Saturday, August 21, 2010

Newton Trail Triathlon

Should we jump straight to the part where I suffer the indignity of my most embarrassing moment of my middle age to date or do you want to hear all the gory details?  I guess we'll start at the start since the moment happens fairly early on in the story.

This is a small race, only 51 people, held in the evening on the trails surrounding the Boulder Reservoir.  750 meter swim, 5 K trail run, 10 K trail bike is how they bill it but the run is way short, maybe more like 2 miles or less, and some people end up doing a 5 K bike while most of us do the 10 K due to some confusion amongst the volunteers that wasn't their fault.  This is how it sometimes goes in the world of triathlon, especially the off-road races, and you have to learn to go with the flow.  It's a very laid back, friendly race and nobody seems the least bit bent out of shape about it.

The Boulder Rez is around 10 minutes from my house so why I leave 2 hours before the start of the race is beyond me.  I end up sitting around baking in the hot 90 degree sun for an hour 20 minutes, not my brightest move ever.  I get a great spot in the transition zone though, right near the 'bike out' so I don't have to run far in my cleats pushing my bike.  I spend the time stretching and listening to bad 90's and modern rock coming from the race's speaker system.  I don't get Lady Gaga at all.  Well actually I get it but I wish we could get past it.  Didn't we already go through this with Madonna and like a million other people?  She's skeezier than Madonna I'll grant you that but that's a good thing?  Aren't we over the cheesy generic pop music delivered by scantily dressed crack whore routine by now?  Did Courtney Love teach us nothing?  It's 2010 already dammit, can't we please move on?  We need a good modern day Crissie Hynde or Joan Jett.  I do see a 12 year old boy rocking out when Joan Jett comes on singing about her Bad Reputation so I'm slightly encouraged for the future.  This is the best I can do for thoughts to occupy my brain while I wait for my race to start.

This race goes Swim Run Bike rather than the traditional Swim Bike Run and I wish they all worked this way.  Your legs are stronger for the run, none of this 'noodle legs' that you get when you come off the bike, then you can hammer all you like on the bike, no holding back for the run.  So much more fun that way.

The swim is a mass start because the race is so small and this freaks me out a bit.  Even though I start at the back it's chaos at first and I can't see the first buoy for all the splashing and kicking.  That little voice of panic/survival instinct starts urging me to forget these shenanigans and head back to the safety of shore while I still can but I know I can do this swim no problem, it's way shorter than what I normally do for my masters workouts.  I put a calming song in my head and start thinking about some things I've been working on with my stroke to take my mind off all the other people and soon I'm o.k.  The first 2 legs of the swim go by no problem but when I turn to head back to shore for the final leg I'm swimming directly into the setting sun and I can't see a thing.  All I can do is look for the heads of the other swimmers and this causes me to sight a lot more than I normally would so I lose some time.  I can't see the shore until I'm almost upon it. 

I decide to take my wetsuit off in the water since it comes off more easily when it's wet and I'll get a blast of cool water directly on my skin because even though it's evening it's still hot.  And here's where my story turns into a tragedy/comedy.  The first thing you need to know is that these days they give you such a huge timing chip to wear on your ankle that you feel like you're under house arrest.  The second thing you need to know is that Ian Adamson is the race director for this little shindig.  For those too busy to click on the link, Ian Adamson is the most successful adventure racer ever.  If you ever watched the old 'Eco Challenge' races on the Discovery Channel then you know who he is because his team won or placed top 3 in a lot of them and he's won zillions of others too.  These adventure races are held in challenging locations and last for days, the amount of skill and athleticism and mental toughness required for these things is off the charts.  Anyway, I manage to get my suit off past my butt and all I have left are the legs so I sit in the water and start pulling them off when I hear someone yell 'Wetsuit Strippah!' and I see this guy running towards me in the water and next thing I know Ian Adamson is pulling my wetsuit off me while I'm wallowing in 2' feet of water on my back like a beached whale wearing nothing but a running bra and an impossibly short pair of men's lycra triathlon shorts, pale white 46 year old stomach flapping in the breeze.  My wetsuit says 'Orca' on it and has white killer whale stripes/markings on it for added effect.  And of course the damn thing won't come off because the leg is stuck at the ankle on the massive timing chip.  It's been a long time since I've been this mortified and that includes all the indignities I've suffered at the hands of my dogs in the agility ring.  I tell him it's o.k., I can manage but he's intent on helping me and with one final tug he frees me from the neoprene straight jacket.  Now to be fair he really was trying to help me, if you enter a big fancy corporate type race with a big price tag they'll have wetsuit strippers on the beach to assist you getting your wetsuit off so to have such an esteemed athlete as my personal wetsuit stripper is quite the luxury but still I was so embarrassed.  To add to the horror there was a photographer on shore taking pictures of people at they came out of the water and I'm already having nightmares of a photo of this scene being put on the race website for next year.

