Sunday October 21 2012 Tempe Arizona 1.2 mile swim 56 mile bike 13.1 mile run…the SOMA triathlon.
Soma was to be my season finale and was one of my “A” races. Training leading into the race had went well. I was feeling good.
With all my gear packed I drove up to Tempe on Saturday afternoon. On the way up I swung by to pick my host for the weekend John, who along with his wife were kind enough to allow me to stay with them, and then headed to Tempe Town Lake for packet pick-up, the expo and the official grand opening of TriSports.com’s Tempe store. After finding a parking spot I, packet pick-up was a quick affair. No lines…in and out. I then checked my bike in and placed it in my assigned spot on the racks. I scoped out the entrances and exits for the transition area to familiarize myself with the flow of traffic for race morning. John and I then browsed the row of vendors at the expo. Timing chip pick-up was a short walk across the street at TriSports Tempe. I got my chip, said hello to TriSports CEO’s Seton and Debbie and got my first in-person look at the new shop. Was honored to see a rather large image of me gracing the shop window! For the grand opening TriSports had brought in some of their vendors to show off some of the new goods we will be seeing soon in the shop. Zipp was there with their new Super 9 clincher disc…the first public viewing outside of the trade shows (eurobike, interbike). Very nice wheel. Bucks the new standard…is completely flat from hub to tire mounting surface. No bumps, or bulges but it retains the dimples. Also on display was the new BH Aero TT/Tri bike. Very clean lines reminiscent of the newest super bikes. The big difference is the amount of adjustability (at the expense of a slightly “dirtier” front end…cable routing). A reversible stem, use of aftermarket stems and a seat post that is adjustable from 74-80 degree seat tube angle give lots of options.
During the expo the temperatures were very warm…it was going to be a hot race day!
After the expo it was back to Johns house where he whipped up a great dinner. A little T.V. and then it was time to get some sleep for my early morning wake up.
After a solid night of sleep I awoke at 3:50…10 minutes before my alarm. Breakfast of 2 bananas and a blueberry bagel was washed down with a bottle of water. I then loaded up and drove to Tempe Town Lake. I arrived there at about 5:30…plenty of time to set up my gear, relax and prepare for the upcoming chaos. With all gear set up, and a last visit to the porta potties it was relax time. I found a spot near the water entrance were I sat and met Alan, a 65 year old competitor. We chatted until it was time to line up. I put my wetsuit on and found a spot near the front of my wave group. I was in wave 5 which included all male competitors from 45-55 years of age. The waves started in 4 minute intervals. Reported water temp was 73.4…wetsuit legal. After watching the first waves go, it was finally time for my wave to hit the water. I jumped in amongst the first few people to allow for a short warm-up. I was able to get in a little over 5 minutes of warm-up and then found my way to the middle of the front row for the start. The waves were fairly small…in the 200 people range. I felt good and was relaxed.
The horn sounded and we were off. I quickly found clean water and found my stroke rhythm. The swim is a rectangle shaped course. About 500 meters into the swim I was at the front of the second pack. I then started catching people from the 4th wave. At the turn buoys I made my way through the traffic with little contact. I then started catching people from the 3rd wave on the return trip. I was feeling good. I made my way back under the Mill Ave. bridge and had the swim finish in site. I made the final turn and found my way through the congestion to the exit steps. As soon as I stood up on the steps my left calve cramped immediately…ouch! Not a good sign. I removed my wetsuit with the help of the “strippers” and ran in to transition.
A quick glance at my watch showed a 33:xx minute swim.
T1…helmet on, grab bike and run out to the mount line.
Flying mount and the bike had begun. I slipped into my bike shoes and quickly got up to speed. The course is mostly flat, 3 loops with 20+ turns on each loop. I was quickly moving through the field. Mid way through the first loop I started getting cramps in my vastus medialis just above my knee began to cramp. If I got out of the saddle…cramps, if I tried to apply more power…cramps! The remaining 2 1/2 laps I just tried to maintain an even effort in hopes the cramps would subside. Fluid intake was good, I took in all my carbs and plenty of electrolytes…the cramps continued. The air temp was still fairly cool and the heat didn’t start to build until late in the bike. I continued to make my way through traffic while only getting passed by a few on the bike. As I approached T2 I slipped out of my shoes and made my way to the dismount line. I threw my leg over the bike and jumped off running. I could feel the cramps in my legs and knew it was going to take a major effort to get through the run. I racked my bike, helmet off, run shoes on. I took a few moments to Stretch and massage my legs a little to help alleviate the cramps. I grabbed my hat, sunglasses and number belt and put them on as I ran out of T2.
