It’s Monday and I’m still here, which means I survived my return to the world of triathlons. My last one was in 1992. Time flies.
As expected, my performance in the Smith Mountain Lake Triathlon on Saturday wasn’t pretty. But it could have been worse. My times for the swim, bike and run were actually about what I expected I’d do, which was good considering what I went through the day before the race.
About mid-morning Friday I started feeling some rumbling in my gut and I spent the next five hours within 20 feet of the bathroom. And let’s just say that while I had been teetering on eligibility for the Masters Clydesdale division (200 pounds, minimum), by the end of the day I was well under weight.
In all my years of competitive racing way back when, I had only one case of nerves-induced sickness. And back then I was actually trying to do well. I had no reason to be nervous about this race. So I can only figure I ate something bad.
I was better but not great the next morning. In fact, I had to make one emergency stop at a convenience store during the drive to Smith Mountain Lake for the race. But once I got there I felt OK, although the ordeal had been somewhat draining. Sorry. Couldn’t help that.
My co-workers Mason Adams and Katrina Waugh were also in the race and rode out there with me. That was kind of fun. Their approach was about like mine: Let’s just get through this thing. (Both of them got through it, too.)
I had loaned Mason my old triathlon wetsuit, which was too small for me. He was easy to spot on the beach because no one else was wearing a circa 1988 Wavelength with a neon yellow stripe.
I had planned to wear neoprene shorts and a shirt for the 750-meter swim but the water was a chilly 65 degrees so I wore my old Rip Curl full suit. It’s designed for surfing, not swimming, but worked OK.
I was in the third wave. I hadn’t been too worried about the open water swim but I ended up gulping some water during breaths early in the swim. I figured my warm-up would be the first part of the swim, which meant I felt pretty crappy during that first 250-meter leg. That said, I was actually kind of freaking out early in the swim, but just focused on relaxing and managed to calm down.
As I approached the first bouy I saw off to my left a swimmer from the second wave, which had started four minutes ahead of me. It was Mason. He had said he was nervous about the swim and now I knew why. He said he ended up doing the sidestroke and breast stroke all the way in.
I later kidded him that he may have been the only racer whose bike split was faster than his swim split. (His swim was actually faster by about 20 minutes).
The final 500 meters of the swim went OK for me and I got out of the water in just over 15 minutes. I took it slow heading into the transition area because I was trying to get my wetsuit off. Despite a liberal pre-swim dousing of Body Glide, it wasn’t easy. My transition time was something like 3:30, but was closer to 5 minutes counting my walk up the hill from the beach.
I felt pretty crappy on the bike ride, especially after my seat started shifting since I hadn’t tightened it properly on the seat post.
I passed a few folks but got passed by many more. The highlight (sarcasm) was when I got passed by a guy on a mountain bike. At least he had slick tires. Another highlight was when some tool blew buy me and screamed “Move over!” at this woman who was just ahead of me. I yelled something like, “You’re my hero!” at him.
My split for the 20K bike was 43:03, about what I expected.
My confidence heading into the run wasn’t good, largely because I ran a grand total of three times during my training, and never more than three miles.
The first part of the run is never fun, and Saturday it was brutal. Not only was I tight, but both of my feet were numb. I really wanted to walk, but I just kept plodding. The feeling eventually returned to my feet and I actually started feeling OK in the second half of the run which, thankfully, was almost all downhill.
Approaching the finish line I was running alongside a guy who looked to be in his 60s. He started really pushing it, relatively speaking.
Now, there’s no winning a sprint with someone who is 20 years your senior. If you sprint and lose — and that would have been entirely possible in this case — you look bad. If you sprint and win you look really bad.
So I just paced it on in and let him do his thing. My run time for the 5K was 26:21,
Total time was 1:31:07. I was 213th overall out of 320 entrant, and 27th in my 37-person age group.
That’s somewhat disappointing, but I keep reminding myself that just three months ago I was in the worst shape in my life.
The key now is to keep this going.
Mason, who recovered nicely during his bike and run, wants to do the Bath County Triathlon on June 23. It’s at Lake Moomaw, one of my favorite places in the world. But I don’t know that I need to be doing another race that soon. I would be better, but not that much better. So right now I’m thinking I’ll enter the Sandman Triathlon in Virginia Beach on Sept. 16. With four more months of training, barring illness or injury, I think I could move into the top half of my age group.
I’m also looking forward to doing Smith Mountain Lake next May and am eager to see how many minutes I can shave off my time.
So starts another obsession…