This year I was in far poorer shape than even a year ago. This was partly because of the lack of training prior to, and after the stem cell injection into my right knee. However, I must admit that I could have trained a bit more had I been more motivated and active in the world of triathlon.
Nonetheless, this race was the highlight of my summer, as far as events go. Although I had to trek to Incline Village by myself and couldn't really share the fun with anyone, volunteering the nigh before and on race morning certainly made up for and even substituted the lack of companionship.
Not only my body wasn't fully prepared for this race but my bike wasn't either. There was nothing wrong with it on the surface, however, during the race, the chain got stuck several times between the cassette and the spokes. This cost me several minutes of the total biking time and caused me to become more and more frustrated. On the other hand, this was the second year that I raced without a proper triathlon suit. Instead, I've been using Xterra's swim speedsuit. No padding, no nothing. Thank god I still fit in it.
As I have mentioned before I set out to volunteer for the organizers. They put on an amazing event and there's no better way to give back than helping fellow competitors before the race. This manifested in giving out the timing chips the night before and similar tasks on race morning.
I spent the night in the minivan, parked on a quiet street somewher in Incline Village. I just wish I didn't park it on a slope, as the sleeping bag kept sliding off the slippery camping mattress. This made it a rather light sleep with more time awake and asleep.
I was able to rack my bike and get ready, probably a first for me, way before they closed down transition. A short warm-up swim before the race allowed me to get used to the water, and got me probably even more tired.
Once the race was on everything quickly came back to me. The many years of racing allowed me to not to worry about anything anymore, and to remain cool before a race. I usually don't think about the race at all. I figure I'll manage it somehow whether I have a good or a bad race.
The swim, as I chose to do the sprint distance this time, was only one lap, or 750 meters. I was delighted to find myself in second place, although the guy just ahead of me kept pulling away. As my arms kept tiring the distance was growing to a point that I couldn't have come back even if I wanted to. Another swimmer passed me just before the end of the swim so I ended up exiting in 3rd place out of the water. There was a good 400-500 meter run back to transition and I started running in my slippers only to realize that it was far worse than barefoot. Off with the slippers and passed back to 2nd place before reaching T1. After a quick transition I was out on the bike course in first place. Chugged some water and squeezed down a gel on my throat to stave off any possible exhaustion that the grueling bike course would demand. I knew I wasn't nearly as strong on the bike as last year so I made sure I wasn't pushing those higher watts early on. While I was passed by several full-distance riders before the end of the major climbs I just kept riding my own pace. This worked out well as I was only passed by strong (and healthy) riders. Over the years while injured I learned not to pay too much attention to these setbacks. Before, it would've definitely annoyed me, but not anymore.
While I wasn't fitter this year I was certainly wiser. Last year I rode the entire course the day before. That likely affected my race performance and took several minutes out of me. I couldn't risk that in 2019 and I raced from memory. It all came back to me, I more or less remembered every rock, turn, and obstacle on the course.
The chain was probably the only issue I had troubles with during the entire bike course but it likely costed me several minutes all together. Not fun when it gets severely stuck between the cassette and the spokes and wouldn't come out. At the end I managed to just that so the world (or me) was spared of a major meltdown. The downhill was even shorter and quicker than I remembered and before I knew it I was back in transition and putting my running shoes on.
For the most part it was the lack of running training and bad knees why I chose to do the sprint race this year. My knees still can't handle anything (squats, lunges, let alone running). Therefore, I started out very slow and never sped up. I kept the pace on medium and had my fingers crossed the entire time to avoid any issues with my calves, knees, and ankles. The massive amount of injuries I've had since 2015 made me more skittish than a 3-month-old puppy at the dog park among pitbulls.
Luckily, everything lined up for me just fine and I managed to jog 3.1 miles to the finish line without any hiccups.
I did win the sprint race, it sure felt good. However, I sure was disappointed that I wasn't able to race the full distance. Next year, though!