Monday, July 21, 2008

Prisoner of a Wetsuit - Tiger Triathlon Race Report

Originally, after Lake Stevens, I had planned on completing avoiding races until Coeur D' Alene Scenic Challenge. But I must say, I cannot not race. It's kinda the lifeblood of my training...if I don't have a race on the horizon, I live the life of deep fried twinkies and re-runs of The Office.

So despite a nagging hamstring injury, I woke up at 4am this past Saturday morning and ventured out to Colville, WA for the Tiger Triathlon Quarter Ironman. It's kinda like the Quarter Pounder, with none of the beef, but more of the hot buns. You can quote me on that for next year's t-shirt.

On my way up to the triathlon, I attacked my swollen hamstring with a bag of frozen peas, and another one of my new secret weapons, the Muscletrac, which is like a luxury version of those massage sticks that you rub on a sore muscle. As you can see, unlike the smooth muscle sticks, the Muscletrac has rotating cogs that actually work deep into the adhesions and allow you to really target a specific area. And it's a perfect size. I recommend adding it to your rehabilitation and injury prevention arsenal. Here's a picture:

Pretty cool, huh? Between that, the frozen peas, and a bit of Greyhound juice to warm the muscle, the hamstring felt OK by the time I got to Colville.

Everything went smoothly up to the final five minutes before the race, when I asked a race volunteer to "zip me up". As soon as they laid hands on me, I knew it might be a bit tricky for them to pull the wetsuit zipper down. Even thought the B70 Helix is the fastest wetsuit on the planet, you really have to be a bit rough zipping it down. Anyways, they gingerly tugged on the zipper and got it stuck halfway down. Not their fault! You just typically want a wetsuit-wearing person to zip your wetsuit, the same way that you would want a person with a driver's license to drive your car, or a person with a medical license to remove your swollen gallbladder.

So now, with 3 minutes left until the start of the race, I turned to my Tri-Fusion teammates to try and save the day. With 4 people tugging and pulling and squeezing on the suit, we finally got it to the point where it could be zipped down. As I sprinted down to the lake, the guy that actually was able to pull it up mumbled something about the top of the zipper, but I didn't quite catch it. If it wasn't about my gallbladder, I didn't care.

The swim was smooth. I drafted a bit off Michael Berquist on the first 1/2, since I wasn't warmed up and wanted to avoid "blowing up", then opened up and swam hard for the second half. Coming out of the water in 2nd place, just behind Joe Byers, I figured I was in a pretty good spot.

As I ran up the swim exit ramp and attempted to unzip my wetsuit, there was a bit of a snag. The thing WOULDN'T COME OFF. So I'm running past volunteers, shouting, "Someone please help me take my wetsuit off!" I could just imagine having to mount my bike in the wetsuit and complete the race wearing a big piece of black rubber. But I fumbled with it for what seemed like 5 minutes, which in transition is really about 2 seconds, then gave it one final pull and I was free.

In the meantime, Michael and Joe were riding away. I hopped on my Specialized Transition and gave chase. I caught Joe after about a mile, and caught Michael about a mile later. Typically when I pass, I really stomp for a bit to clear people off my wheel, but was unable to shake Michael. Despite what felt like a solid ride into a headwind, I came off the bike only about 5 seconds ahead of him. The few times I glanced back I actually kept expecting him to make a pass (due to his proximity), but it never happened.

My run felt decent. The Tiger course has a good share of grass and gravel, and even a track finish, so it keeps things interesting. But Michael ran faster and took the day with a new course record. I managed to snag the second place slot. But it was well worth the trip up to Colville, especially after eating a homemade bagel-peanut butter-cream cheese sandwich at the finish line. For those of you who read my advice at, you know that this meal has the nutritional value of a Krispy Kreme special. But hey, it was better than quarter pounder. And it felt good not having to eat it in a wetsuit.

We'll see if I keep up this habit of racing instead of training. It's fun. And I'm all about fun. Big thanks to all my sponsors, who make fun possible. Until next time...
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