Monday, June 25, 2012

Philly Insurance Tri Olympic

I'm not really a morning person, triathlon is forcing it upon me.  3AM and the alarm springs to life, I head downstairs for a bowl of cereal, oddly enough I feel hungry and wide awake.  Triathlons are a silly sport.

My wife and I head out the door a bit before 4am, the drive should take a bit over an hour, plus about a 10 minute walk after parking.  My bike is racked, transition is set, and I've gone to the bathroom all by about 5:40.  Nothing beats getting body marked the day before, and arriving early before the masses:
  • stress free bike racking
  • no lines for the porta-potty (plus they are still clean and full of paper products)
  • plenty of time to ask officials questions
  • find swim in, bike out, bike in, and run out areas and mentally complete each
  • look for visuals to mark your row
  • socialize a bit, it ease's stress
When setting transition, I keep things simple.  The helmet rests upside down with straps open on the aero-bars and the bike is set to an easy gearing.  Bike shoes are on the ground, open, with socks on top.  Waiting for their turn, my running shoes sit on top of my bag, with the race number belt.  That's it, simple clean efficient.  I could lose the socks, but I think they are worth it for comfort, plus my bike shoes would be a bit big without socks. 

So by 6AM I've milled around long enough, I exit transition and hop on the bus to the swim start, the swim is point to point and you start on the other side, hence the need for busing.  I now have an hour to kill before my wave starts.  I scan for familiar faces figuring there's bound to be someone, and, there is, the hour passes quickly discussing races, today's course, how we feel and what our wives are up to while the race is going on.  (Brandi is out on the bike course somewhere, at what turns out to be an exciting corner)

After about 5 minutes treading water (warm up i guess), we're off.  The swim is like a backwards seven and might be the easiest spotting swim course around.  You swim straight for the 2nd arch of a bridge about 3/4 of the way to the finish, upon going under the bridge you swim straight to a yellow buoy before making a right turn and heading for shore.  So simple and easy that most of the female pros were DQ'd because they swam right to shore after the bridge, cutting off a nice chunk.  Like I said in my last race report, the brain makes some strange decisions during a race.

Exiting T2 we set out for a two loop bike course which has 4 distinct hills, interspersed with flat road.  Its a fun course, the downhills are fast and a bit technical, if you're feeling good the flats make you feel fast, and the uphills provide a nice change of pace.  I spent the entire first lap on the see-saw with another rider in my age-group.  I felt good.  I would pass him on the flats, and he would pass me on the hills, little did I know, but this battle would not be resolved until the finish was in sight.  On the first climb of lap two I dropped my chain.  I was off the bike and the chain was back on in an instant, but the damage was done.  Realizing my run may suffer, I resolved to make the catch.  Stay aero, peddle, take a few downhill risks (I descend like a hot air balloon), push the flats, and scamper up the 3 remaining hills.  The pass happened with 1 or 2 miles to go in the bike, if anything I pushed harder at this point, I was glad to see him again, but I hoped this would be the last time.

I did nothing but make withdraws during the bike, as I feared, the banker demanded a deposit once I started running.  The first mile was slow, because the banker said so, I could only hope but to soon return to even and stay there for the duration.  During this point, I was passed once, but I was able to keep him within striking distance should the opportunity arise.  In fact, opportunity did arise with the return of my bike buddy.  This development allowed me to turn off the mind, the banker would have to be paid later, and that's just the way it was.  My new found rival and I proceeded to pick up the pace and run shoulder to shoulder.  Like wolves on the prowl we began to track down the other age-grouper.  By mile 3 we were a pack of 3, and it was clear things were going to stay that way.  There was no talking, no eye contact, just the patter of our feet, and the puff of our breathing.  Stride for stride we went, the pace never surged, nor did any gaps form.  At this point we were carried by the group, possibly doing more than any of us could do alone.  I tried to stay in the moment, the finish would be hard, I was confident in my speed, but the thought of the effort to come was too much, mentally, I must stay in the moment, in my pack, and simply carry onward. 

As the miles tick away, staying in the moment becomes ever more difficult, soon I was beating back thoughts of surging.  It was too soon, time was no longer important, beating the other two was all that mattered.  Wait, be patient, just don't go to soon and blow up with the line in sight, I had the kick, I could feel it, I believed.  With the finish in sight and about 2/10ths to go, I took off, and that was it.  No counter surge, no response, just me, glancing over my shoulder to be sure, crossing the line. (stupid banker was there waiting, he wasn't happy)

That's why I like to race, getting out on the course, battling, pushing yourself in ways that can only be experienced during competition, surging and taking them at the line, what a blast!  Overall, I was 58th including pros, and 2nd my age group, I'll take it.  One more big week, then taper time, Lake Placid is coming into focus.

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