Shall we say the hottest weekend of the year for the 2nd year in a row? If I were a beating man I’d be putting down a lot of money on this one. On a Saturday the temp rose to 99 °F with the sun blaring down and not a cloud in the sky. People huddled under the shade of trees wherever they could be found to escape torturous rays. This was a luxury not allowed the athletes that gathered to compete in the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon. For them it would be a hot day under the sun fighting against the conditions and themselves. Here is how the day played out for me.
The wait – With so many racers, a time trial start (racers start every 3 seconds), and luck of the draw my wave was not set to start until 9:30. This meant a nearly 4 hour wait after arriving at the race site. During this time we found out that due to the conditions that the race course would be shortened. They knocked off 3 mile on the bike and run. I was a little upset at hearing the news, but it was almost expected with the conditions and the number of issues they had last year with the heat. Finally after many hours of waiting, trying to stay cool, and hydrated it was finally time to race.
The swim – Overall I was pretty happy with how my swim went. The only exception was the start of my swim. With the adrenaline pumping and the nerves raging I ran into the water, did a two dolphin dives, and started my stroke after I was told to go. It is probably a few hundred meters til you hit the first big buoy and turn. I was having trouble slowing my breathing down during this time. All the pent up energy was making me hyperventilate a bit. I had to take a few breaks to come up and settle my breathing down. Once I hit the turn I was good to go and it was back to racing. I took a couple kicks, grabs, and pushes per a normal race that would throw me off for a second until I regained my stroke. My final swim time was 35:54.
T1 – A little winded I ran up the beach toward the transition area. I turned a hard left and ran almost the length of the transition area to wear I was racked. One of my teammates Andy was racked right next to me. His girlfriend had brought a balloon with a monkey on it for him to mark his area. It worked great and I had no trouble finding my spot. The only thing was that part of the string had wrapped around my rear water cages so it took a couple more seconds to get my bike free from the rack. A quick spray of water on the feet, helment, sunglasses on, and I was gone. My time for T1 was 1:40.
The bike – The course for this tri is one that I have rode many times, with much of it on some of my normal routes. I really hammered during the first section of the course. Knowing exactly where all the inclines/declines are and what I can get a way with and what I couldn’t. The one exception was when I hit a large bump and the sponge from my aero water bottle went flying. Yes technically I should have stopped and retrieved it, but I was traveling downhill and there was no way I was stopping without causing some serious issues for the rest of the bikers. So the rest of the race I had Cytomax slashing all over me and my bike every time I hit the smallest bump. Needless to say I was a little sticky. I used an extra water bottle to spray down my back to ward off the heat but it didn’t help too much. I did slow a bit toward the end of the bike portion but I was happy with keeping a 20 mph pace and coming in at 1:03:45. Thanks again to the people who were using their own hoses to spray people down as they rode by.
T2 – With my feet out of my shoes I slowed down to enter transition again. I slowed to almost a complete stop before jumping off and running with my bike back to the rack. I racked my bike and quickly took off my helmet before sliding into my running shoes and grabbed my racing belt as I ran toward the transition exit. My second transition time was 1:15. Both of my transition times were in the top 40 overall which I was very pleased about. I mean if ya can’t win the race you might as well be competitive in some aspect of the race.
The run – This is where things always get interesting on such a hot day. It didn’t help that there is very little cover on this run course. The sun was beating down very hard at this point. At each water stop I grabbed a couple of waters that were to douse the body and one for drinking. I know I wasn’t running as fast as I probably could have. The heat factor was just too much to take into consideration. They did have a couple of hoses out spraying people along the course. It felt great, but it only lasted a couple of milliseconds. I pasted a few of my teammates on the run each time cheering them on as they pushed towards the finishing. They were so close and I knew they were going to make it. I was passed by my teammate Dani. (this girl can fly) at one point. She asked if I wanted to run with her. I would have been hard pressed to match her pace at that point so I just let her run her own race. At that point I knew that I had a steady pace and was happy knowing that I would finish well. Finally I made it to the finish line and crossed it after a 24:09 run.
The finish – My final time was 2:06:45. I was pretty happy with my time even knowing that it could have been a little better. With my own race complete and my core temperature starting to work its way down it was time to watch the rest of the team roll in. I stationed myself at the TNT tent and greeted the team members as they finished up. Everyone was thrilled to be done and they all did a great job. Everyone finished and there were plenty of cheers, hugs, and tears and the day progressed. Finally at about 2-2:30 we finally packed up the car and headed home.
The Lifetime Tri is a great race and the team did incredible. Watching everyone come in with smiles on their faces made for on wonderful day. They all finished and competed on a very hot day. The 2006 TNT Lifetime Fitness Triathlon team is a group of some remarkable people. Even in the sweltering heat everyone was smiling and enjoying the great day that we all had.