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Tiger Tri – 2010….FINALLY!

Here’s my race report from the Tiger Tri in Colville, WA.

Lodging: We had planned on camping but since we have a garden and we are watching another garden for our neighbors, we opted to stay in a Hotel for one night.  Nothing too exciting about that.

Food: On the way up we realized that we would not make it in time to pick up the race packet at 7:00 PM so when we passed through Chewelah, we found a restaurant called “The Chalet” and man oh man is that a GREAT restaurant!  Not cheap, but certainly worth it.

I probably should not eaten what I ate: Chicken Marsalis with a mushroom cream sauce, 3 large deep fried prawns, mash potatoes, veges, glass of Chateau St. Michelle cab, vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce.  But once we walked in and saw the kind of restaurant it was, I said, “What the heck…it’s only a race!” and had a WONDERFUL dinner!  As we left we told the owner, “We’ll be back tomorrow!” …..and we were.

Race Morning: Two years ago I found a couple going up to the lake who had room for me and my bike so I tried to repeat that so my wife could sleep in more.  I needed to be there around 6:00 so I could get my race packet and do the usually stuff.  So I got up at 5:00, went to the continental breakfast, HA! Instant oatmeal…yuke!, and hoped I’d find another couple to hitch a ride with.  Didn’t happen.  So went back and woke my wife up and she got up and took me.  So breakfast was one bowl of oatmeal, 1 banana, 1 cup of coffee and two bottles of water.  Not my usual fair but since this was a shorten Olympic Tri I wasn’t too concerned.

Now normally I go through my stuff the night before, but by the time we got up to the hotel I figured what the heck, if I don’t have it, I don’t need it.  So in the morning I took the same attitude.  Just grabbed my gear bag, bike, nutrition and headed up.  Turned out I forgot my front bottle but I had two bottles on the lower bar: one for water and one for Infinit and that worked fine.

Since we had kayaks on the back, they let us right into the starting area which they shouldn’t have.  They thought we were volunteers.  So it saved me a long walk from the drop off spot.  Unloaded my gear, said good bye to my wife and walked over to the bike racks, then picked up my race packet.

My wife was planning on going over to the lodge which was on the other side of the lake (where the start used to be) and have breakfast and watch the start from there.  BUT they didn’t open till 8:00 and she hadn’t eaten or had coffee, so she went back down to Colville.

Meanwhile, I got my race packet, body marked, and then setup my transition area.  Once that was set I walked down to the lake to check out if anything had changed and sure enough, instead of going right out of the water and running on carpets to T1 we turned left, so that was worthwhile.

I put my feet in the water and it felt pretty good.  They told us it was 74 which was bunk.  It might have been 74 on the surface but once you got past the 1st few inches it dropped down to what I would guess was about 65, still not bad.

I was watching this kid staring at a spot in the water where all the athletes would run up and out of the water and I asked him what he was doing.  He said there was a large rock in the way.  And I said, let’s get it out.  He said something about a fish attacking him every time he started to go out to it.  I was like, “what?”.  So he put his foot out and sure enough this little bluegill shoots out of nowhere and charges his foot!  I’m like, “HA!  A killer bluegill, cool!”.  So I put my foot out but instead of pulling it back when the fish attacked I left it in.  I figure how bad could it be?  The doctor says I’ll never run again……..NO!  Just kidding.  The fish charged but then stopped inches from my feet.  Just a bluffing I guess.  So I walk over to the rock and tried to move it, but no way.  I told the kid that they should just position a volunteer there so when the swimmers come up and out of the water they can guide them away from the rock.  What a hoot!

Walked to the end of the dock and waved towards the lodge thinking that my wife would be sitting inside having her coffee and then turned and talked with a young couple.  This was there 1st triathlon and they were nervous about the swim as they hadn’t done ANY swimming!  (What are people thinking?? )  But, turns out they are athletes and have done hundreds of bike and run races, just nothing in regards to swimming.  So they said they were going to just hang back and side stoke it in and I said that’ll work and wished them luck.

So finally the race is about to start, I took a practice swim and swam straight out about 50 yards and stopped, stood there bobbing in the water and looked around.  This was a cool moment.  I really felt different.  Why?  Well, to be honest, I think having done an Ironman has given me a lot more confidence.  I know that sounds funny, but it’s true.

