I had the crazy notion that I'd try to stay competitive at triathlon despite this lifestyle disruption, so I asked to stay on with the amazing Team Every Man Jack because let's face it, I can't resist the team schwag, seriously.taking my kid to preschool and back or ping-ponging in the tiny pool.
Remote or not, there was one big benefit to the team - pretty much every weekend someone I had met and knew to be just a super nice guy won a race. Rather than think "that's ridiculous, I'll never do that" like I probably should have, I thought "what the heck, someone has to win these things, and apparently it's possible" and I'd get back to doing the work.
Besides a lack of teammates and pretending that swimming wasn't really part of the race and didn't need serious preparation, everything about the build to the race went well except actually achieving race weight or avoiding running injuries
Luckily for me, given I'd decided this year I wouldn't care so much about race weight, they changed the bike course from one that was mostly flat to one that was all rolling hillsJesse Moore, did the math for nutrition and hydration and power targets and numbers of chickens to sacrifice: the swim leg was pretty awesome if big numbers are better, clocking in at a robust 35:19.
Two things worth mentioning - I'm not even joking when I say that I'd be even slower without the wetsuit of champions, and if you're a nerd, it's important to be fiddling with your fancy wrist-based triathlon computer in at least half of your race photos.Here live angry dogs and brutal men". Yep. So not terribly glamorous but that's just what awesome looks like sometimes. the bike leg is rolling along quite nicely. Worth noting, my age group (men's 35-39 year olds) started second to last of all competitors - most everyone started long before me. Which makes this part of the event extra exciting because as a guy with a strong cycling background I'm passing folks with a morale-boosting amount of speed. Kind of like I was the only one taking it seriously
It's at this point I'll briefly mention the famed Fourth Discipline of triathlon. Nutrition. Now, normally I'm a big fan of Infinit :SPEED. Everyone is different, but this stuff does me right for 70.3 races. Today was a different day though, it was hot.Infinit :NAPALM.
I hop off the bike, jump in the phone booth and transform into everyone's other favorite spandex clad superhero, Running Man, and set off away from the rodeo arena and into the heat haze.
At this point, my cheering crew arrives but there's a serious lack of race result updates (and if you have ever tried to use the Ironman tracker to follow a friend you KNOW what I mean).
Since the live video feed following the M35-39 age group is mysteriously absent and there's no other results, the cheering crew goes back to watching Star Wars.
With zero feedback on how everyone else is doing, no one anywhere near me that seems to be doing anything but shuffle-walk or stop on the side of the road to stretch cramps out, I was forced to contemplate my existence on this planet and decide that this race really really hurt, the whole idea that I might get a qualifying slot for the 2015 world championships was stupid stupid stupid and I was getting very uncomfortable.
I put on a brave face for the first half of the run
...but if you've ever done a run where you started strong and just started to fade and fade, you know the feeling.
With sincere apologies to my teammates for not meeting their high standards of conduct and performance, I walked four times on the run course in order to "think things through".
All I can say is that I'm sorry and I won't use :Napalm again on the bike leg, but it was wonderful that we got to know each other so well.
With 5 miles to go in the run, it's put up or shut up time and I'll admit this was a real moment. I'm seriously contemplating folding and just jogging it in when I come to focus on two things. First, my teammates have done harder races, and they've done them faster, and they're human. It must be possible. Second, if I don't go fast enough here I'm just the sort of fool that will try to qualify for the world championships at another race, and all the good options are even hotter (hello Galveston, and Lubbock...).
This line of thought worked. If they can do it, I can do it, and I AM NOT DOING THIS AGAIN (soon).
Now comes the fun part of Ironman events. My age group had multiple waves so there was another group of people I'm racing against, but they started 5 minute behind me. And online results were messed up most of the day.
The race is done, I'm sitting in the stands with my family, and I have no idea how I did.
My wife, wonderful person that she is, tells me "good job" anyway, but I'm a big nerd and I have fiddled with my watch the whole race so I know I finished in something like 4:37. Frankly, that's not the sort of thing that usually gets you on the podium.
My wife continues to try to get results to come up then she leans over and says "what does 'Division Rank 1' mean?"
"I think it means you won?". Then she took a picture of me
What the actual? We're going to the world championships in Austria?? WOOO
After that, there's the regular thing where you can barely walk but you have to collect all your bags and bike and get changed and everything, but seriously, I'm in shock. I can't believe I actually did this, :Napalm notwithstanding.
Then, on the podium, my kid simply would not be denied and ran up to be with me, which was fun.
And my mom was there to see it:
I got good pics with my main support staff
I've been doing this a while, and if anyone out there is thinking about trying it, or trying to get faster, all I can say is keep putting the work in. Use your mind and use your body, give yourself time, and you get faster. And apparently sometimes lightning strikes and you win one of these things. Crazy.
And now, hello off-season.