Sunday, July 08, 2007

NCN Summer Triathlon

Two weeks ago when I did the Summitri I felt awful during the run. I needed another triathlon, and soon, so that I could prove to myself that I was able to handle a sprint distance tri. Why did I need to prove this to myself? There is another reason, other than my vainglorious ways, and I'll tell you about it if you continue to read on. But first, redemption day.......

It's 5:00 A.M. and the alarm goes off to start my morning. I lie in bed until 5:05 staring at the pattern on the ceiling, and then I get moving. This morning I am eating breakfast!! I start the coffee. I take Sage outside to tend to his business. I eat a bagel, with Strawberry Rhubarb jelly, and a banana. I pack the car and put Amaterasu on the roof. I take an apple with me just in case I want it. I grab my Equal Exchange coffee mug, full of Green Mountain Coffee's Peruvian juice, and I hit the road at 5:40. I arrive at Paul and Julia's house within no time, stick my bicycle on the back of their station wagon and we're off. Today is the second triathlon for all 3 of us.

We arrive in Lorain at 7:00 as planned. I head straight to transition to rack my bike. After getting my body marked I set up my transition and do not obsess over it as I did 2 weeks prior. I know I have everything I need and that it is lying on my green towel. I head to the beach to go for a swim. The lake water is perfect, 72 degrees. It is crisp and refreshing as I dive in to swim out onto the course and check the wave situation. It is a little choppy, but not too bad. The 400 meter swim for this race goes straight out from the beach and makes a left hand turn just after passing the break wall. We then swim parallel to the beach just outside the wall, and then turn and head straight in after reaching the required distance. Easy enough. I swim back to the beach and stand on the sand facing the lake. The under 34 wave, my wave, is first to go.

The gun sounds and we're off, 40 men running straight out into Lake Erie. It is not easy swimming directly out into the lake but after a short distance I reach the first buoy and turn left.....and I begin to be lifted up and down by the lake. Once the break wall appears on my left the waves get bigger.....and I start to drink lake water.....and someone is swimming over my legs while I am kicking furiously to get him off and feeling like an ostrich reaching my head up trying to catch breathes over the waves. Up and down...everything is up and down. I try to breathe and water rushes over my head. I spit out lake water and grab a small breathe. Next breath and more waves and more water and less breathe. I see people in front of me floating stationary and I'm passing them here and there. They must be drinking lake water too. All the while the lake is lifting me up and down, I feel like I'm going nowhere in the water.....swimming against the current and reaching my head high for all the air I can get. Small breath after small breath as the waves rob me of the air above my head. I flip on my back and catch many good breaths. I ride the waves up and down and my breathing is back to normal. I flip over to finish the swim.

I'm swimming and seemingly going nowhere except up and down. Up and down. To my left is rocks. To my right is open lake, a boat, and the lifeguard in a kayak watching over us. I keep swimming. I am not panicked and I am not scared. But, this swim is INTENSE! I am dwarfed by Lake Erie. I am out of my element and I am approaching the last buoy. I feel something like an ant in a flood who is swimming upstream. I see the buoy and I turn towards land and head to shore somewhere in the middle of my wave. It felt like I had been in that choppy lake for a long time, 20 minutes, I thought. It was actually about 10.

After a long run up the beach, over a small hill and across the parking lot I make it to my bike. I am quite happy to put down my swimming goggles and cap as I donn my cycling gloves. After a smooth transition I'm off on Amaterasu. The bike course is a flat, flat, flat figure 9 out and back along the lake, 14.4 miles. The head winds are strong as we head west, typical for the lake shore. Big, big thanks to Charlie for the aerobars as the were oh, so essential today. I spun easy on the bike for 20 min. then kicked it up a bit to ride the tailwinds on the back of the course. Before I knew it I had drank 40 ounces of liquid and was arriving back at transition. Time on the bike, 40 minutes for a 21.2 mph average pace.

T2 also goes smooth. I run off while putting on my hat and race belt. Where I am running I have no idea because I don't know where the run course starts. I stop and look around. I turn right. Over to my left I hear, "no, hey...over here." Oh, that way. I get on coarse and set off on a flat out and back 5K. I'm feeling OK right out of transition. Easy pace to loosen up the legs. The legs loosen and I pick it up a bit. I'm eyeing those in front of me with hopes of reeling them in. Around 15 minutes into the run, I hit what seems to be the toughest part of the run for me. I start to feel a little overworked and hot and then.....................all is good. I fall into my pace and put one foot in front of the other. Right near the halfway point of the run there is a small steep hill. I'm up with no problems. I pass a few folks here and am feeling so much better than the last try (tri??). I also get passed but I don't care because I am not in pain. I am feeling good, even if I'm a little thirsty. I run into the finish in 1:16:10, finishing third in my age group. The AG award was not as important to me as feeling good about my swim and run. I'm not sure I actually felt "good" about the swim, but I came out alive and that was good enough. I felt plenty good about the run and was much improved over the last race. I am moving towards my bigger goal. In the spirit of motivating myself here are last weeks workouts:

Mon: Swim 2000M
Tues: Bike 29.5 Miles
Wed: Run 7.5 Miles
Thurs: Swim 1600M Run 4 Miles
Fri: Bike 70 Miles
Sat: Rest
Sun: Swim 400M Bike 14.4 Miles Run 3.1 Miles

Swim: 4000M
Bike: 113.9 Miles
Run: 14.6 Miles
Pints: 1 pint of turtle soup, tonite!! (you can find it on the Ice Cream Range)

I would recommend this race, no doubt. The swim is choppy as a result of swimming so close to the break wall. Don't believe the small waves you see because they seem to grow behind these large collections of rock. There is nothing like being put in your place by mother nature. The bike is fast and flat and the run is relatively flat. NCN ran a smooth race, even if the run entrance was a little hard to find. Next Sunday I am thinking about a last minute add to do the Milton Man Tri. I'd like to do the international distance before my big challenge on August 12th. The Greater Cleveland Tri. My big event for the summer. I have decided to go ahead and do the half-iron distance. The biggest challenges of this endevor will be: 1) keeping going for 6 hours, the amount of time I figure it will take me to finish. 2) Finishing the swim...that's it, just finishing it, and 3) the last half of the run course. I have a big month of July ahead; and before I do that 1/2 IM swim I think I'm going to find myself a wetsuit.


Charlie said...

Enjoy the hardware. You are a male in your 30's. AG awards don't come easy for us.
Great job. Dealing with lake Erie can be weird. Smart bike tactic and strong pace. No stitches preventing you from dropping the hammer.

Maybe on a Sunday we can head out to the headlands for some open water work.

Veg*Triathlete said...

Awesome race report! Congratulations on your AG finish - that's awesome. And only on your second tri! That's impressive.

Charlie said...

I have to work till two this sunday. I am available after that. I think the beach clears out around 6 or so. This would give us room to swim without dodging Frisbees.I would have to meet up with you along your freeway route.

GP said...

Wow, you're really kicking butt and doing it fast! Many congrats on the race!

Which race was it, by the way? I'm doing a horrible job looking for races in the area... and need to up my effort and get signed up. Will you be racing the Greater Cleveland Tri in August?

Thanks for the Tallmadge store rec. I'll have to check it out. It's likely an easier drive than the places I've been going.

Charlie said...

Sunday meet at 2 at roccos?. I will bring my bike and tri wear.

Jodi said...


That was my first race. Great memories!



Charlie said...

We are going to Ratdog.
starts at 6:30. If we leave roccos, my cell is 216-702-5983