Details: 1500m swim, 24 mile bike and 6.2 mile run. Things were looking miserable from the start at about 43 degrees and 10-15 mph winds. The water was already choppy and getting worse. Trying to set up transition in these conditions was something that I had not encountered before, as all of my previous races met the standard definition of “blue bird day”. This day however was closer to a snow goose.
SWIM - Once things begin to get started and I walked down to the beach
to enjoy the warming effect of 63-degree water my feet almost went numb
getting through the puddling rainwater. Fortunately, standing knee deep
in the lake water brought them back to life, and I waited patiently for
the 2nd wave. Finally my turn to walk back through the ice puddles and
then onto the metaldock to for the wave start. The swim got going and
went pretty well. Thankfully, I have become more comfortable with
bilateral breathing, otherwise breathing on the right during the outside
loop of the swim only got you a mouthful of lake water due to the windy
chop of beautiful Lake Guntersville. First wet suit swim for me and I
appreciate the strippers, however the Garmin 910xt was not cooperating
with my wet suit sleeve. Fortunately Gregg Gelmis wasn’t there to
document the racer that was being attacked by the wetsuit sleeve.
T1 - …longest transition ever. Try getting arm warmers, leg warmers,
winter gloves, skull cap plus all the usual “slips, trips and falls” of
transition while it’s raining cold misery.
BIKE - Finally got out on the bike and that is where the fun really
began. I chose to waive off the aerodynamic benefit and wore my Gore
jacket. It kept me warm despite the wind and rain. The rain made it
much more difficult to brake especially at the turn in/out of the State
Park…no doubt the heart rate monitor spiked both times at this point on
the course. Although it wasn’t sleeting during the race, it felt like
it as I was going down the one big hill on Monsanto Road. The bonus, I
did break a measly 34mph on the way back over the hill as a result of
“ride faster and it will be over sooner” syndrome. The only other
noteworthy thing was the large dead snake in the road and the one rider
that decided to play leap frog with me on the bike course. I convinced
myself that each time we passed each other that I was gaining some small
draft advantage. And of course, Brenda McGovern put a smile on my face
as we passed and I saw her biking in her wetsuit. Gotta give her kudos
for staying warm; hoping she had lots of Tri-Glide…
T2 - Made it back into transition (safely) and headed out onto the run.
Definitely took a little longer to shed the soaked leg warmers and
gloves. I had biked sockless and decided to put on socks thinking it
might help feet warm up. My Gore jacket must’ve weighted 10-12 pounds,
but when I went to take it off my body hit hypothermic madness, and I
decided to go ahead and run with it, despite the extra weight.
RUN - Shout out to the volunteers on the run course, they were soaked to
the bone and still lots of encouraging words to all the runners.
Couldn’t feel my feet as the run started. Funny thing was about a mile
into the course, I thought I felt something in my shoe. I couldn’t
imagine what would have been in my shoe, but it began to feel like a gel
pack moving around under my foot. I decided to stop and took off my
shoe only to find nothing there but my toes. I guess it was just the
feeling of blood returning to my feet. The run course was brutal with
the broken pavement and active rainwater erosion making for an Xterra
experience. I thought it was Groundhog Day because the guy at the
intersection of the gravel road kept saying, “up this hill and around
the orange cone”. This “Groundhog holiday experience” was capped off
by my Garmin saying 6.2 miles and still knowing it was over a half-mile
to the finish line. All in all, I’m glad I made it to the finish line
uninjured (minus some runner’s knee due to running in the lower drop
Zoot Ovwas that I haven’t trained in all year) and can no doubt say this
will hopefully be the toughest race I encounter any time soon. I’’ll
take my 38th OA and 9th AG (toughest AG competition by far) for a finish
time of 3:11:05. Done!