Monday, June 23, 2014

Racing a Prince, Spooning the Competition, a KP gasket, and a Seat at the Table!

Time to get down to business with the triathlon season and we are kicking it off with IM 70.3 Syracuse. The idea was birthed by fellow BTT teammate and fully matured to a group of seven triathletes and two spectators spending a weekend in a gorgeous house in the small town of Tully, NY.

I will surely set the scene properly; but first, lemme take a selfie...


...OK now lets travel to Friday afternoon 4:15 PM.

We manager to fit three bikes, six wheels, about a quarter of a metric ton of man, and three low swinging egos (all in the same age group) into a Toyota Highlander and we are on the road for the next 6 hours. I will spare you the terrible jokes, foul language, and description of the inappropriate harassment bestowed upon other motor vehicle operators and one unsuspecting toll both ticket dealer (God bless her soul) via the bull horn mounted on the roof of the Highlander. Let's just say that things get weird with three bros in traffic on the Pike for so long. Sorry... I'm not sorry.

This picture was the only good thing that came from the car ride...

We rolled into the Casa de Triathele a bit later than expected but everyone showed up around the same time. The real party started when the eldest but seemingly most lively racer of the bunch (also father of another 70.3'er) rolled and showered the rest of the bunch with warm hand shakes, kisses, and told us how great of people we were. This man is truly the personification of encouragement and compliments!

We talked a bit, got settled, and went to bed... Corey was prepared with an air mattress. So when I say "got settled" I mean that the sleeping arrangements forced Nik and I to "get settled" in the downstairs queen bed together. This definitely is not where this race report gets all Brokeback Triathlon so chill out ladies (and gents) the man is engaged after all...

Here is where I will get back to settling the scene of the gorgeous place we stayed in upstate New York...

Good morning, Tully!

I wandered around the house a bit and stuffed my face with a quadruple stack of my specialty pre-race breakfast. (doesn't sound good but tasted like heaven) I do not go crazy with food the morning before a race but my main thought was how good non-decaf coffee will taste tomorrow. (Two weeks before the race I cut caffeine to experiment with a "desensitize yourself" theory that says your body will react even better to the caffeine if you haven't had it in a while... the plan was to pop a few caffeine gels during the bike and a 100mg caffeine tab in T2 for a nice little turbo boost... I tried it for the first time at IM Lake placid last year and it didn't hurt so I thought I'd try it again...)

Another pre-race nutritional experiment that was new to me was the "beet juice" theory going around the endurance world... The only thing it gave me so far was the scare of a lifetime when I went to pee for the first time since downing a bunch of the stuff!

Four of use piled in and we were off to check in and shake out the last of the pre-race checklist... but first... #anotherselfie… 

Check in was the typical. I scooped up #1333 and got our stuff together for a swim then hopped on the bike. Everything felt great. (I ripped my wetsuit about 2inches along the left sleeve seem heading into the water but the thing has so many holes it didn't matter. As the arm flooded I was pissed but I'd worry about it later.) Helmet on, wheels pumped (thanks to a great friend I was racing on some sweet 808s for the first time ever) Derailure didn't need any adjustments and cruised aruond for about 15 minutes checking out the bike in/out and scoping the course a bit. The drive home detoured us to a bike shop where we got some gunk to repair my wet suit.

The whole scene took way too long. I kind of wanted to be in and out but by the time we got back it was 3 PM. More food. More beet juice (subsequently a new found humor in the childhood funny "Spell i-cup and then say funny colors") I laid out all my gear just to see it all in front of me and got to gooping up my wetsuit. I was kind of PO'd at this point as the sleeve wasn't going back together that well. The plan was to sit on my butt and do nothing all day and so far I haven't been off my feet since I woke up. That's when the 2nd car pulled in as I was in the garage and the three occupants looked at me like a cow looks at an oncoming train. 

"Dude the our car is broke!"

"That sucks." I kneejerking-ly said out loud to mask the selfish thought that initially popped into my head, Don't get involved. It's not your problem. If you start it you'll have to finish it. I think anyone would be lying if they said the initially did not have a thought like this but deep down I knew it probably wasn't a big deal (nothing REALLY is a huge deal but that's another story)... The main point I want to make is that if you narrow the problem down and take it from a different perspective you'll probably be a lot better off... 

