Tuesday, October 25, 2016

2016 XTERRA World Championships Race Report

Phew, it’s been a long trip to Hawaii.  I’m not going to complain - you’ll never hear me complain on this blog - but it almost feels like it’s been TOO long. We arrived in Hawaii on September 29th and we are right now on our flight home on the evening of the 23rd.  So yea, it’s been a while. 10 days in Kailua-Kona followed by 14 days in Kapalua, Maui is definitely a jam packed month of hotness.  I mean that both literally and figuratively, as Hawaii has been hot and humid but also hot as in full of stolen goods. No...wait, that was wrong.  Lots of fit people have been the name of the game. Lots of FAST people.  I suppose that should be taken for granted when you’re competing in two World Championship events (world championships because the companies that produce them CALL them world championships, mind you) but it didn’t really quite click for me until racing my own.

Race week itself had a lot of rain.  It rained at various points pretty much every day we were in Maui but I feel like late Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday contained about a day’s worth of rain.  I read somewhere that this part of Maui (northwest) gets about 400 inches of rain a year (which is insane), and I believe it after our two weeks here.  Oddly, if you go just a bit further south to Lahaina (the biggest town on the west side of the island) it is mostly sunny.  This paragraph is called foreshadowing, by the way.

The bike course (and the run course, which starts out on the same trails and finishes on similar trails) has a lot of...well, it has a lot of mud.  There’s a mix of different types of mud: clay, volcanic, sticky, icky, gooey. All of those ended up being present on race day with the aforementioned rain. I made some hasty tire changing decisions (had to buy a new front tire and swap my formerly front tire onto the rear) and some emergency hacks for preventing mud buildup (thanks Ryan! Spray silicone held off the gunking mud for longer than if I hadn’t had it, i am sure) but other than those things there wasn’t all that much I could do. It would be a grip it and rip it kind of day on both the bike and the run.  My honest goal was simply to make it through the bike course with my machine intact and functional.  I didn’t have a time goal, or even a placing goal; just get to the finish and stop as few times as possible and don’t break any of my expensive bike s***.

The swim, on the other hand, kind of excited me.  I’ve never done a rough water ocean swim triathlon, but I have swum in plenty of rough water ocean.  Our family's’ time at the beach growing up was going to help me navigate the surf much better than my counterparts, or at least that’s what I hoped. I was also banking on my superior non wetsuit swimming abilities as compared to XTERRA Utah, which was wetsuit legal.  Wetsuits let a lot of people who aren’t fast in the water pretend to be fast.  No dice on that for Maui.

I did bike course recon, obviously. What I saw was not especially impressive from a technical standpoint, it was just plain difficult.  Lots of climbing (3200’ of elevation gain) from sea level up to a high point of about 1500’ nestled in the West Maui mountains.  Most of the trails are on private land (upper section) and are not used regularly (if at all?) and so aren’t really “ridden in,” so to speak.  That goes doubly for the “lower section” (first 3.5 miles and last 5.5 miles of bike course), which is “cut” the week of the race through the tall grass on the old golf course (seriously, there are golf balls EVERYwhere) and is only packed down by the athletes that week.  So, consequently, it feels like a slow rolling bike course.  Very soft, in some ways. But the takeaway during practice (lower section on Monday, upper section on Wednesday, lower section on Friday) was how absolutely disgustingly sloppy the course could be with lots of rain (especially noticed during Friday’s ride, which prompted the emergency changes to the bike setup!).  It really does not drain well, if at all.  There are sections with standing water that is near shin deep and essentially (by the time race day rolled around) were just gigantic mud pits.  I actually came to a physical stop in one of these on race day and my bike made that comical “sucking” noise when I pulled it out of the mud.  So in summary, when Christine asked how long I’d be out on the bike for her planning purposes as super spectator, I said “anywhere from 1:45 to 2:30” depending on how dry or wet the course is…

Fast forward to race day.  9:04am start in Hawaii time (it is VERY weird being on HST for almost a month, by the way.  You never realize how many junk emails you get each morning until you wake up at 7am HST but it’s already 1pm EST.  Also, football is on at 7am. Also weird) for all males under age 39.  This was nice, as it meant waking up at 6am gave me plenty of time on race morning.  I had a couple of cups of coffee (not a fan of Kona coffee, I’ve decided...after having it a LOT these past few weeks), some breakfast, and then rolled my bike down to transition (we were staying in a golf villa about a 15 minute walk from transition, pretty awesome!) before running back up to the villa to relax a bit before getting back into the fracas.

