Monday, July 23, 2007

Spirit of Racine Half-IM Part I

On the 80's show "The A-Team," Colonel Hannibal Smith always made the comment, "I love it when a plan comes together." We never got to see how he might react when a plan DIDN'T come together. But this weekend, I got to experience how it feels.

The plan for Saturday was to drive to Racine early enough to get checked in for the race, do a short bike ride and swim, and check into the hotel plenty early to do anything that might come up in the evening. That was the plan. Of course, any parent can probably tell you that plans are meant to be destroyed.

By the time Mrs. Pol returned from a morning of errands, all my gear was ready to be packed into the car, B-Boy was dressed and mostly packed, and I was gathering items for Monster Girl. Shortly after my wife joined the effort, it got awfully quiet and she asked where our daughter had gone. I headed to the dining room, figuring she was up on the table causing trouble. I was wrong.

She was in our bedroom causing trouble. She had found and somehow opened a bottle of blue nail polish. That was promptly dumped out, primarily onto the leg of a handy stuffed bear (an anniversary gift my son had made a few years ago). Monster Girl then started using the brush to paint. Herself. Blue.

While my wife freaked out, and I grabbed our daughter to get her out of the way. It took nearly 30 minutes with cotton balls and nail polish remover to get her clean. She had polish on her feet, chest, arms, legs, stomach, and face. Thankfully, she didn't get any into her hair. By the time the mess was completely cleaned, we were all a little high from the fumes. And we were nearly two hours behind schedule.

By the time we got to Racine, I had enough time find the check in location, pick up my packet, drive to the bike check location, and drop the bike off. Due to the delays, a few minor changes to the "not so come together plans" had to be made. Things like actually riding the bike and actually getting into the lake for a swim. Not so much. I took the bike for a quick spin in my tennis shoes and made sure it shifted. And I looked at the lake and said, "Yep, those bouys must indicate the swim."

I did manage to run into Iron Wil and her husband. They were just getting checked in themselves, and we promised to find each other the next day. Then, it was off to find dinner and something for breakfast. In the fiasco of trying to leave home, I had left all my bagels on the counter. Along with a gallon of Gatorade for the run.

On Sunday, I got up and had some banana bread and a couple of Nutrigrain bars. I started packing things into the car, mystified by how much stuff could be dragged into a hotel for a few short hours. After getting the wife and kids awake, dressed, fed, and loaded into the car, we headed for the race site.
We had to park a good distance from the race site and catch a shuttle to the start. By the time we got there, it was just after 6 a.m. A far cry from the 90-120 minutes early I usually show up. I hit body marking right away, headed into transition and started setting up.

While my wife and kids vanished into one of the playgrounds, I picked up my timing chip and finished setting up transition. After making sure my tires were inflated and going over transition setup one last time, I realized it was nearly 6:30. That gave me enough time to hit the porta-potty and grab my wetsuit head toward the lake.

After the National Anthem, they announced (at 6:40) that it was time to head to the swim start. That had me a bit curious as we were only about 100 yards from the lake.

And that would have been a valid point were we starting from anywhere near transition. Unfortunately, the swim start was approximately a half-mile away, and we had to walk. The fortunate thing was that my wave started about 30 minutes after the first wave, so I had plenty of time to get a short warm up swim completed.

Soon enough, they called my wave (35-39 males) to the start, and we were off. I waded out into the water and started swimming as soon as I found a bit of open water. Amazingly, I was able to swim quite a ways without running into any issues, and didn't have to deal with stopping and standing up. The biggest issue for the first quarter-mile was sighting, as we were heading directly into the sun. On that first leg, I wound up a bit inside the turn bouy and had to make a sharp turn to ensure I went on the outside.

After that, sighting was very easy, and I maintained a nice straight line. I did have to deal with a few breast strokers and even started running into people from the wave ahead of me (big shock, to me). Soon enough, the less courteous members of the wave behind started running over me, and I spent some time fighting for swim space. Even so, the swim went very well and I felt very comfortable. Other than the first bouy, hit within a few yards of every bouy, and never felt I was wondering back and forth.

Just over 41 minutes later, I went to sight and realized everyone around me was standing up. I swam a few more seconds and stood up, started removing my wetsuit, and ran out of the surf. We had a run of about 100 yards to get to the transition area. There were fans lining the path and it was a huge boost hearing them cheer. My wife and kids were right near the entrance to transition, and I lost a few seconds saying hello and getting hugs and kisses.

Picture courtesy of James Korn

Iron Wil's husband James was right at the shore of the lake taking pictures and provided some wonderful shots as I finished my swim. She said I looked like a pro coming out of the water. I think it was a good photographer working with what he had. I really appreciate the pictures because they are far better than anything I've had from some of the outfits paid to take photos of the race.

Picture courtesy of James Korn
My wife added her own shots to the mix, and I have some wonderful pictures to remind me of the swim portion of this race. My official time was 43:22, a half-IM swim PR. And that included the 100 yard dash through the sand. By my watch, I came out of the water at about 41:30. Even so, I'll take the swim time, as prior to the race I estimated my time at 43 minutes.

More importantly, I felt very good coming out of the water. I am very confident I could have finished another 1.2 miles swimming with few challenges. Again, the biggest factor was the boredom. Despite the excitement of the race, I still find 45 minutes face down in the water to be quite dull. It's getting better, though, and it appears I will have plenty of time in the next few weeks to practice surviving boredom. Coach Mike has plenty of swim yardage in the schedule.

This final picture was taken by my wife right at the entrance to T1. She does an amazing job juggling kids, equipment, and photographer duties. We'll have a few pictures of the kids showing what they did while their daddy did the swim, bike, run thing in a later post.


Bigun said...

I always stay pretty alert during open water swims in Florida - what with the sharks and alligators and whatnot...

sounds like a great race so far, IP -

Brent Buckner said...

You shouldn't have let Monster Girl watch _Braveheart_!

S. Baboo said...

Good job on the swim PR!

tarheeltri said...

If you get to a race 90-120 minutes early with your wife and two young kids you are a tri-parent GOD. Please tell me that is without kids.

1HappyAthlete said...

Congrats on a swim PR after dealing with all of the drama the day before :)

Molly said...

WOW! Cant't wait to read more. I agree the pics are great! Your daughter will love that story when she is a teenager!

Take Care!

Comm's said...

Glad to see you've been keeping busy. Can't wait to read the second part.

Dying Water Buffalo said...

Nice A team reference, Pol! :) Nice swim, you stud! :)

bbieberitz said...

My wife was my saviorin Racine. When the helicopter blew around all the stuff while I was out on the bike, she got all my run stuff ready to go when I came back.

The run from the water to the T1 sucks. It has every year! I wish they would put down a mat, then i could actually run the entire way and improve the T1 time :)

Great job on your estimation on time. I was going for the 5:30 too but stomach problems really derailled me.