My Naptown 70.3 buffoonery
Yeah, the title is a little long but those are the exact words that started a long and ugly conversation with myself around 6 PM the night before the 70.3. I called myself some pretty harsh names and it’s going to take a while to get over what I said…. Now the back story:
Like most triathletes, I am way OCD. I’ve been racing a long time, I have a list printed out that I use to pack/prepare for every race. I collect EVERYTHING I need into a 44 gallon tote and then go back through the list as I pack everything into bags for travel. I have this down to a science, or so I thought. This weekend I found the weak link in all my planning: DO NOT GET INTERRUPTED AT ANY COST until you have completed the entire task!
I had an injury early in the season and had to DNS the Gulf Coast IM70.3 (yes, I lost the money) so I added a late season 70.3 to the schedule. I needed an opportunity to get back under the 5 hour mark and I knew 70.3 Madison with the heat and hills was not going to give me that. So I signed up for the inaugural NapTown 70.3 in Indianapolis. It was close to home, I could leave the day before and drive home right after the race. My friend Lee is the RD and it sounded like the course and cool weather of October where the ingredients needed to make a Sub 5, possibly a Sub 4:50 happen.
I work 48 hour shifts and had to work the Wednesday and Thursday before the race. Came home Friday morning and started going through the list and dumping the gear into the tote. By 10:00 that morning I was packed. I headed to the pool and off to a meeting with my Coach/Boss. I had to get back to the house by 3 to get the kids off the bus. Done.. this is going to be smooth.
If you have been previously married and have an ex-spouse, life is easier if they are cool. Mine is and we co-parent really well. She needs a free day, I give...I need a race weekend she helps out. So on this weekend I decided to keep the kids on Friday night and exchange in the morning before I left. I was up at 6 and the amazing, beautiful Lynne Marsala (aka: THE BEST ATHLETE IN OUR HOUSE!) was making me the go to Evolve breakfast. Pancakes, eggs, bacon. This is why we can be successful, we know the deal, understand the sacrifice and help out when and as much as we can. I digress, back to the crap storm that is beginning to unfold.
While breakfast is cooking, I grab the bike, pump, transition bag, computer...BING BING! My phone goes off with the familiar “here” text that my ex and I share when we arrive to get the kids. Everything stops and it becomes a mad house. Do you have your shoes? Do you have your skateboard? Do you have your meds? Do you have your school bag? Do you have your saxophone? Do you have your drum pad and sticks? Etc. Yes, they are young boys and never prepared to leave. So I get in the mix and help out. A hug and “good luck” from my youngest and a fist bump and a “go ride them down” from my oldest. Poof! The kids are gone and I am ready to get on the road. Kiss to the wife and I’m driving. 4 hrs later and 5 podcasts I pull into Eagle Creek Beach for packet pick up.
I’m starting to get excited, the venue looks great, the water temp is 72 at 2:30 pm and will surely be wet suit legal. I sticker the bike, tape gels to the top tube and put the bike into transition. I drive the course and get an idea that this may not be a PR set up. Lots of turns and a half mile of gravel road on a downhill uphill “S” turn. This isn’t sweepable gravel, the whole road IS gravel. So I thought to myself “well it’s a crappy surface for everyone not just you, move on” So I head over to T2 (this is a split race with two separate transitions) and take a look at the in and out . I now move to drive the run course. Again I realize that this is not my kind of race. Hilly double out and back with some decent ascents. “Maybe 5:05?” But it is what it is. With set up and recon complete I head off to my hotel 10 minutes away. This is where the buffoonery begins!
