Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Race Report--Intermezzo & Act II

Intermezzo: T-1

I continue my barefoot, bandy-legged joggy wobble to transition. It is a good 150 yards all the way round to the entrance and through to my bike. Along the way, my vertigo and my leg strength do not improve. I really don’t feel like going for a bike ride.

But my hands and mind have something to do that leaves no room for self-pity. I strip out of the wetsuit, and in an instant I have race belt, glasses, helmet, drink ---but I need to get those bike shoes on. (I was not about to try the shoes-in-clips peddle while you dress nonsense. I don’t need extra help falling on my @$$.) I am still so dizzy I wonder whether I can bend over to reach the shoes without falling over. I nevertheless manage it, and Carmen Tequilo and I are on the run toward the sign “Bike Out.”

Except that the exit is 100+ yards away and then there is another 100+ yards up a hill before one is allowed to mount. It may not have been that far, but there may well have been 400 yards of running between the swim exit and the start line for the bike. To do it in bike shoes was less than optimal. CRAMPAGE.

But for all the running, it would have been a fast transition. T-1: 4:16.2

Act II: The Bike
I mount Carmen Tequilo, who is already in a low gear, waiting to run. Her rider, however, is no. I have done bike/run bricks before. But I realize that this is the first time I have ever gotten directly up from a swim and tried to bike. My head is still swimming, my stomach feels way below average, and the dorky bike shoe track workout I just completed sucked any thought of freshness right out of my legs. 15 mph feels really hard, and my quads are really complaining.

Again that voice tries to tell me it is OK to quit. “Why are you here? Who are you trying to fool? You are a short, wimpy, middle-aged, overly-educated white guy with a desk job. Get over yourself.” I involuntarily return to a vivid mental picture from T-1, a soft, middle-aged man in his bifocals smearing sunscreen on his pooch, completely red in the face, and sitting awkwardly on the ground. He is unprepared to continue.

Here, the voice of doubt has made a mistake, because whatever caused me to sign up for my swim lessons snaps and rebels. “I am NOT that guy. I will NEVER be that guy.” I moderate my expectations on the first climb, but I keep moving forward. About halfway to the Capitol Building, I take a gel and some water, hoping to get a little spring in my step. I hear a sound behind me like an electrical generator. It gets louder and louder until a pro with his single digit race number and solid race wheel whir by me as if he was powered by an internal combustion engine.

That is so COOL.

There is no way I am stopping. Rhythm is almost there. I stand in the pedals and hammer up to San Jacinto and I am starting to feel better. Take a drink at the top while coasting to the bottom of the course at 18th street. Make the turn, and finally, it is time to race. Power back over the top of the hill and take the hairpin back onto Congress street, downhill all the way to the river.

That hairpin took its victims. A few of the competitors (age groupers) were less than polite and less than safe in the turns. Screaming out directions to everyone around them, they apparently thought everyone should stay the hell out of their way. The triathlon gods took their vengeance. Hot shot loud mouth age grouper laid his bike over and slid all the way to the curb. One of his buddies needed an ambulance.

Carmen and I are content to take the turns in the cow horns. But, on the way down Congress, she invites me to embrace the aero bars and throw in that highest gear--the one we save for special occasions. It is an effortless flight all the way down to Cesar Chavez. Half way down a motorcycle cop is standing with his radar gun out and clocking the fastest descenders. I almost hit my brakes from instinct, but instead only laugh. He stays for all four laps, and I blow through his speed trap every time.

Be forewarned, this is going to sound really stupid. Remember when you were little, and you emulated your favorite sports heroes--copying the batting stance of Pete Rose or Jeff Bagwell. On the long flats, I was nine years old again--except this time I really acted like a nine year old instead of a miniature adult. Instead of copying Pete Rose, I was Lance Armstrong. My pedals turned at an unrelenting 100 rpm, an unchanging cadence in aggressive aero form, passing Jan Ulrich in the time trial. I don’t know how many people I passed, and they probably weren’t actually going very fast, but when I passed someone, I shifted and lifted the cadence and passed them fast. 31 years completely disappeared. I played.

Four laps and 25 miles of pure fun. 1:16:26.5 19.5 mph. Avg HR 146.


Flatman said...

Oh how I love cycling like a 9 year old! Nice!

Veeg said...

I cannot WAIT to read the next installment. Your joy in this race is just radiating. LOVE it!

TriBoomer said...

This report don't sound like no pudgy, bookwormish, barrister type to me.

Unt-uh, no way!

Let her rip on the run, dog.

Tell us more!

Stay tuned...

Iron Pol said...

Well, thanks to your words of caution about going to aero bars, I should be safe on Saturday. Hearing about all the age groupers laying the bikes down was overkill.

I'll follow your lead and take anything remotely risky on the brake hoods.

I'll be like that 9-year old, only in a candy store, tomorrow. But I still don't have a cool name for my bike. Mrs. Pol (who thinks I'm goofy) needs to read about your bike having a name.

JustJunebug said...

found you via Wil's blog ...saw you were from houston (by your heat related comment) and thought i would see a fellow blogging houstonian!

good luck in your endeavor..i will read more later!

TriSaraTops said...

Great job! Isn't the swim-bike thing weird? I swear I felt drunk the first time I did it....Great leg on the bike--nice speed! :)

I used to practice batting like Mark McGwire, if anyone is asking.

Pre-steriods, of course.

christine said...

i'm totally riveted greyhound, can't wait to hear about the run. congrats big time!!

Scott said...

Big congratulations on finishing your first olympic. I'm so unbelievably inspired by your experience.

This post will get me through the next tough day.


Spence said...

This is getting me so fired up for my first olympic race! Those voices are sometimes so loud - not usually pleas to quit but often "what business do I have here, I'm not one of THEM, I should have stayed on the couch..." I think I will be practicing the swim to bike transition more often after reading reminded me that I always kick myself in T1 for not practicing that more. Great ride too!!! That's smokin'! And a pretty low HR to boot. Can't wait to hear about the run...