Tuesday, May 27, 2008

TTT Race Report

Short version:

Met some great people, the water was cold, the course was hilly, the run is insane, my stomach is still effed up, I'd do it all again....

Longer version:

Got hooked up with RROOF through the Slowtwitch forums to race as a team. Rod ended up g
etting a cabin from One-Lap (Donald) who posted he had an opening. Ended up staying with Rod, Donald, his friend AnneChristine (one tough chic!) and Joe Bonness. Everyone was great cabin company, although we spent more time zoning out in the cabin than anything between races. But the beauty of the internet is I was racing/rooming with a guy I never met before who had us staying with someone neither of us met before and their friend along with a legend in the sport.


This was a blast. After training for long distance racing what does the TTT do but make you go all out in a super sprint 25 minute race! The
water was cold, but after a while it wasn't too bad. I was using my new Xterra Vector Pro 2 wetsuit for the first time and absolutely loved it. The swim was a TT start and it was a mad dash with everyone sprinting like crazy into the water, out of the water and through transition. The bike was basically an up then down course and it looked more like the last few miles of a road race than a tri, as people were passing and riding all over the place, which along with wet roads, made things interesting. Then after another mad dash through transition sprinting a mile was another new experience. The race was over before it seemed like it even began and I was OK with my time of 25:30 +/-.

Later I learned in our cabin that AnneChristine had some nitwit cut her off and take her out on the bike. Dude didn't even stop. She was banged up an
d scraped up too, but Dr. Rod being the traveling ER that he was had everything from good meds to the second skin stuff in his Dr's kit and our cabin looked like a hospital room while he treated AnneC. But she did finish the race and go on to race the rest of the weekend despite being banged up. Also met Tribodyboarder (Jay) at dinner and talked to him for a while.

Sat am Olympic:
Another TT swim
start. I was seeded #58 and felt good in the water. Again, my new wetsuit feels awesome with no shoulder fatigue at all. Exited the water in 19:30 according to my watch and headed to transition. Bike course was tough but fair, some hairy downhills but they had plenty of warnings on them.

The early start combined with the cold water meant my hands/feet were cold for most of the bike. I went sockless which was a mistake as my toes were cold
until halfway through the run. I took the bike easy until Rod caught me then tried to hang with him (not allowed to draft yet) and came in around 1:20, pretty slow for an olympic but the course was not easy. Started the run feeling ok and this was my first look at the infamous dirt trail run course. Like everyone says, it's hilly. Just concentrated on holding back and saving energy for the next race(s) and ran a comfortable 52 minute run for a total time of around 2:35 or so.

Went back to the cabin and relaxed. Got some food in me early and then just tried to stay hydrated until the second race of the day.

Sat pm Olympic/team T
This was a new format as most know by now,
bike, swim then run. Rod and I started off and early on I knew something was up with my stomach as I started to get some bad pains/heartburn. Tried to keep getting Infinit down but it was definitely hurting, and not in the usual way the stomach acts up/shuts down when going too hard and your nutrition is screwed up. This was just plain pain in the stomach. I had gotten sick a few weeks ago and ended up in the ER the next day where they were convinced I had appendicitis. Several hours later and multiple tests and a catscan and the doctor told me it was most likely food poisoning or something I ate. Was fine until the Saturday before TTT when I got sick again and didn't eat at all Sunday or Monday and only had a little bit on Tuesday leading up to the TTT. Anyway, this same pain/nausea was now back in full effect less than halfway through the bike leg of the second race. Rod and I shared pulls on the flats averaging a pretty good clip but I was hurting on the hills. He finally left me on the last hill to get to T-1 ahead of me to start changing into his wetsuit for the swim. I got to T-1 and he was almost changed, used the plastic bags (which worked great) and got into my wetsuit and we both headed off to the swim. By now the rush to the water and through transition from just a day ago was replaced by the most part by a comfortable walk and wade. On my second lap of the swim the people in front of me literally waded all the way out to the first turn buoy until they were into water about up to their neck before swimming. No dolphin diving/rushing just a lets get it over with kind of mosey along. Swim went ok but my stomach was screaming. The first lap went by way to fast and the last buoy came up again too fast on my second lap as I was dreading the run. T-2 was a hoot as a lot of people were cramping bad coming out of the water. The guy next to me was literally sitting down cramped so bad he couldn't move 2 feet to get his stuff and had a guy next to him hand him some endurolytes. Started the run and right away knew I was in for trouble. Every time I ran for more than a few minutes my stomach was into my throat and I felt like I needed to hurl, but couldn't. I'd run until I couldn't stand it then walk to let the stomach calm down then run again. Coming up the big climb after the turn around I saw Donald and AnneC. I knew he had his camera with him so I hollered hey Don, get a picture of me falling apart, which he was kind enough to do.