I park and check in without a problem. I head back to the car to gather my stuff. Pop open the hatch and pull out the transition bag. Open the back door and pull out the computer. Think to myself that I have another bag so I go to the other side of the car and open the door. NO BAG! Now I open all the doors, NO BAG! Open the hatch again, NO BAG! I do this 20 or so times until I realized what has happened. I GOT INTERRUPTED BEFORE THE TASK WAS COMPLETED! In the hussle and bussle of getting the kids out of the house, I had only placed 2 bags in the car and the 3rd was sitting on the floor of my bedroom. My transition bag carries everything to race. And my clothing bag carries everything I need to put on before the race starts. It also has clothes for after the race, tooth brush, hair product etc. “Are you fucking kidding me!..’You are such a Dumbass Dave! UGH!!!!! “I can not believe that you have done this….100s of races and you can’t get your shit together! How do you expect to coach/mentor when you can’t even get it right yourself’….on and on and on. I was pretty hard on Coach Dave for a bit.
I’ll be honest, I get out of the game when things go wrong. Once in NOLA 70.3 I was killing it and on pace to run 4:48 but at mile 30 or so got nailed with a drafting penalty (should have been a take over penalty but that is for another post) and it derailed my whole day. If I would have kept my shit together and went after it as if it didn’t happen I would have run a 4:53 and a new PR. But I didn’t, I couldn’t let it go and ran pissed and without focus to a 4:59. I regret that day and my wife reminds me of it often. This was no different. I had already made up my mind and decided to try and get a refund on my room and just go home. I called Lynne and told her what had happened and what I intended to do. She had some great advice, but I didn’t give 2 shits...I was pissed and leaving. We hung up and I said I would call her back. I started going through my gear and realized that the only thing I was missing was a kit (I was wrong). My phone started going off and it was my wife sending me links to bike shops in the area (thanks Love!). It was 6ish on a Saturday. I called one, closed! 2 closed! Then I remembered a FB post about one of the race sponsors, The Endurance House. Looked up the shop and saw that they were closed but I called anyhow. They answered and informed me that they had just closed. I told the nice lady about my problem and she kindly said “What size are you? I’ll have Justin bring it in the morning” She asked if I had a color preference and if I wanted a one or two piece kit. Black of course and medium one piece. I forgot to mention that this problem (or so I thought) was solved after I ordered my dinner and a bottle of wine…. Luckily I was only a glass or so into the bottle. The race was back on! Went to the store and got some water and breakfast and was back in the hotel by 7:30 catching up on Blacklist on Netflix. Set the alarm and went to bed still angry at the position I have put myself in. “What is this kit rides funny….blah blah”. Didn’t sleep well and the alarm went off at 4.
Breakfast in and off to the race site. I got to T2 and set up. I had my shoes, race belt with nutrition and a towel. This is when I realized what else I didn’t have. No socks and no heart rate monitor. I can live without the HRM, but I haven’t ran sockless in a year, and have never run sockless in the shoes that I had with me! “This is going to be painful!” Done and ready to find Justin. I found the RD and asked where they were set up. “T1 across the lake” UGH!!!!. So I get on the bus that takes athletes to the start. Once there, still wearing the same clothes from yesterday, I didn’t have much to do. I couldn’t get in my wetsuit because I didn’t have a kit. I pumped the tires and checked the bike for gearing, made sure bottles were good and snug, made sure gels were still there. Now it was time to find Justin. It was 5:45 when I asked where the Endurance House was set up. I don’t know was the answer and they were supposed to be here already. 6:00...6:15….6:45…..finally at 6:50 I see a big white panel truck pull into the lot. I run over to the truck and ask “Justin?” Yes, and you must be Dave he replied. He handed me a Tyr one piece black kit and told me to try it on. The line to the bathroom was way long. 2 toilets for the entire field. Off to a dark tree at the edge of the park. Kit fit great and I went back to the truck ready to throw down the $250 for my mistake. Justin pulled the tag and showed it to me. $100? Damn that’s cheap! Justin said to just call the shop with a card when I got home….THANK YOU ENDURANCE HOUSE ZIONSVILLE!
