Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that my pre-race ritual post of defining my goals for the day was absent from last weeks posts. With the recent EIA diagnosis, and having only one week back closer to training at full volume or capability, and still not being able to breathe out of my nose most of the time, I figured the best thing I could do was not put any extra pressure on myself and just take the day as it came.
We stayed at a hotel just minutes from the venue, and aside from the fact that the bed was hard, our neighbors were mostly scary, light came in around the curtains all night, and I was afraid we’d find the car up on blocks when we woke up in the morning, we’d definitely stay there again. Ok, no. (The hotel was the only bad part of the trip, more about the non-race parts tomorrow when Rach has her pictures uploaded).
Setup at the event was well organized and easy. Because race signups were below the maximum field size (70 out of 200), there was tons of room to spread out, so Rach and I had a whole bike rack to ourselves. There’s nothing better than a transition area where you’re not sitting on top of someone else just to get ready. The goodie bag was pretty nice, with a couple GU samples, a pair of wicking sock, and the race t-shirt among other goodies. Body marked and race numbered, we got ourselves together, visited with a cute puppy, and headed over to the race start.
The swim: Unlike previous races, I decided long before start I wasn’t going to try to push myself in the swim. I usually try to start at a decent pace and work my way up from there; this time it was not casual but I didn’t want to go beyond a middle exertion because I was 800 meter from my inhaler and though I’d taken my prerequisite puffs prior to starting, I was still nervous. I did ok, not my best swim, but it wasn’t really supposed to be my best swim. I definitely lost a little time in the middle because I didn’t take the best line between the 1st and 2nd turn buoys, and I need more practice open water in my wetsuit (frankly, I still feel like I’m a better swimmer without it, even if I have to work a little more to stay properly afloat). The Eleonore Rocks team leadership was kind enough to secure a donation of Blue Seventy goggles (pink, of course!) that worked REALLY well in the swim. I was able to see better than I have in a long time for open water (which means i probably need to replace my goggles more often as well).
Transition 1: I got to transition feeling pretty good, and figured I’d be on the bike in a jiffy (yes, I still say that). Then I saw Rach’s bike standing there. I always expect her to be out of the water before me, especially when she says before the race “I’m going to start 3 minutes behind you but I’ll pass you on the swim” and I know I’m going intentionally slower than normal. While I was getting ready I took more time than I should looking to see if she was coming, and on top of that, a volunteer noticed Rach’s chain had come off, so I took the time to fix it for her as she wouldn’t have noticed it before she went to get on the bike. I need to just focus on my race, but it’s not the person I am to just go on without thinking about how she’s doing. Hopefully, she’ll go first in the next race we do together.
Bike: When you suck at something, it’s easy to take doing poorly at it. Like when I have a bad run, I’m usually “well, I ran, it sucked, big surprise”. But on the bike, going less than what I want frustrates me, even when I had no expectations set. I had the 6th worst bike split of the day on Sunday, and that’s not good enough. it wasn’t exactly terrible; on a flat but pretty windy course, I averaged 16.2 MPH, but in places where I’d normally hammer the pedals, I was coasting to keep my breath in check. It was a combination of the asthma and still getting my volume back on the bike after almost a month of not being right. It felt really good to have miles up near 20 MPH, but I just couldn’t sustain as I wanted to.
T2: This was good. I need new shoes, and to put zip laces on them, but otherwise, 2 minutes to be off the bike and out of transition was pretty good.
Run: My legs were fairly cooked from the windy bike, and I had only run twice since the diagnosis, and this is the worst part of every race for me. But for some reason I felt a little better than expected, and even jogged about a mile of the 5k, though some of it was more shuffle than jog. Either way, for not much volume of running, I had a surprisingly consistant 14:30 pace, and only slowed crossing he small bridge at beginning and end of the race. I even managed to run the last 10th of a mile, and felt much happier to show a little improvement here over my past few races.
Place: 2nd Clydesdale
Wait, what? 2nd Clydesdale? A podium finish? Were there only 2 Clydesdales? Nope, when I checked the start list on friday, there were 4. So we had one DNS or DNF, and I managed to beat someone. I guess the guy who didn’t finish or didn’t start, I beat him too. Plus it gave me a chance to show off my full line of Eleonore Rocks gear. “What is it each of you are holding? Are those the awards?” Why yes, yes they are. They gave the clydesdale podium lunchboxes with the race logo on them. That’s right, they gave clydesdales a place to put more food. Seriously, they gave them out to all the podium finishers but I still think it’s funny.
In the end, I really was elated with the way this race went. I got through a full race without my lungs seizing up on me, and I had a fairly decent bike (boy does the new bike feel fast, like it’s ready to fly any time I’m on it). Plus Rach had a really good day, 1 step off the podium in 4th. We had a lot of fun, and although the course wasn’t really anything special, it was a fun race and I’d do it again.