This is going to contain anything I see fit. Anything I think is important. Pretty much everything that involves me. Why, you ask? Because it's all about me. I am the Center of the Universe and the rest of you mearly revolve around me. So, pull up a bar stool. Order a pint. Look around and enjoy me. Oh, and please ignore the spelling mistakes. Also, remember to take care of your bartender.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

My First Try at a Tri…


For the longest time I've wanted to try myself in a triathlon. For years I never got around to it, always using the excuse that I didn’t have a handcycle. Well, I lost that excuse last fall when I was able to get a handcycle for free, my favorite price, from another athlete that was retiring from the sport. I didn’t get to train much as the winter had set in and outdoor fun was pretty much a wash until spring.
So, spring arrived and I picked my first triathlon. Not being so sure of my swimming abilities I choose a race based on the shorter swim distance. 250 yards in a pool. I can handle that. I think. After a few weeks of pool training I was able to do the 250 yards in a reasonable time of 7:20. OK. Stop stalling. It's time to register.
20 May 2007. The Lions Spring Sprint Triathlon. 250 yard swim, 9.3 mile bike with the handcycle and 3.2 mile run in the racing chair. I can handle this. I think.
Race day: The swim was first. I didn’t know what to expect on the set up. It was a 5 lane pool and they had to feed 300 athletes through. We entered the pool according to our number. Each athlete was assigned a number according to their registered swim times. Ok, that makes sense. We had to swim up and back in each lane. Then swim under the lane line and go up and back again. This caused me a few problems because I hadn’t practiced changing lanes like this. I had practiced my turns at the wall over and over. I only had to do 5 wall turns. The others were a full stop, duck under the lane line and take off again. Oh well. Lesson one learned. I was a little nervous as I waited my turn. It seems that everyone around me had a swimmers build and the ones right in front of me were swimming at a faster pace than I was trained for. One of the friends on my support team told me not to worry. Because to her is seemed that everyone was going out fast and slowing down by the second or third lane. She kept telling me to go out at a pace that I can hold and not to worry about the others. So I did. My swim total was 9:43. A lot slower then I wanted or expected, but surprisingly, I did pass a few people in the water. Not bad for a gimp.
Lesson two was learned when getting out of the pool. I told the guys on my support team that I would climb onto the deck and then they can grab me under the arms and lift me onto my wheelchair. We really should have gone over that with some more detail. As I started to climb out of the pool, the guys suddenly grabbed me and tried to drop me onto the wheelchair. Chest first. Not part of the game plan. It took a few second for them to realize this isn’t going to work. They then lowered me back down onto the deck so I could turn around. It was then a quick lift onto the seat and away we went to the transition area.
Once outside we discover that it was raining again. When we went into the pool, it had stopped raining and the sun even looked to be attempting an appearance. Well, now it was drizzling. I had left my clothing set out to make it easy to do a quick change. So, now my sweatpants and socks were damp. I had to slide into the damp sweatpants for warmth. After 30 seconds fighting with a wet sock I just ditched both of them and put on my shoes, singlet (SRR of course), gloves and helmet. As I was gearing up, 3 of my support crew took off to get their bikes. This being my first triathlon I got permission from the RD for some course support. The roads were open to vehicle traffic and the bike route was on a long winding narrow road. Anyway, I was dressed, mounted up and just started to roll out. We were off…!! Or so I thought. Only after two cranks on the pedals, I heard a big click. As sounded as if I was switching gears, but I wasn’t and. I was getting nothing for forward motion. It seems that the chain had jumped off the gear. I was about to get off the handcycle to fix it when my buddy, Andy, ran over. He told me to stay in the seat. He had seen it happen and could fix it quickly. It took him about 5 seconds and we were finally off. More lessons learned in my very first transition.
