Monday, May 25, 2009

CapTexTri 2009 Race Report

That was Zen and this is Tao.

There was a time I thought I'd never do another sprint triathlon in my life. I was all about Half-Ironmans and Ironman. Better, faster, bigger, stronger.

As I looked down at my ankle on the way to the transition corral. Immediately, I got a feeling one would get when you sit down to the first cup of coffee at the office and then realize you left the front-door-back home-13-miles-away unlocked. Yes, that's the feeling I got when I looked down and saw no timing chip on my ankle. I immediately knew it was sitting next to my chair back home. The chair I sat in while deciding to give the left foot a quick massage before putting my shoes on. &8%it!

I still had plenty of time to drive back home and retrieve my chip and also my wallet, as that too was left behind. In the past I had way too much time to sit in the transition area and do nothing anyway. I'd sit on my kitty-litter bucket now converted into a triathlon-stuff bucket wondering how many more minutes need to pass before getting on my wetsuit, before walking down to the start line, before clearing my Timex Triathlon watch out to zeroes. Maybe it was a good thing to drive all the way home and back. Maybe next time it will be extra good to sleep a little more and blow off the whole sitting around thing altogether.

My training since the Longhorn Half-Ironman last October left little to be desired. When I went to taper the conditioning schedule a week before this race I realized I'd been tapering all winter and spring. Lack of motivation, combined with bursts of allergies, a cold, outdoor Mexican smoke and the last remnants of foot pain didn't get me in the shape I needed to be in. With this lack of training my goal for this race was to figure out why I'm still doing this race.

The swim was better than expected (2.07/100yds compared to 2.39). I've only been in the pool once since last October but this is where I experienced the most improvement. Go figure. I shaved four minutes off my last sprint time. I guess this was a case where less was more.

I had tried on the wetsuit the day before the race. However, I had tried it on dry and not wet and that was how I was going to remove it in transition. And there was the problem. I could not get out of the thing. I felt like I was in a straight jacket and as my arms and shoulders were toast from the swim, my anxiety was building with every wasted minute to a point that I thought I may spend the rest of the race in T1, trying to remove my straight jacket. The race results would read, "Tony Mook, DNF (Did Not Finish) because he couldn't get out of his freakin'wetsuit."

Looking at the results, the 45-49 age groupers were anal retentive. I did not beat a one of them in T1. They were highly proficient at getting out of their wetsuits and on with their business. I had to scour the 55-59 age group to find someone I beat in my T1 time. One poor soul camped out in T1 for 17 minutes. Jeez, that's long enough to get a pizza delivered. So I feel better now.

I took a deep breath, relaxed and pulled one arm out and then another. Whew! I then proceeded to put on my bike jersey and it rolled up on my back with the moisture. The number ripped from two of the four safety pins. Ahhhhhhhhhh! More minutes ticked off the clock. This was going to be the slowest transition ever. EVER! As mentioned aove, one poor triathlete measured up with a 17-minute transition. I delivered with a 7:27 transition.

A week before the race I had decided to replace my LOOK clipless pedals for the clip and strap pedals. The CapTexTri course requires one to jog quite a ways to and from the mount and dismount lines to transition. Therefore, running shoes would be a better choice. This would prove to also save time in T2 by not having to swap bike shoes for running shoes. This is the one thing that did work well for the day.

The new bike worked well and seemed faster. However, upon inspection of the time, I was eight seconds slower than the Pawn Shop Bike time three years ago. And that's also while wearing an aero Limar helmet this time.

The run. Well. Brutal. Hot. I haven't run in the heat since last October so needless to say I wasn't ready for any heat or humidity and received a huge dose of both. Jack of Jack and Adams Bicycles was out there yet again helping the runners out by handing out cups of water. He's got to be one of the coolest business owners/bike gurus ever. EVER!

At the end of the day I found my race again. The sprint is the race. Not Xterra. Not Half-Ironman. Not Ironman. Not marathons. Just half-marathons and sprint triathlons and 8-mile bike time trials. They each have me doing my thing for 90 minutes or less. That's enough. And I like going faster for 90 minutes than slower than a slug in 90-degree heat for six hours.

Better, faster, bigger, stronger. Yes. Faster but not longer. Duration is only one component, not THE ONLY component. And not one of my components for a race. Improvement over time is the main necessary component. Seeing results from a change in training. That's a component.

There's a visual I have in my mind of what I should look like and what I should go through day after day with workouts and I'm far from realizing this nature. I think I'm getting closer to that visual but I need more time to pull it all together. More time analyzing the numbers and more time not looking at the numbers if that makes sense. For example, my heart rate was three beats less on average than last time. That's not much but could be the difference in three minutes which is the difference between a PR or not. 161 versus 158.

I had a routine that was right on track but focused in the wrong direction. Now, I need to refocus in the direction I know is the right one and give it a good push. That was Zen and this is Tao.

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