As promissed, here are the dirty details of how I survived the event.
I made sure to have a full week of tapering – just one hard workout the week before and one mild one to stay loose. The swim was what I was most nervous for because I know the run would just be managing the pain and I’d be almost done so I was counting on those built up endorphins and adrenaline to see that part through. The swim though… I had no idea.
It also was the first time I swam with other people in my lane, and I was instructed to stay on the right side near the lane separators; already throwing variation into the mix. Within a few seconds I was on-top of another swimmer and I had to “go around” them forcing me to swim faster than I wanted to or I would not be able to keep a steady pace as I was used to in practice. For the next 4 lengths/2 laps I continuously had people in my way. The problem was that even though I would pass them and get to the end first, those 50 meters wiped me out every time, and I had to wait so long to be able to “go again” that they would get to the end and start out again before I did. After 2 laps of that, I started leaving before they made it to the end, and I guess that is how I took my average time of 40 minutes to an average of 31 to complete those 700 meters. Certainly not a good time for a good swimmer, but it beat my best by at least 5 minutes, and I was just happy to get out of the water.
Now came my event. I was super psyched to get on my bike, and I was ‘flyin” for me. There was a circuit involving a hill that you would climb 4 times. Every time I hit the climb, I pounded it all the way to the top, typically passing everyone I could see. In practice when I rode this route, I was in Zone 2 after the swim for the first lap, then Zone 3 on the second lap, and then Zone 4 after that. I felt like that could give me a pretty good time without crushing my energy. Well, my adrenaline and enthusiasm got the best of me and I hit Zone 5 right out of the gate on the first lap. I spent 26 minutes in Zone 5 and 14 in Zone 4 with zero in Zones 1, 2 and 3. My times would confirm I was in the top 3rd of all bike times for all age categories. My secret weapon was my music mix. I spent several days picking the most motivating and super charged music that kept me pushing the entire time.
Ruffling Club Style
So now was time for the run (or “ruffle” in my case – that’s the combination of running and shuffling). Here is where “fate” and other unexplainable things come in. Just as I’m crossing the bike course (the only place runners cross after their ride to start the run), Cathy is coming up the hill on her last bike lap at the precise same time and location. What’s the mathematical probability of that one!?!
With super good vibes I head into the woods, with my music still providing motivation and energy, I felt like I might even have a chance of beating my girlfriend. This was not ever mentioned out loud, but how could I not think about it. I know she is an experienced runner with multiple full marathons under her belt, and well… I figured she would catch me on the run, but now that I was in front, the old “racer mentality” kicked in and I was on a mission to not let her catch me!
In training sessions I could only ruffle for 1 to 2 miles before the pain was too great to continue. My hips might be made of steel now, but many of the muscles around them are a combination of scar tissue and whatever else causes pain when I have impact on them. My music would get me through again because I started dancing through the woods just to keep moving forward and distract me from the pain. The last mile was excruciating, and as I emerged from the woods to the final 300 feet or so before the finish line, my daughter was there ready to run the last bit with me and cheer me on. When she told me to “GO, GO – I’ll run with you!” I told her I could hardly walk let alone run, and then it happened: a guy with my same age written on his calf passed me with the finish line just in the distance. “Oh NO!” I thought – “I’ve not put up with this pain for the last 40 minutes to be last in my age class”. So I did what any crazy competitive person would do – I sprinted to the line, beating the guy who would in the end, be the last one in our age group.
My legs were shaking at the finish line and I collapsed to the ground for about 3 minutes before I could even stand up. This is indeed why I can not do another triathlon. Not sure what toll this one took on my artificial hips, but I wanted to do at least one in my life – mission accomplished, one more thing I can take off my bucket list – and oh yeah, I beat my girlfriend by 6 min. I have bragging rights until she can beat my times, but I promised to help her train to do it. I have no doubt she will kick my ass before she’s done doing triathlons.