Saturday, September 02, 2006

September 2, 2006 -- It's over! I did it!

Swim: 750m (16m24; 2m12/100m)
T1: 6m21
Bike: 30km (58m27; 30.8kph)
T2: 4m45
Run: 5km (23m59)
Total time: 1h49m54
Placing: 197/279 overall; 140/173 overall men; 24/32 men 35-39

I did it! But I almost didn't. Here's my story.

The Warmup

I got there nice and early, about 6:30. Got a great parking spot and had lots of time to get ready and check out where I was about to do all this stuff. Got my numbers painted on, grabbed a swimcap, got my timing chip and made it to the orientation.

Back in the transition zone, I managed to meet up with a couple of folks that I work with. That helped get rid of some jitters and passed some time. And I got a couple of last minute tips.

Then I headed to the beach about 15min before my event started. The air temperature was 15degC, and there was a wind, so I didn't want to get in too soon for fear of getting cold. I managed to get in 5min before and tried to get into a rhythm....and couldn't find it. Not even close. I started to panic, and all I could think was "I can't do this!" I got back to the beach and wasn't sure what to do next. Honestly, I was freaked when I got on the sand.

Then the official announced "One minute to start." And it's a good thing, 'cause it forced me on-the-spot to decide what the hell I was going to do. Seeing all the kayaks out there, I decided to give it a shot. I really couldn't have left without trying. Too bad it took me this long to realize that.

The Swim

Before I knew it, people were cheering and bodies were falling into the river. Myself and 10 others stood by patiently for the kicking and slapping to get ahead of us, and we proceeded into the water. This time I was much more fluid and calm, and I didn't let the weeds get to my head (I hate weeds in the water!). I actually managed about 75m smoothly when I realized that I was going to collide with someone. I popped my head up and realized that I was 25m off-course...as was this other guy. Set my direction and head out for more. Now it's easier 'cause we're deep enough that the weeds aren't in my face. Now the waves are bigger - must be near the lead boad. I was right! And I was almost crossing into the lead swimmers! And that's how my swim went - swim, correct, swim more. I did find it more efficient to switch to breaststroke when sighting past the half-way point, but I think I was getting tired too.

T1

Coming out of the water, I decided that I'd lightly jog into the T-zone. Let me tell you that the swim/run transition is just as hard as the bike/run one! I got to my bike, put on my shirt, socks, shoes, helmet and gloves, had a drink and was off. Running out of T1 I then realized just how far we had to run before we could mount - a good 400m! I was really looking forward to riding then, not running!

The Ride

There was a steady 10-20km headwind for the outward part of the loop, and I was a bit concerned about this. Turns out it made no difference for me. I was low on the bars the whole time, nibbling on two espresso HammerGels for the duration, and my pace was very even throughout. It was really an uneventful ride, although doing a sharp hairpin turn at the turnaround point while clipped in the pedals is a bit nerveracking the first couple of times.

I did see a lot of flats, with the majority of those affected without spares and tools. Not sure why - the extra 1/2lb of weight really isn't anything to be concerned about.

While I had no problems on the bike at all, I did notice when I got home that my back tire was very low. I don't remember feeling sluggish on the bike, so it may have punctured on the run back to the T-zone, but I'm really not sure. I think my luck held today!

T2

I managed to remember that yes, in fact there is a run to do still, so I backed off on the effort in the last couple of minutes on the bike, and ran easily into T2. This one would be a quicker change - rack the bike, remove helmet and shoes, and put on the running shoes. A quick drink and I was off. Sound fast? Well, I did take my time here, as I could feel the calves starting to cramp up a bit.

The Run

24min?!? I'm stuck thinking that run was shorter than 5km, but I can't prove it. I had a nice pace, but it felt more like 26min pace than 24min (if that was the case, then it would have been short by about 250m). The cramping went away rather quickly, and thanks to good fuelling on the bike, I was able to easily pass the water stations with no ill effects. I managed to keep a very even pace again, even with the return uphill after the turnaround point. Coming into the finish, I hadn't realized that my number was covered by my shirt - I was too busy enjoying the crowd and trying not to tear up and fall on my face. 25m from the finish the announcer says "Ya gotta show me your number, buddy!" Raising my shirt to reveal the number (and probably some midriff too) he sees #409. Suddenly he and three others belt out "She's real fine my 409! My 4-0-9!"

I've had that song stuck in my head ever since.

It was a terrific day. I really did miss my family there, but I still made them (and myself) very proud. But really, they were always there with me, and through more than just today. My wife's continual encouragement and butt-kicking, the thoughts of my parents and in-laws, my daughter's questions of "Are you sticky, daddy?" - it was all there everyday for no less than the last nine weeks of training.

And as for their attendance, well, I'm sure that they'll be at my next one. That's right - I'll be putting myself through this again next year. I think I may be hooked.

And now, tired and sore, I wear my body markings like medals of honour. I'm just hoping that they last until I go back to work on Tuesday.

Thanks to everyone for their encouragement and kind remarks. And if you're wondering if this is for you, you won't know until you try. And yes, you can do it.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

August 30, 2006 - T-minus 3 days....

