Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Austin Tri and Beva

So much to report! I bet it would be a little less daunting if I were to do this a little more progressively, huh? Since I last left you all I got my new triathlon bike, gone to Corpus Christi, and completed my first Olympic distance tri.

Strawberry Shortcake is a great bike and a ton of fun to ride. But when it comes to racing, her 12 gears, down tube shifters, and steel frame make her a little less than peppy. So it was time to look at getting a new bike. Enter Beva, my lovely Masi Coltello Aero. When I ordered her I was expecting to get a red bike with white lettering and decals, but came to find out that the previous year’s model was available for $200 less and the only difference was it was white with red lettering and decals. For those that don’t know me all that well, I am not exactly the world’s largest UT fan. In fact it could be said that I am a bit of a UT antagonist. So alas, the “red” lettering and decals is actually a rather dark orange. This was a little bit of a kharmatic sucker punch. Oh well. She is still lovely and I am having a blast on her. It is amazing how much easier cycling is on a newer and lighter bike.

A couple of days after getting Beva, I had to head down to Corpus Christi for a conference. It has actually been 20+ years since I have been to Corpus, so I was pretty excited to head down there. I stayed at one of the Omni hotels right along the sea wall, so the view and location were great! My first evening their I decided I would hop out to the sea wall (just across the street from the hotel) and go for a run. The first thing I noticed was how incredibly humid it was; who would have thought that?! But the second thing I noticed was that practically everybody waved at each other! It was the coolest thing. No matter what pace, direction, or what not, everybody out on the sea wall acknowledged the other folks out there. The next two days I managed to get Beva out on the road. Beva is much larger than Strawberry so for someone that is already not the most comfortable on a bike, she is a bit daunting. With that in mind and my race coming up the next week I figured that I should just spend some time getting acclimated to riding her. Luckily the conference's schedule (and my skipping of one session) allowed for me to get two rides in, one of about 30 minutes and another of about 90. There is definitely something to be said for riding along the beach. Pretty nice little outings. Oh; the conference was good and I actually learned a fair amount.

Speaking of learning stuff; I really hope that I learned a lot from the Austin Triathlon. It really all started out fine. I got my bike setup in the transition area the day before, had a decent sleep that night, and came to the race feeling pretty good. As has become tradition (well, if two previous times counts as tradition) I popped a gel about 15 minutes before I jumped into the water for the swim. The treading start was something new to me, but I really liked it. The start, though still a jumble, did not seem to be quite as violent as the running starts. The swim went really well. I didn't want to go out too hard and be exhausted as soon as I got out of the water, but I didn't want to lollygag toomuch. Despite the dread of not being able to see the buoys that were spread incredibly far apart, I was able to get in a decent stride most of the way and felt great for all 1500 meters of the swim.

Typically I am not too terribly fast in transition and today ended up not being an exception despite my efforts to make it one. My feet were just caked with mud and dirt by the time I made it to my bike and it took me a bit of time to get it knocked off sufficiently before throwing on my shoes. Oh well.

Well, here it is; Beva's maiden race. The bike course consisted of three laps around and through downtown Austin. I had done a test run on the course just two days before so I was feeling pretty confident that I would be able to get through it without incident and know where to shift and all that good stuff. This was all true, but alas my inexperience on bikes caught up to me. I dropped my chain just a few hundred yards before a big turn and had to jump off to the side of the road and get it back on. More than likely this didn't take but a minute and a half or so, but it was still aggravating. I was just in a bad gear choice and tried to push it too hard. Luckily this was the first loop and I was able to get through the next two without any other mechanical failures. If only my brain didn't stop working too. During my ride I took another gel and for some reason, it did not agree with my stomach too well. I became a little queasyabout 15 minutes after taking it. Then there was the fact that I am a little too competitive at times. About halfway through my first lap I started to hear the familiar sound of carbon disc wheels coming up behind me. This was not supposed to be happening so quickly on my new bike! Beva and I were supposed to be flying! It took me the rest of the lap to realize that most of these people breezing past me were the pros making their laps, yet I still felt pressured to try to kick it up a notch anytime I got passed. This increased machismo coupled with my gurgling tummy left me quite distracted and I failed to drink even half of the water and Propel that I had with me. By the end of the bike I was still feeling OK, just a little bit of an upset stomach but nothing too bad. I had average 20mph which for me was really good and ultimately I was pretty happy with the ride.

Shortly after reracking my bike and getting my running shoes on I began to feel the effects of under-hydration and a digestive system not loving the gels. I wanted to throw-up and could not drink enough at the water stations; plus my legs felt as if they had nothing left in them to give. As I filled up on water and Gatorade at the water stops my stomach began to start sloshing with all of the liquid it no longer had the ability to take in. My queasiness has now manifested itself into outright nausea. Awesome! Only 4 more miles to go. The run is typically my best part and I had been looking forward to it. Alas, it felt like I was just barely moving and despising every minute of it. Finally I saw that the finish line was within a quarter mile and managed to summon everything left in me and gave it one last push. As soon as I crossed the line I started looking forward to my next triathlon and was telling myself that I would learn from this experience. Then I set off to pass out under a tent with cold water and try not to throw-up on anyone.

Miraculously I had to have been moving faster in the run than it felt like. I managed to finish the 10k in 48:27 and the entire race in 2:38:16. Not as well as I know that I can do, but for my first time out I am really proud of that time. It was certainly the most difficult physical thing I have done so far. Now the countdown begins for Iron Star in Conroe, TX; a half ironman on November 8th. We shall see what happens.

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