Monday, August 5, 2013

Kingdom Triathlon - race report!

My main takeaway from this race is that I have to be much more careful about managing fatigue levels during the days coming in to a big event. In fact it all turned out OK, I had a very nice day particularly on the run course (though I ran it counter-clockwise, incorrectly, and have an asterisk next to my time!). But I thought I was pushing my luck!

(Running the wrong way was not due to fatigue, I really just have a very hard time finding my way in the world - can't recognize places/intersections or make good judgments about them.)

The tiring week kind of crept up on me unexpectedly, though I should have seen it coming. I was out late on Tuesday night at a fantastic party at the Algonquin Hotel. Then I was out later than anticipated on Wednesday - G. and I wanted to wait for my brother before going out to eat post-movie, and that was the right choice, but my brother wasn't home from work till 10:30, so it was after midnight by the time I got home (with also some emotionally draining phone conversation mid-evening with friend in Ottawa about B.'s parents' situation).

I had a busy work day Thursday and then we only left here around 5:45pm, got to Liz's aunt's house after midnight again (details of lovely farm life at my other blog). I took a sleeping pill, because otherwise I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep for hours and I couldn't face that kind of stint of wakefulness in a strange environment, but it doesn't give restful sleep, so I was exhausted all day Friday - we had a long further drive from Randolph up to the Kingdom, were briefly at B&B in late afternoon but then went out to pre-race dinner which involved demanding conversation with strangers - got home around 9.

I was so tired and frazzled this point that I really just couldn't sleep. Tossed and turned horribly, making myself crazy; finally got off for some light restless sleep at 3:30am (not kidding), woke up at 5 about half an hour before alarm was due to go off, realized that I was just going to have to get by on 1.5hr sleep and NOT a week of good rest before that. Am going to try in future to get to race site much earlier the day beforehand so that it's not so overwhelming - insomnia is a lifelong problem for me, and I'm a homebody who never sleeps well when I'm on the road.

It was pouring rain and quite chilly, and I think Liz and I were both rather hoping the race would be canceled - forecast predicted lightning every hour all the way through till noon! But it started to clear up after we'd dropped our run bags at the second transition area (it's a point-to-point race, swim-bike and bike-run transitions in two different locations) and hied our way to the swim start, and in fact it was a very good day for racing - I had quite a bit of rain on the last third of the bike, but it's good for me to ride in the rain sometimes, and it was blessedly cool on the run - this is beneficial for the Davidsonian physiognomy, which overheats easily.

The Kingdom Triathlon is an unusual race. I did the Aquaman option, which "evens up" the standard half-iron distances so that a strong all-round athlete would be spending equal time on each leg. (Conventional half-iron-distance triathlon favors cyclists especially but also runners, and downgrades the swim to almost just a warm-up!) I do not know why I thought it would be easy, it was quite challenging and in particular the bike course was much hillier than I had imagined or understood.

The swim: two loops, 1.75mi each (you get out on the shore and touch the table between loops, with a chance to eat a gel and in my case use asthma inhaler also). Great kayak support on the water. (Only fifteen or so of us racing the Aquaman, it's a tiny race.) More chop and current than I had imagined, particularly on longest leg of second loop. Very glad to come out after almost 2.5hr swimming - this picture shows how happy I am (and also strong wetsuit-induced resemblance to sausage in casing!).
For the first few miles of the bike, my legs were incredibly tired - I've never felt that so much before, and I think it may have been due to relatively cool temperatures. (The water was perfect, by the way - about 70, very comfortable with wetsuit and I rather wished I hadn't been wearing one, it is more relaxing swimming without!) Once I'd warmed up, it was better, but this was where mental fatigue really kicked in. I had only reassembled my bicycle about 20 min. before race start, we had had so much travel and tiring things to do, I did a quick test ride but this is my new bike, all arrangements are new, and my hydration was not actually accessible, nor could I see the face of my Garmin for HR/distance/time - I was also, independently, having a huge amount of anxiety about getting lost on the bike course.