I suffered through the longest 10k of my life with continuing stomach issues and finished the second olympic around 2:55, or 30 minutes slower than the first.

Hung out afterwards an
d tried to eat as much pizza as I could to get calories in my for Sunday. Sat with Tribodyboarder, Rod, Joe B and met his wife (SupportCrew) and daughter. Great company once again, and man for a little dude Jay sure did put away a lot of pizza at dinner. For me every bite was an effort to simply get calories I knew I was going to need the next day. Went back to the cabin where we chilled out some more and tried to recover.

Sunday Half:
We all got up at the crack of 6am, or 1 hr before race. Tried to eat some breakfast and then headed to the race about 6:30ish. Everyone was moseying around and at 6:55, or about 5 minutes prior to the start I would say 90% of the people still hadn't donned their wetsuits. It was cold, about mid 40's, and that combined with the fatigue I think caused the athletes to stage a mini-protest until the sun at least started to peak over the hills. Finally the race started about 15-20 minutes after 7. The water was cold, but felt good after a little while. I just tried to swim steady and keep a good pace. Again, coming out of the water and going in for the second lap no one was rushing. Came out in 32 or so, but already was feeling stomach cramps. Got on the bike and headed out for the 2 course loop. I was froze, as I imagine most were, and spent the first 30 minutes trying to warm up. Good thing is there was a huge long steady
hill early on that helped to keep the speed down and get you warmed up. It was a pretty awesome climb on a neat fire road with beautiful scenery. Spun up it best I could and tried to keep things on the bike under control. I had tried taking only water for the first 20-30 minutes on the bike to settle my stomach before I started on Infinit. Again, knew I was in trouble as every drink of Infinit hurt and did the whole bike with my stomach in my throat. Not being able to get nutrition was really starting to take it's toll as I had little or no power going up the many hills so I just spun and did my best to not totally blow up. To add insult to injury about mile 20 or so when crossing one of the patches in the road I blew out my rear tire. I then had the pleasure of trying to change a tire with hands that were still pretty much frozen. It was damn frustrating trying to get the tire off and then back on the wheel when I couldn't even grip the tire. It was like trying to change a tire with 10 frozen sausages for fingers. I got passed by a ton of people, most of whom were kind enough to holler to make sure I had everything I needed. Finally after about 10 minutes I got the tire change done and headed back to the bike. I caught Jay about 2 miles from the turn around who had passed me when I had my flat and he said he was feeling good and saving something for the run.

The bike course is totally unsupported so you put any bottles you want/need on a table at the start/finish so you can get them for the second loop. I had an extra bottle of Infinit and a bottle of water waiting, but due to my stomach I had only taken in about half of what I planned on so I didn't even pick them up. It was funny though riding through the bike turn around as it looked less like a race and more like a rest stop for the local charity ride. There were people hitting the port a pots, moseying around the aid station and there just seemed to be an overall lack of urgency, but after 3 hard days I don't blame them and felt like stopping myself but by that point I just wanted to be done.

I knew I was in for a long day before I had even started so I didn't even bother starting my watch as I didn't want to be discouraged. I think my bike time was around 3:30 or more, or almost 1 hr longer than my time on a 'normal' course, but then again nothing about this race is normal. The second loop was pretty uneventful, I just pretty much spun as best I could and tried to force myself to drink Infinit whenever I could. I ended up taking in less than half of what I had planned on for calories on the bike though.

