Today, I got to rest. After a full week of training, I could really use it. My body let me know by having me sleep literally all day. As for soreness, my arms are pretty sore today after that epic, (at least for me) swim workout. I thought I would do another segment of how I got to where I am here at the beginning of this blog.
Before we do, I would like to say thank you to Voler for sponsoring me with a $100.00 gift certificate towards my training. I got to be the very first person to use their new gift certificate system. Please check them out if you need cycling clothes.
The next race I did after my first sprint triathlon at Hansen Dam was the Hermosa Beach: Day at the Beach. It was a great event and like the Hansen Dam race, there was a swim clinic. This was great as unlike the Hansen Dam race, this was an ocean swim. To say I was nervous is an understatement. You see, I have this thing about sharks. It's one reason I don't surf as a matter of fact, it is the reason. However, I knew I would have to do it if I wanted to race. On the day of the swim clinic I was apprehensive but was determined to learn all I could. The Hermosa Beach lifeguards were very helpful with tips about how to deal with the waves on entering the water and other things. They set up a mini course for use to swim and get a feel for the ocean. It was exhausting, but after the clinic, I felt a little less nervous.
I had a month and a half to prep. So I contacted my coach William Wayland and he put together a plan. This time I would do lots of pool sprints in my neighborhood pool. Because the pool is only 34 feet long. I would swim as hard as I could, turn around as fast as possible and bolt the other way. The sloshing of the water usually kept out other swimmers until I was done. For the bike I did hill repeats, basically ride up a hill as fast as possible for a certain length of time like 15 seconds. Also, I would run a mile and a half then run it again trying to beat the first time. By the time of the race, I felt I was in as good shape as I could be considering the short prep time. The following is the race report I wrote immediately after completing it. Once again, it is very honest.
Here is the account of my second triathlon. Warning: As usual, there is brutal honesty.
October 7, 2012
Woke up at 4:45 am, after going to bed at 1:30 am. Feel pretty good except I'm bloated and feeling fat. . .again! Fortunately, I packed everything and made my morning smoothie, (mango, banana, date and Vega protein powder), the night before. Can't go to the bathroom. . .again dammit! What is it about triathlons that cause bloating and constipation. Now I really feel bloated. I attach my timing chip to my ankle and my Transition wristband, so I can get into the Transition area. I have an abrasion on my neck from the swim clinic I did on September 30th, that I don't want to get worse, so I put a big Bandaid over it. Get dressed and have that thought, "What am I forgetting?" Can't remember. . .Grab my water bottles and backpack and I'm out the door. Get the bike on the rack and I'm driving at 5:30 am. Fifteen minutes behind schedule. Fortunately, there isn't very much traffic at that time of the morning. This will be my first ocean swim during a triathlon and my mind keeps thinking about the waves. And sometimes, sharks. I can tell my heart rate is up a little so I concentrate on my breathing and try not to think about how little training I've done for this race. Overall, I've only been able to do a handful of sprint, swim workouts plus one hike since the last triathlon August 19th. That's it. I can only hope that the foundational fitness my strength and conditioning coach William Wayland will carry me through somehow.
I arrive at Hermosa Beach and end up wasting too much time looking for parking. My heart rate is up again. I start to feel the urge to pee. Gotta relax and breath. Then I remember the public parking lot I used for the swim clinic. Score! I snag a space on the roof and bail. Then I remember that I didn't look at the parking space number and run back. Man, do I have to pee now. That's what happens when you get older, you go from not having to pee at all, to "must pee immediately!" I can hear the announcer talking about the "safety meeting." I pay for 6 hours of parking for some ridiculous reason. Hurrying to the Transition area to set up. Oops, went the wrong way. Yeah, I know it's the wrong way pal, thanks! Find the bike rack set up for my bib number. It's full already. Damn! I look around and see the next rack over still has a little room. Screw it. I realize that the race announcer is saying that the Transition area is now officially closed and all racers must exit immediately or forfeit. Great. I spread out my weird blue/purple Gracie Jiu Jitsu towel out, (makes it easier to find my are later!) and set up my stuff in seconds. Bike helmet on handlebars, Oakley's and gloves inside, bike shoes and socks ready to be grabbed. Vibram Five Fingers next to another small towel and race number belt. I strip off my sweats and grab my wetsuit, rubber head thingy, goggles and ear plugs. I'm immediately self conscious of my gut. People's eyes often go to my stomach before finding my face. It's a look that says, "You think you can do this?" The announcer is telling everyone to gather around for the safety meeting. He's gonna have to wait because the pee situation has gone critical. I make a beeline straight for the porta potties and try very hard to concentrate on my breathing and not doing the grown up pee-pee dance. Someone exits and I'm inside before the door can close. Trying not to think about the liquid I'm avoiding standing in. Have a scary moment where I think I might have released a second before clearing my tri shorts but no, it's all good. The rush of endorphins as you relieve yourself after holding it in too long is severely underrated. All the sudden I was very calm. I walk back to the gathering point and start to put on my wetsuit. This time I only put it half on letting it cover my stomach. Hate how bloated I feel. This will keep me from sweating too much while I wait for my wave to be called. I keep stealing looks at the ocean. Breathe. Sun is coming up. Someone sings the National Anthem and we head out to the holding area for each wave.
