Monday, September 20, 2010

TDD Sprint Triathlon Race Report

So sometime Friday night of last week I figured I should probably decide if I was going to race the TDD sprint triathlon the next morning.  It was 5pm or so and I honestly wasn't sure if I should do it.  I felt pretty beat up from the FIRM still, had not done much training in the days after the FIRM and was afraid I might do some damage to myself.  Really all I'd done since the FIRM was to swim once, bike once, and run once.  None of which were at all any any kind of speed.  But since it was a club race and so many of my friends were going to be there I knew I was going to go either way.  So after some thought and encouragement I decided what the hell I'll give it a go and see what happens.  It was a short distance race so how bad could it be?  If only I'd known!

So Saturday morning I headed up there nice and early as always and set about getting registered and setting up in transition.  I didn't feel great, but I also didn't feel awfull.  My hamstrings were mostly recovered and my calves felt like they might still work.  This was going to be an interesting day.  I decided I would just see how I felt along the way during the race and at any time I would feel free to either bail on the race (yeah right!) or slow it down to a comfortable pace and just enjoy being out there with my teammates.  Speaking of which Tri-NE was out in force at the race and there were many of us racing out there again.  It was great to see so many of us in transition getting setup and ready to race.

Its important to know at this point that all I knew about the course was it was a 1/4 mile swim, 11 mile bike, and 3 mile run.  Thats what the website said anyway....

So off to get in a brief warmup swim in the somewhat chilly lake.  Part of me had it in my head that the swim would be fun and short.  Boy was I wrong!  I have to say I generally really like very physical swims with lots of people in the water.  However this swim was not fun.  When the gun went off I went running into the water on the front line of everyone right away.  I then headed for seven minutes and change of absolute misery.  Worst swim I've ever done by far.  And I don't mean by pace, I mean in terms of contact and absolute misery.  I did ok out to the first buoy but at the turn there were just too many people fighting to round the corner and I was too close the buoy to get away from it.  I got pummelled at the buoy.  Arms and legs everywhere and everyone trying to get through the people panicky and lifting their heads out of the water.  I managed to get round it and then all I could feel was arms pushing my legs down.  I absolutely could not make forward progress.  I tried to breathe three consecutive times and each time I had an arm or leg pushing my head down or I got kicked.  I honestly had a moment of drowning panic out there as I was afraid I wasn't going to be able to find air in the chaos.  Finally I started moving again and I was right in the middle of the pack.  Right where I didn't want to be.  There were people everywhere all around me and I couldn't find clear water.  Again the contact started and my legs got continually grabbed and trampled over while we all fought to keep moving.  Halfway between the buoys I honestly considered stopping.  I was exhausted and fighting just to breathe let alone swim and I wasn't having any fun.  In fact I was getting kind of angry at how poorly people were behaving out there.  I mean seriously...   you have goggles, you can see where your going.  Get the hell off me.  Then I ran into the same pair of breaststrokers everyone else did.  Two big dudes with long legs flailing around.  Getting around them was a nightmare.  Finally I'd had it and right before one dude was about to kick me I deflected (not grabbed!) his leg with my hand to save my face from getting kicked and break his rhythm.  And then the final buoy, which I also stupidly got too close to and got caught in the chaos of everyone else reaching it at the same time.  Now I was really getting pissed off.  I started to consider getting out of the water and going home.  I was that miserable.  This just wasn't worth it.  But then I found clear water on the way in.  Mostly as lots of people stood up early in the shallow water while I kept swimming into shore till I couldn't.  Finally I was out of the water and started the run into T1.  I ran next to CJ and remember saying something like "what the hell was up with that swim!".  After talking to several of my teammates who swim around the same pace I think we all had similar experiences.  I need to remember these moments on race day when I'm lining up.  Its just not worth the battle.  I need to start to the outside and round the buoys wider.  I bet I'll end up faster than fighting my way through the pack all the time.  I just really need to focus on swimming much faster this winter.  I'm really tired of being a middle of the pack swimmer and not placing in my age group because my swim is two minutes slower than everyone elses.  But I also need to remember that I couldn't swim in April so I should be happy for now.

Anyway...  into T1.  Usually I leave my bike shoes clipped into the pedals and my T1 is nice and quick.  But the way this course was laid out you mount your bike on the grass and then ride over a dirt road for a while before finding pavement.  Not exactly the place to get your feet into your shoes while riding so I opted to put them on in T1.  This of course was new to me as I've never done that before.  So my mount was not fast as I have never clipped in at speed before or practiced that at all.  But all in all it wasn't too bad.

So now I'm on the bike and away.  I was thinking about how much the swim sucked and wondering if I should just ease up on pace and enjoy the day.  But my brain is just not wired that way so I started hammering away.  I kept thinking its only 11 miles, how bad can it be?  I had no idea.  I should have ridden the course ahead of time or driven it.  I was not expecting it to be as challenging a course as it was.  The bike course was full of rollers and was damn hard work.  I did my best to hammer away at it but I was really suffering out there.  As each mile clicked by on my computer I kept thinking...  this is so silly!  Why am I racing!  I'm so not recovered from the FIRM.  I need to chill!  And yet I couldn't bear the thought of slowing down so on I went.  And on and on this battle in my brain went.