We walked down to transition again, where I set up my run stuff and then we headed down to the beach to scope out the swim scene.  Conditions were definitely LEGIT. This wasn’t going to be some glass smooth swim, no sir! The shore break was strong and the swells were pretty sizable even all the way out to the buoys.  The course was basically an “M” with two triangle “loops” and a beach run to connect the two. After the various ceremonial stuff, we were all lined up and ready to rock and roll…

Headed out to warm up a bit

Swim - 24:06 - 1st AG (whooooooaaaaaa)

I was lined up on the front row on the far left, and there weren’t too many people around me.  The announcer had said the current was moving strong from right to left (when looking out at water from beach, which is the “direction” the course goes) but watching the pros who had started ahead of us it didn’t look like there was too much of it, so I was content over there.  I was expecting to get pummeled, but I made it through the shorebreak and there was NO one around me.  Nobody to my left, nobody to my right…  

That's me raising my right arm on the left!

Very strange. I ended up getting passed by either 2 or 3 guys before we got to the first buoy, but the gap remained relatively small as we turned and came back towards shore.  The way back was easier than the way out, but I was still sighting on almost every single stroke as timing the swells was difficult, at best.  I didn’t manage to catch any waves on the way in, but could tell there were more guys around me at this point.  

Making the turn to head out on lap 2
Rounding the flags

Not too crowded though, which was nice.  The next lap spread out everybody a bit more, and getting out of the shore break this time was VERY tiring after running on the beach for 15-20 seconds.  I made it out to the second buoy without too many issues and turned around and headed for the finish. I had passed quite a few pro women and not a small number of pro men (at least, that I could see).  It had clearly been a tough swim for everyone, as people were spread out ALL over the place.

Headed up to transition

Also, the distance on the Strava file is wrong, by the way. My running watch doesn't like being worn in the water for swimming and doesn't have the fancy algorithms the multisport watches do for wrist-worn swimming!

T1 - 2:24

The run was entirely uphill so I took it pretty easy. In transition I put on socks (didn’t want chafing with all the mud we were gonna experience) and went ahead and put on my gloves.  Not the speediest, but didn’t waste any time really.

Bur first, lemme get up this hill
Ready to roll

Bike - 2:19:32 - 15th

I don’t want to get too long with the bike.  Let’s describe this in terms of feelings, in rough order:

  1. Stay smooth, don’t go crazy
  2. Holy crap it’s muddy!
  3. Dammit, off the bike already?!
  4. Note to self, don’t hit ANY roots at a slant out here if you want to stay upright
  5. It’s kind of hot out here
  6. It’s raining again
  7. I didn’t expect to be walking my bike uphill this much
  8. Walking a bike uphill in slick mud is not fun
  9. Those athletes that have toe spikes on their shoes have got to be slaying it
  10. I can’t believe that pro woman just rode up this entire hill! Claps
  11. Yea I’m about ready to be done with this
  12. Can we please stop climbing? Please?
  13. See #11
  14. See #12
  15. Oh thank god, back on the lower section
  16. More roots, the sheer joy of this overwhelms me
  17. This is the hardest f***ing bike course ever, and not in a good way
  18. My bike hates me
  19. See #11
  20. Pull out the large tree branch stuck in my derailleur
  21. See #11
  22. Put chain back on for the 10th time
  23. See #11
  24. Finished, thank the tiny little gymnast baby Jesus

So yea, that’s it in a nutshell.  It was a true struggle. I’m not sure how big a fan I am of the idea of a “world championship” course being so subject to weather patterns.  When I say that was the hardest triathlon race bike ride I have EVER done (or ever hope to do) I am doing two things:

  1. Not exaggerating
  2. Not meaning it in a “fun” and “happy” way

That s*** was just plain ridiculous. My bike was COVERED in mud. My body was COVERED in mud (and I never even actually fell!). My nostrils had mud in them.  In fact, every orifice in my body had likely gotten mud in it at one point or another.  My lower back was on FIRE from all of the seated climbing (can’t stand up to climb because your rear tire gets NO traction) at low cadence and extremely high torque. My hands hurt. My neck hurt. My forearms and triceps hurt. My quads, adductors, hamstrings, calves, and achilles hurt (the latter two from the walking uphill).  It was just ridiculous. I’d pass someone fixing their bike, then they’d pass me when I had to fix mine.  People littered over the course with mechanical issues, just making do as best they could.  

Yea, a bit muddier than at the beginning
Still muddy

But, I survived. And I still had a damn run to do!!!

T2 - 1:22

Not much to report here, pretty clean.