I was just bobbing up and down in the water, not nervous, just looking around taking in the beauty of the morning, the steam on the lake, the sound of all the other athletes talking and laughing and splashing around me, the folks in the kayaks, canoes and boats joking with each other as well as with some of the athletes…I was just so thankful to God that I am able to do this sport.  What an amazing gift..health, finances, everything,…. I was  overwhelmed with joy and appreciation towards God that he allows me to do these things.

I seeded myself in the middle of the swim group and as the countdown began I blew out a final relaxing breath and started at the sound of GO!

I must say that compared to the start of the last race I did 3 weeks ago, this was a piece of cake!  There was a little bumping and pushing but it only lasted for a few seconds and poof I was in open water.  It seemed to me that I found my rhythm quickly and settled in, although I did have to pull back a little as I had started out too fast at 1st.  Which I think helped me get in front of some of the slower people.  (Not that I’m fast by any means!)  No one swam over me and I ran into a few people but probably 150 meters out I had open water and even going around the 1st buoy it was open.  Cool!

So nothing to report.  I had a good rhythm, was sighting well (that was part of the rhythm: 1, 2, breathe on the right, 1, 2, breathe on the left, 1, look up and sight, 2, breathe).  As long as I did that I seemed to stay right on course.  After the 2nd turn and heading into the finish I started thinking about the transition and forgot about sighting.  Sure enough when I did finally sight I was off, not a ton, but more than I had been.  So I have to learn to not get distracted during the final leg of the swim as I did the same thing at IM.

Again, just as Coach Scott told us, keep swimming until your hand touches the ground then get up and run.  That’s exactly what I did.  As I was running up the ramp someone passed me on the left and I heard someone say, “Go Haley!”.  “Haley?  Haley Cooper?”  Sure enough there was Haley passing me on the left!  “WOW!”, I thought, “I got out of the water BEFORE Haley Cooper, NO WAY!  WOW!!!!!!  I’m sooo impressed!!!”.  I finally controlled myself and realized that I had a 5 minute head start over Haley and ALL the women, so my 18:31 minute swim was actually Haley’s 13:30 swim…oh well, for a moment I was a stud…at least in my head.  (BTW: Haley took 1st in the women’s overall and is ranked #1 in the NW)

Got to my bike, did a so so transition (26 seconds faster than last year) and took off.  My heart rate was pretty elevated so I tried to get it under control as soon as possible.  It’s sort of tough to do though when everyone’s passing you like crazy.  I saw one 51 year old pass me and I was a little concerned so even though I was trying to go steady and recover a little I also didn’t want to lose sight of this guy.  But, he had HUGE legs and I knew I wasn’t going to keep up with him.  My hope was that I’d catch him on the run.  (He finished his bike in 56:28, OUCH! to my 1:06:53, UGH. BUT his run was 49 and mine was 40, still he beat me by 1:34….errr, NEXT YEAR!)  BTW: He had the strangest bike stoke I’d ever seen.  It looked to me like he was sitting too low on his seat as his knees stuck out past his pedals but yet you could see he was amazingly powerful and would just crank up the hills.  Wow!

I was tooling along pretty good and taking nutrition and water and I got to thinking about the race director Debbie.  During the mandatory meeting they do and say all the usual things and we’ve all heard it a million times, but normally near the end they say things that kind of get you going, and usually you respond with a big hoot and holler and clapping and grunting like crazy…well at least the guys grunt.  So when Debbie finished there wasn’t a lot of noise so of course I yelled and hooted and hollered and tons of grunting and finally folks joined in.

So I was thinking about what I would say to help get people motivated if I was the race director.  And as I was composing my speech I happen to look up and the next thing I knew I was off the road and onto the shoulder and in the dirt!  WOH!!!  WOH!!!!  HELP!!!!!!!!!  I’m screaming along and all of a sudden I’m wobbling all over the sand and trying to stay upright, and still peddling and the dirt is spraying all around me and I can hear rocks tinkling off my bike and I’m like, “Oh shoot! (yes, I said shoot!)  Help me Jesus, HELP!” and I knew I was going to go down and it was going to hurt so I tried to unclip my left foot and when I did my arms must have followed my twist and the next thing I knew I twisted hard in the sand to my left and onto the asphalt in a hard U turn!  OH MY GOSH!  Now I was heading in the opposite direction heading right towards two other riders!  There was enough room that they were able to zoom by and they both yelled “Good Job!  We thought you were going to crash for sure!”.  “Me too!” I yelled!  As soon as I could I did another ‘controlled’ U turn and headed back the direction I was supposed to be going thanking Jesus the whole time!  I was SOOOO thankful there wasn’t a car passing at that moment.  Lesson? “STAY FOCUSED!!  No more day dreaming about motivational speeches!”

