Race Report: A Day of Firsts

Lake Meridian Tri, August 12, 2017.

First race in two years.

First race I was able to complete in three years (the JBLM race two years ago was canceled due to high winds).

First race with a 40 on my leg.

 

  First race as a father.

First race in which Alida surprised me with a fantabulous custom onesie for our son!

My training has been extremely spotty this year. If we’re having a good week, I’ll get a six hour block of sleep once or twice. Other than that it’s two or three hours, broken up by fetching Hal from his room for a quick cuddle and put down, or a longer feeding and rock to sleep. Plus working full time. Plus trying to fit a run in here and there during the week (some of which Hal joins me on, which is awesome). In summary, I’m exhausted pretty much all the time, and it’s hard to find time to train.

When we signed me up for this race, we had higher expectations for where Hal’s sleep would be by now. We also thought I’d still be a stay-at-home dad, able to train during naps. But, shortly after signing up, Alida was laid off and we were forced to swap roles.

All that is to say, I was perhaps a bit less than prepared for this race than would be have been ideal.

On the plus side, Hal granted me a solid six hours of sleep the night before, which is all I usually get before a race anyway. We fed/walked the animals, loaded up the car and a verrrry sleepy baby, and set off… about 20 minutes later than planned, but still with plenty of time, I thought. When we arrived, the main lot was full, so we unloaded all my gear, and Alida and Hal waited while I parked a quarter mile away and walked back. I then scrambled to get my race packet, apply numbers to helmet, bike, and run belt, and get my transition area all staged. I was rusty! Everything seemed to take longer than I remembered, and I still had to hit the restroom and squeeze into my wetsuit (which I haven’t worn in a couple years and thankfully still fit).

Finally ready to go, Alida took a great pic of me and a very confused-looking Hal. He’d never seen me in a wetsuit or swim cap before and did not know what to think. I ran down the beach, redirected at the last second by a very strategically placed volunteer, who made sure I “chipped in” by walking across the timing mat. If I hadn’t, my swim time wouldn’t have been tracked and I might have been disqualified altogether!

I reached the water just in time for the start, slapped my goggles over my face and off I went! I realized then that I hadn’t worn these goggles in a couple years, and really hoped they didn’t leak. Within 30 seconds I realized I’d also forgotten to spit in them to keep the fog away, so pretty soon I could hardly see at all… just enough to track and follow the other orange caps ahead of me. It would have to do.

Even though I hadn’t swum in months, holding an increasingly heavy baby was apparently enough to keep my arms/shoulders in good swimming shape! I wasn’t out to prove anything today or PR, I was just having fun with a 3 hour catered workout. I found my cruising pace and chugged along, sighting every now and then and correcting my direction, as I was veering left… a lot. About halfway through the swim, the fast ladies from the second wave started passing me, as usual, and expected. By then I was turned back towards shore and feeling confident that I would, if nothing else, at least finish the swim in one piece.

As I reached the shore and stood, the old habits came back. I popped my goggles up to my forehead so I could see, then reached back to unzip my wetsuit. I pulled my goggles and cap fully off and clutched them in one hand while peeling the upper portion of the suit off and over my arms, releasing the cap and goggles inside the suit sleeve so they couldn’t get lost. I did all this while jogging on shore and towards transition, and looking for Alida and Hal. There they were!! Yaaaay!

I had a pretty quick transition into my bike shoes and helmet, and away I went! Over the next 25 miles, I was surprised to find that I was able to stay comfortably in the aero position almost the entire time. This, despite only having a ridden my road bike into the office a few times the past month, and one 26mi ride on my race bike two weeks before the race. Maybe all those middle-of-the-night rocking sessions with Hal strengthened my core? No idea, but I enjoyed the heck out of it.

The LM Tri bike course is marvelous. I didn’t have to stop at all as all the intersections are either easy right turns or else guarded by volunteers and/or police. I had a great time calling out “great job!” and “nice work!” to the sprint distance athletes I was passing (as they’d started and finished their swim while I was working on mine). Towards the end, I started to fade, so I started singing Raffi’s Joshua Giraffe out loud, as for some reason I now have it memorized. I alternated this with Megadeth’s Into the Lungs of Hell to keep things balanced. When my watch chirped that I’d crossed 20 miles, I was shocked. I was way ahead of schedule, and rolled into transition 10 minutes earlier than predicted! I’d guessed I might be able to average 15mph, but I averaged nearly 17mph. Wow! What a great day. Best of all, Alida and Hal were right there waiting for me… except Hal was asleep… which was actually a good thing, for him. And hey, a kid who can snooze hanging around the finish line of a triathlon is going places.

I switched into my running shoes (Hoka One One Constants) and set out again. This was going to be the real test. My run training had been a little better than swim or bike, but I hadn’t done any bricks at all, and only had a smattering of 6mi runs in the past couple of months. I kept it slow, which wasn’t hard since my legs were pretty dang tired. A few miles in, though, they loosened up, and it felt like I could maybe, just maybe, try to push it a little. But no! I decided it was far more important to me to be able to run the whole way, rather than risk blowing my legs out and having to walk. I’m SO glad I made that choice, as around mile 5 on a long uphill my lower quads started to cramp up, all around my knees. This was new! Shit! I kept moving and just hoped that once I cleared the crest of the hill they’d loosen up again. Thankfully, they did, and that was the last major hill of the course.

As I approached the finish line, I spotted Alida and Hal about 50 feet before it. Alida was trying to signal to me to ask if I wanted to run across the finish line with Hal. Of course! That’s a great idea! I don’t think he’d actually spotted me before I scooped him up, but then we were running along, and he likes being bounced, so I was hopeful he’d have a big grin on his face as we crossed the finish line (his first!). Sure enough:

The LM Tri folks (RTB) put on a great post-race feast, and there’s a raffle for fabulous prizes, including a brand new bike! Unfortunately, we knew that Hal’s stamina for that much excitement could be limited, so we left right away, and headed to a delicious post-race meal at the Testy Chef. While we ate, Hal discovered the singular joy of spoon smashing:

I think that’s it for triathlons for this year. Although I had a great race, both Alida and I were exhausted the rest of the day, for which 8-month-olds have zero sympathy. That was followed by a rough night of almost zero sleep due to teething, so Sunday was pretty harsh as well. It’s going to be really fun seeing how much more Hal understands what’s going on at next year’s races, and hopefully, one day decides to race himself.

Results (overall):

swim: 39:58 / bike: 1:27:39 / run: 1:06:19

(distances: 1.5K / 40K / 10K)

total: 3:20:02

placed: 25/25 in my age group, 143/156 overall Olympic men

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