Saturday, July 27, 2013

Mass State Triathlon - Aquabike Race Report

It’s been almost 2 weeks since the Mass State Triathlon and I’m still alive. I survived it. Never again, for sure. But I survived it. And not even the whole thing. I did the Aquabike. A 0.9 mile swim and 22 mile bike. The full tri was followed up by a 6.2 mile run, but I wasn’t crazy enough to add that on.

I was pretty much blah about the whole thing. I missed the Escape the Cape triathlon in June because I wasn’t well enough to race it. And from there, I just didn’t train. I’ve done squat challenges, arm workouts and ab workouts on a regular basis as well as a few runs, bike rides and swims but I’m definitely not in triathlon training mode. I’m lucky I got through the aquabike.

When I went to pick up my packet the day before the race, I asked about medals for the aquabikers, because it occurred to me that I didn’t know where or how the aquabike was going to end. I knew the runners crossed the finish line under the big Max Performance arch, but what about those of us that decided not to torture ourselves for a 6.2 mile run after all of that biking? When I asked at packet pick up, I was told that medals were for the top 3 males and the top 3 females in the aquabike category and there were only about 20 signed up for the aquabike, so I had a good chance. Obviously this lady did not know me. But that still didn’t stop me from checking out the list of aquabikers to see my chances. I had none.

But I was still fierce. My motto: Fake it til you make it!
I started the swim in the last wave with the relay group, the newbies, and the aquabikers. 

Gotta have fun right?

I clearly was going to be the last one out of the water. I expected it and thought that unless someone from an earlier wave dropped back and got passed, I’d be last. And I was right. Last out of the water.

I'm probably flailing because I'm glad to be done!
But I had fun. And I finished.

I knew I’d be the last biker too and with 22 miles ahead of me, I took my sweet time in transition. In addition to my tri shorts, I put on my bike shorts. If I had to ride for 22 miles, I was sure as hell going to make it as comfortable as possible.

So I sat right down and made myself at home.
And then I was off...
I had driven the bike course the day before and although the elevation map showed that it was a gradual uphill for about half the course, then a gradual downhill. No problem right? Except that was lies. All lies. The last half of the course had a fair amount of uphill as well. Dread.

The first half of the course was as expected: a gradual climb that was doable, but annoying. Not enough flat ground to get rest, but just enough to take the edge off of the hills. It was very tiring. The course description said “gradual rolling hills with small climbs at miles 7-9”.  Well, they lied. Mile 9.8 was the worst. I stopped once to catch my breath. Then when I got to mile 12, I decided I was wrong. Mile 12 was the worst. By this time I was already halfway there. I had no choice but to keep going. But the volunteers on the course were great. It was no secret that I was the last biker out there and each time I got to a turn or an intersection where traffic might be an issue, there was at least 2 volunteers, and sometimes more, plus a police officer waiting for me, ready to hold up traffic for me to let me go buy. I was definitely impressed with Max Performance’s dedication to their racers. They made sure all of us were safe out there.  When I hit mile 14.5, there was an officer there as well as a sign that said “bike course”. A guy was standing on the sidewalk getting ready to cross, but was held up because I was going by. He yelled out “Bike course? Is a race? Are you the leader? Are you winning?” And I yelled back “Hell yes I am!”. 

When I got to mile 16.3, there was a volunteer who told me that right around the corner there was a bit of a climb but once I hit the golf course it was downhill to the finish. Liar. That one was the new worst.

When I got to mile 16.9, I started doing math. I knew the course was 22 miles. I started figuring out how many more miles I had to go.  I did it again at mile 17.5 and 17.6 and 17.7. When I reached mile 18, I thought “Wouldn’t it suck if I got a flat tire right now?” Then I did math again to get my mind off of that.

Around that time, I passed a hospital. I contemplated going in there and playing dead, but the hill into the parking lot was undesirable so I just kept going. A little while later I passed a cemetery. I thought about just laying down on the grass next to a grave and letting the elements of nature cover me over eventually. But again, I kept going.

Finally I made it. And I was alive. It took me a minute to get off my bike in the dismount area, because sitting on a bike seat for 22 miles is a little bit like getting punched in the crotch. It hurts. Of course I stopped to pose for a picture. 

I like to entertain the volunteers.
Then I made my way to the transition area. And it was over. I had no idea where I was supposed to go or what to do. There was no finish line for aquabikers, so I assumed that after finishing the bike portion and crossing the timing mats into transition, I was done.

But, back to that medal thing. I wanted one. Even though I didn’t do the full triathlon, I paid the same amount as the crazy people did. And I finished my race too! I had to give them my timing chip back, which was over by the finish line, so as I was handing it over, someone from the relay race was asking about medals. It turns out, everyone got a medal for finishing. So I got my medal too!

And I posed by the finish line anyway!
After the race, I got a chance to talk to my favorite transition helper, Megan, about the confusion of the aquabike ending, and she said that it was their first year doing the aquabike and they were still trying to smooth things out. I trust they’ll get it straightened out for next year. They’re good about that stuff. It’s why I keep coming back. Thanks again for a great race experience, Max Performance! You're definitely a No Runners Left Behind approved race!

While I’m pretty sure I pushed myself to the limit and I’m definitely not ready for another Olympic distance triathlon any time soon, I have faith that I might try it again in the future, when I’ve had more training and I’m more confident in my health.

But for right now...I’ll stick to the sprint distances. In the meantime, I have the Chunky Dunk Duathlon that I’m doing tomorrow morning. In about 8 hours. I should get some sleep for that.

“Winning doesn’t always mean getting first place; it means getting the best out of yourself.” – Meb Keflezighi

1 comment:

  1. He yelled out “Bike course? Is a race? Are you the leader? Are you winning?” And I yelled back “Hell yes I am!"

    I love this!! :)


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