Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Salem Spring Soaker

The excitement for the years first triathlon wore off quickly when we woke up Saturday morning. It was raining lightly here at home when we pulled out of the driveway. We left around 6:30, thinking we'd have about 50 minutes to unload the bikes, set up T1 and get checked in by the 8:00 deadline. Timing became an issue when half way there Annie asked me if I'd remembered my license, I had the wrong answer. I turned around and flew back to the house, grabbed the license, and then had to stop for gas before getting back on the freeway. Nothing annoys me more than being rushed on the morning of a race - especially when it's my fault. The rain got heavier the further south we got, and by the time we arrived at the race it was ugly. We made it to the check in line in time and it wasn't long before we got word that the bike leg would be cancelled due to the wet roads. By the time the race started it had been whittled down to a 500 meter swim and the 5k. I felt good and thought I could fly through the race.
This picture is a pretty revealing look at my swim leg. I came into this more prepared for the swim than I've been in previous races, or so I thought. Within the first hundred or so yards, I had managed to take in enough water/air that I was desperately trying to release the biggest burp I've ever packed. I remember thinking in elementary school that the kids who could manufacture burps had picked up on a pretty cool skill - one I was seriously trying to figure out until the last 100 yards of my swim when I finally unloaded. Here was my dilema: I could not exhale with my face in the water - which completely sabatoged any rythym I was trying to settle into. Not sure if that can be attributed to the burp, but after flailing my way around Salem pond, I finally got into a good crawl stroke after unloading all that air that had caused such misery most of the swim. Chalk it up to experience - although I'm not positive I know how I got into the mess. You'll notice I'm walking out of the water in the photo, I wanted to make sure they got a good photo, and I felt like I'd just held my breath for 450 meters of the 500 meter swim.

Compare with the rookie:
Yep - she's coming out of the water running, and after the realization of how brutal the first open water swim is and surviving the panick attack that came with it, she flipped over on her back and put in a faster swim than I did (12+ minutes vs. my 14+ minutes), and still had the juice to come out running. Way to go Annie! Also important is the fact that she still has her timing chip at this point in the race, it would remain with her for approximately 2 more minutes from the time the above photo was taken - more on that later. This is my arrival at the finish line, somewhere between 39 and 43 minutes from the start. It's a guess as a large number of the timing chips malfunctioned - my watch showed 39 minutes and some change, the guy behind me in this phot had a time of 43 minutes and some change. I ran well, meaning I didn't stop to walk as I'd planned and explained in the pre race post. The run is where I've probably got the room to shave the most time, so will spend some time working on it this summer.
Back to the saga of the rookie's timing chip:

See it? If your looking for it on her ankle where you find most timing chips, your mistaken. It's not in her right hand? That hand is busy holding her number belt, and in case your wondering, yes, that item is usually worn around the waist. You've no doubt noticed by now that the timing chip is in her left hand, here are two possible scenarios:

1 - I didn't make it clear to Annie how the number belt worked and she ran the whole way waving her number like a flag, pretending to be in a parade. She thought the timing chip was a meal ticket, to be exchanged for a gel and water at the support station half way through the run.

2 - While you can't tell in her swim exit photo - her extremely strong first race swim pace did manage to get a little water in her brain. And for a short period it the transition area, it made sense to take off her timing chip and leave it in transition with her race number.

After finishing, I went back out on the course to cheer her on and run the end of her race with her. This photo was taken just previous to the revelation of the missing timing chip and an inpromptu strategy pow wow to best remedy the situation. So, just before heading up the grassy knoll to the finish, we split up. I stepped off the course, and Annie rerouted her run to make another visit to T1 where she could retrieve her race number and timing chip prior to finishing the race - she found it napping quietly, ran back to the course, and hoped to pull a fast one on the computer by finishing with a chip that never checked out of T1.

So, at the end of the day, neither of us had an official time due to two different misadventures with the timing chips. While we were disappointed in the race itself with no bike leg, weather, etc... we did have a strong reason to celebrate with Annie's strong showing in her first race - I think I'm at risk of being beat down by my wife throughout this summers races.

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