Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Extrememan Half-Ironman

I really started this blog because I do such a poor job of self reporting otherwise, but this year's entries seem to have a common theme- what could have been. Let's not break that flow with this one.

We went and saw Richard II the night before and by the time we got home, settled in, and asleep, I ended up with 3 hours of sleep, and that probably includes some eyes closed brain open time. But EH always says it doesn't matter how much sleep you get the night before, so I got up and was out of the house and on the road in less than half an hour.

I got there pretty early, got a good rack spot, and once I found my head phones, I was happy. I did a good warm-up run and I was the first one in the water at about 6:30. I swam out to the first buoy and back, fixed a leaking google, got out, and looked over the course. It was long- really long. I spoke with a couple of the guys on the beach and they assured me that they had walked the beach (half a mile each way, plus the out to the buoy would be 1.2) and measured it by radar. Of course, I seem to have zero credibility as a swim-distance gager, apparently because I dislike swimming so much. No one listens. Ever. I get to do extra swimming. Joy.

I'd had a good week in the pool- 4 times in five days and somehow, my catch had improved in spite of the fact my hand and arm are attached to me. I started inside in the front, avoided any panic, kept my head down, and did all kinds of stuff I don't do in a race.

Once we hit the first buoy, the rest of the swim was brutal. Going away, we had the current coming across us but pushing us slightly forward, however, the sun was directly in our eyes, and sighting could only be done with a sideways glance. It forced me to basically act like, well, a triathlete. I had to slap feet, follow bubble trails, and swim in a pack. It was school or die.

Another re-occurring theme this year has been the hope of getting to the turn-around on a course, just wanting to hit a turn-around, and then finding out what was waiting was worse. The current was pretty strong. I didn't really worry about it. Not being that fast, it doesn't surprise me when I'm not swimming fast. I was having a problem staying off the beach and I drifting away from everyone else, but we'd been instructed that on the way back all we had to do was pass one buoy at the turn-in, so I felt had a better line and although I started taking on a little water, I just plugged along. At around 40 minutes, a bell or alarm went off in my head letting me know the swim should be over. I lifted my head, realised I was getting wicked neck chaffe, and saw the single buoy. It was hundreds of yards away. I put my head down, pointed my body at it, and kept going.

I climbed out seven seconds behind Michael at 54 minutes or so, after having swum a mile and an half (as later measured). Margit told me that I was 15 minutes behind. She seemed to think this was great and told me so. I however, thought of 15 minutes as a crushing deficit.

I hopped on the bike anyway. Four miles in, I lost a full minute because I trusted signs, a volunteer, and the guy in front of me. Wrong turns happen, this one hurt but I rode it off.

The bike was hard, there's no way around it. There wasn't any part of the course except the late cul-de-sac I hadn't been on, but still, climbing Higganum and Little City is a little work. I was only passed once, on 79. On Higganum, I threw my chain, most of the way up. Going down Clarendon I had to pass several roadies out for a Sunday ride including a Hods-chasing style decent to pass two guys in their tuck. They might not have racing, but it still would have been illegal to draft them.

On Roast Meat Hill, I peed, as I'd planned to from the time I left the water. Then I tried to eat my fourth pack of Cliff Shots. The sports drink on the course was a berry flavour not-gatorade that was not sitting well with the Lemon Lime blocks. I put the blocks in my mouth and gagged. Being me, instead of spitting the blocks out, I swallowed half. I gagged again. My response ? Swallow the rest. Moral of the story- your gag reflex IS smarter than you are.

148 was the most dispiriting part of the ride, but I worked my way back, came in seventh off the bike and started running, thinking I was about 7th.

First lap- awesome. I ran one guy with hamstring issues down right away- advised him to not start running again until he was sure that he was ok because he was trying to start and stop which is a good way not to finish. I ran some other guys down but was not sure what my place was.

Second lap- passed the guy who was the top male finisher go out, felt real strong, but on the back half of the lap, running into the wind, I started to fade just a little bit. I also started feeling kind of, well sick.

Third lap- I was struggling going out. Some guy on his second lap blew by me like Achilles, and I thought I might be dropping a pace. i wanted to and didn't want to throw up. Finally, halfway through the lap I walked for ten seconds while I sorted out the throw-up/don't throw up dilemma. I didn't. I started running again, and got passed. All I could think about was finishing, lying on the ground, and feeling like hell for a while.

I thought I was finishing sixth. I finished third, unless you count the relay. I hate getting beat by relays. And guys. And women. I got beat by one of each. I crossed the line, went down on all fours and stayed there until the paramedics came over. I went through the checklist- no blurred vision, trouble remembering who or where or when I was, no ringing in the ears, and so on. I did the list for them as a courtesy and they went back to to the van. I was fine, except for the feeling like dren part of it.

Bottom line- it was an accomplishment just to finish the race. But I was disappointed not to win and it was probably my only chance to win an half. But why complain ? I did make a great effort, I was spent was I was done. I should have been better. Maybe I'll learn something....

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