April 30, 2013

Kemah Triathlon

Well, the Kemah Triathlon was quite an experience to say the least.  I drove down to Kemah, about 4 hours, on Saturday.  The sprint race was on Saturday and the buzz was that it was a good and successful race.  I had read in the race guide that there was a 1.25 mile run from the swim exit to transition and they suggested you bring an extra pair of shoes to leave there and run to transition.  I was skeptical of this but I packed an extra pair of shoes anyway.  I learned during the race briefing that the road from the swim exit to transition was rough and would be hot on bare feet.  I quickly put together a my bag of extra shoes and dropped it off.

I got settled into my hotel, went for a shakeout run around the boardwalk, and settled in for an early dinner and final preparations.  As I was getting everything ready, some big thunderheads starting rolling in.  The thunder was getting louder and then it started raining.  It started pouring.  Soon it was an all out storm that didn't look like it was going to let up. I was checking for updates and got an email that said they were monitoring the conditions and would continue to update.  I figured there wasn't any more I could do tonight except rest and I would see where we were in the morning.

I awoke at 4:30, had my juice and started getting ready.  The rain was still coming down and it appeared it had never stopped. A little after 5:00, I got an email update that said they were canceling the bike.  We were going to swim, run to transition, then have a 10K run.  The triathlon had become an aquathlon.  That sucks.

I went down to the swim exit and replaced my transition shoes with my actual run shoes.  Good thing I did.  My transition shoes were completely soaked from being out in the rain all night.  The bag didn't offer much protection.  I then walk up to transition to set up the rest of my run gear.  Transition was a rough lot underneath an overpass.  The run off from the overpass was running right down onto transition.  The guy next to me looked at me and said "What a shit show!"  Yeah, exactly.

I made my way over to the finish area, which is where we were to get on the boat.  We were organized on the three decks by age group.  It seemed like forever that we were waiting to take off.  The water was rough and choppy and the wind was still blowing, though the rain had quit.  We finally got out to spot where we were to be dropped off.  They made some announcements and then had the national anthem. The pros on the first deck were to go off first.  Then, the middle deck, which I was on.  The pros were able to dive off the boat, while all the age groupers had to jump feet first.  There was to be someone there where we jumped off to tell us to jump right or left.  I had no idea what to expect of all of this.

I was in a line that slowly meandered through the middle deck, down the stairs, and then trough the first deck toward the door that led to the outside deck.  It was uncomfortably quiet as we moved slowly toward the door.  I couldn't see past the door but I expected that it would lead to the outside deck where the line would move toward the edge and we'd jump off.  Again, it was uncomfortably quiet.  As I reached the door, it was like a scene from a war movie where the troops are about to jump out of the plane for the first time and the instructor gets right in their face screaming "Now! Now! Now!"  As soon as I got to the door, I was greeted by this screaming face that said "JUMP RIGHT!".

I jumped in and I was off.  Just swim toward the shore.  The water was rough and I could only breath to one side.  It was cold and windy.  I just kept moving.  While it was slow going, I finally made it to the swim exit.  With the assistance of the wetsuit strippers, I was out of the wetsuit and proceeded to get my running shoes.  I couldn't find my shoes.  They were not where I left them and set them up earlier that morning.  I called a volunteer over and after a few minutes, we found them a couple of rows over.  As I was moving out of the swim exit and starting the mile and quarter run to transition, I pulled off my googles, swim cap, pulled out one ear plug, then the other but pop...  I just had a piece of the ear plug and the rest was still in my ear.  The more I tried to fish it out, the deeper it got.  I guess I'd have to leave it in until the medical tent at the finish.

I made it transition, dropped off the wetsuit, grabbed the race belt, and was off for the run.  The clouds had burned off by now and the sun was beating down.  It was now hot with the gulf coast humidity in full force.  The first 3.5 miles were pretty strong and I was moving at good pace. Then things started to come apart.  My feet were blistered from the wet shoes and feet.  I was pouring from the humidity.  My leg was starting to hurt.  I then decided that I would ease off and no longer treat this as a race.  It was a "shit show" as the guy had described it earlier.  Let's just call this what it is, finish, and focus on the next race.

I finished somewhere in the bottom third of my age group, I think.  It wasn't important.  I went straight to the medical tent and had them remove my earplug.  The medal was pretty cool.  The swim was interesting.  I later learned I went 1700 meters instead of the 1500, due to the boat drifting. I got through it and was better for the experience.  On to the next one I guess.

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