2011 Pat Griskus Tri – NE Regional Championship
The saying, “what can go wrong, will go wrong” has some merit. I’m more inclined, however, to go with “if ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a Merry Christmas.” You can sense how this report is going to go, so let’s get on with it.
The Pat Griskus Triathlon takes place up in Middlebury, CT. The venue is the Quassy Amuesment Park. I have to say that without a doubt, it was one of the most difficult Olympic distance tris I’ve ever done, maybe the most difficult from a biking standpoint. I will temper that sentiment only with the fact that I am perpetually under trained for any race these days, so I’m sure that added quite a bit to the “most difficult” status.
The day started in a fog. Literally, a fog, that threatened to cancel the swim entirely because you couldn’t see the buoys. After waiting for about 40 minutes, it was decided to have a swim, but shorten the distance (not full olympic race now). Those of us in the first wave looked out onto the lake, then back at eachother wondering where the first buoy was, and just laughed about it. “I guess we’ll just swim until we see something,” seemed to be the consensus we came to. Unfortunately for me, I chose the wrong group to swim out with, and ended up about 100 yards to the right of the first buoy, even with regular sightings to find it. This caused us all to double back to get around it. That, coupled with getting my goggles punched off my face in the first 50 yards added about 2+ minutes to my swim. No worries, just keep going, things happen. Arriving in T1, my timing chip was barely hanging on (yes, it was a rough and tumble type of swim). So let’s just say another 30 seconds there trying to get the wetsuit over it and re-attach it to my ankle. Got it, good, keep moving!
13 minutes into the bike, mostly downhill at this point, I cut inside to avoid hitting a slower rider, went over a bump, and all my nutrition (gu, chomps) and most importantly, my salt tabs went flying. Do I stop to get them? Really??? I’m in race mode right now, just keep going! Had I realized just how difficult the rest of the ride would be, I would have taken the time to retrieve everything. Hindsight… Understanding that all I had now was my electrolyte drink and water, I rationed as best I could. Not long after, the hills started coming. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of great downhills that really made my day, but I believe one of my friends told me there were 10 downhills and 15 climbs. One climb was just brutal, cruel even, if this was your first race or you 101st! We were warned by the race director in advance while killing time waiting for the fog to lift. He said they shortened the course but it was no bargain because they added this hill (just for fun I guess). I managed not to fall over, but I almost wanted to.
At this point, it seemed like everyone in the race was passing me. In fact, I don’t remember passing one person in this race from here to the finish. Wait, there was one, but I paid the price in verbal abuse for it. While passing one person up a hill, a woman from, I’m sure a number of waves behind me, yelled “MOVE RIGHT!” I’m not used to hearing “move right.” Usually, it’s “On Your Left”, which gets me to move to my right. Since the voice was coming from behind me to the right, I instinctively moved left to get out of the way thinking she meant “move I’m on your right”. Truthfully, I was probably in some sort of daze at this point, but no matter. She yelled again and I moved right this time to let her pass me. Then she cursed and said, “get out of the middle of the road!” I said, “call out, On Your Left,” which is customary and acceptable. The guy I was passing agreed with me, but she cursed again and rode away! Ok, whatever, keep moving!
Arriving back into transition, I saw a coaching buddy of mine cheering people on. He yelled to me, and I asked him to “Just shoot me now and put me out of my misery.” It had become that kind of race. Regardless, T2 went pretty smoothly. I got in and out in about a minute. I felt ok for the first mile and a half, but then the lack of nutrition on the bike started to hit me. I became extermely nauseous, and felt like puking the entire time. I couldn’t take in any gels or sports drink for fear of actually puking for real, and honestly didn’t have a desire for any. I managed to take in some water on occasion, but that was all. At this point, all I wanted to do was get to the finish. I had long since given up any hopes of being competitive in my age group, or in the race as a whole. In fact, the small amount of people that didn’t pass me on the bike, were able to do so now. On the second loop of the run, with finishing my only hope to end this morning, I peeled down my team uniform to my waist, heart rate monitor included. My motivation being to not embarass my team with a picture crossing the line of such a bad performance. It is the first time I finished a race shirtless, and hopefully the last.
I decided to end my racing season right there until I can make sure that I can get in the training necessary to feel good racing, and more importantly for me, actually feel competitive in my age group and overall. In the end, I did not DNF (did not finish), so I’m happy to keep that streak alive. I will, however, figure out how to get my training up to speed, no pun intended, so I can get back to racing as soon as possible. It is afterall a big reason why I enjoy this sport. I need that competition and challenge. So, don’t expect my hiatus from racing to last too long, and to my competitiors, don’t get too comfortable in my absense! For now, I will go deep down into my pain cave, and when I come out, I’ll be ready to do some damage to the race course instead of the other way around…