Left work a little early on Friday to head up to Ridgeland for the Heat Wave. It was hot. Central and Southern Mississippi has been under a sever heat warning for the past week. The temperatures have been hitting the triple digits and combined with humidity in the 90’s – well, it has been warm!
I got to talk to a couple of friends at Indian Cycle and Fitness during packet pickup. They always do a great job. There were finger foods, wine and beer. I was on good behavior and stuck to the soft drinks. I did eat a lot of cheese and crackers.
They had all of their super cool triathlon bikes on display with big mark downs. It is always temping. I got to see a Specialize Shiv up close and personal as well as a Speed Concept with electronic shifting. Both of those bikes are out of my league.
Four thirty AM came quick. Ate my normal oatmeal breakfast (cooked via hot water from the in room coffee maker). We packed up and were on race site just before 6AM. The race starts at 7.
You racked your bike by bib number. I would be in the very last rack, meaning I would have to run with my bike the entire length of transition – twice. Oh, well. At least the bib numbers were deployed by age group. Everyone I was competing against would have to do the same.
Long run in transition
I set up my transition, picked up my chip and got marked. I decided to grab a quick warm up swim. The water was warm. It felt like 80 degrees. It was fine for standing around in but it might get warm.
Robin and I pre-race warm-up
They had us start by waves which were 7 minutes part. This would alleviate some of the congestion during the bike. I was in the very first wave. This is a wading start. As we were wading out to the imaginary start line they said ready set go and sounded the horn.
Lining up for the start
We were off that quick. I saw Robin just to my right and I wanted to draft off of him. He is just a little quick than me in the swim and why not take an easy swim at his expense?
I sped up after him and grabbed some feet. Every time that I have drafted off of someone I either start to blow up because they are too fast or get impatient because I feel like I should be going faster. As I said, Robin is about my speed but I felt like I was barely moving.
Well I started to get around the fish I was drafting off of and it was not Robin. Oops! I passed the swimmer and swam alone for the rest of the half mile swim (half mile was published but several people believed it to be long).
What can I say about the swim? It was probably my best swim ever. I swam my own race at a comfortably hard pace. I never got discombobulated and just swam. At one point my mind drifted to transition and I knew that I had forgotten to turn on my GPS watch. I tried to send telepathic waves to someone to correct the situation. It was all for not. I snapped back to attention and concentrated on the swim.
You were to swim to the left of all buoys. As I closed on on the swim exit I noticed that I was indeed to the left of the final orange buoy but I was also left of the exit. I quickly adjusted and accepted a hand from a volunteer. The boat dock was rather slick. I also saw Robin just a few feet ahead of me.
I ran to transition. I turned my GPS watch on and donned my helmet, sunglasses and such. I spent a little too much time messing with the watch.
I sprinted out of transition. My heart heart rate was sky high mounting the bike. I was in the red zone as I started to push the bike. There were not many riders out on the course (or rather, there were not many rider out on the course within sight). I tried to let my heart rate settle as I shifted to an easier gear. I was spinning at my confortable cadence zone in the high 90’s.
I was putting in a solid effort when I got passed by Mike V. He lives in my neighborhood. He is a strong rider. However, within seconds I got passed again. This time it was Robin. He motioned for me to pick it up and follow them. Let me state, neither of them were drafting. From my perspective this was an extremely clean race. Everyone that I saw riding was strictly by the books. That was refreshing!
They were pulling away some and I dug down and picked up the pace. Fortunately we had turned onto the Natchez Trace and had some rolling down hills. By the time a caught back and passed Robin, Mike V. was long gone. Robin, another rider and myself battled it out for about 10 miles. We would dig deep and pass each other multiple times.
At the turn around I saw that I had a sizable gap between myself and Robin. The back section is more uphill and I could feel it in my legs. I just kept spinning and keeping my heart rate at a slow boil. Although there was a bottle exchange at the turn around I did not feel that I needed to take on any water. I was still leery about the vomiting from last year. I only had my front mounted water bottle and I was only taking small sips during the ride.
I was not able to bridge many gaps on the return ride. I passed a couple and got passed by a blazing fast rider in the 25 – 29 age bracket. He started 7 minutes after my wave. Damn!
I rode threw the bike strong. I ran through transition and changed into my running attire. I was hot and had some fatigue.
At the start of the run my heart rate was high. It was a high effort. It was where I wanted to keep it during the entire run. I wanted to run at a measured effort. I have been practicing running harder.
The first water stop came up at less than a mile. I was hot. I was blowing up. Kendrick from the MS Heat Tri club had caught me and we were running together. Kendrick is also in the 25 – 29 bracket and had made up 7 minutes on me. He was also hurting but toughing it out. We traded places for a while. At the water stop I stopped and walked it. I was thankful that the water was cold and I drank a cup while I dumped one on my head. The shock of the cold too my breathe away. I started the run again.
Kendrick was still with me but I was losing ground. On a shady hill I took my first walk break. I counted my steps, 1 – 2- 3- 4 and did that 5 times. I do not know why I picked that pattern. It gave me 20 second break. My heart rate did not budge. It was still firmly planted in high zone 4.
Oh yeah, I’m not real sure where it occurred but Robin passed me during the run. It was either just before the first water stop or just passed it. Robin is a pure runner. I could not go with him.
Although they were rolling hills it seemed like it was all up him. I just kept thinking that on the back it would be all down hill. At every water stop I continued to dump 2 waters and drink one. My shoes were making a swishy wet sound. Now I never dump water on myself. I hate running in wet feet. I did not care. However, my feet did start to rub and I could feel hot spots turning to blisters.
The blisters hurt but they were not an issue. I can run through that, it was the heat that I was battling today.
I could hear footsteps behind me. Someone was back there but they were not making up any ground. I slowed on each hill and shortened my stride. My heart rate was still sky high. I was running at a very hard effort. I was just not going very fast.
I took a quick walk break on one of the hills. The footsteps got closer. This went on for what seemed like forever but it was actually just a mile and a half.
During anther quick walk break I was caught. I started running with them. He said his muscle would not let him run fast and that his heart rate was low. I said that I was overheating. I asked him his age hoping… He said 50 and laughed. We were both aged up to 39 years old.
I ended up letting him go. I quickly shut that out of my mind and made sure that I would not be passed again. That made 2 runners in my age group that passed me. That was tough on me.
I saw the 1 mile marker on the other side of the trail and knew that I was close. I did take a quick look over my shoulder and saw no one. Granted the trail had many curves but I was reasonably sure that I was safe. Still, I was able to muster up enough to finish strong. Actually finish a little too strong.
I was blowing up and over heating as I charged up the last hill towards the finishing shut. I was hurting. Once I relinquished my timing chip I made a bee line to the kiddie pools filled with cold water and ice. I stuck my fore arms in the ice cold water. I was trying to drop my core temperature.
I filled my unitard front and back with ice. The race was over.
I am not quite that heavy – that is ice – front and back
This was the hardest Heat Wave that I have ever done. The race was true to it’s name. Many strong runners struggled. I had a best swim and a strong bike. I had a tough run.
I did not win, place or show but I did compete well. I will post the stats after the official results are posted.
AG – 11/34 OVERALL – 43/4xx
SWIM – 17:27 (age group place 14)
T1 - 0:56
BIKE - 1:07:14 – MPH 22.1 (age group place 10)
T2 - 1:06
RUN – 47:50 – PACE - 7:51 (age group place 10)
TOTAL - 2:14:30