First off here is a brief list of things which I consider good tips for a long distance triathlon based on my experience yesterday:
-Anti-diarrhea medicine taken before race to preempt any possible emergencies. I am certain this was probably one the two or three best things I did yesterday, at least so far as planning ahead.
-Don't spray sunscreen on or near face. Use rub-on stuff instead for the face, and keep it away from the area near the eyes.
-Plan out your race supplements separate them for each portion of the tri. I had my Sport Legs pills and pain relief pills in baggies. But for the bike this didn't work out well because of the severe wind. I could not open it without either stopping or losing control of the bike. So I chose to stop.
-Tie your tri short's waist band laces before the wetsuit goes on (duh!). I somehow forgot and had to stop near the beginning of the bike to pull them up, as they were starting to sag. And because my hands were still frozen from the swim I had difficulty tying the knot.
-When you see lots of white caps in the river or lake before your swim--either quit right then or be prepared for one of the worst swims of your life.
Pre-race: I was able to get up without too much problem. I had only had 5 hours of sleep that night, and 4 hours of intermittent sleep that night before that. Actually all week the Vikingman had been robbing me of sleep. It was stressing me as much as my bar exam last year I think. Totally ridiculous. Nevertheless, I was feeling decent that cold morning when I headed out the door of Fish's In-laws in Burley a little before 6 AM. The wind was evident, but it didn't seem too bad then. I got marked up with numbers all over the place and then put on the wetsuit, swim socks, and insulated cap. Yes I wore the cap, and I was glad I did.
Swim (Time 48:37): I was in the last wave and the water was colder than my trial at Hagg lake a week ago. We only had a minute or so between the time that we were allowed to get into the water and when the gun went off. That sucked. It was so cold my face hurt. I wasn't sure that this was going to work out so well. I started after most everyone had headed out. I did this on purpose so that I would not get mowed over and have time to get used to the water. I didn't care about time, just survival. I wasn't sure that it was going to be possible to finish at first.
So I started in and went to work. After a bit I had to stop. I was about 30 feet from shore and pause when I got smashed by a swell. It was hard to get into any sort of rhythm. When I turned to breathe it was not uncommon for water to rush in to my mouth instead when I would get slapped by a swell or wave. Also I would be swimming and then there wouldn't be any water around my shoulders--either the water would drop away or I was being propelled upwards. Either way it sucked. The water was fairly shallow much of the time so I could actually stand at times. I wasn't the only doing this either. I actually passed a fair amount of people from early waves, so I wasn't even close to the slowest out there. I was actually near the mid-pack at this point.
I did actually get used to the water. Really. I mean it was cold but it wasn't bothersome. That took about 10 to get to the point where it wasn't so cold that my face and hands hurt. I got out and the real fun began. Yeah, and I thought that swim sucked....
Bike (3:25:57): I had been looking forward to this part of the tri most. The course seemed like it would be pretty fast. Well, this would have been true had it not been for constant 20mph winds with additional gusts on top of that. 20 mph doesn't seem like much until you are heading straight into it. I could not manage much more than 12 or 13 mph on the flats going into that wind. Fish was riding near me much of the time. We would occasionally swap spots, him leading me by about 20 or 30 feet and them I would pop in front when I had some energy during the first 23 windy miles. As I mentioned the bike was not without some problems. I had to stop and tie my tri shorts. I had to stop and take some ibuprofen and sportlegs because the wind would have caused me to crash had I not. It was worth stopping though, because my back was starting to tense up way too soon. This was probably because of a combination of the cold (about 39-40 degree when we got out of the water) and because I was having to work way too hard on the bike because of the wind. Fish told me afterwards that it probably hurt the lighter people because the wind would tend to blow them easier. That may or may not be true, however, I felt like I was a big sail and the wind was just trying to beat me back. Staying in the aero position was key to conserving energy. When I popped out of it on occasion for one reason or another it was amazing what the difference was. Someone was ringing a cowbell about 10 feet from me as I was riding by and the wind was enough to silence it. I could tell the bell was ringing because the family was moving their bells up and down, but the sound never reached my ears. Yeah, the wind sucked.
Finally we made the first turn and then we began to ride with the wind on our left. I noticed a rider in front of me riding so that he leaned into the wind. It looked like he was tilted a good 5 degrees or more to the windward side. I think we were all having to do that just so that we could stay going mostly straight. I saw a couple guys riding with a full disc rear wheels. That had to suck with the wind at their side.
Also, I mentioned in one of my tips, not so apply sunscreen to your face via a spray. Even though I didn't try and get it in my eyes it must have gotten on my eye lashes or eyelids which then seemed to transfer into my eyes. Because of this for the remainder of the triathlon my eyes were very irritated. The wind made them worse. Much of the time during the bike portion I was riding I was doing it with a bunch of extra or with just one eye open. It sucked. The only thing that made it bearable was that everyone else was going just a slow and seemed just as miserable.
