Wednesday, September 11, 2013

London Day 2 - Aquathalon, Opening Ceremony

Today was the Aquathalon with 889 athletes. It's a swim-run so I was racing without my strongest event but I still wanted to do a good job!

I started the day with breakfast at the hotel with John, a 70-74 Sprint racer from the Eastern shore who was here with his daughter Molly. We met in the lobby waiting for breakfast to start and the one thing about these races, it's super easy to meet people and have instant and effortless conversation. We talked bikes, water temperature, racing, training, injuries...the usual!

I arrived for transition setup to a long line of athletes waiting to have wetsuits checked. We had to walk up with our pants pulled down and jackets unzipped to show our team uniforms too. It's funny the things we have to do and how we pretty much have no shame.

Set up was easy. No towels allowed, so that left shoes, a race belt, and sunglasses if you wanted them. Still I lingered in there for a while, thinking I was forgetting something.

I went back to the hotel for an hour since I didn't swim till 10:45. I returned to the venue at 10, got into my wetsuit, checked my bag, and lined up with my swim wave of blue caps. I saw some of the paratriathletes come out of the water and move through transition, changing legs, blind athletes tethered to guides...pretty awesome. I also watched a guy nearly miss his swim wave and jump in to start about two minutes behind!!

There was no opportunity to warm up. We sat on the pontoon, got a signal to get in, and then off went the air horn. The cold water (61 degrees) was quickly forgotten and it was just swim, swim, swim. I have to confess I did not feel as aggressive as I should have been. I drafted some, got stuck between swimmers a few times, and found myself swimming a bit wide. It was not a great swim, and the time reflects that. Luckily I didn't know it at the time so it didn't affect my mindset for the rest of the race.

I was super happy with my run today, a 20:50, a 6:42 average. I felt like a slingshot coming out of transition and dialed it back a bit per race strategy worked out with Coach Jim. Each of the three miles was successively faster until the final that was a 6:38. My feet were a little numb from the cold swim for the first mile or so but it eventually wore off. I saw Coach Kris Swarthout ready with flags, and that was my carrot for the second lap. I grabbed the flag, made the 180 degree turn into the finish chute and was done!

 Marshall zipping Mike

 Athletes walking through to collect wetsuits from transition post-race

 Cool that the USA Triathlon CEO Rob Urbach raced today too!

 I met Karlyn Pipes at registration and we connected on race day. She is featured in one of the most-watched Vasa Ergometer video series on YouTube. She is SO freaking fast in the water. I was hoping some of that would leach into me here....

 I came across this on a van :-)

After the race, I had lunch and rested up for the team photo and opening ceremony. I saw another Team USA guy leaving the hotel with his parents and asked how they were getting to Trafalgar Square. I suggested a cab, they said they were going to take the bus so I tagged along. It took forever and the right bus never seemed to come. Eventually I just grabbed a cab for us and we made it to Trafalgar Square, JUST as the team photo was taken. We had missed it!! LOL!

It turns out this other Team USA athlete was Parker Spencer from Endorphin Fitness in Richmond, Virginia! We recognized each other from Virginia Triathlon races. I should have snapped a pic, he's definitely a rising star in triathlon in the 20-24 age group.

The forecast said 0% chance of rain, so of course it drizzled the whole evening. I met up with Endurance Films Racing teammates Laura and Diane, and we joined a few other folks and warmed up in a cafe for a bit before the opening festivities. I stuck around for that till I got too soggy then caught a cab back to the hotel to conclude Day 2.

 me, Laura, and Diane from the Endurance Films Racing Team

Post-photo. We are so glad to have jackets this year that match!

Time to sleep and get ready for another full day!! Tomorrow we have our team meeting in the morning, and I'll spend much of the afternoon with paratriathlete Sarah Reinertsen getting ready for her race the following day.

This continues to be an awesome experience!!