As we walk out, I can see the buoys. I cant help thinking that they don't look as far apart as I thought they would. I'm quick to remind myself that they will look much different from the water. The holding areas are separated by a sign saying what wave it's for. I'm in wave 6, 225lbs. plus, dark green swim caps known as the "Clydesdale's." Ahead of us is the 45 year old's plus, red swim caps. I put on the rest of my wetsuit. As usual the zipper gets stuck and combined with the fact that the pull string is just a little too short, I spin around like some kind of excited puppy. Finally, I ask someone for help. The announcer tells us that each wave will be six minutes apart and the first wave is up. At 7:00 am the starting gun is fired. Some people duck reflexively. I put in my earplugs and start to go over what we learned at the swim clinic. Like how to enter the water and "dolphin" until we were past enough of the surf line to begin swimming. I knew if I dolphin-ed too much I might blow out my energy in one massive adrenalin dump. Instead I plan to duck flat on the bottom under the waves if I need to. My heart rate is up and I'm sweating. What in the hell made me wanna do this again? I remind myself to "four four" breath and start inhaling slowly at a four count, hold it briefly and exhale for a four count. I do this until I feel my heart rate slow down. Still sweating but not bad. I remember that I forgot to put on sunscreen. The sand is not too cold and I don't mind it between my toes. I wonder how difficult it will be to remove later. Another wave is sent out. Each time a volunteer moves the remaining waves signs up closer to the start line. Apparently the 45 year old's are not paying attention. I hear one say that he has been gassing out in practice and has to stop and catch his breath on the way in. I'm reminded of the very limited training I was able to do for this race and get a little more nervous. Plus, I keep thinking about sharks. Right at that moment, one of the 45 year old's mentions the 13 foot Great White spotted at Manhattan Beach only a mile away. Starting to not like the 45 year old's. . .I look around at my own wave and see a bunch of people that are similar build as I am. One joker in a Speedo is stalking back and forth flapping his arms in some kind of half asses Michael Phelps warm up. I think he's burning up too much energy before the race and is gonna bonk before the first buoy. Another wave is started and now the 45 year old's are all grouped in the wrong areas mixed in with a couple of different waves. They chat away among themselves clueless. This is exactly the kind of meaningless thing that tweaks my OCD. I walk over to see our wave sign which is posted at the rear of each group. This is what it says: Wave 6, Clydesdales, MTN Bikes, Special Needs Athletes. . .
I suddenly want to yell at the 45 year old's to get in their proper area. They remind me of chickens mindlessly clucking away in a pen. "Mr. Speedo Flappy Arms" walks past for the fiftieth time muttering encouragement to himself. He suddenly stops and says loudly, "Maybe I should get in the surf." and then runs off to get wet. I notice a wave set in the ocean that looks kinda big. Was that three waves in a row? Might make it tough to break through. Gotta relax. Breathe. I turn on my Forerunner 910xt gps watch so it can link to a satellite. Another wave is started and now the 45 year olds are completely mixed up with our group. Every once in a while, one will look up with a slightly confused look, then go back to their prostate conversation. The announcer calls out the "Red Swim Caps, mens 45 plus." They all gather at the starting line.
I start going over what I've learned since the last Triathlon. About using your hips to twist you body and not crossing your center line with your hands and reaching as much as possible. Most importantly to relax. Mr. Speedo Flappy Arms is back and is flapping his cellulite a little closer than I like. I look down at my own stomach and I'm reminded that I look like a blown up latex glove. Maybe I shouldn't judge.
We're up. I'm standing to the left of the group near the front. I'm calm and watching the 45 year old's to see if there are any holes in the sandbar to watch for. I'm calm even though my heart rate is slightly up. "One minute!" I feel focused and have no plan to hang back this time. "Ten seconds!" I start the timer on my watch. HONK!!!
I run out to the water and pause as a wave crashes in, then high step out until a large wave crashes towards me and I duck under. I come up in time for a second and then a third then I'm swimming.
