It's not often that a guy like me gets to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with champions like Chris McCormack and Olivier Marceau at the starting line of a triathlon, but that's where I found myself on TriStar Nevis race morning - looking over the clear blue waters of the Carribean and thinking:
"Oh crap, I wonder how fast these guys are going to start this swim."
The athlete part of me promised that I could somehow maintain these pro triathletes' blistering speed for the 1000m swim along the shore of Nevis, but barely 200m into the swim, I saw their feet disappearing into the surging waves ahead.
But of course, considering that this race involved a 100 kilometer bike, the 1000m swim seemed extremely short, was over in a flash, and I came out of the water in 6th place without swallowing too much salt water. Pro triathlete Wolfgang Guembel came out 1st, followed closely by Macca.
TriStar threw in some cool perks, like a red carpet coming up the dock and into transition from the swim, so the run into transition felt like being a Hollywood celebrity, albeit a celebrity in spandex and goggles.
The 3 loop island-tour bike got pretty serious right away.
Directly out of transition, the bike course weaves through the tiny town of Charlestown (the entire island here only has about 50,000 people), then starts directly into a brutal 5K climb that the locals call "Anaconda", most likely because it curves up into the mountains, and possibly also because motorists have a high likelihood of devouring small animals like monkeys and goats on the road. I've heard of boa constrictors eating donkeys, and there were plenty of donkeys on the bike course, so maybe that too.
Despite the game of dodging small animals, I felt fantastic on the bike, and rode into 4th place, behind Macca, Oliver, and Wolfgang. I'd learned my lesson about dehydration in Phuket earlier in October, and was going through 30 ounces of water on the bike to keep myself hydrated in the extremely hot conditions. This was promising to be a very good race, and the stiff carbon frame of my Gray Storm TT bike was perfect for the big climbs.
But at the top of Anaconda, on the 3rd loop, I flatted.
Not a big deal.
I changed the tube, grabbed my CO2 cartridge and fitted it on.
Empty. Grr...thanks to the efforts of the TSA to ensure that no CO2 cartridges completely explode and destroy an entire house-sized airplane, I was a bit short on spares.
So I sat and waited, walked around for a little while, watched some chickens playing on the roadside, chatted up some locals, and eventually the 1st place female pro (Emma-Kate Lidbury) came riding up the hill.
I put on my best pitiful, desparate looking face, and begged for a spare CO2 cartridge. She graciously tossed one my direction (thanks Emma), and I filled my tire and was off again, once again wildly dodging goats, monkeys, donkeys and honking motorists!
But just 8 miles later, I flatted again.
Are you kidding me?
In the heat of the race, I forgot to check inside the tire for any sharp objects, and simply changed the flat once more, this time using a pump supplied by a helfpul Nevisian who sat in a car parked beside the road.
Incidentally, another thing I forgot in the heat of the race was properly applying sunscreen to my back - see full results in all their glory below.
So I rode my bike a bit further, and then, as I approached transition, where a final, tiny 5K loop is thrown in, I flatted yet again.
This time, with no more tubes, I figured I was probably finished. I pushed my bike into transition, but a participant from the 33.3K race earlier in the day saw me. He offered his bike, and once again, I was saved by another gracious triathlete! I'm thinking I should probably just hire someone to follow me around races with spare tires, tubes, bikes, and preferably a big bag of the "chicken roti" I've been devouring every day while here on Nevis.
I had already lost nearly 20 minutes, but still wanted to finish the race, so off I went to finish the last little loop to wrap up 100K, riding my borrowed bike.
By the time I finally got off my bike and headed out on the run, race champion Chris McCormack had already crossed the finish line! Of course, 20 minutes feels like 3 hours when you're racing, so at this point, I assumed I was probably dead last.
The 3 loop, 10K run was, for lack of a better word, hot. And yes, there were animals on the run course too - say hello to Bessy the Cow.
My run felt fantastic, especially with my new K-Swiss K-Ruuz racing flats, and I know I would have had a great race if not for the mechanical issues. Despite the challenges, I took 4th place and won the 30-35 age group (my first time ever competing in this age group) so I am very happy about my fitness at this point in the season, and rewarded myself with a nice rum punch from my hotel: Hermitage Nevis.
What the heck is rum punch, besides one of my new favorite drinks? Here is the basic recipe, for those of you who'd like to reward yourself Carribean style:
One of sour (key lime juice, or sour orange juice ala Hermitage)
Two of sweet (simple syrup 2:1 sugar to water, heated to dissolve)
Three of strong (rum, obviously!)
Four of weak (water, taking into consideration the ice melting in the drink)
Then add a dash or two of Angostura Bitters to float on top, along with fresh grated nutmeg.
OK, keep reading for the more crucial nutritional info.
Big thanks to Millennium Sports and Natural Vitality Sports (energy28 and Nutrarev) for helping sponsor this race. Also, a big thanks to Zeal Optics for getting me some fog-free Slingshot optics before I left Nevis, and also to Champ-Sys for the awesome racing kit. Full TriStar 111 Nevis race results available at http://www.tristarlive.com/.
Nutrition/supplements for this race:
Breakfast pre-race: Impax Enerprime, can of yams, 5 Master Amino Pattern capsules, 1 nuun.
45 minutes prior to race: Millennium Sports Carnage and CreO2, 1 delta-E, 1 Energy28, 1 NutraRev
During Race: GU Roctane, GU Chomps, Millennium Sports Athlytes, water
Post-Race: Ancient Minerals Topical Magnesium Oil, Recoverease, 5 Master Amino Pattern capsulesSo what's next on the race calendar? Wildflower Half-Ironman on May 1. See you then.