Race Coverage

There Will Be Blood...

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By Michael Weissenborn

Turtleman Race Report - Friday Night, Before the Race. Text conversation: 

Friend: Do you have a cute outfit picked out for racing?!?
Me: It's a tri suit. I bought it a few years ago.
Friend: So is it a cute outfit?!?
Me: It will be at the end of the race – when it's covered in sweat, snot, blood, and gels.
Friend: *shocked emoji face*

Little did I know how prophetic that conversation would be...

Swim
This disaster of a day got rolling before the gun went off. My wetsuit zipper broke while we were lining up to hit the water. As a self-seeded time trial start, I should have been near the front. Instead, I spent ten minutes playing grown-up Legos with an oversized zipper. I couldn't fix it. My fellow competitors couldn't fix it. I use a two-piece wetsuit so leaving it open meant swimming like a manta ray, fully-stretched after a deep sea yoga session. I thought about ditching it but decided to embrace my inner sea beast.

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I entered the water as the last competitor but began passing swimmers rapidly. I figured I was moving well despite lugging a parachute behind me. My splits said otherwise. In fact, they yelled otherwise. I'm excited to get some real data on this stingray vs. eel setup because I'd love to blame my slow swim on something other than myself.

Fun fact about Turtle Lake - it's shallower than an 18-year-old who boy who just discovered Tinder. I was done “swimming” about 50m from shore. Into T1 I went, threw on my shoes (no flying mount this time – after seven years I've determined that I'm too much of a doofus for that shit), fastened the helmet which would later save my life, and off I went on my quest for many watts and happy legs.

Bike
The Olympic course is a 2-loop 12-miler. Nothing too eventful for the first 10 miles. My power was 10 watts under target but I was still holding 25.0 mph. Tight aero position. Passing the remaining people I hadn't caught in the swim. Felt good.

Then it happened.

At mile 10 there's a curve with a pothole lurking off to the right. I had ridden the course weeks ago so I knew to look out for it, take it cautiously. My internal conversation went like this:

Brain: “Mike. Get on the drops. Slow down. Put hands on brakes. You can get aggressive after this”

Balls: “Don't be a pussy! Stay aero! Get MORE aero! Accelerate through the curve! Just avoid the pothole!”

Balls won. Everything else lost.

I hit the corner of said pothole at full speed. Lost control, knew I was screwed – just closed my eyes and tensed up.

I hit the ground like it owed me a gambling debt and opened my eyes after a tumbling routine which would make even the greatest Olympic gymnasts blush. No deities in sight. No spooky cloaked figures wielding scythes. I surmised that I was still alive. A silver lining to be sure.

I quickly pulled my bike to the sidewalk for an inspection. Brakes good. Shifters functional. Tires, wheels both OK. No cracks in the frame. Chain slipped but I was able to pull it back. To my amazement, the bike was unscathed. Me, not so much.

A local woman sprinted towards me. She wore the countenance of a mortal who had just witnessed the seconds comings of Cthulhu, Jaws, and Ivan Drago all in one:

“Oh my goodness, are you ok?! You're bleeding! There's so much blood! And your shirt is ripped!”
“Yeah, I'm fine... thanks for checking. Appreciate it.”
“Ah! Do you need anything?!”
“Not unless you've got a thousand bucks to repair my bike.”
“Ahhh!”

Quick side note: one of my best friends is visiting this September. She's convinced me to finally get a tattoo. A phoenix. Why a phoenix? Because 1) the phoenix is Johnny Lawrence levels of badass and 2) the phoenix rises from the ashes. I've always found it a beautiful symbol of never giving up, John Cena be damned.

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I knew that I couldn't ethically get a phoenix permanently imprinted onto my body without getting up and finishing this race with a solid effort. So that's what I did.

I pulled that bike back into the street and started hammering. My helmet was functional but the visor had somehow been pulled forward. I couldn't get hyper aggressive without losing vision. Fixing it was a no-go, so I just rode awkwardly but with eagle eyes for the next 14 miles. (Safety note – don't ever do this. Helmets are wrecked after impact. This was an utterly stupid decision.)

I made it through the 2nd loop. Garmin math indicates I lost eight minutes or more. But I made it. Into T2, shoes on, out of T2 to begin the biggest blow-up of my triathlon career.

Run/Slog
The plan was to run minimally 6:07 miles, or 38:00 10k pace. Turns out that's the numerical code for “Delusional.”

The first mile saw my legs burning like the fires of the Seven Hells. They finally loosened up but I just didn't have anything left. I was struggling to hold 6:45s. The last time I got nuked this badly I was still running 6:15s, so this one was especially disappointing.

The water stops would only bring a brief respite. I'm thankful for anything at aid stations but... was this a sewing convention? Because these cups were thimbles. We're not playing Monopoly here. And if we were, you'd better believe I'm taking the battleship.

At least one person was having fun though. Mile 4 saw a family playing in their yard. The dad was hosing down runners with cold water. Very kind. His son was blasting competitors with his Super Soaker. Nailed me right in the ripped section of my tri suit. Good shootin', kid.

Post-Race
I crossed the finish line and immediately got with the EMTs. I had blood and road rash on both elbows, my chest, my stomach, and all over the left side of my torso. My ribs were beginning to hurt too.

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This crew did an A+ job. Took me right in to the ambulance and threw all manner of bandages, gauze, and painful disinfectant right on those wounds. Even gave me a teddy bear for the road despite my protest that they “save it for a kid.” Most importantly, however, they kept my mother calm. Love ya, Mom!

The Following Days
I headed over to urgent care the next day to get my ribs checked out. Most efficient clinic visit I've ever had. Four different nurses working on me. Cleaning wounds, Taking rib x-rays (negative by the way – but they still hurt like hell). Even shot me up with a tetanus vaccine. Got my cleanish bill of health and headed home to relax with the cat.

Takeway
Oddly enough, I'm glad the race played out the way it did.

The *result* wasn't what I wanted. I wanted to go well under 2 hours and believed, perhaps unrealistically, that I was ready to do so. The *process* which lead me there was solid. As in I did the damn work in training and showed up ready to race.

Last Saturday was unique though. I was given the opportunity to see what I would do when I had every reason to quit. I'm happy with what I found.

Addendum
My ribs still hurt and my cat won't stop jumping on them. It's alright Pumpkin. I still love you.

ED. Michael finished 2nd overall.

 

 

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