Once a source of "Not all you want to know about Texas Adventure Racing," but now just some "leisure" adventure through the eyes of "The K-SPoT"

Monday, May 21, 2007

K-SPoT Tries His First Tri

Citizens Healthplex in VictoriaOkay, if you thought I was a bit sneaky and acting weird the first week of May, then you were not imagining things. The SR-71 was in full stealth mode. For those who hadn't heard, Kenny can't swim. Hence all the lunch swim sessions the past year. Well, I figured I should probably put all that logged time to use and decided early on this year that I would do a tri. But I had the strict conditions of: (1) it had to be a sprint; and (2) it had to be a pool swim. The only one that was remotely possible early in the year was the Citizen's Healthplex Tri in Victoria. To completely commit myself I registered early. I was all in. So I kept on my swimming and didn't even train at all on the run or bike (I didn't even put on my aero bars until a couple days before the race). One guy, George, at 24hr fitness kept asking me about the race so that kept me honest too. No excuses.

Healthplex transition areaThe week came and I swam twice, went to HART practice once, and finally got on my road bike and ran a little on Friday. Yes, I was gambling quite a bit by not practicing the other 2 diciplines (3 if you count transitions, which you should), but I was so focused on the swim. I had decided early on that I would stay with an easy one-beat kick as that would help me conserve energy for the eventual catching up I'll have to do. It is a slow stroke, but I didn't care--I had already resigned to the fact that I would probably be one of the slowest in the water. Saturday came and Mo and I drove out of town a bit after noon. It was an easy, uneventful drive into Victoria. We settled in at the Fairfield and then went for our quick 2 minute drive over to the race site to pick up my packet. That was the first time I saw the pool. It was a 25m, not a 25yd as I am used to, so that would be a bit different. Otherwise, the facility looked really nice! We then scouted the bike and run courses. I knew right away that the bike would not be trivial because there was a very long return stretch straight into a headwind. The only solace I had was that everyone would have to suffer through that. The run was straightforward--through a local neighborhood.

black man swimmingAfter dinner at Olive Garden, we retired to the Fairfield to call it early and get some rest. I had to figure out how to put on my race numbers first. I figured I would just put my number on a tether belt so that I can switch it around as soon as I got out of the water. The bike number was a bit tricky as I didn't want it to get in the way of my leg cadence. So I figured I would securely fasten an extra zip tie. Of course, that meant punching an extra hole into the number plate. Hmmm, punching a hole...sounds like a job for...a hole punch! That's what I was thinking, but I was so lazy that I decided to just use the scissors that were handy. The number plate material was kevlar-like, so it was giving me a bit of trouble. As I thought, hey this isn't exactly safe and I should go ahead and get the hole punch out of the car, it happened. The bullet-proof material all the sudden gave way and I instantly felt a sharp, slicing pain in my finger. Dumbass. I had cut a pretty sizeable gash into my index finger. Blood gushed and I cussed. Mo jumps into action and tells me to get into the bathroom and put pressure on it. I had just taken out the first aid kit from TReg, so we had to go to the front desk to get some band-aids. Nice. What's better than swimming in a swimming pool filled with chlorine other than swimming with a huge cut on your finger?! I was so pissed. I really didn't want this little thing to become an issue during the race so I applied extra tape to make sure it didn't come off.

thank goodness that's done!Morning comes and we get up quickly and try to hit Starbucks just as it opens. We get there and the baristas are obviously already in the store, but they don't answer the drive thru. I decide to just park and wait for the front door to open when a pickup truck pulls up to the drive thru and is immediately served. WTF?!? Victoria was starting to get on my nerves. So now I peel out and back up to the speaker, where they obviously can see us with their camera, but no action. Mo, being a Starbucks Partner does not want to stand for this, so she tells me to pull up to the actual window to bitch some people out. Nice, not exactly the stress-free morning I was looking for. So we pull up, at exactly their opening time, at the girl audaciously proceeds to tell us that they're not open yet. Hell no. Mo knows the policy and you NEVER turn a customer away. Navarro & Loop 463 store, consider yourself on notice!

