Wednesday, December 02, 2009

RACE DAY!

Let’s have sum fun!

3:13am Wake.

3:15am Eat micro waved breakfast burrito – Begin hydrating

4:00am Shower

4:45am Meet Greg and Nancy in Lobby for ride to Race Site

5:00am Double check bike, inflate tires, fill Speedfill, relax!

7:00am GO TIME!

Sounds easy enough right! Right?

Here we go.

I woke right at 3:00am which was fine and threw my breakfast in the microwave and double checked my special needs bags. My friend Vanilla left me with many pieces of wisdom and one was – LESS IS MORE – and I took it to heart. I had minimal items in both special needs bags and on my bike. I had the most stuff in my bike special needs bags. And minimal items in my run bag. I will post in another post what I had in all of my gear and special needs bags .

After eating my breakfast slowly and sipping on Gatorade with Hammer pre race fuel in it I decided I didn’t want to wait for my show and jumped in about 3:30am.

After a LONG hot shower I LUBED BABY! I was determined not to have a single chafe issue. I had Boudreaux’s Butt Paste in every crack and crevasse on my body. I thought I might slide out of my tri shorts when I put them on!

All morning I visualized my day. One sport at a time seeing myself finish with smiles at each point. After having a good 5-minute one on one time sitting on the balcony I headed down to meet my friends Greg and Nancy. How awesome are they. They were volunteers on the bike course, but woke extra early to take the stress off of me worrying about driving and finding a parking spot etc. They were also full of wise advice for me.

After arriving at the race site (which was like an ant farm!) I dropped my bike special needs bag at its point then walked my run special needs bag off down by Alvin’s. I felt like I should have been a little more stressed, but I was reasonably calm with all things considered . . . Would that last?

After pumping my tires up to 110 and filling my speedfill hydration system, I went through the rest of the check list . . .

I had my cycling shorts on over my tri shorts and was wearing my race top as well. Bike was in race mode. Computers all zero-ed and head was on my shoulders.

As for my bike and transition area . . . Good to go.

I headed up to the boardwalk condo where my wife, sister, and baby girl were in a dead sleep when I arrived! I kissed Amanda on the cheek and rubbed Melaina’s belly as I have done every morning since her birth.

My friend Lance, who Amanda was staying with at Boardwalk, was also racing today. We hung in the living area for a bit, took some pictures, and I am sure we were both thinking about our day.

It was time.

Our wetsuits half on and my gonads in my throat we headed to the beach. I met Lance’s Mom and Dad on the way and we again took a few more pics of Lance and the family.

I saw my friend Andy and a few others as I hit the cool white sand. “Here we are” I thought to myself. “Hew were are.”

As I walked down the beach to the swim start I was visualizing and I was really caught up in the moment. I don’t want to say I was overwhelmed, but I was absolutely on the verge of suffocating inside of myself.

Here were my thoughts.

“I was 453 lbs 5 years ago. I am still so big now at 240lbs. Can I do this? I can do this. I WILL DO THIS. Shit. (BIG SIGH) Where’s my wife? My Dad? (Big Sigh) Wow there are a lot of people out here. (I laugh to myself) I forgot my 2nd wave starts here – sign! (Laugh again – out loud I think) This is going to rock. Remember to smile all day. “

Then a familiar voice from behind. It’s Gloria, Scott, and Charles (Vanilla)!!! What great faces to see just before I take off.

I was having problems with my wetsuit and how awesome to have the two people I trust the most when it comes to triathlon right there to help me. They pulled my suit up and got it into a perfect fit position for me. Zipped me up and offered some encouraging words. Scott suggested I take off my chain with my cross off. He was worried about chafing – But call me crazy but, I couldn’t do it. Yes – I regretted later when it came to the pain and chafing, but mentally and spiritually I am glad I had it.

After hugs to them I head the announcement that the pros were about to start . . . WHAT!!!!!

I wasn’t even close to the corral yet. How do I get into the Corral?????? Oh man! There were so many people. I was politely saying excuse me for a while then PURE PANIC SET IN!!!!! I think I put a little old lady in the sand face first at one point! I ran to the front and went into the water and then into the corral. Whew.

About this time I am standing in the very back of the racers. Wow. I was taking in all of the red caps. All of the people. Then I heard my wife yelling for me.

I can’t explain exactly what happened here, but I just saw them. I simply walked over and looked and my wife and child and this burst of emotion took over and began to pour out of me. I didn’t begin to cry, but I had a physical reaction to this little emotional episode. Like I said I can’t explain it, but I was as close as a big grown burley man can be to tears without actually crying?????

Then the National Anthem began and I sang like a rock star!

Here we GO!!!!!!!!!!!

The cannon went off and I began to walk. My mind told me what was going on, but my legs were well in front of me. They were on a mission.

The water was cool but not cold. The churn ahead of me was less intimidating than I thought it would be, but more beautiful. All of those bodies with their red swim caps, fighting to take full swim strokes while someone else was stuck in their arm pit . . . It was awesome.

I’d say the first 250 meters was not really swimming, but more surviving and half stroking. I hit a few people and felt bad. I was kicked and then I didn’t feel as bad about those I accidentally hit!!! HA! The water was pretty nice on the way out on the first loop. I finally got into a rhythm at about the 600 meter mark.

