Friday, April 17, 2015

Marquee Race Report

To get up before four in the morning sucks. To get up that early to wait around to swim in Tempe Town Lake was even worse. The cloudy green water did not entice me. Invariably, it left flecks of green particles in my nose. But this was a sprint triathlon and I was doing it for “fun.”

I had to leave the house two and half hours ahead of time because transition closed at 6:15. I wasn’t supposed to start until 7:30. This left me lots of time to arrange my stuff, visit the toilet twice, get body marked and sit around and be bored. I could have walked around to find people to talk to, but that required too much energy. Some people get nervous, flit around and talk non-stop. I avoid them.

 I hoped my toe would not hurt since I had dropped a glass casserole lid on it the night before. I am at the age where I wonder if I had broken something every time I injure myself. My toe did not appreciate this abuse.

Finally, I jumped into the murky water. I had my wetsuit on, so I was calm. If I had to swim without it, I would have been very nervous with no neoprene to keep me from drowning. Besides, it was only a sprint with a mere 750 meters in length. I would be done in twenty-four minutes or less.

The clouds were kind enough to block the sun. To swim east into the glare on a clear day was difficult. I could actually see where I was going. I swam to the turn buoy in a short amount of time and was glad that I doing a sprint. The olympic race was twice as long.

Mill Avenue Bridge
I turned again and went under the bridges. The steps soon appeared and I got out of the nasty algae-infused water. I was surprised that my time was faster than usual. Maybe I could keep this trend going.

I got my helmet and bike shoes on and ran out of transition into the melee of the bike course. Put a bunch of bike riders riding at varied speeds in one street lane and it gets chaotic. The rules dictated that cyclists were supposed to be certain lengths apart, not pass on the right and not block one another from passing on the left. These rules weren’t always followed. Someone passed me on the right for no apparent reason. I kept getting stuck behind slower riders because waves of people behind me wanted to pass.

I passed when I could. Somehow, my average speed was higher than usual. Maybe the wind was favorable and the heavens had aligned. The weather was cool and I could work harder. The course was only twelve miles and saving energy wasn’t critical. The ride could be as hard as I wanted it to be and zipping around the streets was fun when no one was in my way.

I finished the ride and started the run. I needed to urinate badly, but I didn’t want to stop.
Then, the urge was gone. Did I pee myself? I wasn’t sure. I had doused myself with water and was wet anyway. Triathletes will sometimes pee anywhere but in a toilet to save time, but that wasn’t my practice.

I hate race photos if myself.
 Since last year, I had struggled with a hamstring injury. The injury had mostly healed, so  for a long time I had worked on reclaiming some run speed. Pain had not made a fast run possible and to return to normal had been an effort. My last 10k race had been somewhat mediocre, so my expectations were low for this event. A run after a swim and a bike was even slower.

The first mile was about ten minutes, which was close to what I expected. The second mile was 9:33. Where the hell did that come from? It wasn’t fast, but way better than I expected. Could I hold this pace? Would my energy flag? The pace was really uncomfortable, but I didn’t slow down. I tried to concentrate on form and not breathing like I was having a heart attack. The leg power was magically there, when it had been gone for so long.

I crossed the finish line and felt like I had been punched in the gut, the normal response to running like a maniac. For once, I was happy after a race. Most of my races are average, some are awful and a rare few like this one are awesome. After a greater than average share of truly horrible races last year, it was nice to have a good one, even though I could have smelled better.