If the miles behind me could be put into words before you, you would feel my efforts, my struggles, my desires. Most of all you would see my joy. Watch me from afar run the trails and hills and miles upon miles and you will see ...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

New Balance Half Iron June '07

PREEMPTOR FROM CARRIE: Since this race was done as a 'chase', it was difficult to spectate. You couldn't base where your athlete would be judging from who was going by on the bike. This is why I have to apologise for lack of photos of Darin except for the awards. I was standing out at the side of the road with the kids, waiting for Darin to come by on the bike. We kept watching and waiting. The kids were getting ancy. "When are we going to go in?" "Yep, I think we missed him, Mom."
And I kept answering, "Just a few more minutes, these guys look fast, too." I had the camera at the ready, but wouldn't you know it, as soon as I looked down to change my position, there he was! No picture. Same thing happened on the run. We saw the first place women come by (remember, it was a chase) and were waiting and watching. Then, out he appears from the trail. Everyone knows you can't cheer and snap a picture at the same time! At the finish, I have to say it was poor positioning on my part. The only space was sort of behind a tree and then another guy and his family sandwiched their way between us and I just couldn't see. I could see athletes coming in on the far side in between spectators but couldn't really see who they were until it was too late to focus!

I did manage one focussed shot, in the end.

As I was using this race as a warm-up for Osoyoos in three weeks and to just shake the cobwebs from my racing mentality, I wasn't expecting a whole lot time-wise. Of course I had a time goal, as usual, it didn't really matter what the outcome was. I was basically gauging my fitness to on the bike and run to see if I should push or back off my pace. I also wanted to fine-tune my transitions which, by looking at the results, need a lot of fine-tuning. Maybe it was a bad omen from the start when (more on that later), in the ferry line up, I realised I had forgotten my half-bottle of CarboPro 1200 in the fridge at home. No worries, I'd just grab some at a running store in Victoria. So we get there and I find out Running Room doesn't sell it and a further twenty minute drive to Peninsula Runners revealed they had sold the last one earlier in the day. That's cool, this wasn't an 'A' race, I just picked up some Hammer nutrition endurance stuff where the main ingredient is maltodextrin, my fuel of choice. Grabbed a few gels as well for back up and I was on my way. No use in worrying about things out of my control. Even though I'd never used the Hammer stuff I was open to using it because there was nothing else.
Made it to Carrie's aunt's (Barb, thanks for the free accommodation and cheerful hospitality!) and set out to get the race package. The weather was calling for rain on Sunday but bringing with me a great record of racing in decent conditions, I was optimistic that things would turn out alright. The morning turned out overcast but not cold and didn't feel like rain. We got lucky as it never rained at all and the sun came out for a bit during the run.
So back to the bad omen thing: I looked at my run number the night before and in the morning went to get body-marked after I dropped my bike off. I told the marker '652' and wasn't until I actually got my race number out that I saw it was actually '562'. Great. I had to change the '5' to a '6' but changing the '6' to a '5' was not so easy so the guy basically scribbled out the '6' and wrote the '5' beside it. Now that looked ridiculous, never done that before and I SWEAR I'll never make that mistake again. Then I remembered about the timing chip I'd picked up already. The girl at the table exchanged chips with me and I have to apologize to the poor athlete who went to pick up 652 and found out someone else had picked it up earlier. I joked that "I bet that's never happened before" and the chip girl replied that I was the third person that day who had mixed up numbers. Not a good sign.
I haven't done a mass-start swim since July '05 at the Peach Classic. Needless to say, I wasn't looking forward to this. Luckily the race was done in waves so the whole 600 people weren't going all at once. I started out and five strokes later I could feel the anxiety building. It happens when I don't race for a while. The water was a bit choppy and every time I breathed, I got slapped in the face by it. Luckily there wasn't a mass of swimmers near me or I would have freaked right out. Anyways after stopping and taking a few deep breaths I resumed and started feeling better by the five minute mark and completed the swim in my turtle pace of thirty minutes and change, besting my '01 time by two minutes. More bad omen stuff: I was tugging on my wetsuit zipper cord all the way back to my bike and could not get the @#$! thing undone. I was trying the velcro tabs that covered the tab and nothing worked. I actually asked the guy beside me to get it for me, "no, my friend, this really isn't my first triathlon, honest". So now I'm out of my wetsuit, helmet, glasses, socks, shoes, grab my bike from the rack and it doesn't come. I put the saddle under the bar but with the bikes (yes, I actually came out ahead of others) and bags and transition crap next to it there was some tender jockeying of gear to get it out. Okay, in the pedals and on the road.
About eight k in one of the elastics from the aerobottle on my bars breaks. All I can think of now is if the other one goes I either ditch the bottle or end up holding down with my thumbs as I ride along. Oh, well, deal with that when it or if it happens. I saw quite a few people with flats along the way and was fully expecting to blow a tire any second. The first lap of the bike felt surprisingly easy - the hills felt good and I just spun up them mostly in my aerobars. The second lap I could feel the hills for sure but think I was only a couple minutes slower so that was good. The Hammer stuff went down okay and I actually stomached some gels which I haven't done in years. Came in to transition and didn't fall over or anything!! There would be no more bad things to happen.
Took off doing four minute km's which felt surprisingly easy. This is the ten km run course that I did the Elk/Beaver 100km race on back in May last year. Nice to know this time that I would only be doing it twice. It was a trip down memory lane of that 100km day seeing the same spots along the way and where the aid station was where the ever-diligent Carrie was handing me new bottles for eight hours. Of course the ever-kind Carrie says to me as I saw her after the first lap, "only nine more laps to go!!". I was feeling good until about fifteen k's when fatigue set in. I thought about my marathon finish in May and new I had more in me. I also thought about how this was supposed to be a feeling-out day and a warm up for Osoyoos. Instead of cranking out the next four k's I decided to go hard from eight to nine and then coast in. Don't ask me why but I started going hard from seven to eight. I caught up to a guy who had passed my around the ten km mark and the competitive impulses were too much, I had to keep pushing it a little to stay ahead of him. Had I gone a bit faster sooner I may have caught up to the guy in my age group that finished ten seconds ahead of me in second place. OR I could have cut a minute off my first transition and not had to go hard at all.
This race was all about re-discovery for the longer course races and I learned alot over the four+ hours. Osoyoos here I come!!

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