As I am laying out sunning my buns on my new back deck, I am happy to report that all the hard work that I have been putting in the past 9 months since I finished the Goofy Challenge out at Walt Disney World back in January has paid off....BIG TIME. I have really seen more improvement this year than any other. I am not sure if it was the TRX training, the weight loss, or the focus on speed work for shorter distance races that did it. If you recall from my post last week, I had laid out some goals for this race:
- I don't want to fall off of my bike. That seems to have been a theme at some of my races.
- I don't want to come in last in my AG. After all of the hard training I have been doing, if I blow up and have to use the entire 8 hours granted to me to finish the race, I will be angry.
- I want to stay healthy throughout the race. That means no barfing, no twisted ankles running up Quadzilla, no debris or random junk puncturing the bottom of my foot as I wait around for the swim start, and no med tent after the race.
We shall see how I did on all three goals. The TRX is awesome and I cannot recommend it enough. You do not need a gym membership or a bunch of fancy equipment to get a workout that is going to kick you in the butt and make you stronger. I did not do any thing special to loose 10 pounds this race season. I was kinda frustrated back in April and May when I was putting in long marathon miles and nothing was happening. And then, KAPOW! I started dropping pounds here and there over the summer as the speed work ramped up. I am eating and for the most part I clean my plate unless I'm served so much food that it is enough for two people. I have been drinking more adult beverages than normal. Normal for me is none. I have not cut back on my chocolate intake either! The speed work has gotten easier. Could this be because I am no longer hauling around an extra 10 pounds? Could it be because I got some new Zoot and 2UX training gear? What ever it is, I may no longer be that painfully slow kid who is pulling up the rear.
Ok, I am sure you do not want to read all of my musing, rather, you want to hear about the race. I had my gear packed up early because I had to get the house cleaned up for my Dad and Step Mom to come and watch the kid while I was racing and El Esposo was still in Venezuela. I got up early on Saturday morning, loaded the car, and hit the road around 6:50 am. Traffic was surprisingly heavy as people were headed to College Station for the Texas A&M football game. Once I passed the Hwy. 6 turn-off, the traffic lightened up and it was smooth sailing all the way into Austin and to the Travis County Expo Center. I rolled into the parking lot just a few minutes after packet pick-up began for the morning. I was taken aback when the volunteer at the first check-in table made a comment about me being "a local" and how she had not seen many of us. That was weird. I guess I am guilty of just thinking that this is another one of the local tri events rather than a big M-Dot event that pulls in people from all over the country. This year the Collegiate Championships were taking place at this race so there were cadets from all the military academies as well as racers from several major universities. After getting checked in, I miraculously got out of the expo without purchasing any M-Dot gear. Again, I think it is because I still consider Austin a local race for me. I did buy a new pair of arm warmers because I left mine at home and it was still chilly that morning.
See how close I am to the end of the rack? NICE!!!
I drove over to Decker Lake and got my bike and bike gear bag ready to drop off at T1. There were some people out swimming in the lake. The lake was glassy smooth and the weather was warming up nicely. My bike was way on the other end from the swim exit, but that just meant that it was close to the Bike Out arch. Once leaving my bike and my shoes, race belt, gloves, and helmet in the Bike Gear bag hanging from one of my bottle cages, it was time to drop off my Run Gear bag at T2. Once my shoes, socks, hat, and Fuel Belt were in their bag and at the appropriate spot under my race number on the bike rack it was time to check in at the hotel and find some food.
See how close I am to the Bike Exit? NICE!
See how far away I am from the Bike In? Meh...
At least the run out is not as far.
A short walk from the hotel was a P. F. Chang's and I made sure to drink plenty of fluids with my Hot & Sour soup and grilled salmon with brown rice and asparagus that I had for lunch. Of course, no meal at P. F. Chang's would be complete without a fortune cookie. Sadly, the fortune was kinda lame and forgettable. Once back at the hotel, it was time to unwind and relax and get a nap in there somewhere.
After an early dinner, some baseball on TV, and getting all my stuff ready and laid out for the morning, it was time to go to bed. I was tired enough that I was not kept awake by the loud music on 6th Street. I woke up only when El Esposo pinged my phone at 10:45 to wish me good luck and again at 2:00 which of late seems to be when I have a lull in REM time. When the alarm went off at 4:30 I had nearly 8 hours of sleep and I was ready to get up. With some Bare Naked Chocolate Heaven Granola, Oikos vanilla Greek yogurt, and pomegranate seeds down the hatch for breakfast, I gathered my Morning Gear bag and headed down to get my car and drive to the race site.
