Goals: Good Execution, Good Nutrition Practice, Good Pacing, Minimal suffering, DON'T leave it all on the course (and extend recovery time), Maintain composure and focus throughout (especially on swim), Have fun. Note: There were no time goals in this race.
For the first time ever, my two days leading up to the event was relaxed, and mostly stress free. Actually, on Friday, it was a little weird since after a Thursday night of minimal sleep (you know how that camping thing goes), I wasn't really hungry, or eating much. I practically had to force myself to eat and drink water. It was a little weird, but I was ecstatic to be camping with a huge group of friends (25 to be exact), so I was in good spirits. I fortunately got a good nights rest Friday night.
The usual wake up at the arse crack of dawn, shovel down some food (oatmeal & trail mix, coffee), make sure I have everything, and get on my way.
Got things setup nice and early, got in some good stretching, a little run warm up, a double caffeinated gel, a quick 2 minute warm up on the swim, and some good land based, pre-swim stretching/warm up.
Goal: Maintain composure and focus, don't let things bother me like other people, and not swimming in a straight line. If I can draft off someone, great. If not, then fall into a pace and go.
I seeded myself at the right/front side of the pack, and when the cannon went off, I went between head down and head up. Hearing of horror stories of getting goggles knocked off, whenever I sensed any other body part around my head, I immediately picked my head up above water. Those head up sprints in the pool were starting to pay dividends. I easily navigated through the pack, went in and out of drafting people, and quickly found my stroke. I never felt as great as I did on this swim. As a side note, the 65 degree water temp in a wetsuit is about as good as it gets.
I approached the turn around, and was amazed at how great I felt. I kept my head down, with the occasional sighting (but never stopped my stroke), and came out of the water feeling fantastic. I looked over at the clock, and figured the timing must have been off.
Come to find out, I swam a 30:59, which I am absolutely ecstatic about. Last year, I swam a 36:15 at vineman half, and a month earlier, a 29+ swim at superseal - a 400m shorter course.
How did this happen? Maintaining my composure, and my swim from boulder. I felt amazing!
Off with the wetsuit, on with the garmin and helmet, and out I go.
Gorgeous scenery, less than ideal roads, not as hilly as I thought, but hardly flat.
Things started out a little rough. At about the 6 mile mark leaving the campground, I started feeling the thud of the road. My stomach dropped...
"Oh no, I have a flat"
I exited the park, and to my surprise, a bike mechanic was there, I got off my bike, and literally let him do all the work. Remembering my goals, I didn't let this get to me. He changed the flat, and I was on my way.
I made the right turn at mile 20, and grabbed my water bottle of concentrated mixture of infinit. I went to put it back in the bottle holder, and I hit a bump, the bottle was jarred from my grip, and off the bottle went onto the side of the road.
"Here we go!" I said to myself with a laugh ... "Time for improv!"
The next 10 miles or so were spent eating a gel, and drinking water through the rollers/flats of the east side of the lake. I was in no mans land - there was a group of 10 or so a mile up, and practically no one behind. Honestly, it was kinda nice to ride solo, and take it all in. I approached a downhill, and I started feeling the road thud again.
"You have got to be shitting me - another flat".
So, I pulled over and assessed the situation. I had 1 tube, and 1 CO2 left. I had to do my absolute best in changing this, even if it meant taking a little bit more time.
The one cool part about changing this flat, is a lot of the top M30-34 and M35-39 started to pass me, and the sound of about 40-50 bikes with race wheels & discs pass you at 30+mph sounded pretty bad ass - pseudo F1 racing!
I was back on my bike, and paranoid. I grabbed another water bottle and a little gatorade endurance at the next station, and having rested my HR changing my flat, I was feeling great (aside from worrying about my damn tire!)
As I approached Nasty Grade, I noticed that nature was starting to call. Not wanting to stop on NG, I pushed through and made it to the top. However, during the climb, nature was starting to bang on the door. So I answered...
On of my proudest moments in triathlon - I pee'd on the bike. Of course, I did this on a downhill standing up so the wind could help keep things moving along.
There were a few more rollers, and nature forgot to say goodbye, so being the good host that I am, when I hit the next downhill 5 miles later - pee on the bike #2 happened! I was ecstatic and laughing this point, and was ready to get off the bike and start the run.
Side note: my TNT coach Gurujan had always talked of peeing on the bike during races, so of course, his lectures came to mind as I was letting it all go.