Nothing eventful happened after that.  People passed me, I passed a couple.  I did notice that one guy would pass me going up hills (both of them) and then I’d pass him going down.  Guess I need to work on that a bit.  Finally you come to the last hill and you can see the high school where the run starts off in the distance.  I knew this was the last downhill so I gave it all I had and got up to 40 MPH and flew into the high school and T2.

As I was starting to brake I noticed I was going perhaps a little too fast and had to REALLY apply the brakes and just in time before I ran into a guy….with a 55 on his left leg!  Durn!  Another in my age group!  So I threw my bike at the volunteer and grabbed my T2 bag from the other volunteer and sprinted over to the benches. (I may not have said thank you, but I dropped a lot of them before I got to T2 so I hope I’m close to even)  I dumped the bag onto the ground and had one of the quickest T2’s I’ve ever had, :59 seconds!  I tore out of there and glanced back and the old guy was still sitting there!  (oh wait…old guy?  Well you know what I mean)

I normally transition pretty well from the bike to the run, (That might  be because I don’t work very hard on the bike!) so I tried to let my heart rate simmer down a little and did an 8:00 minute 1st mile.  I thought that was okay and at the 1st aid station walked while I took a gel and two cups of water.  I know if I do a short walk during the aid station my legs get a quick recovery, and my next mile will be quicker and that proved to be true with a 7:32 pace for the next mile, which is what I was hoping to do for all 5 miles.

I continued to stay around 7:30 and 7:45 and tried not to look over my shoulder too much as I didn’t want to let on that I was worried about being caught.  I got to the same aid station at and was trying to decided if I should walk or not, but my legs were starting to feel the burn so I thought I should.  So, two cups of water, one in the mouth the other on my head as I was starting to feel the heat and I wasn’t all that thirsty and there was only 1 mile left.

I didn’t look back, but tried to get back to the 7:30 pace but just wasn’t able to do it, so just tried to keep out of the oxygen debt mode and try and sail in without being caught.  Finally the turn to go onto the track came up and as I turned right I did a quick look-see over my right shoulder….and he wasn’t there!  WOOHOO!!!!!  So I took it easy and let my breathe come back a little and as I turned into the home stretch on the track I still didn’t see him and crossed the finish line in 2:11:04.

BUT…I didn’t know what the time was since they didn’t have a clock.  So I had to wait around for them to finally post the results.  As they put up the 1st sheet, I scanned the page and looked for my name…nothing.  The time stopped at 2:10:00.  So I started looking for people in my age group and saw two, DANG!  I thought what are the chances that someone else passed me?  I was REALLY hoping that THIS year I wouldn’t finish fourth AGAIN!

I looked around and found Kevin from Team Blaze and she looked great and I think she knew she had taken 2nd in her age group!  (GREAT JOB KEVIN!!!)  I on the other hand, still didn’t know.  I kept waiting and pacing and waiting and pacing and FINALLY they posted the 2nd page.  I quickly scanned down and saw my time and was happy because I was hoping to beat my 2:15 from last year.  Then I started to walk away and thought, wait a minute, did I get 3rd?  Went back, scanned again, and low and behold, I DID!! I FINALLY MADE IT TO THE PODIUM!  (Too bad they don’t actually HAVE a podium, but still!)

Whew, what a relief!  This is my fourth time doing this Tri and I really enjoy it but had wanted to finally break out of the 4th place slot and you know…kind of have something to show for it.  I would have to say that even though my preparation for this race was nil, I think the Ironman training carried me over.  Once IM was over my wife and I traveled to Florida to visit my Dad and my training regime consisted of body surfing and donuts, so to have pulled this off really speaks to the miles and hours I put in getting ready for IM.  Just think what I might be able to do if I actually TRAINED for this race!  Maybe next year!

It was great to see Kevin out there and I know Tia also ran but I somehow missed her, (Sorry Tia!)  I had a number of people yell positive stuff for “Team Blaze” when I went by and I wish I had thought about placing a sign out on the course like that ‘other’ team did, and in the future I will!

Well, sorry to be so long winded, hope some of this made sense.

Later.

Paul

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July 22, 2010 - Posted by | Humor, Runner, triathlete

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