First things first: This is going to be a loooooooong post and part one of two. Part two will be official race photos.
Our triathlon story starts the night before when Brandon joined the ranks of the shaven-legged.
With full hair.
Slowly but surely, the hair came off.
Starting the process.
The start of the hair pile.
One leg almost entirely hair-free!
Oh the hair ...
Hair free, it was time to pack up the car and go to bed.
Saturday morning, we woke up bright and early. The park opened at 5:30 and we wanted to be there at the open. We ended up running a bit late, but only got to the park about 10 minutes later than intended ... and there were still like 40 cars in front of us. That was the first sign we thought we might be outclassed.
We got into transition ... which already had several people set up. We decided to quickly snag spots (on an end on the main row - woo!) before heading to pick up our packets and whatnot.
See? It's still dark out.
Spots claimed, we headed down to packet pick-up.
We hit the bathroom, got our packets and headed back up to transition. We wanted to take our bikes for a quick spin to warm up our legs a little. One of my cleats seemed loose in the pedal, so I went down to the Wheat Ridge Cyclery tent to have them check it out. The cleat wasn't loose, but something was a bit off ... the dude made some adjustment to my pedal, told me I may need new cleats soon (figured as much anyway) and that clipping out may be a bit harder now since stuff got tightened. I didn't care as long as the slide-y feeling was gone and it was.
Bike all fixed, we went on that ride and then finally decided to get body-marked and once and for all figure out what the hell we were exactly doing on the swim course.
Brandon marked up.
Crawdad spotted in the res. Yep, he was sitting in a spot which several hundred triathletes would soon be invading.
Me marked up.
At this point, my mom and Brandon's parents had made it to the Res, so we chatted with them briefly before going up to transition one last time to get ready. Brandon got his wetsuit on and we both snagged our goggles and swim caps, sunscreened ourselves and put on some last minute Body Glide. Transition then closed and we all trucked down to the swim beach for the start of the race.
Like Cheyenne, RattleSnake let us get into the water first and swim around a bit until it was time for our wave to start. Since I didn't have a wetsuit, this was particularly awesome as I could get acclimated to the water ... not that I really needed to because the water was the warmest it had been all season - same as My Way or the Tri Way last year. Go figure.
After a quick dip in the res, we took a few more pictures and soon it was time to start.
Brandon and his mom.
Like Cheyenne, we had a time trial start for this one, too. As Brandon explained in his post below, the swim was technically a two lap course - go out, swim around the buoy, come back to shore, hop out on dry land, cross the timing mat (no cheating!), swim back up to the buoy, hang a right instead and finish the triangle back to shore.
Given that it was a loop course, you encountered a ton of people on the swim. On the first lap. On the second lap. On the final. I have never been swum over so much in my life. I'd done a lot of open water swims this year (comparatively speaking) so that was good, but I think the best way to prepare for a tri is to find a whole bunch of people, force yourselves to stay at the same pace and just swim all over each other.
Yes, it sucked. No, I didn't like it.
That being said, I felt pretty good at the first loop. I knew I was behind a whole lot of people (a trend that kept steady throughout the whole race), but I was feeling all right. The worst part of the swim was the back half - the water was definitely choppier and I was inhaling a lot more water. Luckily, I've basically learned how to deal with that and not choke and hack in the water as in years past ... but it was still pretty rough.
Lap 1 Time: 18:48
Lap 1 Rank: 415
Lap 2 Time: 21:15
Lap 2 Rank: 415
Time: 40:03 (418th overall)
My mom didn't get many race photos, but she did get one of each of us coming out of the water toward transition:
Look at me go.
Brandon looks so giddy.
T1 went a lot smoother in this race than in Cheyenne ... although not putting on bike shorts over wet legs helps a whole lot with that.
Overall, not much to say ... though it did suck knowing there were a lot of bikes gone out of transition already. But, basically, it was in, out, on the bike.
The bike course at Aurora Reservoir races sucks. I'm just going to go ahead and say that right now. You first have a hill leaving the transition parking lot, go down a mini hill to the main road ... and deal with more hills on your way out of the park.
Unlike Tri Way last year, though, this course didn't take you out the main Res road straight to Quincy. Instead, we went on some side road, looped it around to some other side road and finally out to Quincy. A little after that first turnaround, I saw Brandon; this was probably about three miles into the race. At that point I knew he was going to have a faster time than I.
Still, I kept plugging. Kept plugging when we got back out on Quincy. I was feeling fairly good, big ring-ing it whenever I could and STAYING in it whenever I could. I accomplished this fairly well until the turnaround at the halfway point.