So I got in the wet suit and was getting excited again. The sun was up and damn it was bright. I had a pair of non-tinted goggles in my swim bag in the car. These are gonna have to do. The swim was a 2 loop square. The gun went off and everything was going well. Hung with the speedsters to the second turn and BAM! The sun was brutal. I couldn’t see anything or anyone. Very few buoys to spot so I just swam towards the sun and hoped for the best. The buoy was supposed to stay to the right and at one point it was 100 meters to the left. Yeah, I was little off course. So finally to the 3rd turn and it got good again but I had been spit out the back. 2nd lap same thing…. Came out of the water at 34 minutes in 13th OA. Wetsuit stripper had a hard time getting my legs off and that time was added to swim. T1 was less than one minute even though you had to pack your bags. They were giving out 4 minute penalties if your stuff was laying around.
Out on the bike and settled in. Had a plan to ride NP 209-221. No heart rate monitor so power was the metric of the day. The bike consisted of 4 loops of 11.5 miles after a ride out to the loop. The loop was a square and on 2 sides the wind was up. At one point I was pushing over 350W and going 19 mph. Then we turned to the gravel road and the pace dropped just to keep the front wheel straight. I felt good and really comfortable on the day. I’ve had some fit and seat issues due to a saddle sore from hell. But all was good on the day. Started picking off some people on the bike despite the traffic from the Olympic that was running on the same course. Nailed the nutrition on the bike which is my key to success. NEED LOTS OF SALT! 4 loops and into T2. Off the bike in 6th OA with an average of 22 mph, NP 239. T2 was 37 seconds. Shoes on (No socks), race belt on and off on my way.
Sam (my coach) and I have come to realize that in order to run well over the 13.1 I need to come out slow. I have the tendency to come out sub 7 or 7ish all the time and never be able to recover. I usually pay the price. So I came out slow and on plan. First mile not as slow as I would like but kept it to 7:52. Legs felt great through 2 miles until I got a cramp in the left hamstring. Base salts to the rescue. Once I start on it, I hit it regularly every half mile or so. So I stayed with it and the cramp never returned. The course felt hillier than I thought it would. 2 loops of an out and back and very little time spent flat. You are going up long or down long the whole way. My right foot started to feel “wet” at about mile 4 and started to hurt inside and out. At this time, I was caught by a smooth runner, beautiful form, 45 y/o. We stayed together at 7:55 pace for the next 4 miles or so and the foot was getting worse. Finally I couldn’t stand the pain. I have been in the “pain cave” many times, but this was new. It wasn’t fatigue, it was like a razor blade in my shoe. I got to an aid station and had to let my AG buddy go. I grabbed some water and pulled my shoe off to find that the wet was a foot covered in blood. Dumped the water on the foot and the blood returned. Asked the aid worker if they had vaseline and they did not. I grabbed two hammer gels and opened one. I emptied the packet all over my toes in hopes that it would act as a lube. Shoe back on and tried to get up to pace. The pain in the foot was bad with the higher turnover of 7:55, but felt bearable at 8:15ish. I ran another couple of miles cussing myself out about forgetting my damn bag. The gel didn’t work, it was sticky and not lubricating at all. The wetness returned so I took the shoe off and did it again. It may have not lubed, but it damned the hemorrhage. I dropped to 9th during this debacle but kept my head in it. I knew I was in 2nd AG so I just kept at the 8:15ish to reserve something in case I had to fight to stay there. I didn’t need to and crossed the line at 4:57 with a 1:48 half marathon. Had my shoes off before I crossed the 2nd timing mat. 9th Overall and 2nd Age Group. I wanted so much more, but put the best down that I could on the day. The count is 11 blood blisters and 4 open sores. I love rest weeks.
Here is the short that follows the long story above. Even veterans of this sport make stupid mistakes. Once the gun goes off, you need to roll with the punches and make the best of what you have. Keep your head in the game, run your race and good things can happen.
Big Thanks to my wife! Thanks for trying to help me with my mess even though I was being an angry ass and not receptive. Also, my Coach Sam Murphy for trying to keep my shit together and getting me ready to race…..
Thanks for reading and see you on the other side.