bike transitionWe stormed away after they gave me my mocha, as much as one can storm away seriously while sipping a tall nonfat no whip mocha, and I almost smash right into another car. Great. I had to calm down. I tried to simmer down on the way to the race. By the time we got there, everyone seemed to have already arrived. Oh well. We walked over to TA with all my gear and I was able to squeak into a bike rack close to the TA exit. The morning was a bit rushed so I didn't have much time to warm up or do a last check on my gear. After the pre race meeting and national anthem, they announce that there will be two waves for the swim start and I was in the 2nd. So that gave me a little bit extra time to set up. I actually took it a bit too easy as I almost missed my wave, thinking it was going to start a lot later. So again I was rushing. We jumped into the pool for a warmup swim and then back into a line for our starts. The lady behind me was really nice, but was a bit distracting as she kept asking me questions. Then she notified me that the swim was her best event...meaning she most likely would pass me! Nice...well, I just told her to tickle my foot and I would let her go. The first guy in our wave shoots off like a missle and its now real for me--I'm actually going to do it! I kept thinking, "relax." Just 8min of pain and then its your bread and butter...

mechanical issues about to start"blah, blah, blah, jump, blah, blah, stay left, blah..." That's what the race director sounded to me as I stepped up on deck for my turn to jump in. My lenses were fogging up and I could no longer see the slippery edge of the pool. And then it was suddenly my turn. Crap...oh well, here it goes. My hop into the pool was lackluster (no diving) and I slipped on the colored tile stripe on the bottom of the pool so my start was very slow. I was so nervous that I was already out of breath--I was thinking, "this is not good." I hit the other side and turned and knew that the lady behind me was now starting her swim. She was for sure going faster than me, so that was making it worse. I had one goal now--not get passed! As we weaved through the pool, under the lane dividers, I could see her slowly creeping closer to me. Then, I realized, I should race my own race and not care about what others were doing. That's when I relaxed a bit. She did gain time on me, but she never passed as I got faster and she stalled a bit. The longer lanes did get to me a bit, but in no time I was to the ladder. Man, I was so happy to see that thing that I quickly grabbed onto it and jerked myself out of the water! I had did it! Everything was now cake...or so I thought.

done!I waddled over to my transition area as my legs were still a bit stiff from the swim. I had the quickest first transition out of my age group...and then I pretty much gave it all away as soon as I got out of transition. For some reason my bike wouldn't shift into the big ring! I kept trying and trying and then went for a "popping" motion to get it on, but that only shot the chain right off both rings. I had to stop and put it back on. Crap! To top it all off, for some reason (most likely because I haphazardly put the aero bars on my bike without paying much attention to my wiring) my bike computer wasn't working! Gah. Thankfully, I had my bike pod on so I just used that even though it was a pain turning my wrist over everytime I wanted a speed check. Not the best bike start. But thankfully we had a tail wind at first, so that got me into a smooth rhythm fast. As I was going out, people from the first wave were coming in, struggling against their headwind...I was not looking forward to that. Pretty simple course with only a couple slight inclines. I mashed pass a bunch of people, hoping that the crosswinds and later headwind would further demoralize them. I had a pretty good, comfortable cadence going...then came the return leg. That friggin wind must have been pushing 20-30mph! But I had no choice other than to fight through it. I was still able to keep my speed at around 18mph, which I thought was good considering the conditions.

Kenny and Race director at awardsThat stretch seemed to take forever, but finally I could see highway 463, which meant the agony was almost over. I turned left into the neighborhood I would soon be running through and then I was flying into TA. This is when I saw the first guy in my wave--I had passed all but him! I wasted a bit too much time in transition this time, some of it turning on the footpod that I had borrowed from Warship on false pretenses (I told him I was doing "accuracy tests" LOL). I was finally off and Mo was cheering me on throughout the whole way. I started off feeling a bit fresh, but it wasn't long until my legs were feeling the after-effects of the tough bike leg. They weren't cramping, but there were in pain. I had to slow down a bit to make sure I didn't hurt anything. I just wanted to stay under an 8min pace now. The turnaround was a glorious sight and I was almost done with my first tri ever! The last stretch was through a meadow and I was now sprinting for the finish. Done! I was so happy, I hugged Mo as one of the volunteers was trying to wrestle the timing chip off of my leg.

I was so ecstatic! What made it frosting on the cake was that I won my age group and finished 6th overall! Man, if I could actually swim around average...who knows! I was just so happy to finish and race my own race. Now I'm a bit hooked and am now looking at an open water swim. Of course, it has to be a wetsuit-allowed race...baby steps, baby steps. I showered and we had our victory lunch at Red Lobster right across the street. Good times, good times...


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