Unfortunately, I had a very bad day. To make a long story short, I froze to death and simply could not get my body started. Feel free to read on if you want to hear how much I suffered. However, I will be very brief.
I woke up a little late and ate a small breakfast: a cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese and a banana (~450 kcal total). I rolled into the race venue at 6:35am (with a 7:00 race start) and took a whole 10 minutes to find a spot in the transition area. It was PACKED. I threw my wetsuit on, shivering to death as I removed my four layers of clothing. I hoped in the water, which was (thankfully) warmer than the outside air, albeit not very much.
This was my first open-water swim start. We swam about 100 yards off the shore and waited four or five minutes for the gun. By this time, my hands were frozen and I knew it was going to be a painful day. I attempted to draft off some of the slower guys, but I could just never get into a rhythm. Sighting was an issue on the way back because we were swimming straight into the (rising) sun. I need to get faster and more comfortable in the open water so I can follow some of the faster guys and not worry too much about sighting. Its amazing how difficult it is to swim straight in the open water, even if the water is calm.
We did have the pleasure (or horror for some, including myself) of running into some jellyfish. It was an odd sensation for my (frozen) hands.
Getting off my wetsuit was a little difficult, but it wasn’t too bad. I had to use my palms to clip my helmet because my fingers were far too cold.
Once on the bike, I came to a few daunting realizations: if I couldn’t even use my fingers to clip my helmet, how am I supposed to shift gears, use my breaks, or even put on my cycling shoes. The answer? I couldn’t. I literally rode the first lap (just over 4 miles) in a gear that was obviously too low and without wearing my cycling shoes.
I finally managed to get my feet in my shoes around mile 5, though I could not completely strap my feet in. I was also able to apply enough pressure to my shifters to get into an appropriate gear. By now, I had already lost a ton of time, and I knew that my shot at a solid performance was gone. It was very frustrating, and I finished the 21km cycle leg at a speed significantly slower than my standard training speed.
Everything was fine until I tried to clip my helmet. I spent a couple of seconds trying to apply pressure with my thumb and index finger, both of which appeared to lack any sort of useful function. Two minutes later (literally) I realized there was simply not enough blood in my fingers to apply the pressure necessary to clip my helmet. I finally had the idea to use my teeth, which worked instantly.
By now my whole body (and mind) had shut down. Nonetheless, I tried to put in a decent performance and was able to hold about 6:10/mi throughout the 5km run. It was a little nice spending the last part of the race passing a TON of other athletes, though all I could think about was getting in a hot shower.
Overall, I was pretty disappointed. I know it’s the winter, but the weather today was extraordinarily cold for San Diego. I’m not beating myself up about it though. I’m looking forward to running the Newport Mesa 10K next Sunday, and I’ll be back to Fiesta Island next month to win back some self respect at the TCSD Triathlon.