(In a race this small, it's all just modest signage, no volunteers on the course whatsoever, either for bike or run.)

Fortunately there was a guy I'd been swimming with throughout who was also a similar speed cyclist to me, so I had reassurance for quite a while that I wasn't lost, and we exchanged periodic banter and encouragement. I was the stronger climber, but he lost me in the last part of the course, which has a net downhill - by this time it was raining pretty heavily, and I was just completely mentally tapped out. Very much ready for bike to be over - I haven't had this feeling in my three previous races this season, though it characterizes all previous years of triathlon experience, and it was dispiriting to be having it again (partly underfueled, I think, but more just the effect of fatigue).

I was riding my new tri bike as if it were a road bike, mostly! It really is a lovely bike and I am going to keep working on riding it properly. It probably exacerbated fatigue slightly that it wasn't the bike I know really well, but I was super-glad to get such a good chance to get more of a feel for how the gearing works on hills (I just have a big & small plate on this bike, as opposed to a triple on the road bike). I followed Joanna's advice and rode a lot on the big ring, it felt great. By the end I was increasingly sure I had gotten lost, as it all seemed to be taking longer than I had imagined (cautious descending on rainy downhills); hugely relieved to come back to vaguely familiar terrain and realize I had not after all gotten lost.

This action sequence shows how very happy I am to be finishing the bike safely - the face I am making in the last picture is to tell the race support folks how horrible the bike leg was, and how excited I am to be setting off on the run!
Runwise, I made the bad intersection call pretty early on, I wish I'd had the paper map with me but it was so rainy it probably would have disintegrated (I could have had it in a plastic bag). My geographical incapacity means that I can use an actual map but I can't remember what a map said in relation to things I am seeing in the world - so I was already a mile into the wrong-way loop before it became clear (thanks to a helpful racer in opposite direction, but also to race director who was checking out the course in his car). He gave me his blessing just to keep on this way, he thought the course would be well-enough marked (he said later that he was second-guessing himself in hours following, but it worked out OK). The nice part of this was that it meant I saw all the other runners, including Liz at about her mile 8 and my mile 5. I was in a good mood the whole way, actually; 2 volunteers in truck came and found me around my mile 8 and gave me a copy of aforementioned map, with words of advice about which intersections were tricky, and it was all good. (Unmanned aid stations worked well - there is a table with water, Gatorade mix, gels, fig newtons, etc. and you take what you need.)

All in all, a really beautiful day: an unusual race, a stunning location (swim is particularly excellent), and blessedly cool compared to most triathlons I do. I was the last finisher but truly it is a race one should be pleased just to complete! Thanks to Liz for organizing. Resolution for next races: build in more slack so that I am not going into the thing with such overwhelming fatigue! (I really was at the end of my tether by Friday night around midnight - it is a silly situation to get oneself into voluntarily.)

7:45 total time on course; cumulative splits 2:29:17 for swim, 4:48:53 for bike (2:19:35 split), 7:45:53 for run (2:57:01 split). Week 9 total hours: 14:20. (Haven't "built" properly, couldn't fit in any exercise Wed.-Fri. and was traveling again Sun. This week is recovery week, I'm traveling to Cayman on Thursday very early and probably won't sleep much if at all Wednesday night - so I'm not worrying about what exactly I do in next few days, goal is just not to get sick/overwhelmed & to pick up again with double spin Saturday morning and a long ride outdoors Sunday.)

(All pictures from this page. Not sure that this really does justice to the beauty of the surroundings - to some extent, all race photos look the same, lots of wetsuits and swim caps in the beginning, bicycles in the middle and cheery trudging at the end! But amazing backdrop of hills and farms, really beautiful rolling green agricultural country, and a stunning lake with mountain backdrop.)


Ironmom (Julie) said...

Congrats on finishing!

Becca said...

Oh goodness, at first I thought you had spent 2 1/2 hours on swim, almost 5 on bike, and more than 7 on run, truly screwing up the supposedly equal timing! Then I got it. Hugely impressive!

Brent Buckner said...

c.f. "Wrong Way" Corrigan

Nice work!