Saturday, April 8, 2017

HITS Napa Full Aquabike (Troy)

April 8th, 2017 – Lake Berryessa, CA
Swim 2.4mi – Bike 112mi
10:03:03 (1:20:14 – 14:24 – 8:28:26)
(stopped for 1:06 total on bike)
1st (only aquabike finisher)

This race tested me for sure.  First, we camped in the pouring rain.  Robin had to keep getting up to dry up water coming into the tent and move kids around.  Morning prep for the race was dry conditions thankfully, but about 40 deg with 57 deg water.  I had lots of clothes and was prepared / concerned for coming out of the water very cold.

So thankful to pray with our FCA Endurance team (Robin, Caryn, Suzanne).  Not worried about my undertrained body, but very concerned about being chilled.

WP_20170408_06_59_00_ProRashguard under my wetsuit, thermal swim cap, but wishing I had my booties.

Go!  Only about 20 in my wave.  It starts slow as all of us seem to hit the water in slow motion.  The shock of the cold water hurting our face and causing us to sputter before getting into a normal stroke.  I never feel like I find my stroke.  I can tell this is going to get to my core, but after how long?

Visibility is poor.  Buoys are minimal (4).  After the first turn, and a woman in the next wave passing me, the 5 swimmers ahead of me stop in the fog wondering where to go.  As we get going again, I can tell I’m already in survival mode.  I have no snap, no eagerness to draft someone, and not much awareness of where I am.  Thermal swim cap is tight and causes some claustrophobia.

I’m already thinking about quitting after the 1st loop… but I can’t because my kids are watching.  I just can’t see how I’ll go a 2nd loop without getting hypothermic.

My feet are burning / stinging now.  My hands feel funny.  I’m heading to shore.  Takes forever.  WP_20170408_07_38_36_ProWP_20170408_07_38_52_Pro

But as I near the dock I can hear Robin yelling loudly for me.  And for the next 5 minutes I feel confident about starting the 2nd loop.

1/2 way to the 1st buoy again I can’t believe that I’m heading back out.  Not feeling too much.  Definitely not swimming fast.  Just trying to keep moving.  The sun is out now and the 2nd bouy is easy to see.  The final stretch to shore is very long and my body is getting stiffer, tightening up.

WP_20170408_08_20_45_ProI touch the bottom but I can barely stand up.  It’s slow motion.  I walk out in a cold daze looking for my shoes while my family cheers for me and gives me direction.170408_hits_fullaqua_troy_swim

I’m so cold that it doesn’t even take much thought deciding I’m about to wear my wetsuit for the bike!  Thick socks, jacket, beenie, shoes – difficult to get on, gloves – VERY difficult to get on.

WP_20170408_08_37_40_ProIt’s raining, there’s no sun, my core is chilled and I’m hoping I’ll warm up quickly with this wetsuit on.  Climbing the first hill I start to observe the others.  The 1/2 Ironman leaders coming back are wearing only tri-suits, without gloves.  I go by a woman also wearing just a tri-suit and she says, somewhat in shock, “This is my first one”.  I go by a skinny guy who put on a long sleeve running shirt but is still freezing and barely able to hold a straight line.  I’m praying for the other racers as well as for myself.  I don’t know which hurts more, my cold or seeing so many with exposed skin.  Even with my wetsuit on I can’t warm up except for my legs.  But I know I won’t go hypothermic.  I’m praying for the sun for the other racers’ sake.

10mi. I find that I’m so tense from the cold that my neck is hurting and the restrictive wetsuit doesn’t help.  It’s also starting to chaff the back of my knees. The rain keeps coming.  I see a Cal Poly female racer on the other side with a flat tire, trying to fix it while standing in the rain in just a tri-suit.  Poor girl is going to get so cold.  Robin and the girls go by cheering so wonderfully.  They are amazing.  At the turn-around I’m not feeling good and wishing to just dry off and curl up in my sleeping bag.  But I know I must press on, benefiting from God’s direction every hour of the day.  It’s the only way.  I see a guy walking with his bike and tell him to wave down my wife in the van.

WP_20170408_09_46_55_Pro20mi.  My hands and feet are super cold.  My gloves are full of water.  I see a bike at a small store and turn around and go back realizing it’s a chance to warm up.  A guy is hundled up inside, just a tri-suit.  Indeed it is warm.  I ask for some plastic bags to wrap my feet in.  The warm concrete floor feels good on my feet.  I head back out.  After a while my wetsuit is really chaffing.  I get off to adjust it and to pour water out of the bags that were supposed to keep my feet dry.  Robin pulls up with the girls and the guy I talked to in the van.  She asked me if I want to get warm but I can’t get outside assistance.  Along the road I see many abandoned bikes – riders that got rides from spectators and will come back later for the bike.  Firetrucks and ambulances are also flying by both directions.  I continue to pray for those with hypothermia.  170408_hits_fullaqua_troy_bikeFinally up to the lake and dreaming of getting to my camp for some warm clothes. 

30mi. Supposed to go right but I go back to camp (an extra mile).  I strip off everything and put on all the dry clothes I have left.  I dry out the bags and find 2 more for my hands.  My teammate Caryn is sadly also in her tent but her race is done.  She got so cold she couldn’t use the brakes anymore.  I head back out and the sun is trying to come out.  I’m feeling better. WP_20170408_13_14_28_ProBiking along the lake now.  Trying to pass some people that got ahead while I changed.

40mi.  I remember riding here on the 1/2 Ironman and the Olympic distacne and feeling so good on this up-and-down section but today it feels really hard.  At the turn-around I get water, Hammer Fizz and 2 Hammer gels.  They taste great and I’m really hungry (not a good sign).

WP_20170408_12_20_57_Pro50mi. Feeling warm now. Took my rain jacket off.  Eager to get to my needs bag. I feel softness.  Looking down at my race wheels, the same ones I crashed on 3 weeks ago because I couldn’t see the flat, this time I know what to expect and can tell I’m losing air.  I try to change the tire quickly, but then find my cartrige inflator is missing.  I have no way to inflate the tire.  A girl goes by without saying anything.  After a while a guy (Paul) goes by and lends me his inflator.  I’m going again and pass him a mile later.  I roll into the park, exchange bottles, adjust clothes, and am more optimistic about the 2nd half – WP_20170408_13_22_49_Promaybe it will be faster than the 1st where I lost 2 hrs over my expected time.

60mi.  It’s starting to rain again but I try to go faster towards a patch of blue sky ahead.  Robin and the girls are on the side of the road talking to a motorcyle CHP.  Later they tell me that he WP_20170408_13_56_37_Prowas in charge of the last rider – which was me!  Anna tells me there’s a guy ahead I need to pass.  I pick it up, with even more motivation knowing I’m at risk of missing the cutoff.  Robin tells me there’s a bike tech van ahead with a pump.  I pull WP_20170408_13_57_05_Proover and get my tire topped off.  Now, back to getting out of last place.

70mi.  I pass a guy and hope to pass a couple more way ahead.  I get more Hammer Gels at the turn-around where Robin and the girls are waiting.  They tell me that they helped a number of WP_20170408_14_27_44_Proriders who dropped out due to cold.  it’s been a crazy morning.  It’s raining hard again and I put my FCA jacket, gloves and plastic bags over my hands.   I’m drinking my Sustained Energy about a bottle every 25mi.  I’m getting pretty slow now as my neck, knees and hamstrings hurt.  Very uncomfortable.

80mi.  I trudge back up to Lake Berryessa.  The abandoned bikes have all been picked up.  I’ve now bike farther than any training ride and just have a 24 mi out-n-back to complete.  Hoping to finish before 5pm, still 2 hrs later than expected.  I see Robin and the girls, they have awesome posters they made for me. They’re the best!  I tell them “2 more hours”.

My stomach isn’t feeling that great either.  But I think about the 10 hills and start counting them off.  I try to get in the aero-bars on the descents but my neck hurts. 

90mi. I pass a few guys (they’re all doing the full I believe).  I can’t wait to be done.  I recite Ps 23 (“you make me lie down in green pastures..”)  The Lord is so good.  I know He’ll get me through this and he will take away the discomfort soon.  Just need to focus on Him and not get down.

100mi. I make it triumphantly to the turn-around!  More Hammer Gels.  I ask the guy there to massage my sore neck but that’s a little too personal I guess for him.  Oh well, Press On!  As I leave I see 3 guys coming up behind me.  I make it a goal to stay ahead of them.  The weather is better now and the only difficulty is just getting up each of the 10 rollers.  The lake is pretty, at it’s highest level in years.

110mi.  Only a few miles to go! And then I can rest and be warm forever! (sounds good).  I fly across the bridge and roll down into the park. WP_20170408_17_05_39_Pro I finish about 5:15pm.  Over 10 hrs!  I used to be able to do an entire Ironman in that time.  The girls help pack up my transition just in time for a very powerful cold downpour!  The hardest one yet.  We’re take cover under a tent but I feel for the 3 guys I saw out there behind me.  1 of them comes rolling in but the director says all the others are after the cutoff and will be picked up.  Whew, I just made it in within 15min of the cutoff!  Thank you, Lord!  It felt miserable out there at times but I feel so good to have kept going and finished what I set out to do.  Thank you for allowing me to complete it.