Mountain Man Olympic, my first Triathon

Post race report

First off thanks to all the Race Tucson folks for begin such a great and varied group of role models as I entered into this ‘multi-sport’ thing. What a great group of people Brian and Stephanie have brought together. A special thanks to Bob Bennen for taking the time down at Patagonia Lake not for just the invite to go down for some more open water time but also to take the time to show me how to lay out the transitions and the ‘whys’ about all the little things he does. Thanks for Josh Reddoch for being a good room-mate and showing me that nervous obsession about checking lists and mental prep is ‘normal’. Thanks to Brian for all the little bits of wisdom and practicing those little aspects of the race, so when the time came and I was foggy out of the water, it all just happened. Now for the meat (or core protein for non-carnivores among you) of the race report.

So unlike my expectations the water start was a mid-chest standing start, which was interested and also was a good thing because running down that boat ramp would of been rough on the old piggies. Chatting with Josh as we wandered down the ramp into the water until both of us were just at the first place water would begin to seep into an opening in the suits gave us both good position. First comment, I should of gone ahead and filled my suit before this either by going in all the way or doing a few dunks on the beach before heading the the start. Would of been good for that bit of self adjustment that the wet suit makes when you first get water in it and it slides around. So the swim started and as my plan I slid mostly to the side to the generally clean smooth water (needless to say I was not the only one with this plan 😉 Having a good high sighting point for this leg of the swim I was going fairly smoothly and finding that my plan of breathing every third stroke was keeping me mostly on target and had reduced my strong tendency to drift left.

Probably rounding the first marker a bit wide (I was picturing the scene in the Hunt for Red October when they are turning at the Neptune Massif) but we were starting to gain on the early wave of the swimmers doing the half and some were hanging on to anything buoyant and I didn’t want to be seen as a floaty toy. After rounding the turn and figuring out the next turn I couldn’t find a good sighting target quickly so decided to use the shoreline and just keep a fixed distance until the buoy itself was easy to see. Here was the start of my first oops of the day… Falling into a nice rhythm and making nice headway I started to glide along and getting about to (what I estimated) to be about halfway to the green (the olympic distance) buoy I decided it was time to drop the hip remora that had been sitting in my wake enjoying the energy savings. So I upped the tempo and reduced the interval of times I sighted… Yes that’s right I swam right past the turn and headed gleefully to the buoy for the half. As I realized that there were only blue caps around me (half) and none of the orange/red (my wave) I did a quick check and realized I was about halfway to the further turn and made my turn back to the boat ramp. The rest of the swim went pretty smoothly and I did remember Brian’s advice ‘start kicking harder as you start coming in, wake up the legs’ of course to me this translated to ‘start kicking now, brah’ (somehow my inner dialog had switched from Sean Connery to Keanu and Point Break) Ok they are not kidding when people tell you that you will be a little wobbly coming out of the water into the first transition, but practice builds autonomy and goggles were up, velco released on back of suit, zipper down arms out of the suit and BAM! at the bike and getting the suit off. Thanks to Bob’s layout the helmet was the first thing on the head and I was tip toeing out of the transition (might try playing around with the shoes on the bikes, rubber band idea before the next race) that was a long seeming stroll to get out to where I could get on the bike and start really rolling…

Out of the transition and on to the ride, whole body started to relax and take stock, drink time, and get a gel in the body, don’t let the energy get low, and keep rolling. Settling into the the ride and the miles were passing and was passing a few people so feeling good, came to the first rise and legs feel fresh, few more people passed then that unmistakable sound of carbon rims and over filled tires starts to come from behind, and a flash of aero-bars and tear drop helmet whooshes by, and I apply a little more pressure to the pedals but focus on the heart rate, long race to go Sam long race. Start to fall into the group of people I would hover around for the rest of the ride, each with different skills or advantages so lots of passing back and forth, I would climb up the hill and they would get passed, we would go down the hill and they would gain and pass me… back and forth back and forth. Second oops moment, I go too comfortable and complacent started not racing and started just riding, lost track of heart rate (it started to drop) and just started looking around. Come on have you been to flagstaff and out Lake Mary road, stunning. Then about 2 miles from the transition a flash of black and green. Josh went smoothly past, a quick shout of probably ignored and unheard encouragement and I woke up, hey Sam IT’S A RACE! Lock pace with Josh and take it into the transition, drop the gear as we make the last turn and start spinning and flushing the legs a bit (I do listen folks really I do) Into the transition, park the bike try to squeeze down a little jell, pull on the rolled down socks, enjoy the feeling of the foot powder in those socks. Put on the race belt, take a quick swig of water from an old leaky, don’t mind if I loose it, water bottle and I am off… Voice in head… “Can you run out of transition? do you have to walk?, hello Sam RACE”

Coming up the hill out of transition thinking cadence, rhythm and find my pace not the guy in front of me or the gal next to me. Cross the road “Thank you officer!” and I’m off and damn it if one of those guys I was riding back and forth wasn’t right ahead of me again! He was joined by a person pacing him for the run, more on that later. Mile and a half or so to find my running legs, hello that was harder then I expected. I had done bricks but need to do more of riding hard and ‘dry’ and going out quick and too hard just to get a feel for that suffering a bit more, toke a while to feel comfortable and boy was that about to end. Had to make a quick stop at the potty at the bottom, as I have not yet doing that whole ‘peeing on the bike’ thing as expressed on Ryder’s onesie. I embarked up the hill, oh my you know about that hill? Pace dropped, mentally just one foot in front of the other, keep the cadence, shrink the stride, up and up, corner, up and up, and hey “Go Josh Go” off he went down the hill looking comfortable (well I saw him on the down hill so he looked a lot more comfortable then I was feeling…) More water at the station, half on head, cool down, getting warmer, glad I clarified with the young sir and did not grab the ‘Heed’ that would not be good on the “Head”, Dirt road, puddle avoidance, the smell of forest ahhhhhhh. Turn around and down the hill we go. I hear a yell of “Go Sam Looking Good” (that is what I heard at least) I looked over and saw… wait I know him… brain lock “You go you” 10 -15 strides later a half hearted “Matt”, and down we go, thud thud thud. Ryan and his ‘pacer’ still right there, again up the hill I got him, but once he started rolling down the hill down they came and passed me. I took that moment to tell the ‘pacer’ “Hi my name is Sam feel free to encourage me a bit too” yea gads I cracked myself up. Good for at least a mile of self distraction. Next I see Vincent coming up that dang hill. “How far to the top Sam” “There and Back and you got it” Yes I admit it total dad response, but hey got to be you right?

Mile to go, decisions to be made, I will not let “Ryan” beat me, lean in, open stride and focus. “See you there Ryan” and I was off a blaze, ok not really a blaze but faster, ok maybe just faster then Ryan, but gaps are gaps and small vistories are still steps along the way. Finish, finish token around neck, chip off ankle, water, banana and OREOS sweet OREOS.

I’m happy with a 2:32:26 and a surprising 5/20 it looks like, and the splits look nicely consistent, but given the extra swim and lots of room for improvement on the run, feeling happy and looking ahead to the ‘next one’