Thursday, July 12, 2007

Lost in Transition

starring: alan macdougall
not co-starring: Scarlett Johansson

It's been a weird season, that's for sure. Just doing an April Ironman is odd. The Griskus Sprint Triathlon was no exception.

I have a mixed history with the race. I was on a team with Ken Osborn and Guy D'Aniello that beat the entire field one year. I also sliced my hand open on my wheel one year and swam into a dock another. I went into the race this year nursing a sore knee, wearing a new uniform, and just hoping to beat the rain off the bike. But I found Evanescence's Lithium in the bathroom about 25 minutes before the race, so I had the right music.

I got off to a good start. I was in the elite wave, I started on the inside, and despite being left in the wake early, I found myself cutting a dead straight line to the first buoy while the bulk of the white caps were far off to the left. Me getting the best line to the first buoy seems hard to imagine, but I took it for what it was and kept going. The first buoy had come up quickly and I was encouraged. I was trying to break the swim into two halves. The second buoy also came up quickly and I was feeling, for me, pretty good. The third buoy ?

Not so soon. The buoys looked evenly spaced from the shore, but then again, it looks like a straight in and out. Finally, I hit the third buoy, rounded it with another guy from my wave, and got pushed back into the lane I'd just come up.

I've been swum into by a single off-course swimmer before. I have not swum into the oncoming lane of traffic before. Four guys hit me in rapid succession, knocked my goggles half off and left me ever-so-slightly disoriented. But I put my head down and swam until I heard someone telling me to get up and walk out. I ended up swimming in the top half of my age group and the top 40% of the field, which is remarkable (for me).

I came out and Marty told me I was 5:15 back.

I had a good bike ride. Not a lot to say. I only got passed by one athlete in his 30s, and I think i had a top 10 bike-split, but I'll never know, because the mat missed me as I went over it and I'm listed as having the slowest bike time in the whole field, 1:37 minutes, which is 30 minutes longer than the whole race took me. Not to be outdone by the mat, I spent upwards of 90 seconds missing my gear.

Now there's no one to blame but me that all I took into transition was a small black bag, a few gels, a hat and a pair of sneakers. Although I was careful not to cover my shoes with my wetsuit (experience has taught me not to make this rookie error). All of my teammates from the elite wave I'd caught on the bike left transition before I did. At one point Steve Surprise yelled 'back here' but it still took another 15 seconds to find the right row. I went out of transition behind Michael D, passed him, stopped to tighten a shoe, passed him again, and then bore down on the run. Eric was the first person I saw, and he said that I was 1 minute behind Steve. Ouch. I'd passed Steve on the bike around mile 8.5...

I have great teammates from Force 5 Sports, but I wanted to be the first Force 5 finisher, and I was trained and rested and ready to have a good race so that was a reasonable expectation. I passed Steve after the first mile, running really hard but feeling tired from the long downhill (it turns out the section we were on is a false flat that is actually uphill. I saw several other on the other side of the road but closer to the turnaround than I expected.

I caught Gary Rodenbaug next, who is a phenomenal 59 year old, absolute star. I tried to give him a few words of encouragement, and then set my sights on Robyn, who is another superb athlete (Gary and Robyn are fresh off nationals). Right in front of her was Bill Sheetz, one of Eric's clients. I gave them both what encouragement I could as I went by- we were climbing now and that cut into me. I passed a few more people and then duked it out and lost to one last athlete on the line.

Margit had a great race and placed in her age group, as did Robyn, Steve, and Gary. I didn't. Minus the 90 seconds lost in transition, I would have placed third, but you don't get mulligans in triathlon.

I was able to trade up my 4 dollar draft miller for a Guinness after the race, which was the best move I made all day- thanks, Mike Barry !

Did I learn anything finishing 25th instead of 15th ? Hell, yes. I went right to Eric and asked him for a plan. He said to get a flag so I can find my stuff. I think a canadian flag will serve the purpose nicely. There's no point in regretting the massive brain fart I had yesterday, and I still ran as hard as I could and moved myself back into a decent place, higher than last time I did the race in 2005.

I think I need to expect to do well more than I do. I ran hard, swam well, bikes very well, yet a mental mistake torpedoed me. Confidence isn't always a bad thing, and can actually help. While I didn't panic in transition, I also did not get the job done in an area I usually have no problem with. That's a lack of confidence.

At least that's easily corrected.


Anonymous said...

God Alan Get A Life. You are really full of yourself.

alan said...

Thanks for the feedback. You're welcome to suggest other topics- it really was pretty nervy of me to have set up a blog about my racing and training and then mostly write about my own training and racing experiences and thoughts, or spend my spare time training and racing instead of having a life, like what, a wife and kid and a steady job ? What was I thinking ? I promise I'll move out of my parent's basement, hang up my bike shoes, and take up chartered accountancy.

I mean, please people, go here instead: and find out what you can do to save the planet. Stop readingblogs, start planting trees.