17 July 2008

Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon

Now that I've had some time to reflect, unpack and disinfect, I thought I might write about the race this past weekend:

I was excited to head back to Chattanooga not only to race, but to see my family and friends. My weekend started off better than amazing on Saturday morning as I was walking through the terminal and saw my niece with a huge grin on her face, dressed in purple and toting her suitcase, run to greet me...I could have gone home, never having raced at all, and been a perfectly content man.

After lunch and packet pick-up with my dad and niece, I think all of us were ready for the race.

Race morning. I had a good bike warm-up and was ready to walk the one mile upstream to the swim start with my dad and uncle. It was a nice relief to not have to do the walk by myself, as it helped me keep my mind relaxed. Before I knew it, I was swimming. I had the occasion to be one of the last swimmers to depart, as Team Magic did not have an elite amateur wave, which would come back to haunt me later in the race. Back to the swim, I was happy with the effort. With a quick T1, I was flying out of transition, but about half a mile into the ride, I came up on a beginner triathlete and was passing on the left, but to my surprise, this young lady swerved into me and I had to react by swerving out of her way.

I reacted and almost stayed upright. I hit the dirt (read: asphalt). Upon impact, my brand new water bottles from which I had never taken a single sip, were ejected. After about 30 seconds, I regained my composure and jumped back on my bike, sans nutrition, and hammered. Before I knew it, I was at the bike turnaround. I stopped. I calmly asked the volunteers if they had any fluids, as I had crashed and was depleted.

No luck. "Okay," I said to myself, and put my head down and rode. At about mile 18, I passed a competitor and noticed he had an aerobottle between his aerobars, a bottle on his downtube, seat tube, and a rear hydration rack with two bottles, making roughly 80+ ounces he was carrying on his person. I also notice these bottles were virtually full, as they were made of clear plastic. I slowed down to speak to this man, and gave him a brief recap of my day so far, and begged for a bottle. The man proceeded to tell me he was going to drink the remainder 60+ ounces of fluid with only seven miles remaining, and could spare no juice. Yikes...this man's belly ache might surpass the pain of my crash if he drank all his liquids.

Back to the bike. As I approached the last four miles, I found myself cycling in the hardest rain I have ever encountered on my bike. No big deal. I rode with my mouth open wide to hopefully get enough water in my mouth for a big gulp. I looked dumb.

After the fastest T2 of the day (my dad recorded all my splits) I stopped at the run start to drink as much fluid as I could from the aid station. This would not help. I don't remember running the first mile, and by mile two, the pain in my hip from crashing coupled with zero nutrition in my body from hammering for an hour and a half was enough to cause me to pull the plug. The volunteer said it was a good idea, as he said I looked rather pale. So I'm not "tan." I'm working on it.

As I was given a ride in a cool old jeep back to the staging area, I couldn't help but smile and laugh as I saw my nieces with my race number drawn on their arms and t-shirts by my awesome sister-in-law. This was hands down the best support crew I've ever had at a race, complete with mother, father, grandmother, both brothers, sister-in-law, uncle, nieces and countless friends. I hope I didn't leave anyone out of that count. Moral of the story: thank you so much, it means the world to me.

I was pleased to see my dad compile the race data in an Excel spreadsheet, which indicated that despite my crash, no nutrition, stopping at the bike turnaround, having a conversation with an overly hydrated competitor and cycling through a tropical deluge, I was only a few seconds behind the overall winner as we began the run. "Woulda, shoulda, coulda..." I could whine all day, but it is as useless as a rocking chair; it gives you something to do but it doesn't get you anywhere.

I am motivated, encouraged and ready to race the Timberman 70.3 on August 17. This half ironman is held in Gilford, NH, and I am more than excited to race in cooler temperatures and see how I hold up over this distance.

Until next time, keep your bike tires rubber-side down and share your juice.