Heat Wave Race Report – 2009
They announced that the water temperature was 75 degrees and the race would be wet suit legal. No one was prepared. I did not even think to pack my wet suit. I have been swimming in open water here in Mississippi for the past 6 weeks and it has been too warm for a wet suit. I jumped in the lake for a little warm up and the water was cool but nothing bad. It was warmer than the air temperature. After I got out of the water I was shivering for 20 minute waiting for the race to start – the air temperature was cool. I feared that the bike would be cold after the swim.
This was my best swim ever – by far. In the first 100 yards or so I was having trouble catching my breath. I was swimming and not exhaling in the water and when I turned to breathe I could not get any air. This has happened to me before. After just a few swim strokes I was starting to feel hypoxic. For the first time I mentally took charge of the situation and started to glide my swim strokes out longer and further. I forced myself to exhale and take deep breaths. I quickly found my rhythm and before I knew it I was passing the first buoy. Then a corner buoy and soon enough heading back to shore. I was swimming strong and easy like I do in practice. This was a huge success in and of itself. Like I said – this was my best swim but the time did not reflect it – I was 3 ½ minutes slower than last year. The consensus is that the course was really short last year and it may have been long this year.
Out of the water feeling fine. Helmet on, shoes on, sunglasses on – good to go.
I was not cold on the bike at all. I had two gels taped to the top tube. I took one during the bike. I took it easy for a mile or two heading out and then picked up the pace. I was afraid that I would not be able to bring the intensity but it came with ease. I was passing quite a few of the bikers from the first wave. The out section seemed like it was mostly down hill (I thought the same last year but others thought differently). There were big bunches of riders. You would come up on groups and it would be hard to pass. It was hard not to technically draft but it was slowing me down. Everything got much worse at the turn around point. I guess it was from losing the momentum and then heading back up a long gradual hill. This just bunched everyone up. You would come up on a group and the nearly blow up having to pass 20 or so people. I did this repeatedly. Leaving the trace and getting back on Rice road it, unbelievably, got even worse. There was a group of about 30 cyclists – 5 wide in some places. More riders were just piling up at the back – there was no way around this ball of confusion. My heart rate was way down and I was just cruising. Some of the faster racers were starting the run and one yelled – “Could you draft anymore” to the group. No I don’t think you could – however, I do believe that drafting implies that you are riding faster than you normally could – not slower. This large group all pulled into transition at the same time – it looked like an ITU race – just slower. Major frustration.
I was a little slower than normal on my transition. There was a bike in my slot and I was a little confused. I racked my bike in the next slot and moved over and put my shoes on, grabbed my running hat and race belt.
I was feeling pretty good starting the run. My legs were heavy but I was running strong. My heart rate was lower than I wanted it to be – I was having trouble picking up the pace. The temperature was much nicer this year than last – not a heat wave in the least. I was pacing with someone and just running. I was not pushing the pace. At the turn around point, something changed, maybe my resolve or attitude and I was able to increase my heart rate – the second half of the run was faster and harder. I was passing people in the last two miles. During the last mile I came up on someone with compression socks on their calves – I could not tell what age group they were in – I passed them but I could tell that they were trying to hold onto me. During the last half mile I heard someone trying to mount a last minute pass. I picked up the pace hard and sprinted towards the finish. Whoever was trying to pass me gave up the effort quickly. There was one last turn and just a charge up a hill to the finish. I was sprint all out and hard, however, someone was coming up quick. I was running as fast as I could and I got passed in the last 10 feet. They were flying – they were running like it was a quarter mile sprint! I looked at their leg and there was a 22 on the calf. That age group wave started 4 to 5 minutes before my wave.
Post Race –
I did not feel totally worn out after this race. I think that the ironman training has increased my endurance. A 2 hour effort is not quite what it used to be. I need to work on the intensity. Still, I improved my bike by 5 minutes and my run by 2 minutes – I also had a really good swim even though the time did not reflect it.
Not totally spent - I did a 5 mile run on Saturday afternoon when I got home. On Sunday I got a nice easy 50 mile recovery ride. It looks like my training plan will work well this week also with a scheduled day off on Friday - a nice taper day rpior to the DragonFly Triathlon on Saturday.