Mechanical Attempt to slow me down: 2; Ryan: 0
Physiological Attempt to slow me down: 0; Ryan: 2
As I came down Lynch Hill, I passed Macca en route to his win, and screamed a few words of encouragement.
Grabbed some gels, and a packet of salt tabs, and here we go!
I quickly settled into a pace, and the first 4 miles were great. I maintained a nice 8 min pace, and coupled with the trails hugging the lake, I was enjoying myself. At about mile 3, I noticed some dude *trying* to walk up a hill like he had a huge load in his pants, without the huge load in his pants. He was obviously cramping. I came up behind him and said "Brother, you need some salt or what?" He was beside himself - he could barely talk. He mumbled a few things, and I gave him 2 salt tabs. The funny thing is 15 minutes later, I heard him behind me again. He was telling/yelling someone "Man, I feel great - thanks to the salt man up there!" He passed me (what!? thats not supposed to happen), and thanked me again, and I trudged up the dreaded mile 4 hill. Before he was out of range, I negotiated a beer for every salt tab I gave him.
Everyone hears of the nude aid station at WF, and I was so ready for it at the top of this hill. Much to my surprise, it was a bunch of dudes with their shirts off - not college age girls without bikini tops. I yelled a few words of dismay, and thought "maybe its later in the run".
The next few miles were rolling, and a little tough. The flats became recovery from the hills, and a little bit of fatigue was setting in. My 8 min pace turned into an 8:30-9 min pace. I stopped once to stretch out the legs, and take some salt. I started feeling great again.
I started through the TNT section, and it was a god send. There were people EVERYWHERE screaming and yelling.
As I came around the hill, Paul Jesse started screaming, and jay motioned for him to hold something.
I knew it was coming. I so knew it was coming.
Jay walked a solid 5 feet into the run course, turned around, undid his shorts, and completely mooned me. It was hilarious. I felt great, was pushing a 7min pace, smiled, yelled, and kept on trucking. Shortly after, I saw a bunch of other friends screaming for me. It was the ultimate adrenaline rush. That kept me going solid for another 2 miles at 7 min miles.
Shortly before the mile 9 aid station, I saw another dude having some serious cramping issues. Salt man to the rescue again. I gave him my last salt tab, and told him to make good use of it. I turned the corner at the mile 9 aid station, and saw the uphill. I looked at my watch, and I was 1:20 into the run. I thought I was making good time. I looked at the hill again, and knew I was gonna hafta walk some of it. Fatigue was setting in. I got to the bottom, gave myself a good hamstring stretch, and ended up running most of it. This of course crested, which started the .75 mile-ish downhill, only to turn around and run right back up the hill.
It was everything everyone said it would be. I would run down, look at my left, and see everyone else suffering/walking/shuffling back up it. It never seemed to end. I finally belted out "Man, this is gonna suck!" to anyone that would listen. Apparently everyone in a 50 ft radius agreed. I hit the turn around, and said Here we go!
It was tough. I "ran" most of it, with a few bouts of walking. My hamstrings and calves were FRIED. Trey saw me walking as he was running down and called me out, but I couldn't respond - all I could do was laugh because he had no idea what was coming. Damian ended up passing me on the uphill, and I was happy for him - he was having a great race, but he looked like he was hurting.
The next mile after cresting, but mostly flat, and there were times where it was hard to maintain a 10 min pace. My hamstrings were burning. I crested the top of lynch hill, and it was all downhill.... the hill, not me :)
Post-Finish: I crossed the finish line, gave a solid fist pump, and walked over to the Orange/Banana Bin. I literally was grabbing oranges with my right hand, putting them in my mouth, removing them with my left, and throwing them in the garbage. I was barely breathing my intake was so high.
I walked over to the powerbar tent, grabbed a chair, and before I knew it, Pat Drain woke me up out of one DEEP slumber. We chatted for a bit, and went back to the Orange/Banana table again, and started just manufacturing these things into my mouth. I must have put down 5 oranges and 4 bananas in the span of a few minutes.
I spent the next few hours going back in the lake, eating burritos, and reliving one of the best races/events EVER. If there is one thing every triathlete has to do, it is the wildflower triathlons.
* NEVER lose composure and focus - you just might surprise yourself with how fast you can really go
* Learn how to improvise your nutrition if necessary
* Crowd Support is SO KEY!
* Do wildflower every year possible, with as many friends as possible
I will have another post on the wildflower experience with photos, shenanigans, and of course videos coming soon!