Finally the downhill towards transition came.  I got my feet out of the shoes and decided to see if I could do a running dismount on the grass.  I fully expected a trainwreck to happen but I made it through the dismount without issue and into T2.

T2 would have been pretty zippy if I hadn't forgotten to move my garmin from the bike to my wrist.  Oops!  So I had to double back for it about 10 feet and then head out again.  That was stupid.  So then I'm onto the run.  I had no idea how my legs would behave on the run.  I fully expected a meltdown.  When I realized the run started with an uphill run on a rocky dirt trail I almost cried.  Seriously?  Ugh!  So I fought my way up it despite my calves screaming and starting to spasm.  Again I thought I should slow down and yet I couldn't bring myself to do it.  Damn I'm stupid and stubborn. 

A mile into the run I realized that it was going to be full of rolling hills just like the bike was.  I don't mind hills, but today not fully recovered from the FIRM I was in no mood!  But stubborn dumb Nick kept fighting up and down them.  I started to think to myself that isn't this an out and back course?  Howcome theres no runners coming towards me?  I figured I just had it wrong and that it was a loop course.  Now keep in mind my wave was the first to go off.  So we were the only ones that far into the course at that point.  It wasn't until I was getting towards the turnaround point I saw a runner coming towards me.  Hey!  Its Jon from my club!  RIGHT ON he's leading our entire wave!!  So Jon led the charge back to the finish.  I was psyched he was having such a strong day.  Not long behind him was Kevan also rocking it, and then before I knew it I was at the turnaround point.  Holy crap... the reason I haven't seen many people is that I'm actually doing ok amongst those in my wave.

Reaching the turnaround felt pretty damn good as I knew the suffering would be over soon.  And make no mistake, the run was pure mind over matter 20+ minutes of pure suffering and pain for me.  Its usually my favorite part, but not that day!  I wasn't having any fun out there at all.  I was just happy the damn thing was almost over.  I looked at my Garmin and saw I was 2.5 miles into the run and did my best to pickup the pace for what I thought was the last half mile.  I'd checked the website that very morning and it said three mile run.  Not 5K, and not 3.5 mile run.  Well guess what!  When my garmin beeped to say I'd run 3 miles I couldn't see the finish line.  What the hell!  Where is it?  So I just tried to hold my pace and prayed the damn thing would show up soon.  Eventually I saw the finish through the trees and did my best to hammer my way through to the end.  At the finish I checked my watch and it was in fact a 3.5 mile run.  But hooray!  Its over!

In the end I crossed the finish line around 1:07 or so.  Not too bad.  Good enough for fifth in my age group and 34th overall out of about 380 or so individuals racing.  So thats top 10% when I felt like absolute hell on the course.  So I'm pretty damn happy with that.  What I'm not so happy with is myself for even racing.  Its now two days later and my calves are on fire, and my right heel has something wrong with it.  When I stand barefoot on it there is discomfort at the base of my heel.  If I poke my finger under my heel and put pressure there its a pretty obnoxious dull pain.  So something is not happy in there.  I'm guessing its a bruise of some kind or something but I have no idea.  I'm just hoping it goes away soon!  Especially as I'm already registered for the Amica sprint next weekend which wasn't cheap so I'm hoping I recover in time.  So far I've done zero training since Saturday as I just haven't felt up to it.  I may try a little pool swim today here at the hotel as I'm out of town currently.  If that doesn't go well I'll just get in the hot tub and hope that helps instead.

Really though despite my hour of suffering thats not what the day was about...   it was about my club coming together and picking a race that everybody could compete and have fun in.  Extra special about the day was my friend Chris and David completing their first triathlons!  Congratulations guys!  And as well as that many many of my club members placed in their age groups and divisions.  Definitely a great day for Tri-New England!  What was a real bummer for me personaly though was that I couldn't stay for the BBQ after the race.  Since I had to leave early sunday morning for a show in CT I had to go home and finish the prep work and packing so I'd be ready to leave the next morning.  I hated to have to bail...   that definitely sucked, but I have to pay the bills somehow.  But I did get to see the pictures on FB and it looks like a great time was had by all so that was nice to see.  Hopefully I'll make the next one.

The rest of this week should be interesting...   I need to try and start training again as well as let myself recover for another day or two I think.  I'll try to start with the pool and see what happens and go from there.  I just hope my heel and calves recover quickly.  Time will tell.....


  1. Ok, it's good to hear that (a) I wasn't the only one trampled on the swim and (b) that it was in fact 3.5 miles (didn't wear any electronics for the run). Both the bike and run course are indeed difficult - uphill both ways!

    Good writeup, and it really was a good day wasn't it? :-)

  2. You definitely weren't the only one trampled! And yes it was definitely a fun day! Not so sure I'll race a challenging sprint like that a week after finishing a 70.3 again! That one hurt!

  3. Wow, I thought I was among the few people that found the TDD hard.

  4. Nope... in fact out of the 3 sprints I did this summer it was by far the most challenging of the courses. Add to it the fact that I was still recovering from the harf iron I raced the weekend before and it was even harder! Good race though! I'd definitely do it again.

  5. Agree, I didn't have a wetsuit and that was the first shocker. Then the swimming itself as you described it was very chaotic. And to top it off I was counting on the first 1/2 mile on the bike to recover my breath, YEAH right, how about that welcoming hill eh?