Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Reality (West Side Y Race Report)

One of the tougher parts of coming back from an extended time off is the mental aspect, moreso even than the physical. I believe this is because while the body can't be "fooled" the mind can easily build itself a "fort" of falsehoods to hide behind. As long as those aren't tested, it's much easier to believe them. Even a pessimist realist like myself isn't immune. And so as the West Side Y triathlon approached, I had secretly harbored some hopes that I was in better shape than the signs pointed to.

Now, the reality is that I ran 8 miles (actually 7.9) in June. None of those miles were over a single mile long, and none of them were done at any break-neck speed.  Swimming? I spent 23 whole minutes "swimming" in June, all of that done on the VASA trainer. Last year I was running 4-6mi/day 6x/wk and swimming 3x/wk for around 3k/day.  So, when you look at it that way...duh. But I had kind of convinced myself that I could just fall back on my bike training and wing it. Nevermind my FTP is also a good bit lower than it was last year despite my upped bike volume. tldr... recovery sucks.

Anyways... on to the report.

Warmup / Setup

If you've ever seen the movie Kingpin (you have, right? If not...go watch it!) there is a part towards the end of the movie where there is a callback to the beginning of the movie, In the beginning Woody Harrelson is on top of his game, his soundtrack is playing in the background, everyone is cheering him, he even takes some guys pizza slice and eats it with the fella's approval. Towards the end of the film when he enters the same way and grabs a guys pizza slice, the music abruptly cuts off and the guy gives him the "what are you doing?" shove. Things change. That's about the perfect way to describe my entry into transition...minus the pizza of course.

The difference a little time can make
I grab a mediocre place in transition (I don't get to t1 early enough these days) and talk to some of the people I recognize. Jenny takes some of our stuff back to the car and I go pre-ride the course. This course is always fairly treacherous as it's two laps and on the second lap even the fastest guys are mingling with the "try a tri" folks, along with open traffic for the most part. It didn't help that it had rained earlier in the morning... and it definitely wouldn't help that I wasn't going to be one of the first couple people in or out of the water this time.

I get back to transition and put the final touches on the bike, get everything set and head to the pool. I figure pre-running isn't going to do me much good so I skip it. Need to make sure I won't drown. I jump in the pool and get a few laps in, enough to satisfy myself that I had indeed NOT totally forgotten how to swim, and that I could make it through 200 yards. Eventually it's time to line up and get ready to start.

Swim - 3:15 (46th)  2014 - 2:58

Back in the water once again

Honestly, a better swim than I deserved despite it's short length. I lined up considerably farther back than I'm used to, but it was at least a pretty good call as I had free water the entire time. Losing a total of 17 seconds considering I haven't even been in the water other than to take a shower this year is alright with me. I could definitely feel some fatigue though (wow... endurance is gone) which I think I could have cut out with just a tiny bit of pool time. Anyways, I'm out in reasonable order and off on the long run to transition.

T1 - 1:20 2014 - 1:11

Something I hadn't really considered was that my feet might have gotten a little "soft" in my layoff. Running on busted pavement and gravel never used to bother me, but I admit I did more hopping and "ouching" than I can ever remember this time. I fumble with my helmet a bit longer than I should have but eventually hit the mat and head out on the bike with only a little delay.

Bike - 18:48 (15th) 2014 - 17:54

I head out of T1 without realizing my disc cover was rubbing the cassette... this in turn turns the crank (like a fixie) and that in turn means the wrong pedal was facing down as I plan to mount. I fumble with it a second then hop on, somehow muscle memory working well enough to keep me from taking an embarrassing spill. I try to get my shoes on, but again end up fumbling with them quite a bit, even yelling to my mom "I'm a bit rusty," as I turn out onto the course.

Once I'm strapped in I set to trying to keep a steady pace, difficult with all of the rollers. I get passed by Mike (on his second lap already) early and foolishly try to up my pace a bit. Once I start on my second lap I'm really in the thick of the "danger" (the less steady cyclists have entered the course at this point) and have to take a lot of turns a lot slower than is ideal to make sure I can dodge everyone elses "line." I successfully keep the rubber down and finish off the ride faster than I had expected considering my avg watts. Not anything exciting, but at least an ok effort.

T2 - :35 2014 - :37

I roll up to the dismount line (which is on a fairly sharp uphill) behind two other people who are stopping and getting off their bikes... that pretty well crushes my flying dismount into standing dismount. I follow through and start running back to my transition spot and I'm actually able to get back out in a timely manner without forgetting anything. Since Nick didn't steal my rack spot this year (:D ) I actually managed to be a couple of seconds faster in T2 than last year. I'll take time wherever I can get it! Off for the death march.

Run - 18:11 (47th) 2014 - 16:01

One of my moments running

And a death march it was. I headed out with some moderate hope that this race was short enough that I might be able to "fake it" through. A little less than a mile in I realize that this is real life, and in real life I haven't been running... I end up taking more than a few walk breaks throughout the course, trying to space them strategically at spots (like uphills) that I know I'd be doing slow regardless. On the off road section I manage to pick up a rock in my shoe and for some reason decide I'm too fast to stop and get it out, so it pokes me in the foot all the way to the finish. Running sockless for the first time in a long time was also probably a bit optimistic, and I paid for it later Saturday evening with a couple of nice blisters. Honestly, it wasn't a disaster of a run, probably better than what I was trained to do. I held it together to the finish and then really fell apart at the line. I can honestly say I put everything I had out there. It wasn't much, but there is was.

Heading towards the finish... with great form of course...

Finish - 42:07 (18th) 2014 - 38:38 (2nd)

So, that's about the long and short of it. Around 4 minutes worth of damage in a very short sprint, and so my return to triathlon came and went with less of a roaring shout and more of a lukewarm murmur.

Now it's back to the questions. Am I going to focus on cycling now? For the near future I think the answer is certainly yes, for a multitude of reasons. I still have a hard time imagining running with the volume I was at last year, and until I had my blood tested again later this year I worry that I might dig myself back into a hole easier than before. Swimming will require me to find a new venue, as I don't think I can mentally accept driving 2 hours round trip to swim for an hour any longer. All these things and the fact that I also think I am not ready to face the prospect of "what if I *CAN'T* do this" any longer.  However, perhaps the simplest answer is, I am enjoying riding and doing some bike racing again. I look forward to it... and it's something I can easily focus on without being overwhelmed.

I am not quite ready to hang my spandex yet. I think I've still got some good racing left in me, maybe some of my best racing. Not today, not this year even... but soon. Now, if only patience were one of my virtues.

Thanks for reading! I really appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock

1 comment:

  1. Nice job on the race. I did my sprint this year after being under trained and I thought, "well it s a short one, I will be fine" I forgot how important sighting is! LOL