Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dan Oryall: USA Triathlon Collegiate Nationals #6

This is the final entry in Dan Oryall's blog at the USA Triathlon Collegiate Nationals. Click here for part one, part two, part three, part four and part five.

On Saturday, I woke up and it was again raining, which was nothing new. The temp outside was fairly chilly (low 60's) but I figured it would heat up as the day progressed. I threw a few more dry long items into my bag in case it didn't get warmer. When we arrived at the park there was already a long line of cars waiting to park and unload. We finally got parked and I started to unload, constantly checking my watch to make sure I was still on time.

I started walking down the road towards transition when I saw a large group of athletes starting to pile up. As I walked closer I noticed that the water in the lake had risen high enough to overflow the road that lead to the transition area. Athletes had to take off their shoes, roll up their pants, and brave the cold water to get across with their bike on their back. I waded across the frigid water and started towards the transition area. When I arrived there, announcers where saying that water temps were 54 degrees. In USAT speak, this meant that wetsuits were mandatory, and no one would be allowed to swim without one. Also, they said that the swim would be cut in half. I had mixed emotions about that. First, I excel at the swim portion and I make up a bit of time there and second, once I get wet I don't really want to get out. I set up my transition area and added a few extra warm items that I would never really consider wearing in the summer.

I warmed up like normal, and with emotions on high I donned my wetsuit, cap, and goggles and headed for the beach. The start was simple, run from the beach, into the water and get to the turn bouy fast. Usually I would be one of the top swimmers to the bouy, but I had to contend with collegiate swimmers. The gun went off and we rushed into the water. The natural washing machine effect took hold of me (this is a feeling that triathletes feel when they start a mass swim start.) With many arms, legs, and bodies thrashing around it feels like you are trapped in a washing machine and can't get out. I struggled to get into my groove being trapped in the middle of the pack. The wind was blowing waves in my mouth disrupting my breathing and being stuck in the pack wasn't helping. I finally got into open space and started to move. By the time I saw the swim exit I could tell that my feet and hands were cold. Dreading getting out I braced for the impact of the rocky swim exit.

I got out of the water and stumbled to my transition area with cold feet. I arrived there with many other athletes all who were putting on necessary cold gear. The wind by this time was gusting from 20-30 mph. I grabbed my bike and talked to the big man upstairs asking him to keep me upright and safe for the next 25 miles. The wind was so bad I didn't have the opportunity to take my hands off the handlebars for fear of tipping over. I passed and was passed by many. At the halfway point I was sick of the wind, and had to go the next 6 miles with it hitting me in the face. At one point I could have ran faster than I was biking. I finally finished the bike and with numb feet started my run.

My body was so sore from struggling and gripping my bike so tight for the last 40K that my run felt more like a hang on and finish. At this point I was focused on one thing...finishing. My body ached and it screamed to my brain to stop. Cold, tired, and way beyond sore I pushed on until I came across the finish line. My goal for this was sub (under) 2 hours 20 minutes (2:20:00). I came in at 2 hours 16 minutes. Even though I swam half the distance I would have normally, I was happy that I had achieved my goal.

With all of this being said, I am proud that I represented Edgewood College well at the event. I was 217th overall out of over 600 athletes, and 156th out of 380 total undergraduate males.


No comments: