Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Lobsterman Race Report

Today was the big day. It is the day of my first Triathlon/Aquabike since I can't run I will be doing the Aquabike. The Lobsterman Aquabike is a 1.5K ocean swim and 40K bike. I woke up to the sound of rain. Yeh, plus it was pretty cool out. I knew right off this day was going to be tough for me and pretty miserable. I ran around trying to find my sunglasses that had yellow tint in them, since it was raining and cloudy but never did find them. They are packed somewhere real good. For the past couple of weeks I have been packing and moving from my townhouse in Lewiston to a small bedroom in a house that I will be renting in South Portland with two other guys. Life has not been easy. Every night was packing and cleaning and moving. That's why I couldn't find my glasses. Oh well, I needed to get moving so I forgot about that idea and just used my old ones. I ended up leaving pretty early so I could scope out the place and not feel rushed or stressed. I was stressed enough as it was.

As I arrived the place was filling fast and I just sat in my truck for a long time just listening to music. It was too damn cold and was still raining out to wander around the park. I finally got my lazy butt off the car seat and started to get ready. I wasn't really motivated at this point and just wanted to climb back into bed. I pushed on and claimed my spot in the transition area with 700 other people. As the time neared I did go for a quick pre-bike ride to warm up a bit. I was already getting cold and by the time I finished I was wet and cold. I re-racked the TT bike and laid out my helmet, glasses and shoes on a towel. Since I was only swimming and biking I didn't need shoes but later you will see why I should have at least put a pair in a bag in transition for after the race.

Next up was the painful job of getting the wet suit on. I used I think a whole stick of glide wax just so that I could get the damn thing on and hopefully help with getting it off fairly quickly. I have been having issues with getting it off in the past during practice. It would always get stuck on my calves and I just couldn't get it over my feet. Hopefully I will have better luck this time. I put it on over my tri shorts, and tri sleeveless shirt. I was worried about being cold on the bike but figured it's only an hour long and I could just go harder if I got cold. More wattage=more btu production I hoped. Kurt suggested that I go for a warm up swim before the start so I mustered the will power and plunged into the icy cold ocean. As soon as the water hit my feet I new I was in trouble. I swam out a ways and immediately swam back. I had had enough. I was so COLD. My hands and feet were actually purple and I couldn't move them. I was only in the water for maybe 10min. NOT GOOD. As we listened to the anthem I got even colder and then they told us to jump in. I was in the first wave of many. I lined up at the end of the line so that I was in the water the shortest amount of time before the start. I lined up to the right side and behind everyone. This was my first competition swim and I didn't know how I would do. I have heard many horror stories about getting kicked, punched, tackled, swam over, etc. I was going to try and avoid a lot of that.

The next sound I heard was the count down and then we were off. The first 200 yards or so was crazy. I pretty much swam with my head up and just made my way forward. I finally got into some sort of rhythm and was able to put my head down and follow the group. The pack ended up splitting in two and I was at the front of the back pack with the fast guys about 50yards in front by buoy 1. At least I had some clean water but was falling off pretty quickly. Halfway to the second buoy I noticed the second wave pass me which included Kurt. I finally round the 2nd buoy and really started to get tired. My arms were failing me and I started to notice the cold. On my way into the finish of the swim the leaders of the third wave had caught me also. Now I new I was in trouble and had a crappy swim time since the swim waves were 4min apart. I finally reached the beach and climbed my way out of the water. As I ran up the beach to transition I got my wetsuit off to mid-waist.

Picture 1

At least I got it that far I thought. My hands were numb, my feet were cold and I was out of breath from the swim. I reached my bike and realized that it was pouring out. Everything was soaked which made my shoes not easy to get on. I actually got one leg out of the wetsuit pretty easy but the other leg I had major issues with and had to kneel down. My hands were just not working. I had a hard time getting the helmet on and the glasses also. Finally I just took a deep breath and relaxed a bit. I got my shoes on, without socks, and I was off. Since I've done cyclo-cross I was able to jump onto the bike while running. I passed like two guys who stopped still trying to get on their rigs. Way to go for cross training. As I made my way out of the park I really hammered hard. I knew I had to a lot of catching to do since I had such a bad swim.

The bike portion started out well. I knew that this would be my strong point so I really kept the watts up and pace high. It was still pouring out and a lot of people were moving so slow. I don't know if they just couldn't bike or if they were scared of the rain. I was used to riding in the rain and rode like I would have any other day. I passed a lot of people. I mean a lot. It must have been about 50 by the time I hit the halfway point. At that point I didn't see very many left in front of me. I must be near the front I thought. There were a few hills that I used my 39 front chain ring for. I had an 11-23 set in the rear which worked well for me. With the 11 tooth gear I could really pick up some speed on the down hills and since I'm pretty light only having a 23 in the back suited me just fine. I only stood on a couple of the short hills but mostly stayed as aero as I could. As I approached the park entrance road the car traffic picked up. At one point I had to break and come to almost a stop because a car just would move over and was going so slow. I don't know if they didn't see me or what but they were crawling at 15mph and just wouldn't get out of the way. I finally sprinted past them at a stop sign and kept them behind me the rest of the way to the entrance. I was really amazed at the amount of people who were out on the bike course cheering us on. I mean it was cold, pouring and just miserable out but they still came out and cheered us on. It really helped me stay motivated. After taking the final turn I hunkered down and gave it everything I had for the last mile and a half. I knew I didn't have to save anything left at the finish so I gave it my all. I flew down the park road and almost missed a turn just before the park gate.