Next up is the run which they try to make like a real trail run so the course goes along the rocky shore of the Rez, over some small ditches, up a very short steep rocky climb to the smoother dirt trail that surrounds the Rez.  Reminded me of cross country races from high school.  The main thing for me is not to twist my ankle on the rocks or fall and be screwed up for the big race next weekend.  This race is for training.

Towards the end of the run I start catching up to a woman who's running her first triathlon.  She's struggling a bit, stopping to walk at the rocky steep bits, and her husband or boyfriend is on the sidelines cheering her on.  He's wearing his fancy dress clothes from work but he runs alongside her for a bit to offer encouragement.  I'm chasing down a different woman so I'm kind of wheezing and huffing but I give her a barely coherent 'Good Job!' as I pass her because that's how it works in the triathlon world.  It's a tough thing to get off the couch and squeeze into the skin tight Lycra clothes that you would normally never be caught dead in and go do a race in front of people so if you pass someone you always give them a word of encouragement because good for them for even being out there.  As I'm heading out on the run one of the top 3 women coming back into transition says something to me as well but whether it's a 'Good Job' or a warning about a wardrobe malfunction I can't tell because I can't hear her over my own wheezing.  I smile at her anyway and carry on.

By the time I hit transition I've nearly caught up to the woman I'm chasing but I end up having a disastrous transition because my bike falls over and I need to make sure I at least take in some water so I don't pass out again afterwards and I have to switch my orthotics from my running shoes to my biking shoes and maybe knit a sweater so she exits on the bike with a better lead on me.  The bike course is 6 miles or so over gravel, grass, and dirt trails around the Reservoir.  There's one super steep short hill that pretty much everybody has to walk but other than that it's all rideable, nothing technical at all.  At one point I have to lift my bike over a gate that has barbed wired at the top of it and then climb over it myself (over a taller part that doesn't have barbed wire) and my back isn't happy about that.  I chase the same woman through the entire bike portion.  Sometimes she gets far ahead, mostly when there's a loose steep gravelly downhill with a turn because again I don't want to take risks and fall for a stupid practice race so I'm on the brake a bit conservatively but sometimes I get oh so close to her only to have her pull away again.  It's great to have someone to pull me along like that, otherwise I'll stop concentrating on the race and my mind will wander back to Lady Gaga and I'll end up riding along all La De Da.  With about a mile to go I realize I'm gaining on her again and that she seems to have let up her pace.  With about 1/4 mile to go to the finish I finally pass her on a gravelly bit that she's struggling with and hold my lead to the finish.  I finish 11 seconds ahead of her in 1 hour, 7 minutes, 7 seconds.

Final Stats:

Swim-750 meters (820 yards)-17:37 mins. includes wetsuit fiasco and run to transition, probably 16 mins. or
                                                so of swimming or roughly 2:00 min/100 yards, typical for me
T1-57 seconds

Run-maybe 2 miles or so?  maybe shorter-18:55

T2-1:16 mins

Bike-6 miles-28:25 mins.-12.7 MPH (off road)

Total:  1:07:07 (hrs/mins/secs)

27/44 Overall (long course)
14/24 Females
2/3 Age Group

I'm feeling o.k. about my race next weekend.  Not super crazy confident like this will be my best race ever but at least confident enough that it won't be a complete disaster.  And you can bet I'm going to take my wetsuit off on in the transition zone like a normal person this time.


  1. NICE job!!! Way to push right on through to the end. I'm sorry, I totally laughed at the "wetsuit stripp-ah!" :-)

  2. Well at least you can laugh about it. I hope you post the pictures so we can laugh with you. LOL I cant beleive you can bike, run and swim all that. Congrats! Diana

  3. Wow, what an adventure, getting your clothing torn off by a celebrity! Even if it was just a wet suit. Good job on the race.

  4. I'm hoping very VERY hard that there are no photos to share of the wetsuit fiasco. I'm even thinking if the photographer wanted to blackmail me he could easily empty me of my meager savings.