First, I don’t have any pictures. I don’t really want to remember much about this race. Don’t get me wrong, I had a good time, but I did not have a good race. I do not like being slower than last year! I don’t like the feeling of going backwards.
I rode up to Ridgeland (Jackson, MS) with Chris. We stopped at package pickup at Indian Cycles which is a really nice bike shop. They always do it well with cheese and wine and beer and finger foods. It was fun to swap race stories with all of your friends while you touch and feel all of the latest and greatest bikes. I noticed that when I was here a few years ago I could not imagine spending that kind of money for a bike. This weekend I was thinking of all the great deals to be had. Funny how perspectives change. I did not buy anything.
There was a group that met up at Ted’s house for a wonderful dinner and camaraderie. We had a good time catching up for the last year. I was better this year and did not eat too much. This is only a near Olympic race. No need to carbo load as they say.
We all got up early and I drank some coffee and had a cliff bar. The temperature was supposed to be very hot. I drank a large bottle of sports drink. I filled up another bottle with just water.
We arrived with plenty of time to set everything up. I grabbed my transition place; got body marked, hydrated and used the bathroom. I still had about 45 minutes to do a practice swim and ‘get into the zone’. The temperature was less than we expected – it had rained most of the night and it was still overcast.
There was a chop on the water but after the half ironman in New Orleans I was not fazed. I jumped in the reservoir and swan a few hundred yards. I felt strong in my stroke. I was swimming well. I had a great swim at this race the previous year and I was excited about doing well. I took a gel.
The race starts in 4 waves – first - < 35 second 35 – 44 third > 45 fourth women. I was in the second wave. The buoys would be to my right which is my strong side in the swim. I started way right and towards the front of the swim. The horn went off and I started swimming. I still felt pretty good. Even though there were a lot of swimmers in my wave I was able to pick Robin out to my right. He was a distinctive swim stroke. I tried to pace off of him for the race so that I would not have to sight much. We were swimming at the same speed. The swim was going well. I decided that I was going to move behind him to catch the draft and just have a nice fast easy swim. Robin always is a little faster than me in the swim so why not just take a ride. Before I could get over there I ran into a pocket of swimmers that just were not moving well. There was a good chop in the water. It was more pronounced after we left the protection of the cove. The faster swimmers were plowing ahead but the less proficient were struggling. I lost Robin at the point and I had to make a major course correction. Getting in this mix up was the first time that I took on water. I missed a breath and then took a mouth of water on the next. It seems that once my rhythm is altered my swim quickly digresses. I recovered soon enough and rounded the first buoy. I had struggled a little bit and was not having the best swim. I remember this being a really hard swim for me but looking back to yesterday I am not sure why. Yes, the water was rough and I am sure that my heart rate was much higher than it should be but I have been in worse. I drank a lot of water and did not swim strong. I was very happy to be done with this swim. I finished a few seconds faster than last year – the course was long last year so go figure.
I ran to my bike and noticed how many in my wave were gone. My friend Dan was in transition and heading out. I wished him luck. My transition was quick – no problems.
Dan was a few seconds ahead of me out of transition and I never saw him on the bike. I felt okay during the ride and took it out comfortable hard. I still have a fear of blowing up in these shorter races. I need to just kill the damn thing and pick up the pieces at the end. My gps watch was beeping that my heart rate was too high. This alarm was still set from the half ironman in New Orleans – the alarm was set too low for this race. I would normally not have a heart rate alarm at all. Fortunately it was windy and I could not hear the alarm much. I just ignored it for the most part. However, mistakenly, I did stay right around that heart rate level. Chris, who started in a wave just after me passed me with authority at mile 3 on the bike. However, I passed him at mile five like he was standing still. Oh, he was standing still with a flat on the side of the road. I saw a lot of flats on the course this year. I am not sure why. It took out a couple of the faster bikers. Sam had a flat on the way back on the bike, Chris ended up having 2 flats and Mica also went down. It was windy out on the trace in several areas. I could really feel the wind. I did not push the bike hard enough – not nearly hard enough. I later learned that I got passed by Lance around mile 10 – I never saw him. Regarding drafting, I am not sure what was different but the race was much cleaner this year – good job Ben (he was the head official). I think the rough swim separated the racers more than in the past. I pulled into T2 a couple of minutes slower than last year.
