To keep my training strong throughout the 09-10 winter, I scheduled myself for an olympic distance triathlon on April 11. More than twice the length of my previous tri finish. In San Diego. With Navy SEAL type people. So with substantial money and pride invested, I proceeded to excuse away really digging into my training. But I showed up in San Diego excited if not completely ready to go.
Let's get the ugly news out of the way upfront: 4:09:00 finish with splits of 50:01 for the 1500m swim, 8:29 in T1, 1:26:30 on the 40K Bike, 8:25 in T2, and 1:35:35 on the 10K run.
So what the hell happened out there besides not being rigorous enough in my winter training?
Swim: To add complete humiliation to general indignity, the SuperSEAL race has both a Clyde division (men over 200 lbs, ladies over 150) and an active-duty military division outside of the usual age groups. And the Clydes start in the same wave as super soldiers. Have I mentioned the SEAL types? I'm not kidding, this race and the simultaneous half-iron SuperFROG benefit the Naval Special Warfare Society and is held at Coronado, basically the Navy SEALs' backyard. I saw a lot of people walking home to the base after the race. So I'm thrown in the water with some of the fittest, most bad-ass human beings on the planet.
Not that it matters, I swim like a glacier. I've been ambivalent about swimming lessons for the last few months. Not any more. After losing another 25 pounds since my last triathlon in the fall and doing a decent amount of swimming over the winter, I am the exact same slow-ass speed. I did have a fantastic time, plenty warm in Coronado Bay in my wetsuit with my own private lifeguards since just about everyone else was long gone. Never got tired, but did have my right calf seize in a nasty cramp about 1/4 mile from the swim finish. Long ways to swim without moving your leg, but I made it out in one piece.
Then a long barefoot run across the peninsula back to the oceanside beach for transition. So where does the stupid part come in? Well, I did all this swimming with the nagging thought that my bike might be too broken to ride, making for a real short day after a real long swim. Plus there was the bleeding and the butt bruise. So why was I worried about my bike and paddling around with blood and bruise issues? Mostly because I'm a clumsy idiot.
When I walked into transition to set-up earlier in the day, I tripped over my own feet and landed on my rear wheel. Crushed the rear derailleur into the spokes and managed to simultaneously gash the front of my right thigh and take a nasty bruise to my right butt cheek. Of course plenty of athletic folks saw me do this, and I knew a few had to be thinking "what the hell is this clumsy fat kid doing here?" So a nice roundhouse to the pride along with the bike and body damage.
Being the brilliant bike mechanic that I am, I pulled the derailleur out of the spokes, spun the pedal a few times, and hoped I hadn't paid race entry, airfare, hotel, rental car, luggage charge all to take a leisurely soak.
Bike: My time to dominate! Starting 20-30 minutes behind even some seriously chunky dudes thanks to my slo-mo swim. Bike is handling fine, but don't have my highest cog or any low gears. Works out as not having my high cog keeps me from burning myself out and the course is almost completely flat. The biggest hill is a 20-foot highway overpass. Now I'm totally flying, manage to throw up a shaka (more family friendly than the shocker) for the cameras. Two loops around the course. Heading north, massive tailwinds, cruising 23 MPH easily. Flipping back around to the south and right into the wind, grinding to get 13 MPH.
Later found out that on top of destroying my derailleur, I had bent the dropout. Pricey fall, but ecstatic that my field repair worked and I was able to continue with the race.
On the bike, I'm supposed to take in most of my calories for the event. Can't really eat in the water. General pain to carry stuff on the run. Very easy to carry things on the bike. But one of my nutrition bottles tastes completely off. I think it might be the slight funk because it shipped a little wet and I forgot to empty my bag the first night in San Diego. Whatever it is, I can't figure it out and toss the bottle in frustration, swapping for a weak gatorade mixture during the second bike loop and don't think anything else of it.
My bike time is exhilarating and annoying. The more people I pass late in the bike leg, the more cranky I am with my sluggish swimming. Resolved to definitely start swim lessons.
Finish up and head into T2 for the run.
Run: From the official SuperSEAL description: "The run course is a 10K pavement and dirt-trail run." For contrast, here is the SuperFROG run description: "And lastly, the run course is a 13.1mile course is a combination of soft sand, hard-packed sand, and hard pavement."
Clearly these people know their sand. Except for the 3/4 mile stretch of soft sand they left out on the SuperSEAL run description. But I dealt with the sand just fine. About 3 miles in I started dragging ass badly. At 4 miles my calves started cramping badly and I settled down to a fast-ish walk. I managed to run in the last .2 miles to the finish because who wants to walk in front of the crowd. But after I crossed the line and picked up the sweet finisher's medal, I felt like someone had beat my legs with a bag of nickels. Sure I had laid it all out there but I felt way too roughed up for 4 hours of activity.
Enjoyed the nice post-race spread and awards ceremony than headed back to transition to pack up. Then back to the hotel to relax. But my calves were still cramping and I generally felt worked over. Danielle suggested I have my recovery drink, so I dragged myself over to my backpack to mix it up.
And I found no recovery drink. Just a bag of food drink mix. STUPID! And everything immediately made sense. The nasty swill I couldn't stomach on the bike was my recovery mix, definitely not intended for racetime consumption and not nearly enough calories even if I could choke it down. I was operating on an empty tank the entire second half of the event. Where I was supposed to take in about 1000 calories, I had taken in maybe about 300-350. No fuel, no fire.
My lessons learned will be fully incorporated into my new training regimen of swim lessons, practicing how to walk with my bike, and figuring out how to read my own handwriting.