Monday, September 21, 2015

Race #4 of the Season: Harvest Moon Long-Course Triathlon

Also affectionately known as "Baby's First DNF."

Let's rewind. 

I raced this last year. I knew I could do better on training.

We pre-rode the course - or at least the best estimation possible given available roads - the week before. It went better than it did last year. Yes, we stopped quite a bit, but I didn't hammer as hard as I would in a race, either.

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Seen on the pre-ride.

Then, the week leading up ... I haven't had that bad of a week since April/May and the house stuff. Some sort of malaise came over me and training was little to non-existent. I mean, I meant to ... it just didn't happen. Ever feel not right in your skin? Same deal ...

Saturday, I went up to Skirt Sports for their anniversary Boobie Run. I didn't run, but I did hang out and help out back at HQ while everyone else was running.

(I am the burrito master (mistress?).)

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Very professional start/finish.

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Super delicious Kim and Jake's cake!

Helping out didn't give me time to get in a super quick run, and then the afternoon saw packet pick-up, a phone call with my friend Courtney that was much needed, and then race day nutrition.

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Skratch cookies! Okay, cookie bars. Chocolate chip and bacon. Picture seen on Instagram/Twitter.

Race day dawned fairly normal. We were a bit worried about the heat, as the temperature in the forecast just kept rising, but there's nothing you can do about it, you know?

We were also concerned for the bike course. We found out a few days prior to race start that (apparently) thanks to the farmers on the course, the sheriff's department said we couldn't do the normal loop. Instead, we got a four-loop, closed-course that was partially in the reservoir grounds and partially on Quincy. It looked ... not fun.

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I started before Brandon in the swim, which was good, because we were hoping to be close enough so that we could do the run together.

The Swim:

I couldn't sight for shit going out, partially due to the sun. I aimed myself at a buoy ... and apparently it was a buoy on the return trip because a kayaker had to poke me back on course. Figures. Still, I kept on trucking, feeling like I was doing ... okay ... and for the most part, swimming by myself with NO ONE around me.

About halfway through, I felt the telltale signs of neck chafing which REALLY pissed me off because I vaseline'd the ever-living CRAP out of my neck. Any advice on how to combat this would be MUCH appreciated

In any case, the sighting of the finish arch when I could see it as opposed to the buoys worked well again and I successfully managed to avoid the boat dock this year.

Got out of the water and saw 52: or 53: something on my watch and slightly grumbled.

Estimated Time: 55:55

T1:

Took a bit longer in T1 than I usually do because of my new DeSoto Cool Wings. The TriSports kit we have is a racerback and I wanted to avoid sunburn (fail), so I decided on the cool wings as opposed to just the arm coolers. Problem is ... they're kind of a pain to put on, especially over wet arms. Live and learn ...

Estimated Time: 3:03

The Bike: 

In short, it sucked.

Loop one was ... okay, not great. Realized there was a lot of climbing, some descending, no long stretches to just fly ... this bike course was going to be a lot of work. Given trial and error, figured out I was about 3/4ths of a mile behind Brandon.

Loop two was hell. I've been working on strengthening my hips and in the process ... I think I'm messing with something in that area as my adductor (inner thigh? never remember ...)/hamstring/whatever on my right leg was giving me shit. It was okay if I stayed below around a 75 cadence ... which isn't efficient and sucks when you've trained yourself to be most comfortable in the high-80s/low-90s. The pain made me want to mail it in by the time I finished.

I snagged Brandon on the out-and-back near the start/finish of the loops and talked to him. He said he wasn't doing all that well, but he'd slow and wait for me to catch up so we could (legally) ride the course together.

Loop three, whether by coincidence or not, was loads better. It felt, well, more normal, and like I could possibly finish this stupid course.

Loop four I was cooked. It wasn't hot out there until it was, the wind was popping in and out, and I experienced something I've never experienced before on the bike - my feet overheating. Sure, it happens on the run quite a bit (especially if it's over 90 degrees out), but on the bike? It made every single pedal stroke utter agony for about eight of the 14 miles of that loop. I stopped at the aid station to get more water and ask the med staff about it; they just doused my feet with water (which admittedly helped, but wouldn't work on the run due to blisters) and did not give me very helpful advice.

At this point, I also learned that Brandon had puked once or twice ... and he continued to do so on the ride back up the hill into transition.

In conclusion, there were two good things about the bike:

1.) GETTING OFF OF IT.
2.) Seeing the aid station guys (and later, a park ranger) wrangle an unhappy (and huge!) rattlesnake at the edge of the aid station.

Estimated Time: 4:07:29

T2:

With my feet the way they were, with the bike being so goddamned slow, and with Brandon puking, I decided that we were done. I hit transition already just over five hours on the race clock and if my feet kept overheating (likely), I was unsure if I'd be able to complete the run without getting yanked off. As we still have Silverman to go this racing season, I made the decision to leave the course.

I changed us into flip flops and walked down to the medical tent. Brandon half-collapsed in the grass on the way down (he doesn't remember this). I steered him to the tent and then handed in our chips. I apparently wasn't 100% clear with them that we were DNFing because if I had been, we would have had official splits (some weird timing company quirk). As it was ... I'm going off the rough estimates off my watch (so scientific).

With how overheated Brandon was (and, as we found out later, how fuzzy his memory turned), I have no regrets in making him finish his day after the bike. I had my bottle of Skratch Rescue mix that I had made for the run and was drinking it in the tent - that was one of my more genius ideas and, had I attempted the run, probably would have helped me out tremendously.

As for me, it's hard to know that I willingly pulled myself out of a race that I could have (maybe) finished. Had it been my final race of the season (or at least only 70.3), I would have kept going. However, I had to do what was best for the long-term, and that was bowing out gracefully and going out on my own terms.

Harvest Moon was my 75th race and my first DNF. All things considered, one in 75 ain't bad.

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