It's kinda weird because I can feel the other swimmers around me. I quickly find my rhythm and focus on relaxing as I reach. I use my hips and twist my body after reaching as far as I can. Every now and then, I kick someone's hand or leg. Strangely, it doesn't bother me. I get to the first buoy and I'm a little surprised I'm there already. My arms are tired but not too bad. When I feel the lactic acid start to build up, I drive with my hips more to twist my core until they are rested. I keep stealing looks to my left towards the open ocean, looking for anything out of the ordinary. Next thing I know, I'm almost at the second and last buoy. Then I see something come out of the water. Just a black shapeless mass about 25 yards away. I tell myself it's nothing but I immediately imagine the bite on my outside leg. Gotta focus. Getting tired. I say hello to the lifeguard at the buoy and think that maybe the shark will go for him first. Then I feel bad for thinking that. Round the buoy as the lifeguard says some encouraging stuff like, "Just ride the wave on in!" I wish I knew how. About half way to shore I swim past the 45 year old from earlier who said he was gassing out. I tell him to use his hips more. He tries for a minute then stops again to catch his breath. I leave him. I need to be done. I realize that I have not stopped once during this swim and have done the entire thing with my head out of the water. Not the most efficient but it's working. I start to wonder where the heck I got the stamina? All of my practices were short sprints. I wanna buy William Wayland a beer. I make it to the beach just as a pretty big wave comes crashing in. I duck under and stand. The female lifeguard on the beach thinks this is funny but doesn't make eye contact. I amble up the beach sucking air. I feel like I was in a dryer on spin. I don't trust my equilibrium enough to run so I walk into the transition area. (Swim 17:37) I strip off my wetsuit by the time I reach my bike and plop down to clean the sand off my feet and put on my bike shoes. Then I just sit for a couple minutes catching my breath. I grab the bike, helmet, Oakley's, and gloves and walk out of the Transition area. (T1 6:31 Ouch!) I get on the bike and immediately slip off the pedals with the bike shoes and almost crash. I have to stop and clip one foot in before I can take off. Wait a minute, why is the road so steep right out of the gate? A hill, awesome. I power up it to the main loop. I'm doing pretty good. Man, some of these triathlete ladies look really good from behind on their bikes. Oops, better focus. Road gets pretty narrow and at one point, "On the left!" is shouted kind of close to me as I'm about to pass someone. I go into the gutter but somehow stay up. Oh no you didn't! But they are gone. I keep pushing knowing that I can make up time here. Look at my bike computer and realize I didn't reset it. Dammit! I look at my Forerunner. The distance is off WTF! I get near the end of the loop and see a very large sign that says "3 Loops." What!? Holy crap, I gotta do this two more times!
I power up the hill and this time around, narrowly miss the gutter. I see a lady riding what looks like a little girls bike, legs pumping furiously. I want to tell her to shift gears but don't. As I pass, I see she has a slightly maniacal look in her eyes. I notice that I am passed pretty regularly by ladies and surprisingly overweight men. But I don't mind at all. Legs are burning but it's my heart that causes me to slow and rest every now and then. Here comes the "3 Loops" sign again. A guy on a bullhorn is saying that if it is your third loop, you need to merge left. I ask the guy, "Even for the sprint?" He just smiles at me. It's all a sprint. Meaning there is not a longer race today. So I go back around for the last time. I try to push harder. An obnoxious man that thinks he's at the Tour de France is yelling, "ON THE LEFT!!!" constantly. Problem is, he shouts it and tries to pass someone at a bottle neck where the road narrows. There is no place for the other rider to go because he was passing at the time. So Mr. ON THE LEFT!!! ends up hitting a traffic cone and with a bit of impressive dexterity, doesn't eat assfault. (Yes, I know.) Somehow he spins the bike in midair and continues on, still shouting. My legs are burning and I'm trying hard to regulate my breathing when I'm at the loop sign and I'm able to merge left back down the hill and into the Transition area. There are always these race officials standing at a white line shouting, "DO NOT CROSS THE WHITE LINE MOUNTED!!! REPEAT!!! DO NOT CROSS THE WHITE LINE MOUNTED!!! Honestly, they act like you will explode or something if you do. I have a panicky second where it seems the bike shoes don't want to come unclipped, but it works out at the last second. I cross the white line. (Bike 38:57) I sprint until I see the weird colored Gracie Jiu Jitsu towel, hang up the bike, helmet and gloves, strip off my bike shoes and socks and pull on the Vibram Five Fingers shoes and my visor. Somehow I do this very fast. (T2 1:00) I'm out the Transition area and I'm finding my pace. I have a steady 84 steps per minute going and feel I can maintain it. People routinely pass me in all shapes and sizes, but I don't care. I'm focused on me. I see a very obese man ahead of me, stagger walking, being supported by a very slim woman. She is muttering something which I cant hear as I pass by. The man is done. I can