Picture 2

When I was almost at the gate I saw Kurt just leaving the park for his run. He looked pretty good to me and was moving pretty well trying to catch the guy in front of him. As I hit the park I had to break and slow down a lot. There were just tons of people around telling me to slow down. I didn't want to slow down I want to win this damn thing. I hit the gravel over 20mph and good thing I had that cross training again. I was a little swirly but hung on. For the Aquabike I had to go to the right of transition still on the bike while everyone else had to dismount and getting ready to run. I made my way around the finishing loop fairly slow since it was dirt and they kept telling me to slow down. There was a rack just for us at the last corner for the finishing shoot. I saw only one other bike on the rack and I thought, sweet I got second. I through the bike on the rack and ran to the finish line still in my cycling shoes with my helmet on and all. Man that wasn't easy; I almost tripped and fell twice. As I crossed the line they had to grab me because I just had nothing left was going to fall over. The put a medal around my neck for finishing and told me to go get some food. Since it was still raining and I was soaked I took my shoes off, helmet, glasses and made my way towards food. I was starving.

As I made my way to the food tent barefooted, cold, and wet I started to realize how cold I really was and how bad I felt. Once the adrenaline ware off I started to realize all of my pain. My legs felt really bad and started to really hurt and cramp. I also started to shiver uncontrollably. I grabbed a banana and some Luna bars and headed to the massage tent. I figured a good massage and some warmth would be good, plus it was free. As I entered I had my pick of tables and they covered me in blankets. As she started to work the muscles I started to get colder and shiver harder. She just couldn't warm me up fast enough. The put more blankets on, hat and even heat packs but nothing worked. They then got the crew from the medical tent and they brought over a thermal sheet and some more chemical heat packs. At this point I was laying on my back they were forcing me to drink hot chicken broth, YUK, and I didn't feel too good. After they took my temperature a few time and noticed that it was still dropping they called in the ambulance. As the ambulance came I was coming in and out of consciousness. I would close my eyes and loose myself then they would shake me awake again yelling. Not good. I had a good case of hypothermia. My body temperature was dropping fast. I heard them say 97, 94, 90 degrees. I then got put on a stretcher and hauled to a heated ambulance. Once in the ambulance I was still shivering bad, and they tried to find a vein to put warm saline in me but couldn't find one. They cranked the heat and stripped me of my clothes. I had only a only a tri short and sleeveless top on plus was barefoot but they were soaked so they wanted them off. So as I lay there in the back of the ambulance time passed and I started to warm up. I new I was missing all of my buddies finishing which I wanted to really watch. I'm sure Kurt had kicked but and wanted to cheer on Jeff and Alan but I missed all of that. It was now like 2.5 hours later and they needed to move me out of the ambulance for another case. So they asked me if I had anyone with me who could get me clothes and drive me home but I said I was there by myself. They didn't like that. I told them to go get Tim from Peak Performance and ask him to come help me. They did just that and he was very helpful and brought me some clothes to put on. He is great. They moved me to the med tent where they placed me in front of a propane heater. I had to sit there still with no shoes, but had socks on now, a set of tights and a fleece jacked on, plus a thermal blanket and lots of heat packs and more blankets. I had to drink more chicken broth and some water. At this point I was really hungry, I hadn't had anything really to eat after the race and it was almost 3pm now. The race was pretty much over. It wasn't fun sitting in a tent next to a heater, which got me even more light headed, and watch the day go by. They finally stopped shivering and was able to leave but had to promise that I would return if I started shivering again. I still didn't have any shoes and had to walk to my truck in socks. It was still cold out but at least it wasn't raining anymore. After changing into my own clothes and grabbing a sandwich to eat I got my gear put away. Everything was soaked. The results were slow but it was nice to hang out with other athletes and chat about all that I missed. Kurt had won. I finally found out that I did officially get 2nd place in the Aquabike and would get called up to the podium for a medal. That was pretty cool to be called up with so many athletes still present. I got my big shiny silver medal and finally made my way home.

All in all I had a really good race. I was disappointed with my swim time, I really did suck, I was 12 out of 13, but my bike time was really good, 1st out of 12, and made up for it.

Comparing my swim time with everyone else I was 201. It’s hard to compare my bike time since my bike time didn’t stop until I crossed the finish time which was a long ways further than the rest of the tri-athletes, plus I had to rack and run to the finish. But taking all that in consideration my time was at least top 5. I defiantly want to do a full triathlon as soon as I can. The atmosphere is great, a lot like cross races and nothing like road bike races. I like it a lot and hopefully will do better in the next one and won't end up in the medical tent again. I do have to wait till next year since most of the multi-sport events are over for the year. This coming weekend is the PVC Maine State Time Trial Championships. This will be the last race on my tri-bike. After that I’m taking a much need break and then start right into Cross season.

Lobsterman Aquabike
Place 2/13
Total Time=1:34:17
Swim Time=27:30, 12/13
Bike=1:04:41, 1/13


Anonymous said...

solid job man...way to tough it out.


Brian Linscott said...

I thought being from Maine you would of been smarter! Jumping into the ocean in Maine in "any" month is absolutely absurd.. Thought only people from Mass or Cananda would swim in the Maine ocean. I'm so inspired by your tenacity to do something for the first time, even though it was pouring, hundreds of feet, arms flailing all around, and the temp's biting right through the wet suit. Great job working through all the adversary. I thought doing the SMR in the pouring rain with the other 8 lost souls was being a "Man." Awesome job Nate! I'm awed by your focus and feel inspired by reading about your day.. If I had know you were sitting in an ambulance freezing I would of come over and plunked you in the hot tub for a faster recovery! Great job!

cbossie said...

What a crazy day... you lived through it and have a nice medal to show for it... can't argue with that. Now you just need to do your competitions in Florida so that you don't get hypothermia so often.