With three days left, I'm in full taper mode. No more swimming. No more biking. No more running. No more training whatsoever.

The rest of the week now becomes the getting ready part. Check over the bike, get the back ready, get the race kit, hit the expo. Oh yeah, and hope and pray that we get a nice day.

Environment Canada is showing a 60% chance of rain and a bit cool, but The Weather Network is showing a nice sunny day. I'm hoping for a nice day with good water temperature, and a soft wind.

I tried to pick some goals that would make me happy and keep them realistic. I remember in Runners World that one of the contributors said to pick three goals. That way you're almost guaranteed to meet at least one of them. Here are mine:
  1. Successfully finish my first ever triathlon.
  2. Finish near 2h30.
  3. Finish near 2h15.
If I put my average times together, I come up with approximately 2h30 for the whole thing. But since I have no idea what's going to happen that day, or what the weather will be like, I'm allowing myself to be flexible. The most important thing for me is to just plain finish and have fun doing it - I'll focus more on times later, if I want to.

To all those reading, this might be quiet for the next three days. But after that, look for the race report! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

August 29, 2006 - T-minus 4 days and counting!

Run: 4.5km, 25min

Okay, now I'm starting to get excited about this whole thing. Trying really, really hard not to blow this taper. Got out today just to keep the legs loose, and I can tell I've got energy stored up. I felt like I could have sprinted the whole distance, but fought that off quick.

Need to start making my list for the T-zone:
  • goggles, swimcap, backup glasses/contacts (just in case)
  • small towel
  • bottles of water, HEED and recovery drink
  • protien bars and gels
  • UnderArmor shirt
  • bike helmet, gloves and shoes
  • socks, running shoes
  • shirt and track pants for when it's all done
  • bike tools, spare kit
  • sunglasses
Wow - that's a lot of stuff. Starting to feel like I'm running away from home!

August 28, 2006 - An exercise in navigation

Swim: 1400m, 40min

Went to a lane swim to work out the butterflies and just stay a bit fresh in the water. Had to go to a different pool, as the usual one for me is closed right now for maintenance. The pool is a wave pool that gets roped off for lane swims (and of course, the wave generator is turned off). Being the summer, they do multiuse at the same time, so there's general swim in the shallow end, and the deep end is divided into lane swim and aquafit.

Unfortunately, the "lane" swimmers and the lifeguards forgot a few things like lane etiquette, slow and fast lanes, and even ropes. What should have been two lanes was one big one, and chaos reigned supreme. There was no order to the direction of the swimmers, or to their speed/skill. And no one except for me seemed to care. So after fitting the goggles under the cap for the first time (which took me a few minutes), I made some sense of the swimmers around me and started out.

I started to get a bit p*ssed at everyone being so disarrayed, but I suddenly saw this as a great opportunity to get used to having bodies swimming around me. When you lane swim at the masters club, it's pretty much just you with one ahead and one behind. No contact, no need to navigate, no worries. But tonight, I had to pay more attention to my surroundings and direction than before. At first it was very tiring, because you're not focused on just your stroke but on all the things around you. But I kind of got the hang of it, and was soon able to time the navigation with my breathing and recovery. Now, of course, there were times where I was stopped in my tracks because of a road block, but that worked out well also. I got a bit of a break, and I got more open-water-type training.

While it was frustrating and a bit more tiring, it was a good night. I'm feeling much more confident now heading into the event this Saturday.

Monday, August 28, 2006

August 26, 2006 - Tapers hurt

Strength Training: 30min

Another quiet weekend. Really having a hard time balancing this taper with not-too-much/not-too-little training. I've erred on the too-little side, thinking that more energy in the body is a better thing, but I still feel a bit guilty for that. This weekend I felt more motivated to do stuff around the house than train, so I did. Then my wife pulled out her workout DVD after our daughter went to bed.

I'm not a big fan of that DVD. It's tough. Okay, I do like it, but it busts my ass.

So instead of a brick, or another run, we did strength training, something I haven't done for a very long time. And it felt good - I really should do it more. I'm tired and sore from it, but my cardio hardly skipped a beat. I always push the cardio too hard too much, so I found this to be very "refreshing." Thanks for working out with me, my dear!

One thing that surprises me is that I ache all over. And it all started a couple days after my taper started. Usually after hard workouts, I get "delayed onset muscle soreness" (what they affectionately call DOMS) two days later, which lines up with my achiness, but it only recently stopped. Now I'm a bit stiff and "heavy", which I think is leftover lactic acid in the muscles. It's really odd that all this rest has brought this on - at times I felt like an old man!

The good news is that I'm feeling rested but strong, and my more moderate workout schedule seems to be maintaining this level of fitness too. I just need to stretch and loosen up more. The bad news, if it's at all bad, is that I did no swimming last week, and very little biking. Ah well, we'll see what next week has in store for me, and chalk it all up to experience.

Weekly totals:
Swim: nada, zip, zilch.
Bike: 20km, 44min
Run: 18km, 100min
Strength Training: 30min
Totals: 38km, 2h54min

And now, we're heading into the home stretch -- Week 9's around the corner!

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