"Our car is broken." is a very daunting statement because it's is so broad. So Step one: Let's narrow it down. What's wrong? "The power steering is shot - it's not holding power steering fluid"... "OK - It must be leaking" - but that statement is almost just as daunting. The trick is to narrow it down more and keep taking baby steps... "Where is it leaking from?" The answer came after driving the car up onto some blocks (AKA pieces of fire wood) and a half an hour of investigation work watching drip after painstakingly slow drip... One of the pipes had corroded through and was leaking like a sieve. 

As one of the chief engineers I used to sail with says, "We don't have a solution yet, but at least we have a problem." He is a great guy and we still stay in touch. It was the same chief engineer that comes down to the engine room while we are maneuvering a giant floating parking garage though the Suez Canal and says, "Third, you got this?" Ahh, Sure chief, Got what? "Great, because I'm tired.." Then would proceed to snore though the bridge bells as the new third engineers sphincter puckered up... (a few harmless sailing pics...) (a few good things about this repair was that you didn't have to post a pirate watch, it wasn't in the middle of the Atlantic, and it would seemingly be fixed with some liquid steel and a piece of rubber.)

  Anyways, to make a long story short. Thanks to another great teammate we got the stuff and we got the King's Point gasket in place. We let the stuff cure over dinner and then took the car for a test spin. It was a success! Definitely not in the race plan but felt great to get my hands dirty again!

The evening was filled with more tomfoolery (see below) and then we were in bed for an early wake up...

Trying not to bore you with lame pre-race details 4AM came loud and proud and whole house was buzzing, packing faces with food, and talking about laying down a solid race. I'll throw one last selfie out there and say that I was feeling pretty good.

I dropped my stuff off in the transition area, dropped off the morning bag, and then snuck into the woods with some baby wipes to drop something else off... I got off my feet until it was about half an hour before go time - (we got kicked out of transition area at 6:50 and my wave didn't go off until 7:50) I suddenly notice how "in place" everything was.

The only thing wrong with this race venue was the choice of back-up generators...

Flash forward to tip toeing in the water when a big camera crew came in focused in on a group of 3 people right next to me. Hmmmmm they looked interesting... 

HEY! How's it going? I'm Billy. Good luck man! Where you guys from? I come in pretty hot with a solid handshake when I am meeting people but they received it well and returned the firm shake. "Bahrain." he said with a smirk as the cameras kept rolling and snapping. Cool bro! That's a long way! You ready for this swim? ... "Let's do it!" he said and then the announcer had us all head in to the start line in the water.

We sat there treading water for the next few minutes and I didn't think much of my new friend from Bahrain until I saw him at the finish line. Come to find out it was the Bahrain Triathlon Team (also BTT) and the two of the brothers I shook hands with were princes... yes that's right... when they prefix their name with "His Majesty" they are 100% serious and don't just like the sounds of it... COOL!!! but let's get back to the race...

The SWIM - 30:49 - 1.2mile PR - thanks to a great coach this was the first time I entered the water feeling confident with the front of the pack. I definitely was not going to keep up with the lead swimmers but I did feel great getting in the water. Nothing crazy to report about the swim. I was rotating my hips and pulling a lot better. I also was sighting a lot better which really helps!! After the 5-7minutes of kicking each other we settled in and before I knew it I was back on the beach. I didn't see the time but I was gunning for a half an hour and felt pretty good that I hit it.

T1- took way too long but that's just my MO... 3:35...

The real problem came next... The BIKE... 2:24:23 I got on the bike having double checked all functionality but a few seconds in I found myself staring at four dashes on the Garmin screen that were supposed to be telling power out put. I fiddled with it for the first 1.5miles because it was all downhill but once it came time to hit the 10mile climb I said SCREW IT  and decided to just got for it.

The next two hours were filled with gorgeous scenery, perfect weather, great roads, screaming ON YOUR LEFT,  and one huge question... WHERE IS COREY? I thought I saw him with just about everyone I passed but by mile 30 and there were no other M25-29 BTT jerseys I was getting worried... I kept cranking; after the big climb it was just about all slightly rolling/downhill and for the 2nd half of the race I was cruising above 25mph for most of it. WHERE THE F IS COREY? He was laying to down for sure... mile 40 a few turns, a few rollers and I thought I saw him a few times- no Corey- this was taunting WTF?!?

