Sunday, June 13, 2010

Triple T - Race #4 it's time to put this Triple T thing to bed. It's been two weeks since the race and I really need to move on. *** I started this post on the 6th***

More races are coming up soon.

Qiuck recap....Friday Super Sprint, Saturday morning Oly and afternoon Oly. Sunday....Half Iron. The icing on top of a three layer triathlon cake.

The alarm went off at 5AM. The race start was scheduled for 7AM and I needed to get fueled up, equipment packed and set up in transition. I rolled out of bed and started drinking my first boost.

Part way through drinking my morning calories I wasn't feeling too good. My stomach was in a huge knot. I sat at the table and tried to understand what was happening and why.

Was I tired?

Was it nerves?

Was my body shutting down on me?

I thought I was going to puke. I felt like I needed to puke. Sat there pulling my knees to my chest thinking, "If I puke I'll probably be okay." I actually wanted to puke.

Aimee was trying to help me get going. She didn't say anything but she was right there with me wanting to help but not knowing how.

I crawled back into bed and curled up into a ball. What the hell was I going to do? Would I need to bag the fourth and final race of the weekend? Had I pushed it too hard earlier and I was seriously paying for it now?

As I laid there on the bed I asked Aimee to put some of my stuff together. All of my racing gear was already packed in the backpack. Aimee packed my nutrition into the cooler for me and packed a lunch for herself.

Thirty minutes elapsed while I laid on the bed. I forced myself to get up and try it again.

I felt better getting up the second time. Maybe I was forcing myself out of bed before my body was ready. I still needed to force myself to get dressed and into the car with all of the gear.

We made out way over to the event site and I got my transition area put together. Actually being at the race helped me calm down and get into the morning. Being around everyone else who was possibly in the same boat as I helped as well.

As we got closer to the start of the race I felt better and better. It was probably just taking my body a real long time to wake up and be ready to race again for 5+ hours.

Here we are ready for the fourth race of the weekend.

The swim start was the normal time trial and it felt good to finally be moving. Everyone was pretty mellow in the swim. I didn't have any contact except for this one person who was swimming on my right. We kept bumping into each other and I was sighting towards the turn buoy just fine. Apparently this person REALLY wanted to swim to the left. I finally slowed down and swam behind this person as they continued to swim left into the center of the loop.

I made it to T1 in 28:36. My 2:24 T1 was a little long this time because I decided to wear my compression socks for the bike and run. I know you aren't supposed to try anything new on race day but I figured what would different socks make with my run. If anything the compression would help the tired legs. I guess I ran the risk of getting blisters since I had only worn the socks as recovery.

Regardless I cruised out of T1 in 2:24 and hopped on my bike for the double loop course. I remembered certain portions of the course but also realized that it wasn't as steep as I had recalled from last year.

I tried to make sure I was keeping it steady and holding back from going to fast. This was a vicious double loop that would need to be respected. I got into a good rhythm and was gearing well. The hard part was recognizing the false flats and gearing down to make sure I wasn't trying to push too big of a gear.

The bike course is quite technical with switchback climbs AND descents. The climbing needed attention to maintain a good spin. I would get out of the saddle occasionally to change the muscles being used.

The downhills were fun but required some focus. Several of the turns were 180 degrees and I had to slow way down. But if the curves weren't too sharp I could be more aggressive. The sweeping turns were the best because you don't need to leave the aero bars and keep pedaling.

After one particular downhill section I was riding with (meaning near) two guys on a team and another solo rider. It's so easy to bunch up on the downhills. I didn't want to pass because I wouldn't pass them by too much and I had a hard time hanging far enough back.

Despite my best efforts to keep things under control, I still managed to create some excitement for my first loop.

After the downhill we can really hammer the flats with some sweeping curves. At one curve there is a small bridge in the middle of the curve. It's a crappy little bridge with a bad to ground around the bridge has settled and cracked the pavement and created the lip.

The leading edge of the bridge was covered in orange paint from the race director. The only safe route was to the left at the outer edge of the curve. On a normal ride it would be no big deal. But at race speeds things change drastically.

The two teammates were in front of me and the solo guy behind me. I was WAAAAAYYYY too close to the guys in front of me. We made the approach to the bridge okay. Coming off the bridge though we hit some bumps hard.

The first rider ejected a water bottle.

The second rider rolled over the bottle and shot the top off.

I tried to avoid the bottle completely by veering to the left. Coming out of the turn I was already pretty far left and now by missing the bottle I was pushed further left.

My wheel hit the two inch gravel berm but I couldn't hold the line very long and I dropped into the small ditch next to the road. And I do mean small. It was maybe 3 - 4 inches deep 12 - 16 inches wide.

I dropped my left pedal down and coasted until I could get back on the road. I managed to ride back up to the road. I looked down at my left leg and saw it covered in grass. If you remember I had put on compression socks during T1. The knee high socks protected my leg from the grass in the ditch. The grass had burs on it that stuck to my sock and the grass came along for a ride.

I reached down and pulled the clump of grass of my sock and tossed it on the road. In hind site I couldn't believe I made it through that ordeal with out stopping or crashing. I was very lucky that the ditch was smooth and not full of rocks or holes. I could just see me flipping over the bars after burying my front wheel in a hole.

