Sunday, May 22, 2016

Texasman Triathlon Race Recap

Today I attempted my first Olympic-distance triathlon after having completed 4 sprint tris in the last year.

First of all, I gotta say, I am in great spirits. I am so so SO excited to never do this again!

I set my alarm for 3:30 AM, got up at 3:40, packed, dressed, ate, and left at 4:30 to pick up my mom at 4:40, arrived at the site 5:45, got to transition by 6, cleared transition at 6:45, and waited on the beach to get in the water at nearly 8.

I expected to struggle with the cold water as I had in my first OWS, especially with all the rain and rain and rain we've had this spring. I waded in before the race, though, and the water temperature was fine. But the wind kicked up as the morning wore on, and the water was super choppy by the time my wave (the 9th and final one) started. I crawled forward but struggled to slow my breath. I asked the first kayaker if it was all like this.

"I'm not gonna lie to you," she said solemnly. "It's ugly out there."

I knew I wasn't panicking . . . yet. I thought for another moment and said to her decisively, "Yeah, okay, I'm done."

I wasn't comfortable with the swim distance but believe I could have powered through on a calm lake. There was just no way I could fight those waves for a mile, though. I hung out cheerily while the kayaker signaled a boat to collect me. As bad as the waves looked from within the lake, things looked much worse from the boat.

As I sat shivering on the warden's boat, I felt REALLY good about my decision. I thought I would feel bad about giving up, failing, not even making it to the first buoy . . . but I didn't. Still don't. (Seeing the news much later in the evening about a triathlete dying that same day was a sobering reminder of the real dangers I faced.)

I thought that was the end and I'd be going home. I was disappointed about that. But when we got ashore, me and the other people pulled from the course (and there were a LOT this morning), the race official who asked for our timing chips said we were welcome to finish the bike and run portion; we just wouldn't be timed.

This just became the best triathlon ever. . . . The one I didn't have to swim. "But, Moniqa," I thought, "you KNOW duathlons are a thing, right? I mean, you totally do." It just never occurred to me before today that they might be a thing I'd do.

So I ran up to my bike, did my fastest T1 transition ever, and hit the course. I got to ride past beautiful longhorn cattle. They'd said it was a fast course with Texas hills. Holy fuck, it was HARD. I put my head down to embrace the suck and slowly stuck it out. I kept telling myself, "This could be worse.You could still be in the water." There was one hill near the end, though, that had me thinking I might have to walk. But I'm stubborn and stuck it out, moving so slowly I might have fallen. Oof. This was the first race I didn't pass ANYONE on the bike leg.

I'd been lucky so far that the sun stayed hidden behind clouds. The run course was shady but also hilly and with dead, humid air. It wasn't THAT hot; the record says 72-75°F, but the sun and 80% humidity were killer. The 10k course was two loops, and I walked most of the first but jogged for several stretches. After mile 2, my sweat wasn't evaporating, the cold water at the aid station couldn't cool me, I was exhausted and starting to feel nauseated. "Oh, hey, I know these to be the early signs of heat sickness. I should probably call it quits."

I thought about it for several minutes but just could not come up with a reason to do the second lap. I'd have toughed it out and walked the rest if I still had a timing chip, but I didn't. And I didn't have anything to prove, either. I was just really happy that they let me on the course at all.

So I ran to the finish line after 5k and accepted a finisher's medal and t-shirt because they'd already been printed and paid for. I'm honest and not gonna lie about having completed the course. The medals were misprinted, so I didn't even get one naming the distance I'd attempted. I'm SUPER proud of my DNF medals and the stories behind them. They're more memorable than any of my dozens of "successful" races and are some of the best decisions I've ever made.

I got a cold water and strode into the lake, successfully cooling myself down finally. The lake felt wonderfully icy cold compared to the hot sun and me.

Soreness doesn't usually set in til the next day, but my butt and adjacent joints are REALLY achy since the race. I'm not looking forward to what develops tomorrow.

So that's it. My first, and most certainly last, Olympic triathlon. I’ve always been amazed by those who do the half and full IronMans, but now I have a much more visceral feeling about such things.

Quick gear review:

One thing I didn't have to worry about was my ENELL sports bra. It fit great and felt great under my tri kit through the whole 5-hour ordeal (from fastening it about 6:40 AM to getting in the water near 8 and heading home about 11:30).

For sprint-distance triathlons, I wear the same tennis shoes to bike and then run 5k. With this run course being 10k, I needed my Vibram Five Fingers, so changing shoes added a little extra time to T2. But I chose the pair I can get on pretty quickly, so it wasn't bad. The VFFs are much lighter and cooler than tennis shoes and socks, which is definitely important in the heat. Further, I feel the dreaded "brick legs" worse when I wear sneakers, but the having lightweight footwear makes the transition much easier.

I had a new BAWG tri kit from epix to wear to this race. I'd worn it to bike with before but hadn't tried it out for the other legs. The sizing is a bit tough. The medium bottoms work for me but do squeeze my thighs quite a bit and are much shorter than my lightly padded bike shorts. Ideally, I'll buy a different padded base layer for future events, such as sprint distances, duathlons, and other bike races.

The top is great, though my only complaint during training was not having a sleeve to wipe my runny nose. Fortunately, allergies did not trouble me at the race. The top rides up a little bit when I run but not as bad as my other tri top, and I can easily add snaps to keep it in place on the shorts. Though the top unzips partway to offer a cooling element, the weird shelf bra thingy blocks all air flow, and I've been thinking about cutting it out entirely.

I did get a zillion compliments, though, and exchanged high fives when I passed one other Wonder Woman on the run course.

I also got to test out my new superhero Bondi Band and am pretty happy with it. The humidity was too much to keep all the sweat off my face, but it otherwise did a great job and stayed in place easily, even as I put on and removed my bike helmet. Get 10% off your own Bondi Band with discount code: WITHAQ.

1 comment:

  1. It's not about me. But I am so proud of you and your perspective on this. Way to go!