In 2011, this race was my first Olympic distance triathlon. I really had no idea know what to expect. I had done a handful of sprint distances and my training had been adequate. The swim went fine although I got winded a few times and had to do take a few breaks to collect myself. Once out of the water, my heart rate skyrocketed and pretty much stayed stuck in overdrive for the duration of the event. This was aggravated by an asthma attack. In retrospect, this probably wasn’t entirely due to the pollen and exercise but more a factor of the hotel I stayed at. There was someone smoking in the room next to me (is that even legal in Illinois????) and I woke in the night feeling like I was being suffocated. So breathing was compromised from the beginning. Oh, and it was hotter than hell. I finished but the whole experience just kind of sucked and I was ready to hang it up.So the goal for 2012 was to keep the breathing under control, stay calm, and see if allergy/asthma meds could keep the airways open. I drove down on Saturday with Reindeer Mary’s husband, Troy. This was to be his first Olympic distance triathlon. We met up with Mike Ransick and tried out the swim course, which had been changed up a bit. The water felt pretty good in my wetsuit although I saw a couple of people opting to swim without. Of course this set off a spiral of doubt in my mind --- should I just leave the wetsuit in the car? Will I overheat? Do I really need it? Why didn't I bring a sleeveless?
In the end I opted to wear the wetsuit. The swim was great, I didn’t really need to stop and rest this time and my sighting was good. Lake Carlyle is a very large lake, not very deep, and the water was murky but more of an emerald green than the silty brown you would normally see in Illinois. The course had been changed to more of a rectangle and you kept the buoys on your left. I did get clobbered pretty hard on the last stretch by a guy who was zig zagging. I just could not seem to get out of his way. At the beach, I sat down in the shallow water and peeled out of the wetsuit, as I had done at Racine. Something about getting some water in the suit makes it easier to remove. Naturally my suit promptly got caught on the timing chip and this small delay added probably another minute to my swim time. Maybe more. But it was all good, I treated spectators to a comical display of how not to remove a wetsuit and then sheepishly trotted up the hill to transition.
Heart rate spiked a bit going into transition so I walked to my bike and just tried to keep things real. Took a hit of albuterol before setting out and made sure to take sips of water every mile. There are a couple of somewhat challenging hills on this course that seemed more manageable this year. Over the winter, I spent some quality time on the trainer doing Sufferfest workouts, and I think this interval training paid off in easier hill climbing for me.
The run was tough. I knew it would be hot and decided from the start that I would Gallowalk the whole thing. And I did. This strategy paid off with a faster time than 2011.
All in all I shaved just under 5 minutes off my 2011 time, but more importantly enjoyed the race.
Post Race Meal – I grabbed a small sub sandwich and ate the meat and cheese, not really hungry enough for all of the bread. By the time our group was packed up, everyone was hungry. We stopped at Kahunas in Greenville for some serious cheeseburgers.