujan has us do a practice triathlon on fiesta island 2 weeks before the race. The race distance is considered a 'sprint': 500m swim, 20K bike ride, 5K run, which ends up about half of our olympic distance race that we will do in hawai`i. I have never done a sprint triathlon because I always thought they would be really hard since you are going that much harder due to the shorter distance. But I was also intrigued by this because I would probably feel like I was RACING, rather than ENDURING. Because of the permit logistics with Fiesta Island, we had to start the race at 6:45am on a Sunday. Ouch.

Unfortunately on sunday morning, Alana and I woke up at 6:36am because the alarm never went off.

Extreme Ouch.

Thankfully, her apartment is only a few miles from fiesta, and I have never moved so fast after waking up. Literally, within 2 minutes, we put on our race clothes, I pounded a Gu, packed our stuff, and was out the door with our bikes. We got all of our stuff in the Max (my maxima), and I was sure to use all 255 ponies under the hood to get us there quickly. Thankfully, Nuno called us and assured us that Gurujan was still talking and lecturing (surprise), and that if we hurried, we could make it on time. We came roaring into the parking lot, and set up our transition areas in record time. But before I could put my wetsuit on, I realized that I had to go #2. Great. So I sprinted for the rest room. Of course, this was right in front of everyone, who of course, heckled, laughed and yelled at me for the obvious record pace to the can.

I sprinted back to transition, and everyone had already put on their wetsuits, and were starting to walk over to the swim start. I was trying to put my wetsuit on, and mentor momo was trying to help me out. She was holding my swim cap for me b/c she was gonna put it on for me. What a doll, but after I finally got my top on, I told her to put my cap on, so she did, only she covered both of my eyes :)

I got situated, and Alana and I ran over to the swim start. I had enough time to get in about a 20m warm up swim before we took the team pic. I recalled from the day before that a freind told me when she did the club triathlon with the San Diego triathlon club, and that there was numerous jellyfish in enchanted cove (on fiesta). Well, my short little 20m warm up confirmed it. It was kinda gross. We took the picture, and Gurujan let out a "3....2.....1...... GO!"

Of course, I was still sitting there my goggles still in my hands, not on my head where they supposed to be.

So, I got them on, and realized I was in the middle of the pack, which is about the worst place to start in a triathlon due to the human blender. Having been there before - I quickly strategized how to get myself out of this predicament.

And then adrenaline kicked in.

I basically just bulldogged through the group. Picking my head up every so often so I could navigate through the group if necessary, but basically my strategy was to plow through. Somehow, it was working. After about 50m, someone was the unfortunate recipient of a left roundhouse arm or elbow blow from me as I was charging. After another 50 meters, I got in front of the pack, and was essentially out there on my own.

Except for the jellyfish. And the brown water. and the diesel scent in the water.

I gotta say, I got lucky by not getting stung, but man was that water GROSS. It was also a little eery when I would stroke, and feel jellyfish. ewww. I tried not to focus on the race conditions, and just wanted to get out of the water.

At one of the turn arounds, my left arm actually got caught in the string holding one of the buoys. That was entertaining. But all in all, I was happy with the swim.

I got to transition, got my bike, and was on my way. I caught Paul about halfway through the first loop, and led from about that time to the start of the third lap. At that point, he passed me, but then I caught up to him and we rode in parallel so we could BS with each other. It was kinda fun. At one point in the course, there was actually a duck in the middle of the road that refused to move. It was probably one of the weirdest things I have seen in a race, but whatever - it all adds to the experience. Unfortunately, Paul dropped his gu flask halfway through the last lap, so I pushed through and got to the dismount line. I want to send out a big thanks to Narda's boyfriend Todd for taking a pretty sweet pic of me getting off my bike before the dismount line. Hey, I guess all that Yoga I am doing is paying off!!!

As a buy product of being late, and doing a triathlon with teammates who have never done one, and consequently dont know where to put their bikes for the fastest transition times, I capitolized on grabbing one of the best spots. I got into T2, got on my running shoes, and I was off.

This was a pretty cool feeling at this point since I was 4th out of the water, but first off the bike. I felt kinda like Stadler at IMH because I now knew I was a marked man, and it was only a matter of time before Nuno, Paul or Lamine would catch me. I was also a little worried about if I pushed the bike too hard, and also the fact that my feet were completely numb. About a mile into the run, I was entertained again by THE DUCK in the middle of the road. I tried squirting water at him, and he responded with an "AFLAC" type of quack, but again, didn't move.

At about the halfway point, Nuno, who is just an insanely fast runner, caught up to me. He took about a 10ft lead after catching me, and held for about half a mile. We started seeing the other teammates start their run, and since it was an out and back course, we were all yelling at one another "GO TEAM" "GOOD JOB" and all that mushy stuff. After I saw Alana, I decided to make a move on Nuno, and caught up to him.

We then ran shoulder to shoulder in silence for about the next mile, pushing about a 6:20 pace. As we kept moving forward, we kept seeing more teammates cheering us on, but the only thing audible out of the 2 of us was deep breathes, and the pounding of feet on the concrete. Zero words exchanged. It was very Dave Scott/Mark Allen-esque a la 1989 Hawai`i Ironman. If you have no idea what I am talking about, I refer you to this video:

We hammered on, but with about a 100m to go, Nuno dropped it into another gear, and I couldn't hang. He went onto finish 1st, and I gladly took second. The fact that I was able to run with Nuno gave me some confidence, because the guy is just an animal when it comes to running fast.

I learned a lot from this race...

* Sprints can be fun. They hurt, but they are fun. You really do feel like you are racing.
* I learned where I need to be putting 'second skin' on my feet at lavaman, since I want to run without socks (to save precious seconds in T2)
* Every triathlete should have 2 alarms set for the morning of the race.
* But almost most importantly.... nothing beats preperation and warming up for a race. But, I learned that adrenaline is a powerful tool that may not be as good as warming up, but can put you in the right mindset to tackle the challenges thrown at you in a race.

Final Times:
* 500m Swim: 6:57, Rank: 4
T1: 1:32, Rank: 5
* 20K Bike: 34:33 (21.6 mph), Rank 2
T2: 0:53, Rank 1
* 5K run: 21:15, Rank 3

Overall: 1:05:10, Rank 2.

What a great time!!!!!

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