First off, I've won virtually nothing when it comes to triathlon. Still, I usually manage to do okay in the event and leave with a self-satisfied feeling of accomplishment. Not so today. Apparently the universe decided I needed a smackdown. No, I can't really blame it on fate. Today's failures were all of my own making.
The day started when my alarm went off at 3AM. Instead turning it off, rolling over and going back to sleep, I got out of bed. This was failure #1. Lesson learned - do not sign up for events that require you to get out of bed at 3am. Instead, be willing to spring for a hotel room in a nearby town the night before.
That said, we were at transition when it opened and were able to rack our bikes in choice spots. Plenty of time to stretch and warm-up. It was then a short swim out to the buoys for the first leg of the event - a 1,500m swim. This was the longest open water swim R (my partner) had ever done in competition. Usually he's swimming events at 400-500m distance. R isn't a strong swimmer yet, and I was trying to judge his level of anxiety over this swim. We're in different age groups this year so we aren't starting in the same wave. He went off a few minutes ahead of me. Open water swimming with a group of people creates something of a washing machine effect. Usually the two of us swim together. I can keep an eye on him; he knows I'm keeping an eye on him and it reduces both our nerves.
I caught him around the first turn and could tell he was struggling a little. Frankly, he could have made it on his own just fine. He just swims slowly. When he gets out of breath, easy to do with jumpy nerves, he flips on his back and floats. But I knew if I passed him, I'd worry about him the rest of the race. Those are my own nerves. So I stayed with him, and we did a slow crawl the remainder of the swim with R alternating between swimming and floating. Overall, he did really well for someone who had never swam a stroke until two years ago. But our time for the course was shot. I don't count slowing down for R as a failure at all. I wanted to do that. Once on shore, though, I could not get my head in the race. Mentally, I just was not engaging. That was failure #2.
Transition from swim to bike was slow. Out on the course, I kept wanting to spin like it was a lazy Sunday ride. I had to continually remind myself to keep my rpms high. I wasn't doing a good job changing gears on the rollers. Felt like I was starting to get my groove towards the end of the bike. Nice clear approach to the dismount area. Got my feet out of the shoes, easy on the brakes, hopping off right on the line and CRASH. My first ever crash doing triathlon and boy was it spectacular. And totally humiliating. I picked the area with the most spectators to lay it down. Nice. Picked myself and the bike up and ran it into transition. Couldn't even bear to look at the bike to see what damage there was to it. Failure #3.
Also, I needed a pit stop. Combination of the early morning and longer than expected swim and my fluid intake was out of whack. I figured this race is blown anyway, what's another minute on my overall time? So I look around the transition area and there are no port-a-johns. None. They are all out behind the finish line. It would be a nightmare getting over there and back. What a craptastic race this was turning into. Slipped off the bike shoes, slipped on the running shoes and with a semi-full bladder, took off for the run. Failure #4
Eh, largely non-eventful run. By about mile two I was sweating pretty hard and that caused the road rash I'd picked up on my crash to start stinging. I ran straight past all the water stations because I didn't want to add to my already uncomfortable bladder. Full bladder and dehydration. Can't believe I actually paid money for this experience. The only good thing I can say is that I had negative splits on the run so maybe my need to get to those port-a-johns had a small, positive effect. Just as I was coming up on the finish line, some dude in my age group sprinted right past me beating me by about 2 seconds. Failure #5.
Oh, there was one bright spot on the run. I spent about 3 miles running behind this guy wearing powder pink compression socks and tri-shorts with pink trim. He was running shirtless and definitely had the physique where the fewer (and tighter) the clothing, the better. The run course was out and back. It was fun, and funny, watching runners coming towards us actually turn their heads and take a look at him from behind. Some sort of laughed and shook their heads. Yeah, that's how unusual it is to see guys wearing pink.
Guess all that's left is to figure out what lessons I learned from this race. Also, my bike is fine (read - the repairs won't cost me anything). Why even bother typing up a race report of such a poor performance? Well, I'm hoping it was at least mildly entertaining for the reader. If it wasn't entertaining - you can put me down for Failure #6!