I setup my transition area and did a light Crossfit warm-up to prepare myself for the race. I am not going to lie, doing air squats and lunges in from of spectators makes you look like a complete wacko, but hey, it works for me.
Fast forward... I am toeing the line in front of a frothy white capped ocean. I was tempted to jump in before hand and thrash around, but that wasn't going to do me any good. Not only would I not go faster in the race because of it, it would probably shake my confidence. The tide was like an old man trying to send back a bowl of soup at a deli. Some cheesy celeb sang the national anthem, and 3...2...1....BANG! There was a mad rush of flailing arms, high elbows, and sea water spraying in my face. When watching the ironman broadcasts on NBC, they liken the start of the race to being in a washing machine. Well I can attest to this analogy. This was the hardest swim of my life. The conditions were terrible, siting was limited, and it felt like every stroke got me nowhere. I tried to stay relaxed as possible, and not expend too much energy. What was I going to save, maybe 2 minutes trying to crush this leg? That would have blown my engine way too early, and I knew the wind that was causing these white caps was going to effect everyone on the bike course.
I got into the bike leg and I soon realized that a belly full of seawater was not going to be my friend for the rest of the day. I instantly starting have wet burps that left a salty taste in my mouth, but I decided to start hammering out a solid pace and let the seawater in my intestine run its course before I put anything else (water or accelerade) in my stomach. I starting picking off the swimmers that passed me in the water, while fending off anyone who made a charge at me from behind. Once we got over the first causeway, the winds kicked up, and it was like pedaling through hummus. I stayed conservative through the headwind, and went into overdrive when I caught the tailwind.
Coming into the last km on the bike course, I downshifted, spun my legs out, and stretched a little bit, preparing myself to throttle the 10k run course. I had a pretty smooth change-over, and I was out of transition, putting to use my new found running technique. Will it hold up? Will I hold up?
The questions were answered when I put up splits of 6:20, 6:30, and 6:07 on my first 3 miles. I leaned throughout each stride, and continue to lean! Not leaning back when I cycle each stride, continuing to pull up, not pull through. At mile 5, I told myself to leave nothing on the course and lean and pull as fast as I could for the remaining 1800m. It was like being on the C2 rower, with each pull bringing you closer to the finish. I heard the crowd in the distance and I knew I was close. In the book Open, Andre Agassi talks of the two pulls. In the beginning of the race you are pulled back to the start line, back to your comfort zone. When you are toward the end of the competition, you are pulled by the finish line, pulled to success. I felt that today, even though the last 300 yards were in soft sand! I ran through the shoot, with the bleachers full of cheering fans, and they announced my name and hometown, and I was PUMPED. As I crossed the finish line, the familiar feeling of muscular fatigue was replaced by a surprised feeling of freshness. I felt great. I instantly thought of the philosophies and training that I had been doing, and the nutrition that I have stuck to. Though it has only been two weeks of CFE, this must be a step in the right direction.
I finished 1st in the 18-24 age group, 20th overall, and 13th without the elites. Not bad for a tune-up race and no taper whatsoever (I did dead heavy dead lifts and all-out bike sprints 2 days earlier). For the rest of today, I will enjoy myself. Take in some gross, fatty, and delicious calories, and sit back and watch the Masters. Chapter one in the endurance project, complete.
Abrasion from wetsuit velcro...ouch