Friday, December 24, 2010

IMAZ Race Report And Looking Forward

I'm not really sure what to say about this race. The picture above is pretty representative of my day. I'm not in the picture, but I know how these folks felt. I spent my whole day wondering where the heck I was and what I was doing there. I suppose my finish time of 15:01 could be a source of disappointment. I was shooting for something in the range of 12:30 - 13:30 based on my estimated level of fitness going into the race. But this is triathlon and things happen. And a race is so much more than the sum distance of each of its events. And that is what keeps us going back for more. At least that is what keeps me going back anyway.

What I think I'll take away from this race is the fact that I overcame a whole new level of negative thinking plaguing me throughout the day. I've been doing tri's, running and cycling events for a long time and I don't think I've ever experienced anywhere near the volume and duration of negative thinking going on in my head as I moved through IMAZ.

It started with the swim. I was prepared for the cold water. The water is always cold in IMAZ. What I was not prepared for was not being able to sight or rely on swimmers who could sight in order to move around the course. I'm not lying when I say I only saw about 4 buoy's on the entire course and that I resigned myself pretty early on to just swim from bridge to bridge and back again in my own personal approximation of 2.4 miles.

But I made it out of the water about 12 minutes slower than last year. Seeing that probably started the negative thinking but there were some positive take aways:

1. Less overall fatigue coming out of the water
2. No hamstrings destroyed from swimming with massive cramping like last year
3. I felt stronger in the water and felt like I was moving further per stroke (next year we will focus on swimming in a straight line)

Out on the bike were where my inner demons really began to take hold. It was windy. Really, really windy. And it was cold. And even though I'd just used the bathroom my bladder was full. Again. So aside from the wind, I would need to stop about ever 15 to 20 minutes or so to empty it for the entire first loop of the bike. And when I wasn't going to the bathroom, there was always the wind.

At the end of the first loop, my bladder calmed down and I put in a solid bit of riding, I was catching and passing everyone that I'd been losing time to during the first loop and this was fun. I wasn't tired and even though I wasn't enjoying the wind I didn't seem to be slowing me down too much. Then the water bottle cages behind my seat fell off. This had 2/3 of my nutrition so I went back to pick it up and search for the pieces to put it back together. I found them and rode holding everything to the next aid station where I got a set of hex wrenches from one of the volunteers and put the cages back together.

Somewhere at the beginning of my third loop, I put the seat cages came apart again from a different bolt. This time I was not near an aid station and had to ride for a few miles before I spotted a couple of cyclists watching the race and asked them for the necessary tools, which thankfully they had but it was slow going putting the mount back together this time because some parts were bent. But I was able to rig everything together and get going once again.

Because my nutrition was good and in the right amounts I was feeling stronger and stronger on the ride and I was actually picking up the pace even though at times I was riding through rain, hail and even at one point, a sandstorm. Then at mile 104, I had a flat. Somewhere with all of the trouble with my bottle cages I'd lost my spare and tools so I had to wait for a repair vehicle to assist me. After they changed the tire we were unable to inflate it because I no longer had a valve extender. So I sat for what seemed like for ever until a guy with the exact same wheel set as mine came along and loaned us his.

Tire inflated, I road the last 8 miles into transition and seriously considered quitting. Physically I was fine but psychologically I was spent and frustrated. My time goal was now completely out of reach. I wanted to hand my chip and number to the nearest volunteer and go bath and go to bed. As I sat in the changing tent, for some reason I remembered that my grandfather had never seen me race. For some reason this got me moving with the thought of "Lets just see how this goes..."

One the run I made sure to stay aerobic and take in nutrition and hydrate. I also followed my overall plan of not having any water during the day and drinking only electrolyte drinks. I didn't break any land speed records but I was able to run most of the marathon except for a few time where I had a bit of IT band pain or got some coke. The IT band pain really didn't start up until about mile 25 so at that point I walked a bit to loosen the leg then jogged the last 300 meters or so across the finish. Technically without the mechanicals, I would have finished in range of my goal time but given the day I was having, I'm surprised I kept racing at all. I have lots build on for next season. And I now know that I'm pretty mentally tough. Plus my nutrition was perfect both in execution and nutritional make up. I was never hungry the whole day and I didn't cramp at all. That alone was worth finding out.

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