Monday, May 2, 2011

Riverwood Golf & Athletic Club Tri

Well I did it, again. I completed another one. What a relief. This was another great day. What a thrill to see so many athletics competing and celebrating personal accomplishments.

Where do I start talking about this weekend? "It was the best of time and the worst of times". That is a line from a book or a movie. I think it was a Tale of Two Cities. That is great way to describe my adventures as a triathlete so far.

I started the mental race preparations on Friday night. Picked up my race packet on Friday night and learned that I was bib number 217. My cursed swimming strikes again. The overall race begins at 8:00 I do not start until 9:00. This means plenty of standing around waiting. No worries. I can handle that now.

Arrive back at home and begin the ritual of packing my transition bag. Checking and double checking. Adjusting and measuring. Trying to ensure everything was in its proper place. Finally all was set and bike loaded.

Woke up at 5:30 and had a bowl of cereal. I am not sure why but I felt very nervous. It was weird. This would be fifth triathlon but I was as nervous as if this was my first. Woke up my youngest son JC and we headed out. I stopped at McDonalds to get breakfast for JC and this turned an adventure itself. First of all they were very, very slow. I was thinking to myself, it 6:00 on Saturday morning, why would there be a line of 10 cars. But I have been in lines at fast food restaurants that went quickly. Well this one didn't. I know we all have had or heard about bad experiences at fast food places and you know you never really expect it will happen to you.

After sitting there for 20 minutes, they brought out my simple order and it was still wrong. But my son, very much like his dad, just said it was ok and ate it without complaint. I guess he could see my frustration since it is now 6:20. Deep soothing breathes, deep soothing breathes.

I arrive at the Athletic Club at around 6:50 about 20 minutes later than I wanted to be there. Again, I am telling myself to just relax. I am still 2 hours ahead of my start time. So just relax.

As I am walking over to transition area, I drop my bike. AUGH! Deep breath. It’s ok. Don't worry it will be alright. I keep this conversation going with myself. I am trying to not allow JC to see how angry I am getting.

I arrive at my rack and find that since I was "late", I wasn't able to get the preferred spot on the rack. Again, deep breath. Relax. I put my transition bag down and rack my bike and go pick up my timing chip and get marked. All set.

Now back to transition to get setup. Once there I find that my bag and bike have both been moved. OMG, can this get any worse? More deep breaths. But then I think to myself that they will probably be well ahead of me after the swim, so do not worry about it.

So I set up my gear, ensuring that I had everything in place. All set. Now I walk up to the pool. The athletic center is very nice. Great equipment, great layout, everything was well kept. Now the pool. I notice that the pool is shallow on one end and deeper on the far side. At my training pool, it was 4 feet to 5 1/2 feet. This pool was 5 feet to 8 feet. Again deep breathes.

I can do this. I have been practicing. I know that I can swim the distance. No worries. Just do it. Finally it's 8:00 and the race begins. As we watch the swimmers take off. I spend the time talking to JC, trying to get his feelings about triathlons. He likes them but doesn't think he would want to do one.

8:30, still watching the swimmers. Everyone lines up and takes off. I say to myself, 30 more minutes. I move to a better spot to watch the swimmers. I see everyone starting really fast and fading by the end. I try to remind myself to take it easy at the beginning. Just take it one lap at a time. Concentrate on your form. You can do this.

9:00 in line waiting to begin. Quietly telling everyone to just go on past me. I know that I am going to be slow and I do not want anyone feeling bad about passing me or to give anyone the impression that I would be climbing over them.

Starting. Take off was pretty smooth. But I forget about taking my time. I rush through the first 25 and at the wall I am struggling and then I remember that I have 275 more yards to go. I keep going I make it about half way back before I have to stop. Forgot all my keys, breathing out the window, patience out the window, forget about relaxing. All my pre-race visualization is shot. Now the brute comes out in me and I think I just need to finish the swim. I can make it up on the bike and run. I get passed what seems like 50 times. AUGH. I cannot believe I suck so badly.

Thankfully I make it to the end and exit the pool. I am thinking, oh well, at least that is over. I scurry along to the transition area. I get to my bike and since I am still angry about the horrible swim, it takes me forever to get going. I just pull my shirt over my head, slip into my shoes, helmet on and forgot that I had a GU in my helmet. After picking it up, I finally start moving. Run out of transition and get to the mount line. After I mount, I try to set my Garmin. No dice. I couldn't get it started and I feel like I am wasting too much time. I again decide to forget it and just go.

The ride was good. I get into a rhythm pretty early. I am motoring along and passing people. I am in aero within the first mile. When I was looking at the information on this ride, it said 14 miles, but the T-shirts said 12 miles. So I wasn't sure which it was. Not that the additional 2 miles meant anything, I just hadn’t thought about it again until I was on the bike.

At about mile 5, I was passed by a female rider. She was doing great and I was thinking she is going to ride off and leave me but then a car pulls out in front of her. It was far enough ahead that she didn't have to hit the brakes hard but enough to break her rhythm. I focus and decide that I am going to ride with her. I pass her and then about a mile later she passed me back. We played leap frog for the rest of the ride. We passed about 10 other riders and we are just moving out. At the end of the ride there were several hills. They helped me to end up ahead of her in the end by about 20 sec. Not much but it was still ahead of her.

I get in and out of transition pretty smoothly and take off on the run. It was a tough run course. So I was trying to be really careful about not burning myself out to early. I feel I am running quick but I am not winded. I know that my heart rate is high but I do not think it’s a problem. I continue to pick off runners. As I pass I shout encouragement. Great job, keep it up.

Turn around was very narrow. When I saw it, I knew that this would break my momentum and I just hoped that I would be able to find my rhythm quickly after the turn. I felt like I did. I was still running with relative easy. I did not think I pushed too hard. At about the 2 mile mark, I passed my biking buddy and we gave each other a high five and keep going. She was doing an outstanding job. I am sure her time was going to be great. Mine on the other hand would be a different story. I finally get to the last turn and pick it up. I still feel like I have plenty in the tank so I pick up the pace and end with smooth strides.

Right after finishing, I see JC he was right there waiting for me. He did a great job videoing the race. He was at all the right spots at the right times. Awesome job by him. For a teen, 14 he was very patience all day. Not antsy or bored with the activities. He seemed very engaged with everything going on around him. I am so proud of him.

Now my race was over and as we were walking to the transition area, we watched people reaching goals they have been training for. All the hours of swimming, running and bike in order to be prepared to do them all on this stage. Crossing that finish line is what makes it all worth it.

I think the highlight of my day was meeting a new friend from Daily Mile - Andrew Brazee.  He had the kind of day I was hoping to have.  He ended up with a 14th place overall finish.  Hoorah, Airborne. 

My time goal going into the day was 1:15. Well I didn't quite make that. Well I wasn't even close to making that this time.

Swim: 8:25
Bike: 47:22
Run: 20.55
Overall: 1:19:25


  1. Ken, don't get discouraged! After looking at you run and seeing your workouts, you are uber fast on the run. You get the swim down, you are going to be the man to beat! I used to swim REALLY BAD (not horizontal at all) until I started to swim with the masters team, then I got a lot more confident in my stroke and it helped big time! Good Luck to you and hope to see you a few more times!

  2. Ken, Andrew is right. You get the swim and everything is going to line up. Your run is highly competitive. I only wish I could have your run times!!! I am jealous and my swimming is not coming along either. Keep it up man. Hopefully will see you in Smithfield for the 3 Little Pigs Triathlon? I will be behind you