Bike time according to my bike computer was 2:38.
Within the first 1/2 mile my legs were already hating me. Run, cramp, walk…repeat. The temps now were nearing 90. At the aid stations I was taking in fluids in the form of water, Perform and coke. In addition I was taking in 2 salt tablets at each station in hopes that my cramping would go away. I continued this trudge through mile 5. That is when the wheels began to completely fall off. The cramping got even worse. A short time later I began to get nausea, then dizziness started to set in. As I approached the 6 mile mark I began to walk…staggering like a drunk person. A volunteer soon asked if I was alright…I was not. The volunteer called for medical and assisted me through the barriers to a tent. I sat down and my legs cramped severely and my breathing became labored. The volunteers gave me water, Perform and a coke. The EMT’s arrived quickly. Blood sugar was normal, paulse o2 was good but my blood pressure was very low. The EMT’s continued to monitor me for about an hour. My bp slowly began to rebound. They asked me to stand…insant severe leg cramps and my bp dropped again. I was then given a ride to the medical tent for observation. While there I consumed chicken broth (salt), Perform and water. After another hour I finally felt good enough to make my way out of the tent on my own. I found the after race food and got a plate. I saw Alan, from the morning sitting by himself and joined him. he had a great race finishing 2nd in his agegroup. Afterwards I packed up my gear in transition and made my way to my car, loaded up and made the drive back home.
A DNF is not what I had envisioned for my end of season. Only the 2nd DNF in my 20+ years of racing. I will live to race another day. Now it is time to recover from the season and then plan out the next race season…it is now officially the off-season!
This weekend concluded the Tucson Triathlon Series, a 3 race sprint series that takes place at the University of Arizona. The race starts off with a 825 yard swim in the Hillenbrand aquatic center, followed by a 3 loop, 12 mile bike on the surrounding roads and capped off with a 3 mile run of 2 loops of the UofA mall. The course is fairly flat and fast.
I came in to the race sitting comfortably in the lead in my age group and in 2nd overall for the series title. To get the series title was going to require a great race on my part and a not so good race on the leaders part. I could only control half the equation. With my year-end focus race coming the following weekend I came into this race fairly rested.
Saturday was packet pick up at TriSports.com. I squeezed it into my busy Ironman Hawaii viewing schedule.
Sunday morning started with a 4a.m. alarm. After a quick breakfast I was on my way. I arrived around 5 and the transission area was already active. I racked my bike, set up my gear and got body marked. I then returned to my car for a short nap since I had almost 4 hours until my wave start. Short nap complete, I still had plenty of time. I caught up with old friends and watched some of the early waves in action. I went for a quick warm up run, gave my gear one last check and then jumped into the warm up pool for a short swim.
It was now GO time. I jumped into lane 15b and awaited the horn.
At the sound of the horn we were off. 33 lengths of the pool. I felt good and was holding my position with those in the surrounding lanes. Sited the red “lollipop” indicating 1 length to go. As I exited the pool the series leader was 2 steps ahead of me. A quick look at the watch showed a slow swim for me, 12 minutes flat. I was hoping for an 11:30 or better.
I made quick time of T1. Helmet on, grab bike, go! At the mount line, a flying mount, shoes on and get up to speed.
I was making up ground on the bike. Catching and passing the fast swimmers. Mid way through the 1st lap the series leader caught me. I kept him in sight for the remainder of the ride. As I approached the bike finish I slipped my shoes off. as I hit the dismount line I hopped off the bike running. Racked my bike, helmet off, running shoes on. As I ran out of T2 I put on my visor, sunglasses, and number belt.
T1, bike, T2 combined time 30:06
These short runs hurt! I felt good though and quickly got up to pace. Once I got to the mall I could see the series leader ahead. On the second lap his lead had grown slightly. knew I wasn’t going to catch him today but wanted to finish strong. 2 of the young speedsters caught me . I attempted to stay with them but knew their pace would have ended bad for me so I settled back to my pace to the finish.
Run time 19:43
Total time 1:01:49
7th overall, 2nd age group
2nd overall, 1st age group for the series
Next up Soma Half Ironman…my season finale.