Sunday, September 12, 2010

Wise Tri Race Report

3:45 AM is a ridiculous hour to wake up. There's really no getting around that.

Yet, that's just what I did on Sunday morning. Roughly 12 hours after crashing my bike I slogged out the door for an Olympic distance triathlon.

Well, truth be told I did pay a visit to Mr. Coffee before I got to the door.

I spent the next hour or so with Bill and Pomai, our new friends and training partners, driving to Lake Bridgeport for the second annual Wise Tri Triathlon. Despite the ungodly hour there was an abundance of smack-talk (Oh yeah? It is so on, Pomai! What are you going to do when I bring the heat, Bill? What are you gonna do???).

Kidding aside, a few serious words about the race... The Wise Tri is a non-profit race and all proceeds go to research Galactosemia, a rare but potentially fatal genetic disorder that affects one's ability to metabolize the sugar galactose (found in dairy) properly. In addition to its philanthropic roots, the Wise Tri is a fantastic small race. It's really well organized and incredibly well staffed. The course is challenging (particularly the trail run!) well supported and clearly marked. And the volunteers... Wow! Seriously some rock star volunteers!

Once we arrived at the race it was straight into packet pickup, body marking, and the obligatory bio-break. All was going swimmingly until I realized I'd forgotten something. Two somethings. DOH! I left my contact lenses at home! Oh, and did I mention that I crashed my bike the day before?

So with multiple open wounds and near blindness as companions, I set off on a 32 mile journey (1.5k swim, 40k bike, and 10k run) across North Central Texas.

The Swim

Since there were only a few dozen people doing the Olympic distance (there's also a sprint) the race organizers made it a single wave, mass start. So Bill, Pomai and I toed the start together. Despite the churning chaos common to every open water swim start, I managed to stay calm and focus on my stroke. Even though my vision was 'impaired,' I managed to spot the buoys well enough and stay 'mostly' on course. I finished the swim in 34 minutes flat - ahead of Bill but way behind Pomai, who apparently has the ability to channel Michael Phelps on command.

I transitioned to the bike in about 2 minutes... so some room for improvement there.

The Bike

Nice course! Some rolling hills and mostly void of traffic (except for a gaggle of Harley-Davidson biker dudes who seemed a little perplexed by all the spandex and bicycles). Several miles in I hammered away down a steep decent, hitting about 40 miles per hour when I saw Pomai headed the other direction. She'd already hit the turn around and was a couple miles ahead! So with Pomai burning it up out front and Bill closing in fast, I stomped on it (my ego was on the line, after all!). I managed to catch her a couple of miles down the road... but I had to put it all out there.

At the next turn around I saw Bill barreling down the road and gaining fast! I dropped into a bigger gear, got up out of the saddle, and poured on the gas!

I came in from the bike course in 1:19:19 with an average speed of 18.8 MPH. Not too shabby and a little better than I expected.

T2 went a little quicker and I was on the run in under a minute-thirty.

The Run

Whoa... here's where things get interesting ugly. With the mercury flirting with 85 degrees and the humidity at 90%, more than just the competition was heating up. Frankly, the conditions were better suited to frozen cocktails than running, but here I was just a simple 10k away from the finish line.

One little problem... this was not your ordinary 10k. This was a challenging trail run with steep climbs and descents, uneven terrain, a (dry) creek crossing, and fit friends on a mission to put me in my place. In a word, brutal. 

I could practically feel Bill and Pomai breathing down my neck so there was no letting up. I caught and passed a few dudes. A couple of dudes caught and passed me. Then a couple of chicks caught and passed me. I hit the turn around and made my way back, shuffling up and down the craggy hills.

The course is actually an out-and-back 5k so the first loop is a total tease. The finish line is just steps away but you've got to turn around and do it all over again. For better or worse, this allows you to see your competition... who were way too close for comfort! Twisted. Cruel. Awesome.

As I headed out for lap two. They were coming in from lap one. I didn't have much of a lead and even with blurry vision I could tell Bill was digging deep to close the gap.

I mustered up some gumption and pushed my weary body forward but there wasn't much gas in the tank. I hit the final turn around and as I made my way back, looking like death, there was Bill, looking strong and picking up ground. And Pomai, all smiles, was not far behind. Uh oh!

Finally, I trudged up the last hill and turned into the finishing chute. I didn't have anything left for a kick but I managed to hold my lead, barely. I finished the run in 1:03:59 a pace of 10:19 per mile. S-L-O-W!

After reviewing the results, it's clear my concerns that Bill was gaining on me were well founded. He was closing that gap by more than a minute per mile!

Pomai crossed the finish line moments later to secure the 3rd place female finisher and 1st in her age group!

For me, the swim and bike went a little better than expected. The run was tough, but I finished. Given the difficult course, my limited vision, and the crash I'm pretty pleased with the effort. Most importantly my ego is intact... for now!

Kidding aside, I've nothing but praise for the race organizers, course, race shirt and visor, finisher's medal, community support, volunteers, and friendly competitors! You guys are all first rate!
“Friendships born on the field of athletic strife are the real gold of competition. Awards become corroded, friends gather no dust.”
-Jesse Owens


the_ubster said...

Well done Brother!

Anonymous said...

Great blog! As a volunteer for this race, I want to thank you for the kind words of encouragement. This event is for a great cause and all our volunteers work very hard to make this a great race for the athletes. Thanks again and we will see everyone next year.