Monday, October 17, 2011

Ko'Olina Sprint Tri '11 Race Report

"The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry"
- To a Mouse, Robert Frost*

*A Robert Frost quote? What a pretentious way to start a race report. If only it wasn't so damn true.

Swim- 14:29 (660 yards, but swim/run/swim)
Bike- 46:18 (16.7mi)
Run- 31:13 (3.2mi)
Total- 1:55:17

To say I'm disappointed with how today's race went would be to undervalue the meaning of the word. There was high expectations and much excitement surrounding this race for me. My first repeat, my first chance to really measure growth, and a fast course to do it on. I was ready.
This was not that race. Not at all. In fact, it was so not the race I wanted it to be its hard to write about. I find what happened embarrassing in the extreme. But I don't know what happened, or why it happened. It just...happened. But at least I got through it. More silver lining later.
The race started out ok. For some reason my age group, 30-35, started in the fourth wave. The third wave was made up of the 50+ age group. No, that doesn't make any sense to me either. No offense to any 50+ age groupers out there, but odds are high you aren't faster than I am through the water. And giving you a three minute head start just means it takes a little longer to catch you and deal with your traffic. This was one issue I had with today's race apart from my own problems.
My swim plan was very simple: Conserve. I planned to swim strong but not all that hard, keeping my stroke long and efficient so that I would have plenty in the tank for the bike and run. I thought I was following that. Remember, this race has a unique swim. It's swim a lagoon, run a few hundred yards to the next lagoon, swim that, through four lagoons. Not exactly playing to my strength, but not that bad. I cruised the runs between the lagoons, sticking to the plan and feeling alright. A little more tired than expected, not quite as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as I would have liked, but not awful.
Then I hit T1 and everything changed. Almost as soon as I got into the transition area all the energy went out of my body. I walked from the entry to my bike. I walked through a sprint transition. And when I got to my bike, with Super Awesome Wife at the gate cheering me on, I stopped. I stopped and I stared at my gear. And the rest of my strength seemed to leak away. I had absolutely no interest in getting on that bike. None. I was tired. I felt done. Not tired like I swam my ass off and my lungs were burning and my muscles sore. Tired like more than anything I just want to sit down and not do this for another hour or more. Shoulder-sagging tired. I saw my fuel gauge flip to E and there felt like nothing I could do to stop it or fix it. Motivation gone. 
Notice all the bikes (and the expression)
Note the shoulders and head position

This is not the face/body language of a racer
This was horrible. I spent 22 minutes in T1 trying to figure out what I was going to do next. Should I fight through it? Did I even want to? Would I be able to perform once I got out on the bike course or would this continue and become the most miserable 16 miles ever? Thinking about it now, like being in the middle of it then, it is embarrassing and frustrating. I felt like I couldn't do anything about how I was feeling. I talked to myself, trying all the positive self-talk tricks, and the mental pumping-up I knew, and I was getting zero return. Which only made everything worse. And that it happened during such a short race...This sucks to write, sucks to even think about anymore, but I didn't want to keep going. But I sure as hell wasn't going to DNF. 
Note the number of bikes now.
The transition area was practically empty by the time I got my head together enough to get my shoes, helmet, and shades on. I had to get out on the course. 
My ride went better than I expected it to. It was a mostly flat course with short climbs, none of which were any bother for me. Once I got up to speed I felt strong enough to keep going. But I wasn't racing. I'm positive the big base I built training for the century got me through the ride at the speed I was able to carry. There was some wind at the turn around so I got low on the aero bars and hammered as much as my legs would let me. My head never got into the race. It was like the first half of the Firecracker Sprint times a hundred. 
Normally, I love to race. Racing is a rush, competition drives me to excel. Today was not my day. And the run didn't help. At least I was in and out of T2 quickly. 
I did catch a bunch of people during the ride

Tight squeeze
The opposite of how I felt but trying to fake it in hopes of a change
 I set off at a jog. There would be very little Bringing of the Pain like I wanted. Like I planned. Like I expected. There would be only suffering through and dragging ass to the finish. Because out on the run course nothing got better. My jog slowed, slowed some more, and then became a walk. That's right (and this is hard to type), I spent 75% of mile 1 of a sprint triathlon I'd been training for for weeks, that I'd done a year ago with no problem, walking. Fuck. There was nothing there to dig for. I pulled it together enough to get up to a jog for mile 2 and managed to run mile 3 at nearly the pace I planned on running the whole time.
Bringing it in...finally
And across the line.
The time displayed in 9 minutes off mine because I was in Wave 4...and it still sucks.

