This was my first effort at an international distance triathlon. I was admittedly under-prepared, with the heat in July and August completely sapping my outdoor training motivation. Having paid the entry-fee late last year and reasoning that my base of training from earlier could at least get me to the finish line, I was ready to have a go.
A little background on my preparation: I have probably done 8-9 triathlons in the last couple of years. The DC Tri was the most recent, and I actually had trained fairly hard for that one. Since then, it has been all down hill. I spent some time on a trainer and practiced a couple of BRICKs here and there, but it has been a very inconsistent summer. I had only been outside to bike once since the Washington DC triathlon. August ruined me with a Caribbean cruise (and the requisite 8 pounds of margarita and buffet weight that accompanied it). At least I did force myself to do a couple of open-water swims from the beach when I had the chance. Add to that some nagging foot and knee pain, and you get the picture.
OK, excuses out of the way...to the RACE!
This was my first wetsuit swim in a race. I tried it out the day before during the practice swim, and while it was a little confining and warm, it seemed a bit faster in the water and it was super easy and fast to take off. I was in the 3rd wave....which was pretty great because I got a head start on so so many better trained folks behind me. I started near to the front of my wave, but closest to the shore. I avoided some of the initial flailing from the edge, but did have to battle as i worked diagonally toward the turnaround buoy. All in all, it was a fairly uneventful 30:03 swim. I was aiming for sub-30, but for never having swum the distance ever (not even in a pool) I felt good about the result.
I had a transition time that a first-time Ironman would be proud of: 6:00+! I was in the third row near the bike-out. so the run from the dock felt like it took forever. Plus I had to send a pre-populated text message to my wife to tell her I didn't sink. Everything was soaked and it just wasn't good. I also violated rule number 1. Nothing new on race day. I just got a new Garmin 305, and was so excited to try it. Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out how to reset it and restart the timing after tinkering with it the day before. So I started my bike at something like 49 minutes, and the data shows me leaving Fort Totten then jumping out of the TA. FUN!
You know how I had never swum 1500 M? Also I have never biked more than 18 miles. The bike was just ugh. I pushed hard, and I just never felt like I could carry any speed. Is there a long false flat going up towards Maryland, because I was hurting. Also, people with sexy bikes were just flying past me like I was standing still. I was battling pretty hard with a guy on a commuter hybrid. He had massive thighs though, so I suspect he actually rides his bike occasionally. I think I passed Mayor Fenty who either flatted or was helping a someone else who did. He (or his doppelganger) passed me back a couple miles down the road and I yelled that it would cost him my vote. Otherwise it was uneventful until the finish. I just crossed the dismount line, when I heard someone crash pretty hard behind me. I looked back and there were people all over helping so i headed into transition. Bike time: 1:19 - 18.9 mph (I was hoping for over 20...but I still haven't even done that in a sprint, so wishful thinking...)
MY GOD...the first couple of steps were not good. Apparently counting isn't my strong suit because I also missed the row where my bike was to be racked, so I did a lap around the 4th row before I found my spot. All things considered, a respectable 3:58
Came out ok, and was feeling good. While I had no idea how long I was on the bike, I was able to use the new Garmin to at least see my pace on the run. The first couple of miles I was right at my goal pace of about 8:15 miles, and actually felt pretty good. Probably about mile 2.5 I felt the timing chip rubbing against my ankle. I bent slightly to try and move it, and BAM! worst hamstring cramp ever. I almost fell over it was so bad. I stopped and tried to stretch it. Ate an entire package of Gu Chomps and drank the rest of the water I had in my fuel belt. While the cramp passed, I just couldn't really get comfortable, and couldn't move any faster than 10:00 minute miles. It was horrible. I was breathing fine, and otherwise felt good, but my muscles just wouldn't work. I kept going, and consuming powerade and water at every station. While the early start was nice, it was also sort of demoralizing to see all the strong to better than average folks from many of the waves behind me just blow past me like I wasn't moving. I couldn't even manage to stride out at all in the finisher's chute. I just sort of shuffled across the line. 1:00.23. 9:45 miles
Total time: 3:00.13 seconds. If only I had known I was that close to sub-3 hours. I could have found a way to beat it. Stupid fancy new watch. I was disappointed in the finish, but hey...I did finish!
I was taking on gu's, was well hydrated and even had a bottle of gatorade on the bike. I think my lack of bike training really damned my run, and I am almost sure it led to the horrible cramp. Lessons learned. Now I just need to redeem myself and actually train for an oly.
Anyway...good race, great volunteer support. Thanks to all of you who were cheering for the guy stuffed like a sausage into his DC tri club outfit.