Sunday, December 9, 2012

THE worlds race report!

the WTC race report...

Can't believe this day is finally here. Everything for the last year and a half has been about this next couple of hours.

Woke up this morning at .. 4:00am with Ame chan getting cranky. Threw in some earplugs and dozed for another hour until the appointed 5am wake up time. A few spoonfuls of cold plain rice from the fridge and half a piece of white bread. Breakfast done! Figured the big ol pasta dinner from last night would serve as the fuel needed to get me around the course.

Dad turned up and we rolled out on time at 5:30am. Bike checked in and body marked yesterday, no extra air needed in the tires (since I wanted to run them a little soft for the probable wet roads) so not much to do at transition. It was pitch dark out so I hoped there was nothing I was missing. 

The organizer asked us to bring only a tiny bag for check in, so I didn't have space to bring extra shoes. Upon setting up in transition I realized I was the only fool who followed the organizers advice on the tiny bag. Everyone else had their regular huge bags with all the supplies. 

The small bag I brought meant I didn't have space for another pair of shoes, which meant after leaving transition and going over to the holding area, I would have to warm up without running, and there would be no swim warm up either. Essentially no warm up at all. Oh well. :-(

Me + 100 other guys in mens 40-44 heat walking down to the start:

Standing around in the holding area was a bit dull until the other heats started launching. The complexities of getting around the venue meant Dad and Sato weren't able to find where I was hanging out and we all waited in different areas without being able to find one another. With only about 3 min between heats things happened fast once the heats started at 7am. About 5 heats in, the 120 women in the heat before us started, then us 85 or so men of 40-44 yrs stampeded down onto the blue starting docks.

When I got down to the dock every spot was already taken so I had to run back and forth looking for a crack of space. I wrestled between a couple big dudes and before my butt could even touch down they called everyone into the water. I stalled on the dock for a sec getting my goggles on properly (I was afraid they'd start us if I was in the water, even if my goggles weren't on).

I was the last one to drop down into the water. I had about 2 seconds to consider 'I can't believe this moment is finally here' and then the horn went and the crazy swim sprint started. I hate the swim crazy sprint!
I went hard but saw heaps of people moving ahead. What the..? Everybody is fast. Lots of bodies = lots of bumping in the first couple hundred meters. Bit of a hard scramble at the first mark, swallowed about an average amount of seawater, gross.  Sighting was fairly good, 15 foot high marks makes it easy.  Rounding second mark I got a good look at the hundreds of people in front of me (it was also the heat of women from just before us) and felt a bit dispirited.  Swam on passing people for a several more minutes until  suddenly there was the ramp and I could stand up. And begins the crazy LONG 600m run to transition. On rugged concrete and over old rail lines, and only being able to go as fast as the person in front due to the narrow fenced-in pathways. What a pain. Having some slower women in front didn't help there.

headed out on the bike, yay!  It's dry!

Found my bike quickly, the guy beside me had set up a huge blue towel, against the rules, but since it helped me, I forgave that. Reasonably quick outta my wetsuit and was off on the bike feeling relieved the race was now entering into my forte of expertise. 

The weather gods smiled and for the first time in a week - we had fairly dry roads and mixed cloud and blue sky - fantastic! Still it required nearly constant evasive manoeuvres around the much slower and less aggressive traffic. 

"Passing inside!" "Passing outside!" ... Constant yells required to keep the traffic from cutting me off as I was passing at almost twice the speed sometimes.  Seemed like most of the 3000 or so competitors were on the bike course at once.  My carbon brake surface whines and squeals when I brake hard, so the siren sounded each time a slower rider started to cut me off.

Finally - a good shot on the bike!

I noticed that a majority of (slower) riders were drafting pretty shamelessly. As an ex bike racer I'm acutely aware of each riders draft and staying completely clear; but lately I'm starting to feel like a sucker for following a rule that most ignore. There were many marshals on course, but with a few thousand cyclists flying past they can't begin to determine if the no drafting rule is being adhered to.

A few fast cyclists and myself hovered around each other as we passed what seemed like hundreds. One big Aussie flew past me at quite a rate, but it was close to the end of the bike by then, so I was re-assured I would probably be flying past him again a few minutes into the run.

Nice flying dismount and again the LONG, maybe 500m run into transition. Same narrow corridors of rough concrete to run on, and again I was held to the pace of the person in front of me. :-(  Grrr...

Racked the bike pretty quick, helmet off, Bang - off on the run! I had been looking forward to the run as my new strength, my last training runs were with some crazy fast 32min/10km guys, so I knew my speed was improving.

Just starting out of transition my right calf started to feel weird, why was it hurting? The route was roaring with people and loud cheering but all I could focus on was the increasing pain in my calf, which by 1km in started to reach almost unbearable levels. What the ?!... I never have injuries, how the?!... how could this happen to me 1km into the worlds race which I've planned for the last year and a half??!!

By about 2km I had switched to heel striking on the right side (to minimize calf muscle tension) and the pain was crazy, I thought it was getting close to where I would have to stop. I decided that until the muscle actually tore I would try to keep going since I really didn't want to come this far and have a DNF. By about 3km the pain had leveled off and I was passing people again and moving reasonably well. Another racer of the same age group passed me going quite quickly and I glumly thought "with this bum leg I have no chance to chase him down". And then, as some crazy cosmic joke, he got about 100m in front of me before suddenly grabbing HIS right calf and then starting to limp. Slowing quite a bit I caught back up to him by 4km and gave him some encouragement and a thumbs up - and passed him quickly while trying to hide the fact that I was also limping.

The final few hundred meters were a bit of a blur. In the final sprint a bunch of women and a guy from an earlier heat came down the finishing chute with me. I was passing them just running at my normal speed, but then when they saw me come up, they all accelerated to 'sprint' me to the line (despite having started about several minutes before me and being of different categories of age and sex). 

Annoyingly, the announcer only called the kiwis who were finishing, so there was no mention when I crossed of how I had placed. Into the post race tent and some nice handshakes and a very painful massage... - I was done! What a huge relief to be done after the endless build up. Training, travelling, training, organizing, training... etc etc.. It was a crazy big endeavor to make it all come together.

a couple aussie chicks were 'sprinting' against me, despite starting several minutes earlier than me...

I limped out the back of the tent wondering if I was totally crippled and got a nice hug from Sato, Ame and Dad. We very slowly made our way home for a little R&R.

6th, in my age group. My first thought was - meh. Pretty bummed. The goal was podium, nothing less. Now a little later, looking at my times, I guess I did OK, I didn't make any major mistakes and was clipping along PDQ the whole way.  The calf strain (if that's what it is? I still can't walk on it) definitely slowed my run and I still did almost 18 minutes flat, so that is pretty good! 

I heard lots of people who were shooting for top ten, so if scale back to that spec then I can be a little more content with things. Will try to knock another minutes off for next year and see if that gets me to the podium!
(click on 'catagory' 40-44 so it's easier to find)

new dutch friend at awards night, jacket trade!

post race walkabout with Sato and Ame, I could barely stay awake...

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