We hit the road really lagging behind. But I had decided not to race the clock. I just wanted to do the event and get the feeling of the whole thing. The first mile was kinda flat, so, I decided to swallow down a Cliff Bar. One of the smart things I did that day. I would need the energy from it soon. After about 1 mile of cycling, the hills started to go up, up and up some more. Since it was raining the roads were wet and slippery. The steeper the hills got the tougher it was to peddle up them. I saw many of those bi-ped types walking their bikes up the hill. Well, that really wasn’t an option for me. So, I just had to suck it up. The road got real narrow at a few points and had some blind curves on it. Thankfully, I had my support team. Diane, would ride up front and yell back warnings about oncoming cars. Jim was 20-30 yards behind me doing the same thing. At the same time I had Beth riding on my left wing. She was keeping me up to date on all kinds of things such as mileage since my odometer wasn't working. It was also in the first couple of miles I discovered that I had forgotten to start my watch at the pool. This was getting better and better. It was only 9.3 miles, but man, is seemed like a marathon. After a mere 1:26:27, I arrived back at the transition area.
Once again, we discovered that we should have worked out the transition better. In an attempt to keep things dry, Andy had put my wheelchair into my truck. He didn’t think I’d need it until the very end. Well, great thought, but I needed it to sit on to climb into the racing chair. While I stripped off some wet gear and pulled out my racing gloves, Andy ran to the truck to get the chair. By the time he was back, I was ready for it. I sat on the wheelchair and slipped into the racing chair. Now, I’m back in my office. I know what I’m doing in the racing chair. So, I thought. The whole transition took no more than 3 minutes and we were off. Not bad this time. Di & Jim decided that because it was raining, they would stay with me. I really didn’t need them out there, but since I was bringing up the rear of the race I welcomed the company. The rains had decided they were here to stay and a one point it got really heavy. The first real up hill we hit was so steep that my hands started slipping off the push rims. DUH! I forgot to spray the wheels with spray-tac. Spray–tac is a spray on glue keeps my hands from sliding off the wet push rims. I even had a brand new can in my gear bag! Another lesson learned. Now, down hill runs are usually my favorite thing. We were flying down this hill and having a ball. Di had run ahead and came back to tell me that there was a hard blind left turn at the bottom. I hit the brakes to slow down. The wheel just ran through the wet brake. It was useless for a few seconds. It suddenly grabbed and I started to skid sideways. So, I had to grab the main wheels to slow down and get control. I finally had control again. Just in time to come to almost a complete stop at the bottom and make the turn. This was not good as all that momentum from the hill was lost. In these conditions, the 3.2 miles should have only taken me 20 minutes at worst. But between the rains, the hills and a stop for some water (I left the camel back on the handcycle) it took me 41:42. Probably the worst 3 miles I’ve ever done, but again, I wasn't racing the clock. My over all finish time was 2:17:53. I don’t think it’s totally accurate, but with a chip strapped around my ankle, how can I argue with it? Also, I was on the bike course and awful long time.
Lots of lessons were learned that day. One is that I can’t operate in a triathlon the way I do an average road race. Usually, I just show up with my racing chair, gloves and sometimes my helmet and usually the beer cooler. I go out, race and have fun. You can’t do that with a tri. First, with the handcycle, the racing chair, the wheelchair and my gear bag, I didn’t have room for the cooler. Second, transitions have to be practiced. Especially, if you have a support team. We really should have run through the pool exit and the gear changes a little more than talking about it over beers. Most importantly, I couldn’t have done this alone. Di, Beth, Jim and Andy were the key parts of my completion. I couldn’t have done it with out them. They say no man is an island. It was proven on Sunday. Although, with all the rain we were having, I felt like one.

My advice. Go try a tri. You’ll love it.

Cheers, Chris

4 comments:

Tracy said...

Good for you I am glad you tried it and to me it sounds as if even though you came across some issues its sounds like it was an experience you will never forget. I am glad you accomplished another task you set for yourself, It is wonderful that I have someone such as you in my life to inspire me to take on new tasks and see them trhough no matter the results. I will always be greatful to have an older brother such as you. I love you and always will, keep striving for the things stars..........Love Tracy

EDDIE AHEARN said...

WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO UPDATE YOUR BLOG I ENJOY READING IT

Tracy said...

Time to update your blog,,,I have read this one and seen these pictures.

Keo said...

beakerless@gmail.com