I've been wanting to post this for a while, but it has simply been too painful to do so. Not in the emotional sense (I've actually handled that disappointment fairly well), but truly, physically painful. As you can tell by the title of this post, this isn't a typical race report. I did notch some new "firsts," but they aren't the kind that I was hoping for. Still, I'll review how well things went, until they didn't go well anymore, and move on from there.
On Thursday afternoon a little over a week ago, with the car loaded up, the family and I began heading south to Texas. It was a long afternoon of driving, but we arrived in Lubbock around 1 a.m. central time, not too worse for the traveling. After just a few hours of sleep we were on the road again early on Friday, pushing our way further south. The sunrise in West Texas slowly rose over the empty landscape and as sleepy as we were, there was also some excitement to know that we would soon arrive at our destination.
|Heading east out of Lubbock|
Well, not too soon. It still took us a good six hours to reach Austin. There were no major interstates and we seemed to wind our way through one small town after another. When we did reach our destination however, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the resort we had booked into was even nicer than I'd thought it would be. My brother and his wife had already arrived, and before long, the girls and I made our way down to the swimming pool for a bit of afternoon frolicking.
On Saturday, my brother and I headed over to the Travis County Fairgrounds to get ready for the race. This race had two transition areas and all of our gear had to be placed in special bags for the race. The bags actually wound up being a good thing considering that it rained the night before the race. Since all of our stuff was in bags however, our gear was dry and we didn't have to worry about having soaking wet gear.
|All transition gear had to be kept in special bags for the race.|
|The Honda Elementary (and the laundry basket) served as the staging point for T1 and T2|
The water turned out to be rather cool, and I had to stifle a shiver or two while waiting for the gun. My strategy for the swim was to take my time and not burn too much energy in the swim. I did my best to get into a rhythm and focus on swimming, but I was only moderately successful at this. I struggled a fair amount with sighting and swimming straight and there were a number of sections where I didn't swim my best. I also have to say that I was still pretty amazed by the number of folks doing the breast stroke, back stroke, back float, etc. Here's my rant on this:
I give full credit to anyone who challenges themselves to complete a triathlon of any distance. It requires a tremendous amount of preparation, dedication, and perseverance. This is especially true for races that are 70.3 and longer. That said, I kind of feel like you may not be fully prepared if you can't at least swim freestyle for most of the race. I really wouldn't have an issue with folks swimming other strokes except that the "frog kick" can really be quite a danger to other swimmers. If you must swim using this stroke, I would suggest that you swim well at the back and off to the side. And if you must swim using this stroke, then I will say that you aren't genuinely prepared for this event. I'm not kidding. I saw a race report from another athlete that day who wound up DNF'ing due to a broken rib he suffered. The cause, someone doing the "frog kick." Way to ruin someone else's race because you couldn't put the effort into learning how to swim better. Rant over.
I emerged from the water right at about 40 minutes. Not a fantastic swim at all, but I still felt very fresh and got into T1 feeling great.
T1 for the bikes was set up in a grassy area that was covered with stickers. Not an ideal T1 at all, but I'm not looking for everything to be perfect. In my mind, the whole idea of endurance sports is learning to deal with, and overcome adversity. After getting my shoes on, I picked up my bike and carried it a good 150 yards to the pavement before clipping in. T1 was also rather muddy and unfortunately for some of my fellow athletes, the mud clogged up their cleats as they tried to clip in. As I rode out of the fairgrounds, riders were scattered along the roadside trying to knock the mud from their cleats.
For me, the bike course was fantastic (well, up to a point anyway). I quickly got up to speed and was managing a pace a little over 20 mph. There were a few gradual risers here and there and the one "hill" was so short that I was up and over the top of it in no time. I'd heard that the roads in Austin were awful, but I encountered nothing worse than what I typically ride. A few patches here and there, but again, that's just part of the experience in my opinion. At around mile 8 I came around a corner and saw two riders prone on the side of the road. They stared up at the sky and I could see the bright red scrapes on their bodies from road rash. I crossed myself and said a small prayer for those unfortunate souls as I rode by, reminding myself how quickly a race day can change. I climbed around the corner and out of sight.
For the next several miles I kept an eye on my pace, but I continued to feel great so I kept pushing just a tad, telling myself to just take it another five miles at a time. At forty-five miles, I was right around the two hour mark. I figured at the pace I was riding, I would be in at around 2:45 total which meant that even with a two hour half-marathon, I would finish the race in about 5:30:00. And I planned on having a better run than that, so even around a 5:20:00 was possible. A PR was definitely in the works and I was having a great time. Before long we turned onto a busier street. The road had been converted into three lanes: one for racers, and two for traffic. It was well marked with cones about every 20-30 yards or so. I made a mental note to start backing off on the bike a bit so that I could save a little energy for the run.
|Just a bit short of the finish line!|
|Busted Clavicle . . . At times I can feel the two pieces of bone rubbing against one another.|
The paramedics quickly determined that I had indeed broken my clavicle and transported me via ambulance to the Brackenridge Hospital. I knew that the Ironman team would be contacting Melisa but I was concerned about the message she would get. Would they just tell her I had crashed and was on my way to the hospital, or did they have more details than that? I was worried that she would unnecessarily panic having heard I'd crashed my bike. The paramedic generously loaned me his phone and after a brief game of phone tag, I was able to tell her I was okay (the Ironman officials had told her the same).
|Waiting for a lift back to the race!|
The next few hours were what you'd expect. Visits from doctors, student doctors, liaisons, nurses, more doctors. I got to listen to all of the other sick and injured folks behind the curtains around me. I went for x-rays and nearly passed out. Not so much from the pain as from the fact that I'd already burned through a couple thousand calories and I was starting to feel a bit puny. A bit of powerade and some animal crackers fixed that. Then, a few hours later, I was discharged with a couple of bottles of medicine, a sling for my arm, and a picture of my collarbone. As it turns out, I wasn't the only athlete making a stop at the hospital. Another racer had gone down with an identical injury and lacking a ride back to his car at the fairgrounds, we wound up giving him a ride. We must have made quite a pair rolling up to the fairgrounds with our slings and bloodied arms and legs.
|Misery loves Company!|
I won't kid you and say that the ride from Austin back to Colorado wasn't sheer hell. It was. I drove as far as Amarillo before I completely needed my medicine. The next day wasn't much better. Now that nearly a week has passed, I'm doing much better and the pain, while still there, improves a little each day. At any rate, it's the off-season, which means that I'll be taking a break. But, I'll starting plotting my next adventures before too long. I can say with certainty that a 70.3 will happen again next year. I need a shot at redemption after all!
|Contemplating my next move!|