I was parked by 6:10 and on one of the buses to take us from T2 over to the lake and T1. I saw my friend Kathleen in body marking. She asked me where Greyhound was and I told her that I would keep an eye out for him. I had lots of people to be looking for. A bunch of my Team in Training buddies were doing this race as well as some of the people who attend my early morning cycle class. I got over to my bike and loaded on my Bento Box filled with my 770 calories of nutrition that I would need to eat while I pedaled 56 miles. I also filled up the aero bottle and bottle cages with nearly a gallon of water and Gatorade that I would need to drink on the bike as well. That is an extra 8 and a third pounds just in fluids on the bike. I'm going to say that I lost the body weight to carry the extra fluids on the bike and be able to stay fast. With that done, I headed out towards the swim start and found Greyhound as he was walking away from his bike as well.
It was still dark out but the sun was starting to lighten up the clouds on the horizon. The temperatures were not as chilly as the morning before and I had decided that I would not need my arm warmers that morning. While waiting for time to tick away, I ran into Coach Grant and my TNT buddies Ryan, Lauren, Caroline, Taryn who were racing and Sarah who was spectating. After that it was time for me to get my wetsuit on and drop off my morning gear bag and start heading to the swim start. I was in wave 6 so I had to get a move on.
No sooner had I pulled up the zipper on my wetsuit and squished my goggles into my face, it was time to get into the water and wait for the gun to go off. It occurred to me in that instant that the swim buoys were yellow and my swim wave was all wearing yellow caps. That would make sighting fun. As the gun went off and I started to swim, I immediately got pummeled by just about every 40-49 year old woman in my swim start. I am a pretty decent swimmer, but these gals were out for the fight. I got hit in the back of the head, kicked, punched in the nose (OWWWW!!!), and swam over from someone beside me several times. I even had someone grab my ankle and try to drag me back as they swam over me. I just kept plugging along moving as well as I could from buoy to buoy. I found a little bit of free water once we made the first turn, but now I was in the thick of the blue cap men from the wave ahead of me that were the slow swimmers in their wave. These dudes were just in the way. I had to do a lot of weaving to get around them or in some cases away from them because they had some idea that I was a punching bag as well. Then I caught some stragglers in purple caps two waves ahead of me. I was feeling pretty good about my progress. Then I got the crap beat out of me by the fast men in the red caps from the wave behind me. Well, that is what you get for swimming on the buoy line. I made the turn for the finish and plugged along passing blue and purple caps and keeping up with a few yellow caps. As is customary, I got rid of any extra fluids that I was holding on to from my earlier hydration sessions. I swam it in until my hand hit the sand at the bottom and then it was time to pop up and run it in to T1. Almost 38 minutes flat. Meh, not the greatest but I had not done a single swim workout since August. I know, kill me. I swim ok, but it is the bike and especially the run where I need to put my training time in. I could do all of those swim workouts and gain 2-3 on my time or just go faster in T1 and T2 or pick up the speed on the bike. My coach had set out the plan to just have fun on the swim and get it behind me. I'm not sure how much fun it was getting punched in the nose, but I got it done.
On the way to T1 I had a hunky guy strip my wetsuit off of me in less than 5 seconds and then I finished running towards the bike racks. The carpet ended and the grass and dirt began and I was glad I had stuck a grubby hand towel in my Bike Gear bag. I was racked in row 5 at the very far end. Rather than following everyone like sheep and turning to the right to run down to row 5 and then dodge close to 100 guys and gals all the way down the row I ran straight down the fence to the end of the last bike rack and then turned right to run to row 5 and to my bike 4 spaces from the end of the rack. I even had someone yell at me that I was running the wrong way. No I wasn't, sucka! I pulled out my shoes and helmet and jumped into my race belt and stashed my wetsuit, cap, and goggles in the bag. I wiped the grass and dirt off of my feet and put my shoes on and snapped the chin strap on my helmet and I was out of there. 4:04 in T1. I could have been faster, but that's the way it is folks. The extra time was for putting on cycling gloves. I normally don't do that but I had slick handle bars from condensation and I have fallen off of my bike in a race and have had my hands nice and FUBAR. I was not going to repeat that on this bike course since I did not know if the section that had been gravel and potholes the weekend before was fixed or not.
Ok, more to come along with official race pictures. Stay tuned,