Run - 58:44 27th AG

Sweet salesman baby Jesus, the run.  All I could think of the last ¼ of the bike was the fact that after ALL of that ridiculousness, I still had to get off that bike and run 6.5 miles on basically the same course.  Do I sound excited? Well, I was. Knowing that the first half of the course went uphill, my real goal was just to survive that as best I could. With the cramping issues I’ve been experience on XTERRA run courses this year and last year, I figured I was likely due for more of the same.  In spite of fueling pretty well and consistently on the bike, the sheer difficulty of the nearly 2.5 hours I spent on the bike was pretty overwhelming.  When I WAS actually running my stride didn’t feel too bad, but I was really just managing various discomforts.  My adductors being the worst offender, but also my right hamstring and both vastus medialis..es.  I tried to manage as best I could, but definitely gave up quite a few spots in the first 30-40 minutes of the run.  I’m not gonna lie, it is quite frustrating.  Take it to the road and I can outride and outrun just about most people.  Take it off road, however, and my road going stride just doesn’t quite cut it the same.  Oh well #roadtriathleteproblems

Slowly, but surely
The tortoise wins, right?

Once the course trended downhill, I was able to pretty much run continuously with the exception of a nasty last climb about .5mi from the finish line.  

The WORST part, however, of the ENTIRE run course was the 400m we spent running in soft sand on the swim start beach before getting to the sidewalk finishing line. I only ran it because the sheer shame of walking in the last 400m with all of the spectators watching would have overwhelmed me.  Given that I have my name on my kit, the shame is very specific ;)

Despite all of these aforementioned #firstworldproblems I managed to cross the line, and feel quite satisfied about it.  I was honestly just ecstatic to cross the line, both because it finished off the hardest race of my triathlon career, and because it meant I could stop moving.

So muddy, you can't see age groups

Pretty much says it all

Despite all of the complaining I have done in the previous 2200 words, I am pleased with this race.  I have not raced a “world championship” level event before and, though I expected to have a humbling day, I was not expecting this level of course difficulty.  I can’t even say that I think this type of course difficulty is even really good, as I would much rather RACE than simply survive.  I don’t like depending on luck to make or break my race.  I definitely have to say that XTERRA Oak Mountain is - to me anyway - a far better test of off road swim + bike + run, as the course is not AS dictated by the weather.  But maybe that’s just sour grapes.  I am very pleased with the result, as being top 5 american (although we only generally say that because internationals kick our asses so bad!) is never a bad thing, and I am really pleased and proud to have simply crossed the line.  I’ve come a long way with my XTERRA racing and have showcased some great fitness gains and specific skills I’d never had previously, but I think it may be time to get back on the road next year…

Uhh, THIS for 550 bucks and that hard of a race??

That being said, I CANNOT overemphasize how difficult this race was. A bit of a broken record, perhaps, but I really want to try and put into words the feelings of this race.  I would be extremely surprised if anybody was able to RIDE the whole course.  I suppose it’s possible, but the feeling of getting off your bike and walking up an incline you barely get traction on in your bike shoes is, in a word, FRUSTRATING.  The feeling of riding a bike that is so gunked up with mud and grass and other junk is like trying to wade through waist deep honey. Riding a bike up a hill that’s steep enough to require you being in your 30 x 42t gearing (easiest gear on many mountain bikes) at 60rpms is hard enough, add in 10 pounds of mud and s*** and slippery, often non existent traction is...hard. Professional winning times were 30 minutes slower than 2015.  30 minutes!! That’s a HUGE chunk of time.  How the top guys went under 3 hours is beyond me. Usually on the road I can wrap my head around how much faster the fast people are than me because it’s really a mechanical equation. But in this? I have no idea.

A little diry
I encourage EVERYONE to try and race off road triathlon at some point. It will give you an entirely new perspective on what “hard” means. People think a half ironman is hard (myself included)...HA. Try racing through that s*** for 4 hours! My bike split was roughly time equivalent to a 70.3 (a little under 2.5hrs) but the physical stress of those 2.5 hours was exponentially more taxing. I have no power meter, so can’t quantify its training stress with watts, but ultimately those only tell an exceptionally small portion of the story on the mountain bike.  It was a battle, and I’m tougher because of it.

Here are some great videos that recap some of the action:

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Some thoughts on Kona and some other thoughts

Well, Kona was a spectacle. The hype around the race is ... well it's a lot of hype.  The course itself is mostly uninteresting and difficult mainly due to the fact that the bike and runs are along a coastline. As a consequence, it is windy and (frequently) very sunny.  Kailua-Kona is populated, the entire week, with a lot of triathletes that are really fast.  What that essentially means, however, is that the town is full of...frustrating people.  There's a lot of "me first" attitudes being tossed around, which I suppose is pretty normal in the triathlon world.  Athletes do it, coaches do it, manufacturers do it...it's ubiquitous! Just imagine: if you took the fastest and most serious people at every Ironman race and lumped them all into one small town for a week ... there'd be consequences!