I caught up to the three guys I was riding with and we talked about what happened. The guy who was behind me saw it all. We agreed that I was very lucky.

The remainder of the first lap was non-eventful. I made it back to transition and exchanged my nutrition bottles for fresh ones. I waved at Aimee as I headed back out for loop two.

The second loop was a little slower but I was more cautious this time. Unfortunately I did see more accidents. I went by one crashed out guy so fast I had a hard time realizing what I saw. He missed a turn and went through a short grassy area. I think it was fresh because his back was very bloody from the road rash. But I think his Zipp front wheel was taco'ed. Is that even possible?

Shortly after that I went through the area where I rode the ditch. There were several cars and at least three riders on the side of the road dealing with injuries or other issues. It is definitely the most hazardous section of the bike route.

I stayed steady all the way into T2 and completed the bike in 3:07:30. In transition I put on my shoes, grabbed my hat and gels then moved to the run spending only 51 seconds in T2.

I had to make a potty stop outside of transition so any time I saved in transition was spent in the pisser. I hadn't peed during the bike. Usually I like to stay hydrated and pee at least once on the bike. I felt like peeing on the bike but it wasn't uncomfortable so I decided to keep it until I started the run.

I grabbed three of my gels and dropped the bag with the remaining three under the aid station table. I would get the remaining gels during the second lap of the run.

I was definitely becoming tapped out from the weekend. I had the energy to run but not as fast as I wanted to. The hills were beating me mentally already. On the steeper sections I would walk so that I could save myself for the second loop.

I stuck to my plan and was taking my gels when I wanted to.....every two miles and right before an aid station so I could get water to wash the gel down.

At the turn around I grabbed some water and went to get my gels. I looked under the table but didn't see my three gels. One of the volunteers must have picked it up. Perhaps it was in the garbage already.

I started to scan the assortment of Hammer Gels on the table for a flavor I wanted. As I went down the line I spotted my bag of gels. Someone had simply placed them on top of the table. I grabbed my bag and thanked the volunteers.

The gels had been sitting in the sun for about an hour an they were hot. They were also runny which made them easier to take. It was almost like drinking the gel.

On the second loop I had to really focus. I needed to keep moving forward at a decent pace, especially on the uphills. Often times this late in a race my mind starts loosing focus. I turn inwards and may not think straight. But this time I turned inward on purpose. I didn't want to be distracted by external factors. I just wanted to run the hills the best I could.

I buried my head into the hill and kept my eyes on the 5 - 6 feet in front of me. I didn't want to know how far away the top of the hill was. I didn't want to see anyone running past me, same direction or not.

It was working though. I was reaching the crest of the hills in what seemed to be a quicker time. Once I reached some flatter terrain I would increase my tempo and push to the next hill.

After I reached the turn-around I needed to conquer one more hill. I put a lot into that hill but once I reached the top of that hill I only had 2.5 miles to go.....and they would be primarily downhill.

Sure enough, when I reached the four mile marker my intensity increased to finish the race strong. I started hammering the downhills and passing anyone I could. As I exited the woods I was getting excited about crossing the finish line. I tried to keep my pace quick and look strong all the way to the finish line. I completed the run in 1:55:41.

I crossed the finish line I was happy to have completed my second Triple-T. I received my medal and t-shirt from the volunteers.

Once I could move again I made my way over to the creek and cooled off with the other racers.

I grabbed some post-race food and cleaned up my transition area.

Aimee and I headed back to the campground to get cleaned up and more to eat.

I'm very happy with my results for the weekend. It's such a great event with wonderful people and a fantastic race director/company.

Below you will find my race times that led to my 53rd overall place and 10th in age group.

Total: 11:08:39 53 overall finish time

TTT - Race #1 - Super Sprint 24:06
TTT - Race #2 - Olympic AM 2:30:44
TTT - Race #3 - Olympic PM 2:38:43
TTT - Race #4 - Half Iron 5:35:04

I dropped my time by four minutes and was able to push through some hard times.

Most importantly I could not have done it without Aimee. She has supported me during so many races and this one was no different. It was a great weekend with her.


JimmyNick said...

You are unbelieveable. I cannot believe you did this. Mucho respecto, brother.
Hope all is well!

Jim Nichols

Trisaratops said...

AWESOME job! Way to keep your head in it when you were feeling rotten and on such a brutal course. CONGRATS on TTT #2!

Matty O said...

Great finish to the series of race reports! Sounds like an awesome event that really tests your mental training as much as your physical.

Keep up the good work!

Christi said...

I can't imagine doing that many races in a weekend. You did fab!

Anonymous said...

Hey Eric,

I'll never forget the look on your face when you were coming down the hill on your last lap. You know sometimes death is an option. You looked close to taking it.

Big Country
PS Don't worry, I peed on your bike when you weren't watching.

TriEric said...

Thanks everyone for comments. I would recommend this race to everyone. It's not impossible as long as you are a smart racer.

Big Country....I don't really remember passing you and Linda on my last lap. I was definitely turned inward mentally. I was just pushing my body to the finish line as fast as I could.

Big Daddy Diesel said...

This is on my bucket list, but I am years away from it, your such a rockstar