The Cold, err Rain, Never Bothered me Anyway …

2014 Lakes to Pines Triathlon; Park Rapids, MN; June 14, 2014
(by Matt Backmann)

Pre-race

Stayed on plan, Thursday night was pancakes, Friday lunch was a grilled chicken sandwich, and Friday night was protein, grilled chicken, with a carb, pasta. The biggest difference between this week and last week was I actually got a quality workout in on Thursday (1.25 hour bike) and Friday (6 x 200 swim). Found the bed fairly early in the evening and then chased someone around the Park Rapids High School track in my dreams.

Race day

Woke up late, rolled around bed, got up slowly, and finally convinced myself to get ready to go. Had oatmeal and granola for breakfast again this week, just laid off the sodium a lot. I think Brandi and myself left for the friendly confines of the Park Rapids High School by 7:15. There wasn’t a whole lot of rush as we knew where we were going and we knew the amount of people that would be there. Parked my bike at a new spot in transition this year as my prior favorite was already taken. After the bike was parked there was a fair amount of talking with Matthew Dickinson from the Lakes Area Multi Sport crew, Neil King, Christel Kippenhan, and the rest of out Headwaters Tri club group. They are such a good bunch to hang out with before and after the races.

My wave was set to jump in the pool about 9:53 so at just before 8:45 I started to get ready to go. Checked transition a few times and hung out in the pool where it was nice and warm… As opposed to the buckets of water that were coming down outside.

David Lewis talked me into racing without my watch. I enjoy a challenge and look to David as sort of a zen voodoo zombie robot master of the dark art of suffering and triathlon murkitude. Naked and somewhat fearful into the pool I went. I paired up with Neil King in a lane knowing that it should make for a fun day.

Swim was completed in 8:10 and from what I was told, very uneven splits… Oh well first one from my wave out of the water and off to T1. Thankfully the rain had calmed to a steady drip instead of the apocalyptic deluge of water that occurred 25 minutes prior. Needless to say it was a refreshing splash from the helmet as I put it on my head. Grab the bike and out into the bike course. T1 = 30 seconds.

While exiting the school bus loop I hit a rather large hole in the pavement and ejected my water bottle. With Neil behind me by only a few seconds I opted to not stop. I knew from training that an hour without water should be well within the realm of possible, and figured if I needed water I could open my mouth. First loop around the 7+ mile course was uneventful except the transition from Hwy 71 to Main as I had caught a couple of competitors from prior waves that were moving significantly slower than myself. Add to that, at every turn I could see Neil behind me, always at a manageable distance but always within range.

As I began lap two the main thought on my mind was to recover enough on the downhills and flats to push a little bit on the up hills and into the wind on the way back south. My goal was to either stay ahead of Neil or just within grasp at the end of the bike. I had hopes I could run well but would have been a little mentally defeated if he would have gotten past me too early and build too big of a lead on the bike. We ended with almost identical bike splits at 39:09 and 39:12.

Into T2 for hopefully a quick change into my running shoes. I opened my bag to find that all of my stuff was dry from the morning. I felt pretty good getting into dry shoes as my feet had began to dry off on the bike ride. Hat on, pickup race belt and off I went. T2 = 40 seconds.

Within the first 100 yards of the run my joy in dry shoes and feet turned into a “seriously” moment. A puddle, maybe pond… could have been a lake if they named it, stood in front of me. With breathing from behind and the entire run course ahead I leap into it without hesitation. This wouldn’t be the first time this month my shoes and legs would be soaked up to my knees. The run felt good, right, excellent, yet different from prior races. I couldn’t quite place the feeling at the time, nor did I really invest a lot of thought into it at the time. I just ran.

I started passing people from prior waves, giving them as much encouragement as my body would allow. I saw my wife, Brandi on the way up to the turn-around. She muttered something about catching her, apparently my only response was a undead sounding, “uh-huh”.

With contorted face yet fluid run form I soldiered on. I finally understood what felt different about the run after the end of mile two. I passed a kid from a prior wave and I finally realized that I didn’t care that I hurt. It didn’t matter that my body and mind were telling me that this might all be a little bit crazy and too fast for the training we had put in so far this year. All I knew was I was running well and had put time on Neil in the first half of the run. And if I was going to have a chance at doing well at this race I needed to keep running faster.

I caught and passed my wife for the second time of the day. With a 33 minute head start she was doing good but I felt better about catching her. One loop around the track and I could feel the finish line. I took a brief moment to remember my dreams from the night before and chasing someone around the track. I kept the pedal down and ran as hard as I could. Crossed the line for a run of 20:26 and a total time of 1:08:53.

Not my best time at this race but the best I had this day. The conditions played a roll to some extent. After I finished I walked out to find David and Nancy Lewis and Craig Peterson standing at the left hand turn into the track. I asked where everybody was and watched Matthew Dickinson come up the road as the first person from wave 5. I knew it would be close but patiently waited for result.

The results were posted just before the awards ceremony and discovered that I was the quickest that raced today. I had bettered Dickinson by 8 seconds and made up my 1:00 deficit from the swim in the run. So the dream about chasing around the track could have been true. No idea where we would have been if we had been in the same wave. However, this was one of those instances of never let up… You never know what the other waves might be doing.

Winning a race for the first time was definitely an experience to remember and the first time I can say I won. There were plenty of other takeaways that I would like to use in the future, but for right now, I’m celebrating my success.

Thanks for reading.

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