Closer and Closer to the Journey's End
The more one continues on the road they are comfortable, the more complacent one becomes, and then the question of improvement becomes the greatest unknown.
Back to my home course. Galveston is just a little over an hour drive south of our home, and while the weather is what you'd expect (hot, humid, muggy), Galveston general has a bit more wind, and the race is known for it's generally strong crosswinds. The bike portion of the race is straight west then straight East (and out and back), and the winds generally blow south off the ocean - usually at about 10-15 mph (but have been up near 25 and 30 for some events).
We also try to make a family vacation out of this race too, so we rented our usual beach front condo, and went down early on Friday, and spent Friday and Saturday letting the kids have fun at the beach and pools. Jamie's parents and sisters joined us, which was greatly appreciated as they took the brunt of the kids energy! ;)
Friday night was gorgeous, and we all went down the the beach as the sun was setting to walk on the beach and get our feet a bit wet - at least that is what we planned, and how it started.
But as anyone who has kids knows, there is no such thing as "kinda" going to the beach to check it out. Before long, all three of the girls (fully clothed) were chest deep in the ocean trying to "jump" waves. But really, the waves were crashing down on them, and knocking them over.......so they might as well have been full on been swimming out there - they were drenched! :)
Since that turned out so well, we decided to bust out the brownies and ice cream for PaPa's birthday........it was a very good night for the kids - they ate a lot.
I love the pre-race atmosphere. Especially the feeling of getting ready, setting up transition, and just taking in the surroundings.
Jamie came with me in the wee hours of the morning, and this time we let the kids sleep in with Jamie's parents......they were exhausted from dipping their "toes" in the water.
The morning was buzzing with talk of wetsuits. I had not even thought about this race as not being wetsuit legal, but being a couple weeks later this year than years in the past, the water ended up on the edge of being wetsuit legal or not. In the end, the water was just warm enough to make it wetsuit "optional".
If you wanted to wear your wetsuit, you had to start in the last wave (the race started at 7:00, then every 4 minutes waves would start.......if you wanted the wetsuit, you had to start at about 8:30).
Here is an issue I do not like about some triathletes, especially age groupers. There are many that say racing with a wetsuit in a wetsuit "optional" race is not in the spirit of triathlon, and if you wear it they kinda look down on it, and remark negatively about it. Really? Everyone is out here trying to enjoy the sport, pushing themselves to their limits, and trying to accomplish things other people think is crazy......and we're going to try and put "stars on our bellies" because we are not wearing a wetsuit, and they are........come on. Fortunately those types are far and few between, and every sport has them, I just wish they'd be more quiet (like silent).
I ended up not wearing my wetsuit. I would have if my wave was starting closer to the end, but I did not want to wait an extra 40 minutes, to gain what I thought might be a couple minutes during the swim. To me, being 40 minutes further along on the bike and the run was much more valuable than a couple of extra minutes in the ocean.
SWIM 1.2 Miles
Well.....that didn't go too well. Felt great, felt fine, but the extra couple minutes I figured I'd give up not wearing a wetsuit turned into 6 minutes.......huh? How'd that happen?
Water was cold and a bit crowded, so I got to the outside by myself. I must have been too far outside, as my angles back to the turn buoys must have been worse than I thought. There were only two turns, but I did have to swim back in to get to them.......I was hanging out too far on the edges with the paddle boards and kayaks.
The swim stuck in my head. Only because I wanted to break 5hr 30min, and giving a whole 6 minutes up on the swim is not what I had in mind.
BIKE 56 Miles
(2 hours 36 minutes - 21.5 mph)
I've been putting some time in on the bike, and I was happy to see it pay off. Weather was overcast, and it started raining a bit on the bike too, but the ride is amazing right along the coast, and my legs felt great. I decided to consume more liquid nutrition than solid, and also brought my beloved salt tablets along this time. Figured if a little salt on the run was good.....imagine a little salt throughout the whole day. :)
If you do that though, you'd better take a lot of water too. The ride out was great, was able to avg 21.8 out, and held that back for awhile until the wind kicked up the last 12-15 miles. I knew giving 40 minutes for a wetsuit was not going to be worth it, was glad I wasn't 40 minutes behind where I was with the wind that was picking up (not as strong as in past years, not even close, but no head wind is also better than any head wind).
I could have rode another 20-30 miles at that pace, it felt great and smooth (and I love being out on the roads) - but I knew I still had a half marry to run. And as anyone who has followed my blogs knows, I usually crater on the run. Usually cramps and poor nutrition and mashing the bike too hard.......so I had my doubts as I laced up my running shoes.
Run 13.1 Miles
(1 hour 51 minutes - 8:30 min pace)
Started to lose it at the end, but that was my plan anyways......to run until my legs came off. I wanted nothing in the tank, but I didn't want to cramp, or for my legs to give out too soon. The first half I ran closer to 8:00 min pace, then slowly started giving up seconds over the second half. Although I felt tired, and my body was exhausted, I was not cramping.......and I knew if my body didn't shut down, then it was just all mind and determination, and I knew then it was going to be a good end. The run started to get hot, but my body was holding together. That might have had something to do with the salt I had been taking all day. Some say salt is not that helpful, well to me......it is. All I have for proof is the way I feel, and the way my body responds - which is to say that my body doesn't shut down and cramp up. Now.......I may have taken too much. I might have taken a whole bottle of salt pills throughout the whole day.....that is not recommended at all. But I took some before the swim, after the swim, a few more on the bike, and a little more on the bike, and then some in transition agian, and then some on the first, second, and third loop of the run......and then eventually, they were all gone - but by then I was pretty sure I wasn't going to cramp. ;)
I was taking a lot of water and liquids throughout the day, and I sweat A LOT. It is something that I've trained an experimented with, and felt comfortable with it as part of my nutrition.
(5 hours 22 minutes)
And what were the kids and the family doing during the day? Oh leisurely flying kites.
I enjoyed the day, enjoyed the race, and performed as well as I could have hoped for.....well, at least as well as I had trained for. :)
I accomplished my goal, even giving up those early swim minutes. More than made it up those minutes on the bike and run. I do know this, I didn't have anything left in the tank at the end. Another mile would have been rough.
I do have one more tri planned though......which I'm really excited for - Escape From Alcatraz in June this year. But that is just a bucket list to take in the town and moment.
I have a riding buddy who is thinking about trying to do a half (70.3), and when he gets to the start line, I'll be there too.......but I think for me, my 70.3 days are at an end.
The journey is coming to an end, but the best thing about this journey is that it never really ends. While I may not race as much, the training is ingrained in me. I love getting up early. I love seeing the world awake. I love being out on empty back roads whether running or biking, and seeing things and experiencing surroundings that most people don't know exist anymore - as they are too busy being in a rush and taking the highways that have turned the back roads into after thoughts.