You Win Some, You Lose Some (Part 2)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Swim

I calmly entered the lake water and began swimming. The mass swim start is one of few occasions when my calm demeanor is an advantage. Water seemed clearer than last year as I could see better the colors and prints of trisuits swimming along or passing by me. This lake swim remains a favorite, as I happily glided through the water. In the middle of the swim chaos I simply imagined I was in MASA doing my favorite swim route - a combo of paddles and buoy. My big lake swim was peaceful except for that moment when the wave after me finally caught up. The stronger swimmers on this wave swam through me like a school of barracudas. I finished the big lake swim in 42 minutes. I thought then it was a good time as I did 41 last year, but on hindsight, the big lake swim in 2011 was actually shorter. Anyhow, I felt great leaving that lake for the smaller lake.

The smaller lake used for wakeboarding was clearly murky (pun intended). I couldn't even see my palms as I sliced through the water. In here I had to constantly front sight. I tried to minimize the head lift, but sighting will definitely compromise your horizontal body position. I did not have major direction swerves, but the curved swim path was definitely a challenge. I could already sight the swim finish arch, but it seemed to take ages to reach it. I finished the whole swim in 1hr7min. I was a bit surprised with the variance from my 1hr swim last year, but I took it in just the same. One leg down.

I had a relatively faster transition compared to last year, as I was relaxed coming out of the swim. The longest effort was putting on my cushioning gloves, but overall transition was still good. Within 4-5 minutes I suppose.

The Ride

I took my time mounting the bike. There was some traffic at mount area so I let the others take off first. I was confident about the ride that time. I held of food and drinks on the bike till about 10-15 minutes of riding. This was to make sure that my internal system has stabilized. The first 5kms I was just chugging along at 25-27kph, reasoning out that I should let the blood circulate first. After taking in my first gel I thought I would start accelerating, but my efforts were drowned by the headwinds. From stories about the bike course, the headwinds were supposed to be on the way back. My bike plan was supposedly positive split, but I had difficulty gaining ground because of the wind. On training rides, I would easily clear 30-35kph on flats, but at that time I had difficulty maintaining 25kph. I don't know if my legs were still fatigued from combing the CWC grounds for keys, but I did know I wasn't moving fast enough.

Not long after the rains came. In a BIG way. We were all being pelleted by water. Initially I could still see through my shades. Soon the water crept inside my shades and my vision was compromised. I ended up removing my shades for most of the ride. I started having chills as well. I remembered a training ride in AAV when rains came in torrents, thoroughly drenching me. In the 3km ride back to my vehicle, I was getting chills, almost to the point of teeth chattering. In Camsur I was gravely concerned. I just brought enough nutrition for a 90km hot ride. On cold weather, I have to continuously eat to prevent internal chills and avoid the risk of twin devils of hypoglycemia and hypothermia.

For the next kilometers and minutes I minded the time instead of my speed. Every 30 minutes I would eat gels and hydrate with Gatorade.The rains were still pelting my eyes that I found it difficult to keep aero position and reduce headwind drag. Whenever I would speed up a little, I could feel the windchill. It was frustrating. I was prepared for hot or rainy run, but not a prolonged ride under heavy rains. Fellow triathletes would go pass me, seemingly enjoying the rains, and my heart sank a bit each time. Even someone on mountain bike overtook me. It was frustrating and ego-bruising.

I spinned just the same. On the downhill portions going towards turnaround, I tried to pick up speed. I would attempt aero position at times, but the occasional triathletes on their way back crossing over to my lane scared the wits out of me. It is hard enough that there are wind chills, slippery roads and innate difficulty of quicking shifting to break hoods from aero bars; the danger of bikes or bystanders crossing over exacerbated the situation. Still, I picked up the pace. The rains have abated a bit. It was cold still though. The concerns over chills and nutrition were slowly replaced by making cut off time. I had an initial 3:30 bike target time, at a speed comfortable enough to allow a strong run. The rains threw that target time early on. At km 40, I was fighting with cut-off time. 

I told myself if I could make it to bike turnaround in 3hrs after my wave start, I had still had a fighting chance. I arrived at turnaround 5 minutes off the mark.I that time, making it to cut off time was still a theoretical possibility, but I had to fnish the second half at 28kph or better, all throughout. With my time trial bike and carbon wheelset, I have done it before towards the end of long training rides. But those were made on flats. I remembered the rolling terrain after turnaround and my heart sank.

For the next 45kms my heart and mind battled it out. At times I would ram through dreamily, at times I would go back to reality and relax. My hopes dipped with the hills and rose with the downhills. If only I was not THIS heavy.

I fought this battle with two girls - a teammate who is on a relay with her runner friends and a girl  I shared the bike speed in Matabungkay. There were probably at least ten more behind us, but our triumvirate was the one I saw valiantly holding the line. Matabungkay girl came from behind and pass over us. I tried to keep on eye o her as long as I could but my weight was pulling me down on the climbs. My teammate and I alternately took leads until the finish line. We were cheering each other everytime we pass the other, and silently the one ahead pulled the person behind. No we were not drafting; sometimes there is more honor in slowpokes like us.

Finally we entered CWC. Aware of cut off, I was prepared for the worst, but part of me hopes for some miracle. That hope fueled the occasional bursts of speed. Entering CWC brought back overwhelming memories of last year's race. To enter CWC means one has survived the risks and difficulties of the bike. For someone like me with bike as weakness, the arrival on CWC grounds is occasion enough to celebrate.

With mood still high, I dismounted from my bike, with my teammate just behind. Race director Guy Concepcion  calmly said (I paraphrased):  I am sorry Rico but you arrived beyond cut off time. Cut off was 5 hours after pro gun start. Cut off for me was 4:55 then, and for the relay 4:50. I arrived 5:05 from my wave start.

If there was a good way to cut off a triathlete from his race, that way has to be that of Guy's. Calm, collected, firm, pragmatic. I took it all in within the first 5 seconds. There is no miracle for me this time. I had my GRAND time and my Godly favors last year. This Sunday August 14, 2011, God made it rain for a multitude of newbies and gave them all a personal best they may savor for years.

Congratulations everyone, finishers and dream chasers alike.


Sam August 17, 2011 at 1:27 PM  

I'm with your Rico. Meron pa nman next year. Train more and lose some weight (hehehehe).


Gail September 12, 2011 at 3:47 PM  

You're still my idol Rico! God was good that He kept you safe. There's still next year!


Anonymous September 20, 2011 at 9:05 AM  

bawi na lang next year, idol sheerwill! :)

- raspberry

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