Sunday, September 29, 2013

Boilerman: turns out I look good in black!

Sporting my shirt and prize


Things sometimes come together in indecipherable ways, and my wacky training regimen seemed no hindrance to my efforts today at the Boilerman Triathlon. It was far and above the best race I've done this year, and I've had a couple of good ones.

It didn't start off looking too promising. Rain was almost a sure bet as of last night's forecast, and as predicted it did indeed begin raining about 5:30 AM. Rand and I headed over to the McDonald's a stone's throw away from our motel, where I got my breakfast burrito. Rand went for the oatmeal, and we quickly had it all put away.

From there we took our time preparing gear. Which kit to wear? (I brought 2) Which helmet? (I brought 2) Which GPS? (I brought 2) These are weighty decisions, but ultimately were sorted out. Then we had to pack it all up. That Element of mine sure can haul a load of gear! Both bikes, our bags, and a load of Rand's T-3's made the trip.

We had to park over a mile from the transition area, and as it was raining, I wasn't in too much of a hurry to get there. We had almost an hour and twenty minutes before the scheduled race start, and since we were dry and in a warm place, I voted to stay put for a bit. Actually, I can't call it a vote since I had the car keys. We weren't leaving until I said so!

In the end we had to ride in the rain to the transition, put our gear out, and then stand in the drizzle until the race start. This we did about right... by the time we were ready we had about 20 minutes or so before we had to walk down to the lake. That gave us time to take care of restroom issues and anything else we overlooked.

Time did come, we did walk toward the lake, and it was nearing time for the start. There were a lot of kids there, and they were pretty fired up. We talked with a few, and it was clear there were some newbies. Things got a little raucous with one of the college groups as their cheer devolved into a horseplay match. One kid shoved another onto me - hard - and I uttered, "c'mon guys", tossing in a glare for effect. I kept the ironbird sheathed, Allen. They settled down, and there was no harm done. Rand did say he was waiting for me to set my goggles on the ground...

The sky, indeed the lake, was grey, all grey, and visibility would be a problem. The wind across the lake was generating a surface current that would wind up causing a bit of a problem. I made my way to the far left, ensuring I'd swim farther, but in cleaner water. We were wave 3 of 3, set off in 3-minute intervals.

The swim wasn't hard, it was only hard to see and at times to hold a line. I weaved a bit, no doubt. Still, the swim didn't take too long. The lake itself was clean enough, without vegetative undergrowth that sometimes fills lakes of this size. I came in well within my time goal, and was off and running.

It was a sizable run to the transition area. We ran from the lake up a good rise and through the pasture to the grassy transition. I had my wetsuit more than half down, but I'll be darned if I didn't struggle with it. Reminded me of Jimmy and Mike at Terre Haute a few years back. I also forgot to start the GPS, so I would up having to fool with it to make sure it would time. Finally, it was soaking wet out there, so I knew I had to wear socks - my feet would have been totaled if I had gone without. However long that took, it was worth it, because the run later...

The bike was as advertised. It was mostly flat, with a few rises and rollers, but nothing truly significant - just like you would imagine northern Indiana. The main issue were the many turns - since the roads were rain-slick, you had to slow way down at every turn. While this really slowed my pace overall, there was no other way. To do anything else on the narrow roads was an invitation to disaster.

After the first couple of riding miles, I found my legs, and I was clipping off pretty good legs. My goal was to ride faster than 23 mph. I thought that'd be pretty good this late in the season, and anyway I'd done it just the other day on a far harder course (though shorter). That should be fast enough, coupled with my swim, to give me a fighting chance to place well.

I crushed the bike. It was vintage, passing people hard over and over. One individual did pass me, with authority, and I knew there would be no point pursuing in my current state of fitness. I figured he'd be 25+, and I was right. He was the #1 rider. I wound up #3, another great surprise.

The latter half of the bike saw the beginning of an at-first latent fear, rising as the miles ticked away into a full-blown anxiety... would I have enough left for the run? It was an interesting leg... the first 4 legs were in a residential neighborhood. The last 2 or so were around the lake - in the pasture. I knew I would be strong enough to run in the streets - I've been running pretty solidly lately - but I didn't know if I had the strength to carry on through the rough off-road.

The residential went as expected. I was pulling through people left and right, ticking them off methodically. I did have one person pass me, but I'm sure he had to be a relay runner... he was in a college kit, and at the speed he was running would certainly have been a better biker and/or swimmer had he been doing it alone. And I wasn't running poorly at all. I wound up with a 6:19 average, faster than I've gone in a good long while, and was 2nd overall.

Second?! Yes, they threw out the collegiates from the age groupers, so I wound up in second. I wish I would have snapped a photo of their finish - can't find the results online - because I would like to see how I compared with them!

Here's all I know about that part... when I came in, I asked the timer how many people were in. He said I was the 14-17th person in, and the first open. My guess is that first guy in the open had an alumni kit on, so he didn't catch him, so that would be 13-16 collegiate racers ahead, all with a 6-minute head start. I beat some of them, I know it. Not all of them, but some of them. That's some satisfaction for this old fart!

Unfortunately, Strycker rules do apply, even with a Purdue shirt. Being the sport I am, I have included photo documentation of my compliance. Norm Taylor is laughing out there somewhere!
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