Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Race Report: HITS Half Iron Distance Triathlon - Part 2!

When we left off, Moses and I had taken very different approaches to the pre-race routine. But we were finally ready, and Jessica and he got into their car and I got into mine and our tiny caravan started toward the race.

Jessica and I both wanted coffee and we stopped at 2 convenience stores before finding one that was open at 5am. We got our coffee and breakfast bars, and I got pretzel nuggets for my new during-race snack because, as you recall, my croissants were needed elsewhere and I'd tried pretzel nuggets during the Naked Bavarian in March.

When we reached the race, it was light outside, but the weather did not look promising and I was pessimistic based on the rain from the previous evening. Nevertheless, Moses and I were both very excited. He to be doing his first triathlon, and I to be just doing triathlon, which is something of a rarity because of its high cost in both money and time.

We unloaded the cars and walked over to the registration tent to pick up our packets. It's rare for a half or iron distance event to have morning-of packet pickup and it's something I appreciated here. After stuffing my envelope into my tri backpack, I did a tiny loop around the parking lot on my bike to make sure it was in working order, and then we went to the transition area to begin setting up.

This was definitely a low-cost event. I'm certainly not complaining because I am cheap, but it's worth mentioning that it showed. Typically, bikes are lined up on rails, but it looked like the race organizers had finagled some sort of system with particle board shelving units and folding footstools? It looked as strange as it sounds, plus it made knowing exactly where to park our bikes challenging. It took me a good five minutes just to find my number!

Once I did, I busied myself putting number stickers on everything (swim cap, helmet, bike) and putting all my gear in appropriate piles. Bike shorts, shoes, socks, sunglasses, and race bib belt made up the bike pile. Running shoes, running shorts (it was unusual for me to have two shorts-changes), and a running shirt (also unusual) made up the run pile and I always place my helmet on top of my aero bars. I stuffed some pretzel nuggets into the covered pocket of my saddle bag so they wouldn't get as wet.

When we first got there, almost no one was wearing or putting on a wetsuit, so I spent a good amount of time sussing out whether or not most people would wear theirs because the water was warm. 25-30 minutes until race time, the suits started to come out for half and iron triathletes (probably Olympic, too, but I didn't see them as much), so I put mine on. My wetsuit makes me look and feel like a sausage.

I chatted some with Jessica and Moses before realizing the pre-race talk was happening near the water's edge and I said goodbye and good luck as I walked off to listen and subsequently start the race. My swim would be two loops around the course. I knew this would be troublesome from the get-go. The more direction changes there are, the worse I swim because I can't swim in a straight line to save my life.

The gun went off and the swim started, ever a frenzy. I try to hang back as much as possible at the start, because I'm going to end up in the back anyway and want to minimize the number of times I get kicked and hit getting there. The water was warm. I knew it was supposed to be, but it was even warmer than I expected. This was the first time I'd felt too warm during the swim. The good news is that I'd actually remembered to bring lube for my neck, so didn't chafe the hell out of myself.

The actual swimming went even more poorly than I expected and I can't tell you how many times I had to change direction and overcorrect myself in some way. It was a mess and I think I did it in 1:02, which is abysmal.

Well, this has already turned into a novel, so I guess it's going to be a 4-parter. To be continued!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Race Report: HITS Half Iron Distance Triathlon - Part 1!

I really meant to get around to posting about this, but I forgot. A few weeks ago, I switched from the full distance to the half distance tri. I haven't been able to put in the time I needed for it and was getting nervous that I'd be stuck doing it and then not finish. I imagine there are few endurance-related things that are worse than spending over 12 hours trying to finish a race and being picked up from the course, which is what I was anticipating.

Now, all that implies that I wasn't ready in any way, shape, or form for this triathlon. In fact, if you'd asked me about it point blank before the race, I would have readily agreed.

But it was fantastic. I certainly didn't PR (I PWed, but by less than 2 minutes) but it felt good. Like, really, bizarrely good. I'm not sure what happened, but I think I was better prepared than I felt I was. Also, just as you can have a really awful day, you can have really good ones and I think Saturday I had an incredible day.

I drove up to Kingston on Friday night a little bit later than I'd planned because of some work follow up that took longer than I expected. The drive was mostly fine except for scattered torrential downpours, but it was all still fine. My only real complaint is that I got there too late to forage for any sort of dinner. I could have, but it was late and raining a lot and I didn't think it was worth the risk. Fortunately, I'd gotten croissants from Dunkin Donuts (I know, guys, I know. I wanted bagels too but that was the best breakfast pastry the Penn Station Dunkin had to offer). They became my dinner instead of my breakfast and during-race snack, as I'd originally planned.

When I arrived, my friends Jessica and Moses were already there and they were kind enough to bring a spacious air mattress along for me. We stayed up making and laughing at fart jokes for longer than we should have and finally went to sleep a little after midnight, planning to wake up at 4.

The alarm went off at 4, as we'd planned. Moses jumped up and started getting ready with a lot more fanfare than I did. I slept for another 15 minutes. After we were both ready to go, Moses did light calisthenics while I took a catnap. And thus, the adventure began!