Sunday, September 16, 2012

Tri Rock Austin Race Report and Follow Up Reflections

Duck in Austin!

This post is very much a hindsight 20/20 post.  I made some mistakes here and while they are all part of the learning curve, I am still looking hard at them since I still can't say if I would make the same choices again.

After Bowling Green, I displaced my right lateral meniscus.  It was one of those unquestionable moments when you know you are f*****!!  I had been sitting at the computer with my legs crossed and when I stood up, the meniscus which had worked it's way out of place was pinched between the leg bones.  The pain was immediate and blinding.  My first thought was that I had just torn it, but honestly, I have torn a meniscus before and it didn't hurt this much.  Initially, it was a non-weight bearing injury and I immediately scheduled an appointment to get it addressed.  The doc was able to put it back in and I began to heal but there was a period of time where training came screeching to a halt.  In all, the injury cost me about 10 days of training.

The following week I came home from Kentucky to Texas and had given up all hope of getting to race in Austin on the 3rd.  After talking to Dr. Z and DW, I was cleared to race the sprint distance but not the run for the Olympic.  DW suggested that if I could not switch to the sprint, to race the Olympic but leave the running shoes at home.  He didn't even want them in the transition area.  NO TEMPTATION to run, but go kill it on the swim and bike.  In the end, they let me switch so I raced in the sprint after all.
Sporting the groovy race tattoo

The drive home had really taken it out of me.  I couldn't find an acceptable place to stop and ended up grabbing a couple of hours of shut eye in a Wal-Mart parking lot around 3 am.  By the time I got home, I had taken the fatigue of a few hard race efforts, a summer on the road, and an injury and seriously compounded it.  I was really tired going into the labor day race.

I arrived at the transition area around 5:30, ridiculous since my wave didn't go until 8:46 but since sleep was a no go, I figured why not.  My stomach was starting to sour on me and by 7, I had given up on eating and drinking.  I had eaten a good breakfast around 4 but by race time, I was already getting a little low on fuel/hydration.  It was also really, really hot.  They announced the temps shortly before the sun rose as 85 degrees.  By the time I was out on course it was soaring into the 90s and topped out at 99.  My desire to race was diminishing by the minute and I was having serious misgivings about being there.  I felt sick, flat and tired, not at all ready to give a race effort.
It's 5:30.. Why is there a camera in my face?

I did not warm up at all.  Not only was there no real place to do it, I had no fire, no energy, no desire.  My shoulder was screaming and my IT band was tight.  There was no swim warm-up and I knew a running warm up was a bad idea.  I went into it cold rather than make one of the injuries worse by trying some random calisthenics moves.  I would say that was the right choice.

I started the swim in a front and center position.  It was an in water wave start with 50+ people in my wave.  A few people streamed out ahead of me but I quickly fell into a nice rhythm and headed for the first buoy. I was in clear water by the time I got there. I swam really wide around it since it was a right turn and my left shoulder is still very weak.  After that my line got better, and I began passing people in the waves ahead of me.  I exited the water calm and somewhat optimistic.

There was a long run to transition and I basically jogged it.  My transition times were terrible.  I had time to knit a sweater there.  I felt out of it and apathetic.  I didn't do anything in hurry and trotted the bike out of transition, mounted carefully and pedaled softly out onto the bike course.  Someone behind me was screaming at me to go faster and I got instantly grumpy.  I said a few colorful words to him and suggested that he pass or shut up.   I felt compelled to point out that since he had been in an earlier wave, he might want to swim faster if he did not want to be behind me.  I am sure I made a lasting friend.

Once out on the bike course, I started to feel OK.  While I never REALLY fired, I did turn in a solid performance.  It was good enough to be second in my age group but it was also the first time I have ever NOT been first.  That was a little bit of a bitter pill when I saw the results.  I have gotten used to that position and even though I knew this day would come, I did not like it much.  I also was unable to stomach my hydration/nutrition.  In sprint races, I carry one small bottle and my nutrition plan is to drink it on the bike.  It has calories and electrolytes, enough for the whole race.  Unfortunately, my stomach was not interested.  I got maybe 3 oz out of 16 down and that was it!

Seabiscuit and I on the hunt!

T2 was about as pathetic as T1.  There was a bottle neck going back into transition and I ended up having to walk and wait for a bit.  Once through the gate, a sad little jog was about as much as I could give.    I headed out on the run and just tried to find a nice pace.  It was blazing hot and there was no shade.  I began to overheat and fade quickly.  My knee started to scream in the first mile and every step after that was torture.  I broke to a walk several times and by the end, my overall pace was off by about 45 sec/mile.  At one point a lady was standing at the side with a cooler full of ice.  I grabbed a handful and shoved it into my sports bra.  I then got a chuckle out of the fact that I clinked with every step for the next mile and a half.  It helped and that portion of the race was the best for me.  Sadly though, it eventually melted and so did I.  I got to a point where I just told myself to get it over with and that is what I did.  I stopped caring about the race and just finished the workout.
One of the better moments.

When it was over, I made a pass through the massage tent and then collected my bike.  Later I returned to check the results.  I got my printout and was a little puzzled by my results until I zeroed in on the swim time.  They had recorded my swim time as over 1.5 hours for a 700 meter swim!!  Now I was tired but seriously…. not that tired!!  In the end, they made an adjustment that corrected it more or less.  I suspect that the swim time was still long as they had me placing near the end of my wave and I am pretty sure I finished near the top of it.  I can't imagine I would have missed 50+ people swimming over the top of me and at a pace that was close to :45/100 slower than my usual times.  In the end, with the slowish swim, I placed fourth place out if 52 in my age group missing the podium by one place and less than the time wasted in transition.  Considering how lousy I felt, I can't help but be pleased with my final position.
Really showing the hitch in my giddyup here.

Spotted the finish and the head came up

I came out of that race exhausted.  Tuesday the fatigue was so bad it hurt.  I had to drive to Tyler and work that night so there was no sleep in the cards for me.  Wednesday, I skipped  my workout in favor of more sleep but I still felt like a zombie all night.  The rest of the week, discipline kicked in and I got my workouts done, including a tough set of run intervals in 95 degree heat followed immediately by two hours of power based bike intervals on one night.  I was late for work every night though (fortunately I am the only person I answer to there) and was braiding very slowly. Movement was becoming harder with each night.  I also began having drops in blood pressure that were causing pretty serious dizzy spells.  By the end of the weekend, I was totally trashed and I couldn't get out of bed.

I slept all day and night Sunday night.  Monday morning I ventured into town to go to the bank, grocery store, and get gas.  I was freezing.  A cold front had moved in and it was in the mid 80s as opposed to high 90s but I am not sure that really warranted running the heat in the car and wearing a jacket.  I felt like I wasn't going to survive the grocery store experience.  By 11 am, I was back in bed and stayed there until Tuesday.

DW was in Vegas watching his wife place second in the Pro race (CONGRATULATIONS!!), so I didn't bring my situation to his attention until Monday.  His take on it was that I was suffering from exhaustion.  As much as I have always thought that was something reserved for celebrities who didn't feel like doing their hair for a few days, I am now aware of how crippling it can be.  I could see how someone might end up hospitalized.  Fortunately, it did not come to that for me.  Once again, I am two weeks from a race and sitting on the bench.  I am not sure how Galveston or Dallas will play out.  At this point, I guess I am okay with it either way.  If I race, I will do my best.  If I don't, I realize it might be for the best.  Which way it will happen will most likely be decided at the last minute.

This is a good place to be!

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