Hey everybody! Sorry for the long absense, I did not want to sit in an internet cafe to type up a post-race report. I just got in from Rio de Janeiro yesterday and have been trying to get everything back to normal before I move into my new place. The rest of my trip went very well despite bad weather, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my vacation away from triathlons, but I am eager to start training again and preparing for the rest of my racing season. Thanks again to all who emailed me after the race, and to all of those who woke up early to track me throughout the day. My post-race report will be in a multi-part series because I cannot fit it all in in one sitting, but I hope to cover a varrying range of topics in the next couple weeks.
The days leading up to the race:
Within the first few hours of arriving at the hotel in Florianopolis I could tell the island was taken over by endurance athletes. Everywhere there were people riding their bikes and shirtless individuals running throughout the narrow city streets. Since it is mid-winter down there most of the Brazilians were in hiding. I was pretty bummed I did not have my equipment, as I could see everyone was enjoying getting their bikes built and exploring the island. The only thing I managed to do before my stuff arrived was run barefoot on the beach for about thirty minutes, but other than that I was not very active. Most of the days I woke up early for breakfast and ate with all the other athletes, layed by the beach, found a place to have lunch, read, checked my mail, went grocery shopping, ate dinner at the hotel, and went to bed early; nothing too exciting. I blogged about my little excursion on one of the days when I moved down the island for most of the day. But most of the days I just kept it low key and stayed around the hotel. I made some excellent friends in the first few days of arriving and we became meal partners and shared triathlon stories and the like, it made me feel pretty comfortable. The first two days I sat with two German guys and two ladies that were very nice and welcoming. Turns out one of the guys was the pro Olaf Sabatschus. He had just come off a Ironman win only five weeks ago, and ended up getting second overall at Ironman Brazil. Also, turns out one of the ladies I ate breakfast with was Hillary Biscay, and she ended up getting second overall too. So there I was a bright eyed age grouper unaware I was having meals with two of best professional triathletes in the world. Pretty neat huh? Finally on the third day, a guy came up to me informed that I have been sharing stories with some of the best pros competing in Brazil. both Olaf and Hillary were super nice and very unassuming, like I said I did not even know they were pros. They did not boast or brag about their successes, and were very willing to share some tips with me. I thought that was pretty cool. I honestly do not think in any other sport that would be possible. Could you imagine trying to sit down at a continental breakfast with a top NBA of MLB player? I know triathletes are not on the same level as basketball or baseball players in terms of media attention, but honestly, do you think they would let some random guy plop down next to them and ask them a bunch of questions? Probably not. Two days before the race my stuff arrived and eagerly built all my stuff and did a mini triathlon: I threw on my wetsuit and did an ocean swim infront of the hotel, transitioned into running gear, did a short run, transitioned, and rode my bike for about thirty minutes. It felt really good to finally 'feel' like a triathlete and not just a spectator. A simple analogy would be; someone in the Army going to war and upon arrival realizing that you do not have your camo clothes, boots, or weapon, and being surrounded by hundreds of others who DID have everything. Now you can understand why I marooned myself down the island on a deserted beach. It was hard to be excited about the race when I did not even know I would make it to the starting line. However, at worst, I figured if I did not get my stuff I would go the the race expo with a credit card in hand and buy all new stuff to get through the race. I figured I put in WAY too much effort and money to sit on the sidelines.
Thankfully, everything came and I was ready to rock and roll. After my mini triathlon and cleaned up and took a much needed nap, I felt like I could finally relax so sleep came pretty natural. That night was the pasta dinner (aka the carb-loading dinner). The dinner was in a huge expo center beside the transition area. I was by myself and I walked in looking for a familiar face and finally my friend Joe an Ironman vet shuffled me over to a table near all the food (great idea). He said he did Brazil last year and everybody bum-rushes the food and if you are not the first one there you will wait in line and get crappy left overs. He knew what he was talking about, because we were sitting back at our table with plates full of food while the line started snaking around the dinner hall. Joe's coach was also at the table; pro Terry Kerrigan (also the cycling coach of Joanna Zeiger). I picked his brain for the next hour while samba dancers and Brazilian drummers did their thing on the main stage. He knew his stuff, and I will blog about this in a later nutirtion post. I got his contact info so hopefully he can help me with my cycling. The one thing that triathletes do well is share information. But a few times during the night I felt like I was on the brink of information overload.
I managed to learn quite a few things during the week before the race. One main thing I learned is that everybody is different. Everybody has their own strategies that work for them. I have never met a triathlete that trains or eats the same as another triathlete. You will continuously hear people talking about 'miracle cures' that heal mid-race ailments but what works for someone most likely will not work for you. This one guy went into detail about what he puts in his run special needs bag (a bag you put items you think you might need half way through the marathon). He puts a snickers bar, a coke, and bazooka bubble gum. I could not help but laugh, but he swore by it. Other people sware by salt tablets, or drinking chicken soup, or putting salt packets in their water bottle. There are just so many variations of concoctions out there you start to question your own methods. And what is even better is that even the pros that I talked to change their nutrition plan before every Ironman. So, there is no 'one' thing that works, but a combination of various things, and one can only find out what works by trying new things at each event until you finally find something that works. Think of it like nutritional Russian roulette. I will get into my race-day report and some other things I learned in some later posts.