I spoke to soon.

I had a guy who was a faster swimmer than me, but a much worse spotter. I stayed positive even after the 3rd or 4th time he crossed literally right over top of me. The poor guy probably ended up swimming 3 miles since he zig-zagged the entire course. I decided to sit up for just a second and let him get a little in front of me. MISTAKE!!!!!

There were more people behind me and around me than I thought. I quickly got back into my stroke and battled with a few folk for another 200 or 300 meter until we hit the first turn to the left. The water had begun to sell just a little. It was getting kinda rough. But after the first turn I began to hit a little bit of a rhythm.

I am not sure I mentioned this yet . . .

My goal for the first 127.5 miles of this day was to keep a LOW LOW LOW Heart Rate and never feel I was exerting too much at all. I was afraid of that proverbial “wall” everyone talks about. So I was taking it easy on my swim and felt great up to this point.

As we began the stretch back to the beach on our first loop I ended up right next to a female swimmer. We were stroke for stroke. Our cadence, speed, everything was identical. It was nice having her on my right. I didn’t have to worry about anyone or anything on that side. Thank you nice lady from England who ever you were.

When we came up to the beach to cross the timing mat on our first loop I saw my family.

Here was what happened throughout the day when I saw family . . . Stop, hug, kiss, tell them how happy I am that they are at the race . . . Move on. We will talk about this more in the report, but I would say I spent about 20 minutes of my day doing this – BUT I LOVED EVERY SECOND OF IT!

I felt strong after the first 1.2 miles of the swim. I was a little faster than I thought I would be and I was happy about that. I talked to the nice lady I swam beside for a second – Hence me knowing she was from the UK. Then It was back into the swim!

I am not sure how this happened and how many others noticed this, but the water was ROUGH on the second loop.

Spotting was very difficult on this second loop since I couldn’t see over the swells at some points. People were all over the place on the second loop. It wasn’t too bad on the way out, but when we made the first turn, it was obvious what we were in for and it were not purdy!!!!

At one point I came through my stroke and as my right hand came over and I went to breathe on my right side . . . There was no water?!!! I looked ahead and the front part of my chest was in the air and I was looking down at the water and BAM! I was drinking a nice mouth full of gulf water! Oh it sucked! I buckled in and tried swimming with the waves timing my spotting so that I was looking ahead when I was on top of a wave.

I don’t want to over blow the waves. They weren’t surfing height or “Perfect Storm” crazy, but they were 3 footers with white caps and I wasn’t really happy about it.

The turn back to the beach was a welcomed affair, but the waves were still a pain in da booty since I wasn’t able to ever really able to get into a rhythm. I like swimming with some type of rhythm. I know you can expect that in an open water gulf swim, but this was a little more ugly than I expected.

The other great part about the stretch back to the beach is the spotting. It is so easy to spot since you just have to pick out the condo at Boardwalk and swim to the building to the left. EASY.

As I stood in the water – knowing I had finished round one – 2.4 miles of gulf swimming – I was happy. I saw my friends and family! It was so easy to spot them now!!! WHY? Because I am so slow in the water most people had followed their friends racing into transition and I was one of the few still in the water!! HA!

I’ll give you one guess as to what happened next?

Yep. I hugged everyone! EVERYONE!

I headed into transition. I decided to strip my wetsuit myself. I don’t like sitting on the sand and getting sand all over. I do a standing wetsuit removal. And I think it is just as fast as laying down having someone rip off our suit and standing up, then going. I don’t know?? But I stay sand free.

Second EXCELLENT piece of wisdom from my friend Vanilla . . . Take your time in the shower. Get all of the sand and salt water off of you. I almost took a shower I was under there so long! I stood far to the right so I wouldn’t be in the way, but I showered and showered!

What an experience the transition room is . . . Swinging Richards everywhere! I was worried about sitting down. I had my race gear under my wetsuit so I only had to re lube a bit and put on the shoes, helmet, glasses, and rub down with a little pain gel . . .and I was OUTTA THERE! There was just too much nakedness in their for me. Maybe I was having an inferiority complex? Nah!!!!!!!

As I ran out of the transition room I saw several people I knew and was ready for the sun-screen application. I asked the nice volunteer to lather me up and she did for the most part.

SUGGESTION: When you ask the volunteer to apply your sun-screen ask them to get under your race bib a little. She covered me very well – except for on my back right by the race bib area. Jump ahead to the next week and I had 2nd degree burns with blisters and all. Take time to handle this right in transition or it won’t be pretty.

I saw my family up on the hill and blew them kisses. As the volunteer was bringing my bike a recognizable face ran up to me. It was a volunteer, BUT it was also the guy I rode the sag wagon with at redman half after my third flat. He flatted twice as well. We had a good ride back in the support vehicle in Oklahoma. Neither of us was happy, but it was nice meeting him and nice seeing him in the transition area. He is from the Boston area I think . . . Wish I’d gotten his name. Nice surprise.

Swim done. T1 Done.

Bike race report soon!

3 comments:

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amybee said...

nice job and great pics. Love the advice about the sunscreen too. Looking forward to bike recap.

Damie said...

i am happy to be reading your RR!