see it in his eyes. It's only a matter of time. More people pass by and again I am impressed with how attractive some of these women's bodies are as they run past me. Just an observation, not trying to be a letch. I'm reminded of a quote Roxy Richardson said recently, "A skinny girl looks good in clothes. A fit girl looks good naked." I feel very fat still. My breathing is a steady two inhales=two steps, two exhales=two steps. I have no idea if this is "right", but it seems to work for me. There are volunteers handing out water. I try to sip it on the run and only slosh it everywhere. So I stop, drink up and take off again. I'm thinking, "Man, I hope the turn around is soon." I notice I'm starting to heel strike a little more than I should and my pace is down to 81 steps per minute. I've heard you should strive for 90 steps per minute but that will have to be another day. About the time I reach the turn around at Manhattan Beach, I remember what it is I forgot in the morning. Glide. It's an anti-chaffing product that comes packaged like a deodorant. You put it anywhere you think stuff may rub together. Namely, between your legs, pits, back of the neck. I forgot to apply it between my legs so by the halfway point in the race my butt cheeks were raw where they meet my legs. What does it feel like? Road rash cleaned with alcohol! It sucks and will make you bow legged faster than a Friday night hooker during a half off sale! (I don't know where that came from. . .) As I pass the volunteer water station again, one of the kids is asking if people want to be splashed in the face instead. She looks a little "too" into it. I give her the "No-no-no" finger wag so she just hands it to me. I see up ahead there is guy walking in a red shirt. As soon as I catch up to him, he looks over at me, scoffs a bit and starts running again. Okay. Glad I can inspire. I check my pace, still at 81 steps per minute so I speed up until I'm back at 84 spm. I'm pushing my limits though so I focus on my breathing. I see people that you would never expect to see run a triathlon and I think of my friend John Villanueva and wish he could see what I see. Because the only difference between those that do it and those that don't, is the desire to just try. Mr. Red Shirt is walking again. And once again, as I get close, he looks over, scoffs and takes off. No problem. The abrasion on my neck is bothering me. I think my neck may be sunburned. Oh well, we will just have to deal with that later. I can tell I'm getting close to the finish. For some reason my watch distance is off. I better figure out how to work it by the next race. I do a systems check. Feet? Okay. Knee's? Pretty good, considering what I'm doing. Chest? Good, tired but good. Brain? clear and focused thinking about the medal. I hope it's not stupid looking. I see a heavy set guy shuffling the other way and give him a thumbs up. He returns it. I'm thinking, "Man, it would be nice to live here." A women about my Moms age passes me. Damn. Next thing I know, I'm next to Red Shirt again. He looks over. In an instant something happens to me. Something changes. Normally, I don't care who passes me as I consider each race, a race against myself. But when Red Shirt looked over at me that third time, I snapped. I started channeling world champion ultra-runner Scott Jurek whose book I had recently read. Scott mentions the strange satisfaction one gets when you make your competition realize they have no chance of beating you. I wanted to not only blow past Red Shirt, I wanted to maintain that pace long enough to crush his spirit.
So I did.
I immediately started racing him. He gave chase but quickly gave up. I kept going. Long enough that I heard him stop running and begin walking again. I kept going, driving the point home. Finally, I relaxed back into a steady pace again and started taking in the view. Several people had begun to play volleyball on the beach. Beyond, it looked like good waves for surfing. Not that I'm an expert. As a matter of fact, after swimming in the ocean and finding sand in almost every orifice, I can't even imagine what it's like for the ladies getting sand in their. . .never mind. I saw the entrance to the finish on the sand about 50 yards ahead. Suddenly Red Shirt was right next to me, that sneaky sucker. Screw this! I slapped his gut and said, "Lets go!" and started all out sprinting. The people at the finish line began to cheer. As we got closer our little race attracted more peoples attention and cheers. Red Shirt tried to hang but just couldn't. I easily sprinted ahead taking full advantage of my long legs. Someone yelled out, "Great way to finish 578!" My number. I kept going until I passed both sets of timing strips at the finish. People cheering as they announced my name. I was thinking, "Man, I hope someone got a picture of that. Followed by, "I hope I don't look stupid if they did."
Total race time. 1:44:04 Here are the stats. Out of 774 people competing. I came in at 736. I was 20th in my age group out of 23. I improved my overall time by about 15 minutes from the last race. How I did that with so little training, I can't tell you. But I did. I need to work a lot to improve, but it will happen.
Before I did my first triathlon, I used to think, "What can I do?" Now I think, "What, can't I do?" My next race is a 50 mile bike ride, then the L.A. Marathon. End.
I didn't end up doing the L.A. Marathon as we will discuss. Thanks for reading.