My relief came right around mile 50. This was him for sure. I tucked and cranked in areo and as he stood up I passed him with a slap on the butt. The remaining 6 miles wasn't enough to put any sort of lead on him especially with 3 of it being a "no pass zone" and I got stuck behind someone. It's OK. I wound down, unclipped the boots and cruised into transition area.

T2 - 1:33 - Solid thoughts all around as I made up all the time Corey put on me in the swim. We left T2 together and both of us looked at each other with the same look on our faces. The face very tacitly but very distinctively screamed "Where is Nik?" We knew this kid threw down a 1:21 half marathon just a few months prior and also knew that he knew he had some time to make up...

The RUN -1:29:00- got really interesting as Corey and I were stride for stride running the opposite direction of the bikers coming in... we didn't say much but about half way down the first hill I looked at Corey You seen him yet? No real words, he just grumbled in the negative. The course was a double out an back- the first 3.5 miles up about 400ft and then back down it.

My stomach was acting up and I thought it was from a little over eating on the bike.... I washed it down with water and decided that I wasn't eating anything else for the rest of the race. I would rather bonk than get cramped up from over eating. This turned out to be the right decision. I washed all the issues away and poured water on my head at every chance I could...

I broke from Corey right around 1.5miles. Didn't know if it was the right move or not but I definitely wanted to see what he had as the hill got steeper. It took everything I had not to look back and see if he was hanging on to me or not. I had patience and I'd wait for the turn around. Some math in my head as I slapped my feet down mile 4 I figured I had about a minute on him... BUT WHERE WAS NIK?

I didn't have to wait as long to find out. I high fived him about a half a mile later and thanks to some more mental math figured I had about 6m30s on him... I was happy with that but he looked strong. I kept chugging. I felt good at this point knowing everything I wanted to know. Now the plan was to push it for the last hour of this run.

As I flew down the hill back to the aid station I thought I might go for a half marathon PR (1:27 and change) but come the half way turn around and subsequently back up the hill, the thought slowly drifted out of my mind... Keep pushing this pace...

The next onslaught of mental math was about to ensue as Corey came in for a Top Gun style hand slap I came in hot again and then went to hit him on the flip side but he wasn't on the same page... oh well... With a glance at my watch I knew I was putting time on him... Nik came next and I think he was closing the gap but I forgot to look at my watch.

It didn't matter at this point. Once I got to mile 7 it was time to empty the tank back up this hill. I burned away from the aid station at the bottom and was turning around with high spirits in no time. The next three miles HUUURT! It was the first time in a race I may have let a smile drift off my face. I usually am high fiving and cracking jokes but at that moment I was hell bent. I was very positive I had the race I planned to have and smashed PRs all around but had no idea what the total time was as I do not swim with my Garmin.

The final notable story comes with about a half of a mile to go. I don't usually count calves but this one stood out a big old "28" giving me a huge raspberry screaming "nah nah nah nah boo booo"

OH NO YOU DIDN'T!!! This was a dangerous pass attempt with such a short distance left and also such a long distance left. I didn't want to burn it too crazy and give him a chance to oust em back and my legs were already screaming. I decided to throw the best bluff of my life. I took a deep breath, focused, and threw my shoulders back to hit stride fast enough to say to him, "Don't try and catch me." but not so fast that my body couldn't ante up in the event he called me out and returned fire.

As the red numbers on top of the blue arch came into focus I saw exactly what I wanted to see 5:19:04 (I started 50m after the clock did so more challenging math let me know I was just sub 4:30) the sprint I threw down didn't fade and the kid behind me finished seconds later. I didn't know at the time but it was a sprint worthy of an (extended) podium finish of 5th AG.

I was happy for about a minute but also realized that as good as a 4:29 finish is, 5th AG wasn't going to put me where I needed to be come August 17th Ironman Mont Tremblant. It was surreal finding out I qualified for 70.3 World Championships in September but I wasn't planning on taking the spot. I thought to myself... eyes on the prize... big picture.

The change of heart came when Corey, Nik, and I regrouped and talked to the other finishers in the AG. Corey would get a roll down and with any luck Nik would too... This was awesome... Racing and training with such amazing friends with such similar speeds was absolutely more than enough to convince me to throw down $400CAN... I put in a lot of work but these two friends made my whole weekend (OK and also lit a fire under my ass!!!!)


Does the podium shirt make me look fat?

1 comment:

  1. I really love doing pilates and workout while wearing my jogger yoga pants and so really like to get more about this kind of this blog. Wonderful stuff to read and beautiful pictures!