April 27, 2021 - Long recap of pre to post race thoughts and happenings.
Results: 1st Age Group, 10th Overall
Race Report: It had been 558 days since I last raced (2019 Ironman Louisville), so to say I was a little rusty and felt like a newbie all over again would be an understatement. I last raced Belews International Triathlon in 2015 and was the first time I got on the podium. Two years before it was my first "longer distance" race. Going into the race this year was different - I knew I was not in race-shape and hadn't focused training on this event. I didn't even stalk the participants to see what kind of competition I was going up against. It was truly a "go out and see what happens". But that doesn't mean I planned to half-ass it. Time to drop the hammer and see what I can do.
PreRace: thought I left early enough to get to the race site to set T1 up and get a proper warm-up in: a quick jog, spin the gears on the bike, lose a little weight before putting the wetsuit on , and then get the arms loosened up. But a major last minute road closure tacked on an additional hour+ to the trip, which resulted in about 15mins to execute that plan. I ended up only getting a 2 min jog in just barely getting T1 setup, and I was able to sneak a quick dip in the water. I wasn't able to get rid of all the weight I needed, but race was starting and I had to get to my starting spot. Lined up with a collegiate triathlete from the Naval Academy team. Great - I must've put the wrong swim seed time in. Wished her luck and then put my goggles on.
SWIM: Great running start into the water. Felt great through the first turn buoy and settled in on a nice pace for the longer leg. Passed the swimmer in front of me, so was feeling pretty good about pace. But realized that there were no other swimmers around me. Started sighting a little more frequently to get back on a straighter line and wondered how much that little vector off course cost me. Rounded the final turn buoy and increased the effort level - longer, stronger pulls with some extra kicking. Finished the swim - HR was pretty elevated - felt a little light headed getting out of the water. Peeled the wetsuit off with little problems and got all my bike gear on.
BIKE: You start the bike off on a short steep hill, so having the right gearing is critical. Was able to pass a few people on the hill out of the marina, but felt sluggish. The first 2 or 3 miles I was really disappointed with. My HR was way too high (my Garmin kept beeping at me) and my avg speed was way lower than I wanted. Hit the flats and turned the afterburners on and watched my avg speed climb and my HR decline. Hit the first big hill and when I sat up realized that not only were my feet frozen solid, but so were my arms and hands. Worked on getting the blood circulating and then back into aero and fire the pistons. New bike this year - a Dimond Marquise and I wanted to see what she could do. Second lap had me pushing close to 23mph avg and I was pretty happy at the response and performance. Two guys passed me in the very last mile, but I was already getting mentally prepped for the run - they can have the extra couple of seconds. Got off the bike at the dismount line and immediately could feel how frozen my feet were. Hands were barely responding either. Nearly tripped over my feet, but did get to the bike rack and started to get ready for the run. One problem though... I could not FOR THE LIFE OF ME squeeze the helmet buckle. Took me over a minute struggling with it. Tried to rip it off my head. Eventually, applied just enough pressure and the buckle came free. For a couple of seconds I thought I would have to run with my helmet on. Just glad I didn't know anybody that signed up for this race!
RUN: Ouch. Run starts on the same hill out of the marina that the bike does. Continue half a mile up the hill, where you begin a gradual descent into a neighborhood for close to 1.5 miles. It's a nice downhill run until you pass the 5k turnaround and then you get a nice steep little hill to get to the 10k turnaround. Then you run back up that hill you just came down and do it all over again. My run pace has steadily gotten worse since Louisville, so expectations for my second run off the bike in 558 days were pretty low too. But, I was feeling I was running better than expected at this point. Mile 4 came and all of a sudden there was a sharp burning pain in my right heel. Guessed it was a blister forming, b/c when I looked at my shoes, I realized they were not all tucked in properly. Continued to run on it, trying to think of anything but the pain. After a mile, the pain disappeared - or I was just numb to it at this point. Final climb and then a nice little downhill to the finish. Used that little bit of energy...and gravity to let it all out on the downhill to the finish line. Race complete.
Total Time: 2:29:25.
POST RACE: Nice finisher medal. Wooden with engraved image of Belews Lake. Chugged some chocolate milk and went and gathered my stuff as well as take care of some business that I was not able to do before the race! Oh, and it wasn't a blister on my foot - the skin on my heel just cracked open. Maybe it was a piece of glass or something. The overall time was a little disappointing, as I had a faster time (by about a minute) on this same course in 2015. After checking those results, I found that my swim and run times were both slower, but my bike time was 2 mins faster this year. Expected poor time on the run, but disappointed with the swim pace. Stuck around to collect a buddy's award for sprint distance race and elected to hit the massage tent. They started the Olympic awards during my massage and when they got to my age group, I thought maybe I would get 3rd place - but somebody got that, then they announced somebody else for 2nd, then I figured "oh well, back to training", and then heard my name called! Jumped off the table and ran up to the podium. Missed the pic with the others and could not unfold the flag to display. Speaking of which - where the heck am I going to be able to hang that big yellow flag?
On a bit of a somber note... this is also the second time at this race that I dedicated to somebody who passed before their time. In 2015 it was for a former collegue who died in a car accident days before. I dedicated this race was to Castelli Collectivo teammate Sarah Guthrie.
Well, if you read this far - you are truly a glutton for boring stories! Next race is Ironman 70.3 Blue Ridge on June 6th. I'll have a more detailed report for ya then!