At least I finished. See? Silver lining.
I'm not sure what happened. I thought I got enough sleep. I think part of my problem was not eating well enough yesterday. Super Awesome Wife made my favorite pre-race dinner, tofu tacos, but I had a crappy late lunch. I wasn't feeling great the whole way to the race in the car, different than my normal early morning stuff. I wouldn't be surprised if I got sick tomorrow, though I'd be too stubborn to use that as an excuse. I think going forward I'm going to take the next week completely off, and then dial back my training to once a day everyday until the Honolulu Tri comes back around. 
As for the race itself, I'm not sure I'll come play again next year. At packet pick-up they were out of Medium t-shirts so they gave me a Large, which doesn't seem like a real issue until you remember that I basically paid $85 for that shirt. There weren't able to post the results or hand out awards at the event because of technical difficulties with the computer. The order of the wave start didn't make any sense, which we covered earlier. There were things we were told to do prior to the race that were never checked to see if we'd done them, like read the online safety briefing and bring it to packet pick-up signed (which I forgot to do, but it didn't matter anyway). We were given stick-on tattoo numbers, which is cool but why did money get spent on that? There were volunteers there with Sharpies anyway, that's how I got marked. My registration money should have gone towards nice caps with a neat logo on them instead of plain white caps and a neat but ultimately useless numbering system. At least this year's medal was nice. 
And the medal is nice. More silver lining.

And the t-shirt isn't nearly as bad as last year's bright yellow thing. Silver glimmer.

I need to thank Kepa, Super Awesome Wife, and Team Bloody Mary for giving me the love in and around T1, and through to the finish. Also, it was nice to finially meet Tri Cook. Wish I'd had a better race with which to impress. And love to family and friends for their support, even from across the Pacific. Much thanks as well to my Dirtbag Sponsor Background Profiles. We'll get 'em next time.
Got some, go again.


  1. Bummer. Buy hey. You finished, so that's what counts.

  2. Wow, what a bummer! I am sure this won't really help much, but I was cooked at the end of the swim and the thought of a short T1 was questionable as well. Luckily, I only had to do the swim.

    I also agree with you about us 50+ guys going out before your age group for all the reasons you state. This has come up often in the forums. The explanation they give is that they need to shut down the course and they are worried that us old folks will be out too long.

    I thought the course was beautiful and I would really like to do it next year. Of course, I did not experience the things you did. In fact, I got a size medium $85 shirt! When did you pick up your packet? I got mine just before 6pm on Friday. Btw, this is the same organization that puts on the Honolulu Triathlon (just in case you did not know). I thought this tri was better organized than the Honolulu Triathlon. Again, I did not have the experience of doing the Ko Olina Tri the year prior to compare.

    Wish I got to meet fellow blogger Tri Cook!

    Use this experience as fire for your next triathlon!!!

  3. You looked like you just rolled out of bed when I saw you in T1 that morning. I know the feeling though. Good call on taking the week off from training. Btw, did you try on your shirt? Tried it on after I got home yesterday. I swear I must have gotten a kids medium.

  4. Man, they screwed up the results for a lot of people. There were people who were in teams posted in the individuals. Some folks were in the wrong age groups. A friend of mine would have had a podium spot if they had put here in the correct age group. Another had their swim time posted as 3 minutes and change.

  5. Kepa- My results seemed to be right once they got posted. I'm unimpressed it took so long to get them up though.
    And I agree, the course for Ko'Olina is very pretty. But there are too many little problems for me. I thought Honolulu went much better than this race. The biggest problem might be that JJ, the race director, likes running a tri and a biathlon and a 10k and a 5k and this and that and the other. Too much going on. Makes plenty of money, but its an organizational nightmare.
    Tri Cook- My shirt fits ok, but a Medium, you know, the size I ordered, would fit better. And I was hurting.