At which point I realized, F. Headwind. Baaaaad headwind. Didn't even really realize I had a tailwind going out until I turned into that massive effing headwind.
Needless to say, the second half of the bike sucked. I managed to get about one crack cookie in me (no-bake cookies; so wonderful) as well as some Gatorade, but, as I later found out, it wasn't nearly enough fluid. Still, at least I was putting down some nutrition on the bike - something I had never really done before in races.
Fighting the hills was worse too, as I finally had to go into baby ring around mile 16 or 17 (shortly after i saw brandon, incidentally. i saw him about a mile away from the turnaround). It also didn't help seeing the dwindling number of people coming the other way ... knowing I was definitely near the bottom of the group (and i'm typically a mid-pack racer). Also not helpful: my right leg starting to ache right where your hamstring attaches to your butt ... crotch getting sore (damn tri shorts) ... hills.
The best part of the bike, and I still maintain this over a week after the fact, was the probable good race karma I got by handing off one of my gels to a chick on the bike who somehow dropped half her nutrition. I knew I wasn't going to eat it and had another for the run, so why not give it to someone in need? We kind of illegally rode together for a while to make the hand-off, but eh.
The bike also got a good quote as I passed some guy after we turned back on that weird side road.
Him: "Usually, I'm happy to get out of the water. I never thought I'd be even happier when I get off the bike!"
Yeah. It sucked that much. UGH.
Time: 1:44:32 (14.2 mph; 418th overall)
I was moving a little slower in T2 than in Cheyenne ... although that might be because I tossed on a bit more Body Glide (like in between my toes. weird, but i need it there). I dunno.
This run was my second official 10K ever after BolderBOULDER earlier this year. It was also a lot suckier than BB was.
We saw the parents very soon on the run; Brandon's mom made a cute sign cheering us on and seeing it did actually help a bit ... not that you can tell in this photo.
Yes, I was still running at this point. Not that it would last long ...
Brandon on the run.
Though I had initially hoped to run quite a bit of this run ... it wasn't to be. Fairly early on I had to stop and stretch out, due to that bike soreness. Very soon, the run became a run/walk. I ate my gel (chocolate hammer; it's like pudding!) within that first mile, I believe. I ran as much as I could (mostly on the uphills ... 'cuz i'm weird like that), but it was a lot of walking. I stopped at every aid station for water. I tried the Gatorade ... but lemon lime just doesn't do it for me. Yuck.
The 5K point was a happy point ... partially because they had pretzels and I was feeling the salt crust on my face and I wanted to get some of that back in me.
Shortly after the halfway point, I saw Brandon. We stopped and chatted for a second; we both learned the other was in pretty rough shape. I was convinced he was going to catch up to me as he was MAYBE a quarter mile behind me. Little did I know how much he was hurting (or about his bathroom needs).
The halfway point also provided a brief energy and confidence boost that was sadly short-lived. Still, I kept plugging along. I briefly chatted with one guy, mainly about how the crappy wind from the bike kinda felt good on the run from a cooling standpoint. He noticed a bug on my back (probably a damn grasshopper; bastards are everywhere this year) and brushed it off, which was much appreciated.
The miles continued to tick by and the running was harder and harder. At the last water station (so a mile to go), the volunteer said it was downhill the whole way ... which was a total vicious lie. Turd. That last mile also felt like the longest mile of my life. Oh dear god.
I kept checking my watch ... waterlogged and half-dead as it was (freaking watch) ... knowing that 3:30 was a lost cause at that point, even though I was kinda hoping for it. Since that left, I was hoping for just under four. It was ugly.
Finally, though, the finish was in sight ... where Mom got one of the most awkward photos of me running. Ever.
I'm mid-arm swing. How weird does this look? I mean, seriously.
How I managed to pull my traditional sprint across the finish line out of my ass I still don't know. The Australian announcer guy loved it though.
Time: 1:17:33 (12:31/mi, 446th overall)
34/39 division (F2529)
Soon after I finished, Brandon came running across.
I'll keep this short as I've already taken up way too much internet with this stupid post. Long story short ... this race was the hardest thing I've ever done. It also taught me the importance of two things that were either neglected or, imho, poorly executed this year - bike/run bricks, and cycling in general. Good lord do I need to get stronger on the bike. And ride in wind and crappy weather no matter what.
In a sprint, it's short enough that you can will your way through. I feel like I kind of did that here, but there's no way in hell I'll be able to do so for a half or full Ironman (which are definitely on the future agenda).
The best thing I took out of this race was that I know I'll be able to do the half-Iron distance swim, as it's only a third of a mile more. That? Doable.
With the sign Brandon's mom made for us.
Ice bath later on.