I was not feeling strong as I dismounted the bike. It would be okay; my legs would come along quickly on the run. I was ready to make up some time. I planned on taking a caffeine gel just before the run. It did not seem appetizing. I exited T2 in a respectable time.
I immediately noticed that I left my gps watch on my bike. Damn, I have grown to rely on this for my pacing. It has become a crutch. I do not know how hard I can push without it. I need to learn to race by feel rather than by instrumentation. I just started pacing off of someone that was running well. I do not know how fast it was. After only a half a mile I started to feel sick. My stomach was in knots. My belly was sloshing around. THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN TO ME! I thought about walking back and not finishing. It hurt that bad. Once again - THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN TO ME!
I have often joked about having a cast iron stomach. I ran through the first water station. I did not want anything in my system. Right around mile one I saw Lance. He asked me how I was doing and I said not well – I was hurting. I ran past him but before long I had to stop on the side of the trail. I was making those puking noises and starting to gag a little. I bent over and a stream of hot brown liquid ejected from my mouth. It was short and sweet. I jumped back on the trail as I apologized to the racers around me. They just said do what you have to do. I caught back up to Lance and passed him again. I was able to run fast when I felt well but my stomach was like a time bomb. It felt like seconds were ticking down to another incident. At the mile two station I grabbed a cup of water and swished out my mouth. Once I had cleared the station I pulled over to the side again. This was a repeat of round one. I immediately felt better and ran a comfortably hard pace. There was a good hill up to the turn around. I was feeling better and my pace was increasing. The slow bike and run had really spared my legs. I was getting stronger. Just past the turnaround point I came up on Dan. He was struggling a little bit. I pushed past him. Sometime in the next mile that time bomb started to ring again. I was looking for some cover and found a large tree just off of the trail. I went behind it and the column of filth that ejected from my mouth was spectacular! Later I would get comments on the drama and the noise that was erupting. Once again I immediately felt better. At the next water station I grabbed two cups of water and swished out my mouth and took a drink. It felt good. I started to drink the next cup of water but it was sports drink. My stomach turned again. I quickly discarded this cup.
With only 2 miles to go I was ready to race. About time! I picked up the pace. I felt fresh. I ran with authority. People were telling me to “go get’em”; telling me that I was looking strong. I don’t think they realized that they had probably passed me several times. In the last mile I came up on Raland. He was running strong. I told him to not let me pass him (I had forgotten that he had started in a wave prior to me). I ran past him (he would end up with third place Clydesdale – Lance got fourth by a few seconds).
I was now running like I know I can run. I was running hard and feeling strong. I finished very strong – after all I had only really run the last 2 miles of the race. I was glad the race was over. I finished and grabbed a bottle of water.
After the finish I was able to wander away from the crowd and find some seclusion. I was able to purge the rest of this vileness from my system. It is hard to throw up fast during a race. It seemed like another gallon came up. I later looked at my one water bottle on my bike. I had drunk maybe 10 ounces of water during the bike and so very little during the run. I am having trouble believing that I swallowed that quantity of water during the swim. It boggles the mind. I would have liked to know what my paces were for the 10k run. Sure, my total run time was longer than last year but I finished strong.
Overall of was 4 minutes slower than last year. My swim was slightly faster. My bike was off by 3 full minutes (23.1 MPH compared to 22.0 MPH). My run was off by 90 seconds (7:27 pace compared to 7:42 – I must have been running pretty fast WHEN I was running). I don’t know how this happened but compared to my age group I was 8 places better than last year in the swim, the same for the bike and I improved by 1 on the run.
Overall I placed 4 better than last year in my age group (but that is not saying much because I was not stellar last year either). This could have been a strong race for me but it just did not happen.
For triathlon, for me to get better on the run I definitely need to get better on the swim. I have often said, “I will not win the race on the swim but I sure can lose it!”