*beep* *beep* *beep* *beeeeeeeep*
"Ughhhh, damn it - so tired"
And so begun another race day - at 5 in the morning. But today was slightly different, even as the alarm blared next to my ear I could hear it - rain.
"I paid $65 to freeze in the rain at the ass-crack of dawn? I'm an idiot"
I ate, loaded the car and made it out to Verona (on precarious directions) a little before 6am and was pleased to find that even though it was drizzling (and would continue to drizzle on and off all morning) it was still warm out and the rain actually felt pretty good. I love summer.
Registering, painting, getting my chip and then off to the transition area with plenty of time to eat some trail mix and say hi to some folks. At this point I should give a big thank you to Adam Book, Wild Bill and the rest of my teammates who showed up to cheer us on. While I'm at it I should also thank Rown for letting me borrow his car.
After setting and resetting my transition area we were finally called to the swim start for the race meeting. I played with the idea of warming up but I was nice and dry-ish and saw no reason to get wet.
We're called to the start, I push to the front, 30 seconds - bang.
Here we go!
The swim was 1/3 mile (~550m) triangle in a man-made lake not much bigger than that. Since wetsuits cost money I don't own one and instead wore my trisuit. There were only 2 waves, Under 35 and over 34. The swimming conditions were fantastic. The water was warm and underwater visibility was about 8m. You could sight underwater, if you trusted the other swimmers.
I wandered a little bit off course during the swim but not too badly. I ended up out of the water about 20-30 sec back off what looked like a pack of about 10 people.
I come out of the water in 9:28 (48th overall on the swim).
As I ran to the transition area I began to pick off other athletes. I would not be passed for the remained of the race. I had no idea where I came out of the water but the transition area looked pretty empty so I figured I was in about 20th place.
I got to the transition area I put my Helmet on my head but couldn't get it over - I hadn't loosened the fitting knob! I panicked, took off the helmet and tried to open the knob with shaky hands. In my fatigue and hurry I couldn't get it to open. All I could think about was other athletes getting on their bikes and riding off. I panicked again and tried to shove my head in my helmet as hard as I could. After a few seconds of this I took a deep breath, calmed the fuck down, and slowly took off my helmet, opened the knob and then put on my helmet.
Ready to go I grabbed Golden Boy and headed for the mount line. As I was running my sunglasses fell off where I had hung them off a cable housing so I could put them on while riding. So now I had to stop, backtrack, and pick those up.
Finally getting out of T1 I hopped on my bike only to find, as in most competition situations, I could not clip in! Granted it only took my about 5 sec. But my glasses were fogging and I just wanted to get the hell out of that train wreck of a transition.
Though it seemed like an eternity after 1:27 I left the transition area, one of the fastest T1's that day but that's because I didn't have a wetsuit which slowed me down in the swim more than it saved me in the transition.
Well, once I got clipped in on the bike it was go time. I quickly passed 5 people on the flat before veering off into Verona's notoriously hilly course.
I laugh a little at this description, after 9 days of riding in the mountains of North Carolina with the cycling team I eat up Wisconsin hills.
The difference between me that day and me in my last tri race in September was like night and day. Last September I was charging up hills, coasting on downhills, nervous about being in the big ring - completely blowing up within minutes. This day I was climbing in my saddle, spinning out in my granny gear - and passing people. I floored it on the down hills and was moving so fast on the flats the rain felt like hail. I was confidently shifting all over my drivetrain and keeping my effort and cadence steady.
After about 12 min the leader passed me going the other way and I started to count. One, two, three, by the time 11 people had passed me going the other way I was already at the turnaround.
I was in 11th place!
Now I smelled blood and was determined to come off the bike in the single digits. I hit the turnaround and roared down the hill with AC/DC's "If you want Blood" blasting in my head. I was taking things a bit too hard and had to reel it back in in a few minutes but I passed my two riders before the end of the ride and moved into the single digits.
My bike was 21 mph for 11 miles. 31:29 - 15th overall on the bike.
44 sec later I was out of T2 and heading out into a 5k run.
I love the run. I get mean on the run. I can't help but smile thinking about all those old rich age groupers getting off their beautiful $4,000 bikes and trying to run away from me. All the carbon and aero design in the world can't help them now. You'd better run, I'm comin' for ya!
Coming off the bike I almost immediately took a wrong turn and had to be redirected by volunteers. D'oh! At about the first mile I hit a turn around and I think my eyes bugged out.
There was a pack of 10 guys right on my ass spread out over 100m, one guy was within 10m. Ahh!
In the past running with people on my tail has terrified me. I would panic and wait to be passed. Not, today. Today the voice of my old training partner from high school, Spencer, was in my head. I could hear him yelling at me like we used to do in high school.
"Come on Wax. Lose theses guys. Surge. HURT 'EM WAX!!!"
And so hurt them I did. I pushed harder and harder, abandoning the carefully maintained aerobic balance on the last hour and plunging my self into a lactic hell.
It's hard to explain what it's like. People are cheering you on but you can't hear them. The time on your watch doesn't make any sense. Your own thoughts boom in your head. If you have any doubts or insecurities this is when they will come out.
Soon, I saw the transition area, and then the finish. Squeezing blood from a stone I kicked it.
And so continues my streak of only being passed once a triathlon run in 2 years.
My run time was 20:05, 6:29 mile pace and 11th in the run rankings.
My overall time was a 1:03:10
I was the 8th person to cross the line that day. Once all the waves had finished I misread the final standing and thought I was 11th. Actually, I later found out, I was 10th. Once draft penalties had been added I was 9th. I finished 2nd in my age group by 15 sec. I got a medal for my efforts.
Final standings, 9th in 194; 2nd in 11 M20-24.
AT the end f the day I started thinking where those 15 sec could have come from. If I has swam straighter (or harder), or if I hadn't missed the 1st run turn, or if my T1 hadn't gone to shit...
But I could also have been hit by a car on the way to the race - so I'll be thankful for what I have.