Bear Attack: The 2013 Grizzly Race Report

Yeah, I used the Contour Roam today.

Yeah, I used the Contour +2 today.

Okay, with much pain, I am writing my race report for today’s Grizzly Triathlon. This is my 4th time around, and if you want to read my other experiences, just search “Grizzly” to the left. Let’s get the pain started.

Pre-Race:

I have had way better days leading up to a race. As you might have read, I have been having some medical issues with my thyroid. I am on a higher dose of thyroid replacement now, and my body has basically been on a roller coaster ride as it adjusts. Some days I feel great. Some days I am a completely drained and in bed by 9:00. This, plus a forecast that looked like something out a Hollywood weather disaster movie (cue Statue of Liberty), left me rather less than optimistic about today’s race. Okay, I will admit it; I really did not want to race at all. But I refused to go back on my “just show up mantra.” It has helped me survive the DMV for years, and I figured it would help me prevail in Missoula.

For sprints, I don’t mix up my routine much. I had a big breakfast and a coffee with espresso early in the morning. Sipped some HEED on the way down. Of course, by the time I got to Missoula I had to pee so bad I think the last few minutes of my drive counted as part of my swim.

Checked in without a problem. Ten minute jog for a warm up felt okay, but not great. I got set up in transition without a problem, and then it was into the pool.

Swim: 1000y, 16:04, 2 second race PR,  10/30 OA, 113/ 385 OA

We had about literally 20 seconds between the finish of the wave before me and the start of my wave, so no warm up. I jump in as I am first, and off we go. I was hoping to be in that all comfy “zone,” but I might as well have been at Auto Zone. Despite all the hard work I have been putting in the pool, my mind went blank and the form I have sought after went out the window. Poor shoulder rotation. Poor kick. Poor catch. POOR. I passed most of the people in my lane, but I think this actually gave me too much assurance and not enough drive to race. I also started to lose my concentration. During one of my flip turns, I misjudged the distance to the wall and ended up doing an impromptu stop.

16:04 is faster yes, but I am not happy. I have been doing 15:40s consistently in training, even a 15:30. So this was fail.

I would have been even slower if it hadn’t been for one of my coworkers screaming at me from the poolside. Thanks to Krista. Unfortunately, I couldn’t tell if she was saying, “good job” or “what the heck is wrong with you!”, which says a lot about our working relationship. 🙂

The good old Grizzly pool.

The good old Grizzly pool.

Transition 1

Slow. Took a few extra seconds getting my cleats in.

Bike: 12.4 miles, 36:42, 3/30 AG, 36/433 OA

Okay, heading out, things seemed to be ok. I was really worried about the temps, but I wasn’t cold at all. I survived the dumpster slalom again, and despite being nearly run over by a car, I made it out onto the open road. Check out my dumpster diving race video by my Contour +2. Sorry about the clicking noise by the way; the camera was rubbing against my aero bars. At least I didn’t set the video to some cheesy music.

Things felt slow. After last’s years experience in Polson, when I raced without any watch feedback, I decided to race the Griz without any powermeter or watch. This may actually have backfired. I had the wind at my back but I kept telling myself that something just didn’t feel right. I concentrated on making every pedal count as well as I could. As I neared the turn around, the cross winds were getting pretty serious and I struggled to hold on to the bike. As I neared the turnaround, I still felt I was moving too slowly, and I was getting severely demoralized. As it turns out, with the wind at my back, I actually arrived at the half about 2 minutes faster than last year. Wish I had known that during the race.

When you take demoralization and add massive head winds, you have a recipe for disaster.  So, have you ever seen that Mythbuster video with the plane engine blowing a car over? Well, that was pretty much what the ride back into town was like. I have actually grown a pair of testicles, and I can manage to hold my own in the winds now. But this was ridiculous. The crosswinds literally almost blew me over several times. And wouldn’t you know it, this was the my first race on the new deep rim race wheels. To hold on, I was in the drops, versus the bars, about 80%, of the time. Check out this shaky video of me trying to stay upright.

As I came back in transition, I was about excited as a comatose nun in a bar.

Transition 2:

I’ll say it: I don’t really like my Saucony shoes. I miss my Newtons. And they are harder to put on. Whatever.

Run: 3.1 miles, 24:38, 14 second Grizzly PR, 10/30 AG, 98/435 OA

I glanced at the race clock on the way out of transition, and I knew I wasn’t looking at a PR. My bike had taken too long. Again, more demoralization. However, I did notice that for once, I felt great heading out of T2. No calve cramps really. Form ok.

As I hit the gravel, thing were feeling better and better. I took in a few runners from the heat before me, and a quick glance behind revealed no chasers. Still, I felt too slow. When I hit the hill of hills, it was not looking good. I have had about two hill days before this….not exactly the best training plan. Up and up I went, and slower and slower I went. I kept focusing on driving my knees up, but things just got stickier and stickier. Then I couldn’t take it. Half way up, I stopped for running for about five seconds and walked. Once I finally got a view of the crest, I picked up the pace again and up and over I went. Once I again, I was greeted by the guitar player….this time with an amp!

Down the other side I went and once again, I survived another year without breaking my ankle at the Grizzly! Into the water station, and of course, I mistook a cup of Heed for a cup of water…after I dumped it on my head. This might have been a good thing, as I ran faster due to the fear of birds attacking my newly sugared scalp.

As I headed back to the finish, I again was running into the wind. I was completely spent by the time I neared the finish. There I was, demoralized, tired, sticky from a head of HEED, and cold. There was no burst of speed. No smile. I just ran and finished. DONE.

Synopsis: 1:17:24, 7/30 AG, 39/178 Males

By far, this was the worst experience at the Grizzly I have ever had. This is not due to the race itself. I was just not in the right place today to battle the elements and myself. I quickly made my way back home, ready to drown my performance woes with cookies.

As it turns out, I didn’t do as bad as I thought. Apparently, wind is not selective when it comes to kicking triathlete’s asses. Despite my self-doubt, I “bettered” my swim and run, and rolled out 3/30 in my AG and 36/433 OA for the bike.

I can do better, both physically and mentally. My wife has reminded me that I do this for fun. I am not a pro. I never will be. That doesn’t mean I won’t try my best. But I am longing for the days when I was happy to just show up. I’ll try to keep this in mind at my next race in May.

For now, its time for a beer, and some bike cleaning. I drove through a scene from the “Perfect Storm” on the way home today. And look what mother nature served up this morning.

I was even planning on cutting the grass today.

I was even planning on cutting the grass today.

About Ironvan

From couch potato to Ironman triathlete in 2 years.

Posted on April 21, 2013, in Race Reports and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Michele Cellai

    To be honest, it is nice to see a RR that any regular, honest with themself, AGer could have written. It’s not all fairy dust and rainbows.I will be remembering this at Timberman, because I know I will not show up with peak fitness, but just enough to get by.

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