Thank you for all your words of encouragement before and after the race. The triathlon community is so supportive. There were so many fellow racers out there giving words of encouragement along the course and all I can say is wow about my tri club. They are amazing and are a great support.
There were several things that almost sidelined me before the race even started. After I cleaned up my bike on Friday, I decided to practice mounting and dismounting the bike with the shoes clipped in. Well, when trying to mount the bike one time, I missed, stubbed my toe, and took a good chunk of skin off my second toe. It still kinda hurts. Then, on Saturday night, after unpacking the car and putting the wheels on the bike, I decided to ride around the parking lot to make sure there was no rubbing or clicking, and to ensure that it shifted smoothly. At some point a car was backing out and didnt see me, I made an immediate U-Turn, but mis-judged how much clearance I had from the curb. I was able to get my left leg out, but the bike went down to the side, and somehow I went up and over the bike, but landed on my feet. I was fine, but unfortunately, my bike had a little damage. It is still rideable, but the base bar is bent on the left side. I knew it wouldnt slow me down, but I couldnt seem to get it out of my head.
Backing up a little, the ride in was booring and felt long, but uneventful. Before we left at about 11:30AM on Saturday, I stopped into the LBS and picked up a couple of extra tubes and one of those plastic thingies they put in the fork when the ship it to protect the fork since I was taking the front wheel off to fit it in the car. It took us about 3.5 hours or so to make it to the hotel in Greenwood, SC. We were able to fill up the car when we got off I-85 since we still have problem with finding gas in Atlanta.We unpacked some of our stuff and then headed to packet pickup. After getting my packet, we ran into Wes and his Wife Dee Dee and their youngest son Matthew. We listened to the race announcements and then walked to the swim start and over to transition. After making a few stops looking for some things we forgot, it was time to meet up with the tri club for dinner at an italian restaurant right next door to the hotel. Dinner was alright, not the greatest, and I thought the service wasnt much better either, but it did the job.
When we got back is when I took my spill in the parking lot. I went in, checked out the damage and then spent about 30 minutes stretching, using the foam roller as well as the stick.
I awoke at 4AM, took a shower and had a PBJ sandwich, a banana, and a bottle of gatorade. We left the hotel at 5:30 AM after packing the car and checking out. On the way over I drank about half a bottle of water. When we pulled in, around 6AM, we were two cars down from Steph, her husband Doug, and Nat. Walking everything to transition, we ran into Wes and Dee Dee. Once I set everything up, Cathy told me that Wes was going down by the finish to get in the water. I headed down and got my wetsuit on a took a quick swim. The water was 73 degrees. It felt just right.
After checking our transition set up one last time, we all headed down to the swim start. There we ran into Steph, Doug, and Nat. While waiting for my heat, Chris found me and we talked for a while. When it was time for out heat, we made it down the stairs and into the water. We had two minutes until the swim start.
Overall, I would say my swim went okay. I tried to keep an even effort throughout. While my overall sighting was good and I stayed on course, I think the course I chose was too far out. I tend to stay on the outside so I dont have to avoid too many people. As a clydesdale, we usually go off towards the end. As a fast swimmer, this means passing a whole bunch of people. I felt like the course layout was a little akward. I sighted to each of the turn buoys. While I was right on with those, I was quite far off the other bouys. It may be me, or it may just be how it was laid out. I also heard that the course is known to be long and this year some felt it was excessively long. I did have to stop once about halfway through to fix my goggles, and I did get a cramp in one calf as I was making the final push back into shore. Overall I was okay with my time, but I thought it should have been faster given my effort. Also, with all my shoulder problems my training had been off. At least I wasnt to far off my 35 minute goal
Not too bad. My wetsuit came off without a problem. I had a slight bit of trouble getting my shoes on because I was a little unsteady. I walked my bike out of transition and did just a safe easy mount. Overall, not too bad given that I was not hurrying through transition.
Bike - 3:00:25 (18.6 mph)
I was really surprised how well I did on the bike. My stated goal was 3:15, but I was really hoping to finish around 3 or below. I took the first 5 miles or so easy. I wanted to gradually build my pace up and I knew there was one bad hill about mile 10 and the rest would be rollers and slower, but not too difficult climbs. I tried to keep my average speed around 19 mph while keeping my hr down under 170. The first two hours came in almost right at 19 mph. I was really surprised how many people I was passing on the uphill, which is so unlike me. I usually end up passing people on the downhill who then pass me on the uphill.
In the last hour, I began having two issues: my right achilles began acting up, which didnt really surprise me, but the big problem was my back. The roads we rode on were in poor condition. I believe all that jarring may have caused my back pain, because in all my long rides, I never really have had any back problems on my new bike. It could also be something about the swim. The only way to find out would to be do some swim-bike bricks. Ultimately, I need to do core work to prevent this from happening next time.
T2 - 2:32
I came to a full stop and got off my bike, shoes on, rather then doing any sort of flying dismount. I got to my transition spot and changed my shoes and put on my race number belt and fuel belt. I tried to quickly bend over and stretch. I headed out but almost immediately knew something was wrong.
Run - 2:57:05 (13:31/mi)
My back problems from the bike messed up all chances of a good run. As I was heading out, I had to stop several times and try to stretch it out. I tried to run, but the back pain was just too bad. Every time I would run into someone I knew, or someone I didnt know gave me words of encouragement I would start running, or pick up speed. When I was able to run, my legs were feeling great and my pace was somewhere around 9:30 - 10:30/mile. I wasnt able to run much. By a few miles in, I could barely bend at all at the waist and I was afraid if I tried, my back would lick up. As I had made the loop back and was heading back towards the end of the first loop, I found out they had ibuprofen, so I went ahead and took 3. It took a mile or so, but once that kicked in, I felt better and was able to run more. Once it was kicking in, on my way back in on the first loop, I ran in to Doug. I ran for about a half a mile with him somewhere about a 9 min mile or so and I actually felt good. The only thing was I knew I couldnt keep it up. I did tell Doug that the only way I was going to DNF was if my back locked up. as I was coming in to the turnaround I came upon my tri club and they were cheering like madmen. It was so encouraging. I had even noticed that there were a bunch of messages in chalk written to each of us from the club.
I threw my fuel belt to someone from the club and told Cathy where it was when I saw her. I told her my back was bad, but there was no freakin way I was quitting. I found myself running more and more, but I could not run more then a quarter to a half a mile. When I could run, my legs felt good. My back just would not quit. As I hit mile 10, I started to get angry. I found myself grunting and pushing and trying to run. I just couldnt keep it up. I was proud of myself, but angry at the course. As I headed back into the park, I tried to run as much as I could. I sped past the tri club again with all the great folks. as I headed to the finish, straight uphill. I was going all out. It was a tough uphill to finish off, but I finished.
After the finish I got a burger, a couple of cookies, a couple of brownies and collapsed into the chair Cathy had out. Wes and Dee Dee were there, but getting read to head out. I relaxed for about 30 minutes and then it was time to head home. It was a long, slow ride, but we made it home safely about 7PM. Took a shower and laid on the heating pad for a while. Today, my back still hurts as does my achilles, but I am proud of my accomplishments.
I really want to thank all my friends and tri club peeps for all the great support. Steph, Doug, Wes,Chris, and Kellye all had encouraging words during the run. Steph was especially full of energy and was a real help.
The course beat the crap out of me, but it did not defeat me. Next year I will return to take my vengeance out on the course. I plan on breaking 6 hours next year. I know if my back had not bothered me I would have at least come close. I need to lose some more weight. I need to seriously do some strength and core work, and I am going to focus on speed in the off season and first part of the tri season.