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Rat Snaking

Spring has really arrived in Syracuse and so we’re finally out of the snow and cold. The last two weeks have been so much more pleasant with the change in the weather. Last week Uncle Paul visited from England for work. He was in Buffalo which is about a two and a half hour drive from Syracuse. Mid week, Jay and I drove to Rochester which sits in between Buffalo and Syracuse to meet Paul for dinner. It was so nice to have family close for a week. When you live 3500 miles from home, these things are valuable and missed.


Jay, Uncle Paul and I out for dinner in Rochester

Additionally, I ventured over to Buffalo alone for the night on Thursday, when Jay was on call, to give Paul a bit of a night out in Buffalo. Buffalo is a really fun city and I have several very close friends who live there. We spent most of the evening “shooting the shit” in a great Mexican bar called Deep South Taco. A few margaritas were consumed and I gradually drew out various friends to come out and meet us. I feel pretty satisfied that I gave Paul the Buffalo experience!

My Ironman training continues to be sporadic and I need to work on my motivation. I did get accepted into Ironman Mont Tremblant in August, which is great news! I biked 65 miles the weekend before last, which was certainly my longest ride of the year. I was exhausted and really only went that far because I went so far out that when my energy levels really hit a low, I had no choice but to continue, because I had no other way to get home. I have to remember to take out enough hydration and nutrition. At about 35 miles, I was out of both. Luckily I came across a little village store so bought a few bottles of gatorade, some cheese curds and a plate of little cakes (questionable training nutrition, I admit)! You cannot understand how exciting that was, until you’re very tired and experiencing a sugar low!


The long training ride before I ran out of food and water!

One of the things that I intend to add to these blog posts are my race reports. These might be of zero interest to you so I’ll put those at the bottom of my blog. For those of you who don’t know, a race report documents in pretty good detail how a race went, what I did, mistakes that were made, lessons that were learned and successes. The idea being that this stuff is recorded to improve future race success. This last week, Jay and I both competed in a reverse triathlon called Rat Snake, and its a really really tough one. Here is my race report:

We traveled to the park the day before, which is a two hour drive. I was already tired from Paul’s Buffalo visit so pretty much as soon as we arrived at our cabin, I went to bed. I slept well and woke up feeling good. In retrospect, I should have set my alarm for 20 minutes earlier. I ate half a bagel and drank a Red Bull pretty much as soon as I awoke. This was Jays first triathlon so my focus was split between my own race prep and his. Knowing this, I should have given myself more time to ensure I got my own preparations done. So we went down to transition (where you keep your bike and gear to transition between legs of the triathlon) to get our race packets (race number, timing chip etc) and got our gear set up. About 15 minutes before the race was set to start, I realized that I’d left my speedfil (see pic above, this holds my hydration on the bike, then has a straw that comes up between my handle bars) in the cabin. I ran up to get it, quickly fitted it and filled it up. By this point it was raining hard and I was starting to feel flustered, I hate starting races like this! I was at the start in time but not as well prepared as I should have been. Anyway, this was a reverse triathlon and so you start with a very hilly 18km trail run. By the time the race started the rain was coming down hard and unfortunately the temperature had not risen, the warmest it got all day was 51 degrees Fahrenheit or 10 degrees Celsius.

Regardless, the run went well. Another silly mistake I made was forgetting my nutrition on the run. I was too busy rushing prior to the race and so started the run carrying no nutrition (nutrition is usually energy gels, equivalent to 100kcals, caffeine and electrolytes). I couldn’t believe I’d made such a rookie mistake. I ran the race with Jay, and he did have gels so I had a mouthful of two of his gels which was sufficient to keep me fueled. The rain never stopped and after about 90 minutes, I was very cold, like really felt cold to the bone. This is such a beautiful run which is on trails the whole way, the mud and hills were really fun. My pace was steady throughout, slower than the last two years I’ve done this race but the mud definitely slowed me down. We got into transition, after finishing the run in approx 2 hours 10 minutes, and were so cold.


Ratsnake run, prior to getting very cold and wet

The run is always much warmer than the bike, you don’t have the wind resistance to chill you on the run. While in transition, two other athletes dropped out and this really threw my confidence. We set out on the bike and I had real concerns about my temperature on the bike. It’s a 28 mile ride and I was already so cold. Within the first two miles, we saw four athletes who were returning to transition because they were too cold to continue. Again this shook my confidence. To add to this, I was racing with Jay, it was his first triathlon and I knew he was already physically shaking with the cold. I pulled us over after a few miles and made the decision to call it a day. I was worried about our safety on the roads when we were so cold. I know that when I’m very cold on the bike, I tend to make riskier choices and I wanted us back in one piece.

The upshot, this race for me was a DNF (did not finish) and I still have no regrets about the choice I made to stop on the bike. Safety comes first and I wasn’t going to be safe out on the roads in the torrential rain and being freezing cold. It was a bit disappointing because it’s only my second ever DNF, but the weather really was against us. It’s time to dig in with training now to ensure that there are no more DNFs in my race season!

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