There really were some guys that were flying. The wind didn't seem to affect some of these guys. It really just sapped my strength. When we finally started to go with the wind at our backs it was great. 30mph was pretty easy to hold, which is why I finished in the time I did rather than at over 4 hours. For the men, I finished about mid pack during the bike. I feel pretty good about that, because for a variety of reasons (i.e. my lower back, eyes, dead legs, etc.) I was actually looking forward to the run, or at least getting of the damn bike. And when I did get off the bike I realized that my feet were still numb from a combination of the cold and possibly having my shoes too tight.
Run (2:31:10): I knew that Fish was pretty close behind me so I decided to wait for him. I thought that it would be nice to run along side him to take my mind of how much this deal was sucking. He had to go back to his bike to get his Garmin. That cost me a little bit of time, but no big deal. I was feeling pretty good actually and thought that it would not be too bad of a run. I didn't think that I would be holding Fish back on the run. Not to diss on Fish, but I figured that I could at least hold the same pace as him. Then Fish stopped to take a leak. I waited for the one time not the second time. He was also wearing his pink "FatCyclist.com" like me. I thought it might be a little too gay for me to wait nearby for him while he was relieving himself. So I ran on. He was never too far back, but by the first or second mile I realized that having him back there would help push me. I had wanted to run the whole half marathon without stopping. For time, I at least wanted to run faster 12 minutes per mile. I think I ended up running a little bit slower than 11:30 per mile on average. Again, considering the wind, I am happy with that.
But early on I started to get worried. By the end of the 4th mile I thought I might be in trouble. My thigh muscles started to feel like they were rocks. They hurt. And then Fish started to slowly creep up. At one time he was a hundred yards back around the 4th mile. By the 8th mile he was about 40 feet behind me. I just wanted to make it to the 10th mile before he passed me. Miles 9 and 10 were the miles when I was just trying to prolong the inevitable--Fish passing me. I was pretty much out gas and any reserves I had were just about gone. There was a turnaround at the 10th mile marker and when I hit it I expected to see Fish. But nope. He was nearly a half mile back. He said that his fingers started to feel numb and so he slowed down in case there was something wrong--well of course there was something wrong, we should have done by then. The 10 mile turnaround put us into the wind for the pretty much the rest of the time until the finish line. Those last miles hurt. Twinges of pain in both my calves letting me know that the cramping was about to begin. It was a victory that I made it until the 11th mile without walking. After that I started to walk about 25 yards and then run 100 yards. I did this until the final mile when I caught up with another runner. He and I ran the last mile together talking pretty much the entire time. A woman caught us and started to pass us right at the end and we decided to try and beat her to the line--and this was not because she was female but because no one wants to get passed at the finish. I started to take off too, but both calves went stiff and I almost went down in pain. I kept running but I did it trying not to use my calf muscles at all--which means I looked like an idiot when I cross the finish line. But I crossed. It was awesome.
Fish finished about 12 minutes later, and his wife, Cindy a bit after that.
Overall, it was a pretty well run triathlon. The finisher's shirt says "I conqured the Viking Man" and with the misspelling it kind of lessens the prize a bit. And the gave out medals as well, which had actually made it through a spell check.
The wind made the a difficult event more challenging--which was really not necessary. I realize that I could do the Hula Man out here, which is fairly hilly and is a lake swim instead of a river swim. I had shied away from it previously for those reasons. However, I am done with half ironman distance triathlons until next year at the earliest. This one was more than enough for this year.
Here are my stats for the race:
Total Time: 6:58:02 (and proud of it too considering the conditions)
Age Group: 25/33 (5 of the top 10 were from may age group. There were some seriously fast guys in my group
Clydesdale: I didn't register for the Clydesdale class but I could have (I am 204lbs. right now). If so I would have been 5th out of 12.
Last year the fastest time was around 4:10 and this year it was just barely under 5 hours. I think there was only one or two guys that finished under 5 hours. I think that I would have been sub 6:20 had there been little wind. But, that is the way it goes, I feel I did a good race. My pacing was good and at the end I had nothing left. My eyes finally started to feel good again about 2 hours after the race was over. I was awfully sore, but three hours after the race I was on my way back home for the 600 mile trip back home.
Today I am walking but slowly...very slowly. Oh yeah, and everything hurts.
I plan on doing one more tri this year. Probably an olympic. I am thinking the Scoggins Valley Tri the end of August. For now, it is time to start mountain biking. It is time for a little fun.