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Raise Dairy Salts

I could see my nearest competitors in front of me. The ones behind, I couldn’t see, but I could sense them. If I slipped up at all, they would seek to gain from it. Right on the heels of those in front, I saw an opportunity.

I took it, and in the process, made myself one step closer to finishing.

I had finally gotten my bib and race day packet for Tri the Kenai.

The next day, of course, was the actual 3rd Annual Tri the Kenai Triathlon. This was my first real triathlon. Pink Cheeks in Seward not being sanctioned by the USAT because of its out-of-order disciplines (Swim, then run-bike, instead of Swim-Bike-Run like nature intended.)

I had been training a good deal in the months prior to the event. In under three months, I had undergone a complete transformation. From never having swum competitively since high school, never ridden a road bike, and a terrible runner who hadn’t competed in nearly two decades; to a good swimmer, a diligent, aggressive biker, and a terrible runner. In all honesty, my run time had decreased a bit, but it was still nothing to write home about.

So I had some confidence leading up to the race, and I hoped all my hours of hard training would pay off.

Months ago, when I signed up for Tri the Kenai, I had wildly guessed at my estimated swim time. Apparently, I suggested an estimated time of 6:00. I’m not sure what prompted this confidence, perhaps someone had stipulated that they allowed speedboats or jetpacks for the event. With that time, I was seeded second overall in the men, which meant that I got to share a lane with Alaska’s fasted triathlete.

Shockingly, he was far faster than I was.

Perhaps more shockingly, I was only a minute behind him leaving the pool.

500 yards (and probably a similar number of grey hairs) later, I had recorded a swim time of 6:54 and ran out of the pool to my bike stand and transition zone. I was in fourth place.

My transition went flawless to begin. Heart rate monitor, bike shoes, and that’s where the problems began. I struggled getting into my shirt. I know this is a fairly pedestrian activity for most, but for some reason this proved remarkably difficult for me. With the crowd cheering me on, I flailed and struggled to don my shirt. I just could not figure out what the problem was. A too small shirt on a too wet torso. I should really stop wardrobe shopping at Baby Gap.

Several minutes later, I emerged from the transition zone, bike helmet on, and bib, which was once fastened to my shirt with four sturdy safety pins, flapping uselessly in the breeze, attached with but one lonely pin.

Luckily, my bike ride was far better than the events leading to it.

Celeste felt lively and wonderful under me, and we blasted out of the school parking lot. On the highway, I monitored my heart rate, got passed by one perennial triathlete with a bike that I imagined weighed less than my water bottle, and passed one of the few bikers ahead of me.

Soon I had company, as another fellow with a lovely all-carbon aero bike passed me on Echo Lake Road. I kept a reasonable distance from him, acutely aware of the no drafting rules of triathlons, and made my move, passing him on an uphill. We went back and forth for the remainder of the ride – him passing me on the flats and me passing him on the uphills.

Fortunately for Celeste and I, the route back to Skyview consisted of a hill. A big one. A big, very inclined uphill one.

I arrived into the run transition zone nearly a minute in front.

Whereas my first transition was a crucible of what not to do with a transition, this one was the opposite. I left my bike shoes clipped into the pedals, dismounted, and sprinted in bare feet to my area. Bike in rack, helmet off, shoes on, I was off on the trails.

That’s when everything went pear-shaped.

I’m not a natural runner, as you might have guessed if you’ve read this blog before.

Race day was a great example of this. My legs felt wrecked on the run, and I couldn’t get up to speed. Lamentably, some of those behind me eventually caught and passed me. My run time was a disappointing 23 minutes.

The good thing is that I know I can do better, and I have put into sharp relief what my problems areas are.


So, my overall time was good enough for Tenth place in the men’s category.

I was hoping for a top ten finish, but I somehow feel like I could have done much better if I had been able to run to my potential.

But, it’s useless to dwell on what could have been, and now I am saddled with the task of figuring out what to do next.

Fortunately, this has already been decided, as I am doing an adventure race near Palmer tomorrow.

Oh, and the best part? It’s at least a 12 hour race, and it starts at midnight…

If anyone needs me, I’ll be fighting with my shirt.


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