Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Challenge Quassy

Keeping it nice and tight this time.

Woke up early around 3:30, ate a normal breakfast sans coffee to keep my stomach at bay. Worked like a charm, no GI at any point. Got a ride from my pal in town, bikes were already there from the night before. Tried a new bottle for the aero bar cage with a tube and bite valve, homemade. I'd give myself a C+, it worked, but not great. May chuck the whole front bottle altogether, it's a pain. Tires pumped, checklist done, wettie on, down to the beach we go.

A little chill in the air, but the water feels perfect. Skipped warming up, this has worked well for me of late. Countdown, bang, off we go. I had a little flutter in my throat, not really nervous, just not relaxed, but it was gone by the first buoy. Didn't swim particularly well, but not bad either. Just couldn't seem to focus on form as well as usual, but I was swimming wicked straight and passing dudes, so all seemed well. Turned the first buoy and started swimming directly into the big yellow ball in the sky...bummer, left the tinted goggles ashore. Sidled up next to a dude who was pacing alright with mirrored goggles and figured he's be a good ride. He led me straight to the next buoy, nicely done. However, he then turned the wrong direction, so I did as well. After a couple minutes I realized the sun was no longer right in my face, which meant I was going the wrong way. I stopped and got my bearings, wasn't *too* far off course, but definitely smoked a couple of minutes. Blast. Finished the swim in a laser straight line just to spite myself.

Apparently took a nap in transition. No sense of urgency, but honestly, I didn't want a sense of urgency. Hadn't done any course recon outside of a drive, and was keeping my spirits high and expectations low. Off we go, let's ride!

Felt very strong and sturdy, and passed lots of whippersnappers from the under 35 crowd in the first 15 minutes. Started to pick off a few fish from my age group as well, things are going well. Played cat and mouse with a couple of solid riders and settled in to the pod, this was where I was going to be. You'd figure at some point I'd figure out what all the warning signals mean and actually replace the right battery before race day, but alas, no power meter data AGAIN. However, the trusty Suunto told me I was humming along on an average of 22 mph, which was exactly where I planned to start the first third of the ride before the long climbs set in. From feel I knew where I was at roughly power-wise and I knew things would hold together. I was NOT prepared for how screaming fast the descents were, holy crap. Easy 50 mph, clutch for death. Fortunately, I didn't wipe out on the pothole I hit at full bore. Unfortunately I did flat my rear tire. My bomb proof wheel was still true and lovely, but I knocked the stuffing out of the poor latex tube in there. Back to butyl, I don't have time for this. I took longer than I'd like to change the tube, mostly because I actually said a couple of prayers along the way, being that I only had one CO2 cartridge and one spare. Thankfully, fwoop the tire filled and off we went. However, I was definitely riding scared at this point. No recon = riding the brakes. Whole lot of hills, and then more hills, and my back started to hurt. Sat up to spin one of the hills and it felt better, came into transition happy to get on my feet. Tossed on the flash new Hammer visor, XX2i shades, and hit the road.

Some wayward thoughts of quitting were creeping in, I just wasn't sure I wanted to run. Got off to a blazing walking start (guffaw), stopped to take a piss at the aid station a mile in, and saw my buddy through the pisser window. He was looking pretty ragged, and I might have looked worse, so we hung together for some laughs for a bit. Around mile 3 he fell back, and I took off. Everything felt absolutely fine, head to toe. From there I ran like a flaming antelope. Looked down and saw low 7s and high 6s on the flats, and ran completely inside myself. Didn't even try to dance up the steeper hills, just kept the love train going. Warm fuzzies thinking about that run after the fact. With a mile to go I started thinking about the kids and the party, and held back again to give myself a nice boost to run into the chute with. Another friend passed me by and tried to egg me on, but I was really in outer space at the moment and didn't want to share it with anyone but the Mrs. and the kiddos. Found a nice chunk of space to finish grand in and brought it home.

By no accounts a well run race on my part (Challenge, on the other hand, was complete pro!), but fine for a first race of the year, still learning, and walked away intact. The family had a ball at the park while I was out there, and we finished the day with a back deck barbeque with neighbors.

Next day I wasn't too sore, but I was completely exhausted, fell down the stairs in the morning, coughed and sounded like an asthmatic duck, so I called in sick. Wise move. I spent a few hours sleeping on the couch, ate a feast, and started to bounce back. Early to bed, next morning I felt 98%. I'm recovering well and fast, and seem to have a pretty good grip on what I can do out there these days. There's room to push harder, but it's all just training for the big dance in September.