The run was a complete suffer fest. My legs did not feel bad at all but any length of running jostled the stomach like crazy. It was 2 plus hours of run for 2-3 minutes, then walk until the stomach settled. Jay caught me about mile 2 holding a nice steady pace. I ran with him for a mile or less than told him I had to back off due to cramps and wished him luck. I finished the first lap and as I did they announced that someone was just heading out on the bike for their second lap and I literally wanted to cry for that person! The second lap was more of the same I was now only drinking water as that is all I could handle as the gatorade in my fuel belt was killing my stomach and the Heed was doing the same, so I literally got 0 calories in on the entire run/walk. Donald and AnneC. caught me near the last climb before the downhill to the turnaround and told me to run in with them but I couldn't. About 5 minutes after they passed me I had a fleeting moment where I felt good and ran as fast as I could on the last mile or so and caught back up to them at the turn around before being brought back down by more stomach cramps. I did a good part of the run with another guy that was hurting too, #61 I think, Dan from Chicago. I'm not sure who was hurting worse, he or I, but we both had bad a day. By the time I got done it was all I could do to force myself to 'run' the last 1/2 mile which is back into the spectator area of the start finish and then it was finally over. Final time was a god awful 6:48, or 1 hr slower than my first ever HIM which I did a couple of years ago and was totally undertrained for at the time.

I got a little food in me but not much, sat in the creek with Rod, Donald, AnneC and several others then headed to the cabin, got ready and headed home. Stopped in Portsmouth at DQ, saw another guy there with his family on his way back to Columbus and as I was leaving I think St'er Jodi and her partner (he was still in his tri-suit) came in. Apparently DQ is big for triathletes after a 3 day sufferfest. For me, the DQ was a huge mistake as I spent the 6 hr ride home suffering more stomach pains and popped more tums, pepcid and ginger ale than someone should be allowed. Afterwards I don't feel too bad as my legs are tired, but not shot, but I'm still fighting something with the stomach so I'm off to the doctor's this week to see what the hell is wrong with me. Overall it's pretty frustrating as I've always had an iron stomach but whatever I have combined with such a hard event literally wiped me out.

Other than that it was a great weekend and great to meet a lot of St'ers and finally put faces to some of the names.

Rroof is one fast dude and super nice guy, Donald (one-lap) was a great cabin mate and AnneChristine is one tough woman for grinding it out after crashing. Oh, and Joe B. is a really great guy in many ways beyond triathlon and it was great talking to him about many things. I only wish I'd just had to deal with the course/races and not the added problem of a bum stomach all weekend. Anyone that finished or has done that race in the past is awesome because it's an entirely different experience from any race I've done to date. Congrats to all.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Up next....

Is the American TTT triathlon in Shawnee St Park, Ohio. Not sure why, but based on the buzz about this race I think I'm as nervous or more nervous than when I did IM Wisconsin last year. The common theme among most internet forum posters when referencing this week is that no one is trying to race it and everyone is 'looking forward to their good long training weekend'.

Basically it's 4 races over 3 days in what sounds like a very hilly area. It all starts Friday May 23rd with a really short sprint. 250 yd swim, 5 mile bike (apparently straight up a hill then straight down) then a 1 mile run. Saturday morning is another race, this time a standard Olympic distance race, again on what sounds like a very hilly course. Saturday afternoon the real fun begins with the first 'team race' where you and your teammate, if you have one, do a team time trial style race where you are allowed to draft off each other. Only deal is you start on the bike, then struggle to get into your wetsuit for the swim then try to run a hilly 10k after swimming. And then there's Sunday. Again, another 2 man team event. This time it's a standard 1/2 ironman distance race. Only again, very hilly. Everyone says to figure 1hr longer than your 'normal' 1/2IM time. Every race is a time trial style start, and by the end of Sunday you will have done more than 140.6 miles of racing. At the start my teammate and I are ranked #57 and 58. I can't wait!

In other news 2 cool items. First my new wetsuit arrived and it seems awesome. Went with the Xterra Vector Pro X-2. I didn't get to swim in it yet but it already seems way more flexible than my old entry level suit. Hopefully no more tired shoulders early on in the swim. Thanks again to coach John for the sweet discounts.

Secondly, I am now on the Achilles Running Store team! They are a running specialty store that just opened up here in town and are catering to local school athletic teams and serious runners. There are some really fast guys on the running team and I am the only 'triathlete'. So if you need to buy running stuff in NW Pennsylvania, go there first.