As I was unpacking my bag for transition I noticed one key thing: my three bottles of race fuel were no where to be found. At this point in time I realized that I had left them in the hotel room refrigerator. I didn’t panic though because I always bring extra bottles with me and my fuel. I only had one extra bottle and for some reason I thought it ideal to double up the powder and then add water. At that point in time it was a lot like a syrup instead of a water-based drink. I hoped I’d of been fine as I’d been drinking plenty of water the day before, drank a bottle of water over the course of the night (I couldn’t sleep well anyways), and had two bananas for breakfast.
The swim went extremely well. My age group had two waves and I was in the second wave. This wasn’t my first mass-start rodeo, so I knew to keep myself to the outside and clear of the fight for the middle. As we approached the first red buoy I noticed that I was passing a good amount of red-capped racers (my age group wave) and starting to pass a number of people from the three waves that started before me. I haven’t done many swims where wet suites weren’t legal, but I felt my time of 37:55 was super good for myself, considering with a wet-suit the year before I did a 39:22. This involved a moment where my goggles were kicked off my face, I a lot of veering to the outside on the last stretch of the ‘M’.
The bike is where shit really started to hit the fan. Having only a bottle with me that might as well contained maple syrup I held my hopes for the first aid station. After hitting mile 10, and no aid station yet, I was starting to get concerned. It was 90 degrees, damn near 90% humidity, my visor was drenched with sweat inside; I knew my water situation wasn’t good. I consumed a bit of my “syrup” and at about mile 12 finally hit an aid station. As I rode through I grabbed two waters and one Gatorade Endurance. I gulped down the entire bottle of water as quickly as I felt I needed to and used some of the second to keep my body cool, and drank the rest over the course to the next aid station.
I’m not sure exactly why, but my lower back was giving me pains and some issues. Sometimes it’d occasionally spasm, but most of the time it just hurt. I found my legs not willing to give any sorts of power for pushing, and it was all they could do to keep battling the head-winds that we faced for most of the race. Unlike last year, I easy spun up the hills. I figured I needed to do damage control to save myself for the run. Near mile 50 I was starting to get neck muscle spasms, and I knew at this point that my setup/fitting just wasn’t right. Many times during the last ten miles I kept thinking I should drop after the bike. I’d talk myself out of it and get my mind set for damage control so that I could do as well as I could on the run. My final time of 02:52:02 was painful to look at compared to the previous year’s 2:46:55. Which now that I looked at it again as I’m writing this, that’s not too bad all things considered.
I didn’t make it very far before I found myself walking. My lower back was hurting, my neck and shoulders felt like they were locked in place by my muscles, the heat was not doing my body any favors, and I just kept wondering if I’d actually be able to finish. Many times I found myself walking and talking to myself to just recap, refocus, get a check on the legs and back, and see how far I could run; which long-story-short, not very far. So the run portion of the race involved a lot of walking, way more than I had wanted to do. 2:43:40 this year compared to last year’s 2:27:10. I also knew I was overheating a few times because I found myself a bit delirious; I could just tell my brain wasn’t working correctly. I did what I needed to at each aid station so that I could get my mind focused again and try and salvage something out of this run. Each lap I wondered if I could go on and continue; but something just kept me going. My stomach felt super heavy and upset the whole run, like I’d consumed too much sugar, which I probably did in my attempt to recover from not having my fuel on the bike. On the second lap I started to feel cramps set into my calves, so I paused and gave them some good stretching.
Overall, I was glad I finished and didn’t quit. At first I was wanting to break the 6 hour race mark and was discouraged with myself that I didn’t; however, I need to keep in mind this race was to see where I was at physically and mentally for racing my other 5 I have lined up. After this race I think my swim is pretty on, and is only going to get better. My bike, somewhere it has fallen. Unlike last year when I came out super strong on the bike (which I accredited to riding outdoors all winter), I feel my bike is weaker (I trained on the trainer all winter). So in combination with doing more stretching routines, improving my core strength (it’s weakened due to doing to many things), and improving my fitting for more comfort, I think the bike can be fixed. I’m not sure about the run though. When I train I have no problem with long distances at a great pace. When I brick, it’s not an issue either (although I should probably lengthen my runs on bricks to more around the one hour mark). I think I also just need to develop a stronger mental fortitude for the run after a long, difficult bike like that.
Ultimately, I think I know what happened. On the bike, at some point, I stopped having fun. After recapping my pictures, I didn’t smile once. This might be the most important thing I’ve got my mind set on for the next race.