26 June, 2012

My Welland Half Iron - getting faster, and stupider

111/403 OA
7/35 AG

Bottom line: Really happy to have not over-cooked the 90k bike portion, allowing my 1:40:XX run time to come in just over 6% slower than my stand-alone half-marathon PB - 2nd out of 35 in my AG!

Overall I enjoyed myself quite a bit on Sunday in spite of my struggles with a passive-aggressive semi-conscious ambivalence for the swim that saw me forget yet again to pack my goggles. I usually rotate between a few pairs of ordinary, unremarkable goggs that are well broken in, straps just right, etc etc. You know the types:
This time around, as I scoured the expo for a quick fix, I decided I'll live life on the edge and spice up my growing collection of emergency acquisitions. I'd heard good things about the Aqua Sphere line, and when one merchant passed me his Vista model to try, I shoved it against my face and immediately heard a comforting farting sound as air whooshed out (not what you're thinking)(that was later, on the run) et voila! they stuck firm. I was sold - they stayed put without even their straps, plus the wide contact perimeter promised less vivid raccoon eyes, how could I go wrong?! I quickly donned my wetsuit and dove into the lake minutes before the start to see about setting the strap tension and getting in a brief warmup. The Vistas worked wonderfully... until I took a few strokes.

It would seem my cadaver-like lack of cheek meat meant these impostors just perched against my face in perfect conditions. Once I added in head rotations and sideways leans, the enchanting suction washed away in a flood of water.
A little (masochistic?) thrill of panic ensued. The shoreline of the canal was fairly steep, rocky and slimy underfoot, so I could hardly remain steady as the Race Director held up his tiny air horn like an executioner's axe and called out "Two minutes!" Each time I feverishly rammed the now-soaked Vistas against my face that same farting sound occurred but it was amplified by the wetness - as any self-respecting 11 year-old boy with a wet palm and open armpit would know - resulting in all sorts of offended looks from those treading water near me. They mostly swam closer to the start line, no doubt to avoid the risk of following me, just in case.
The horn blew. With a final shove-n-seal I gingerly took off, hoping against hope that "this time," if I was really clever about it and careful with not changing the shape of my face, and promised to do more volunteer work during holidays, things would hold together. That lasted all of about three strokes. I tried to convince myself it wasn't that bad, but the water sloshing against my eyeball told me otherwise. I instinctively closed my left eye and carried on stroking, evaluating my situation on the fly (as if I had a choice). It appeared that if I gave up bilateral breathing and continued to only roll to the right, my right eye might just stand a chance by remaining above the water surface the entire time. So Popeye the Sailor Man it was: I resigned myself to an overly-exaggerated roll, to one side only, for the entire 2000m. Once again, a whack of swim training sort of goes out the window, though I am sure if it weren't for the base fitness of all those laps I would have been in quite the dire straits. * To be fair to Aqua Sphere, I am certain that taking a reasonable amount of time to set these up right they'll be a fine pair of goggs.

Otherwise things went well enough. Lots of pelotons formed on the bike portion, helped in part by the flat course and the mass start, but at least the officials were doling out time penalties left & right (maybe next time they can be for > 2 mins. because the benefits could be seen as outweighing the drawbacks) The run was mercifully shaded along the canal, and when coupled with some overcast spells I think we collectively dodged a big hazard; nevertheless many many folks were walking by the time their second loop came around.

Great event, the volunteers bent over backwards for us, traffic control was tops - kudos to Multisport Canada, the organizers for this. But a note to them: Next year, please time it or route it differently from the Welland Rose Festival Parade. After queuing up for more than a half hour watching Shriners peeling around in their little go karts, and hearing the approaching thumps and tinkles from yet another marching band, I found myself wanting to tackle the next crowd-flashing clown blocking my exit from the parking lot.

Had I known, I might have climbed out from the start, tightened up my Vistas for a dry-eyed swim, and finished 10 minutes later.

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