As cynical and jaded as I sometimes seem to be about Ironman and road triathlons (and maybe triathlon in general) I really am just hiding a little bit of jealousy that I haven't qualified for Kona and haven't raced Ironman successfully in quite some time.

Speaking of that, I was having a discussion with Christine the other day about how everyone in Charlotte seems to have signed up for next year's Ironman Wisconsin.  This has got me thinking that - although Wisconsin has never been a race I've been eager to do - the time may have come to get back on the road.  She agreed, saying that it was time I "stopped hiding in the woods!"

So, with the last race of the year on the horizon, what should I do???

Option 1)

Continue to hide in the woods

Option 2)

Return to the glory days of road triathlon

Option with the most votes will win the prize (the prize being me doing that thing, obviously).

Full Distance #1 - B2B 2009
Full Distance #2 (dnf) - Louisville 2010

Full Distance #3 (dnf) - Cozumel 2013

Friday, October 7, 2016

Hawaii Travels Diary - Day 7 - Only 24 hours now...

A little less than 24 hours from now, the professional men's field will have started their world championship journey.  Soon after them, the professional women.  Then, after a nice big gap, the age group men and age group women will have separate wave starts.  Hopefully this all adds up to a nice, clean race for everyone involved. So, more importantly, what's my race day plan??

I'm glad you asked.  Well, our first step will be to park the car inland of the Kuakini Hwy.  Because once the race gets going, there's no getting any vehicle across a lane of travel that the race itself is using.  I'm a little curious as to how many spectators will be attempting to go watch their athletes on the bike course.  There's really only 1 or 2 places to go out on the bike, so I'm curious if it will be crowded.  Fewer people here will have cars available to them vs. a "regular" Ironman so maybe it won't be too crowded.

So park the car and then go watch everyone flail through the ocean for roughly an hour.  Then, once everyone has gotten onto their two wheeled machine you actually see them 3 times at the "hot corner." Once at mile .01, again at maybe mile 1, then again at maybe mile 8 or 9.  Then after that point they're off on the Queen K for the rest of their journey. It's at this point that Christine's mom and I will head off to our bike vantage point.  It'll take us about an hour, but we'll see the bike course at roughly mile 40 and mile 79 at which point we'll cheer loudly and make a bunch of noise and then hop back in the car to hustle back into town and try and beat Christine off the bike. The chances of seeing complete meltdowns out on the bike at those two points would be classified as "high." That is exciting...as it will be payback time for everyone that has been busting around Ali'i like they're gonna win the world championship in the days leading up to the race...

But some will manage to get off their bikes with a fast (ish) marathon ready to roll in their legs. We'll be watching up and down Ali'i drive, as the condo is right on the road and is close to the hub of the race, which is uber convenient.  I believe I should be able to ride out on the Queen K on my bike to peruse the racer's faces and gauge who is going to finish strong and who is going to just finish. Sadly, I will not have a megaphone. In previous races where I spent the day spectating, having a megaphone really made everything significantly better. At the end of the day, each athlete here has spent multiple thousands of dollars for the priveledge of being here, most likely using up points, using others' points, gofundme'ing their race, asking their parents for money, dipping into their savings, etc...so no one is allowed to complain tomorrow. NO ONE! Although I will be complaining, a lot. But also cheering. I will cheer as good as I know how (which is not that good). I'm pretty excited to watch this spectacle.

It's difficult to describe the "feel" of this race, but it is certainly unlike any other IM event I have seen.  Admittedly, I've not been to a world championship level race before, but I don't see how anything can quite match this.  The manufacturer side of things is huge, as so many take this week to debut new products or services.  There are more family members and spectators here, because it's an Ironman and it's in Hawaii (vs. a 70.3 WC in other places).  And each athlete here (or almost each athlete here) is part of a specific and select group of athletes.  You take the people at every Ironman event who are the most "special" (I mean that in a multitude of ways) and you put them all in one race and you've got a LOT of "special" people. I think you can guess what type of vibe I'm talking about on this one... If you can't, read my previous blogs.

Less than 24hours now! (I had to take a break to go run some 4:30/mi pace along Ali'i Drive ;)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Hawaii Travels Diary - Day 6 - It's getting closer...

The newest aero road bikes debut in Kona
I was having a discussion with Christine yesterday who, like everyone else here on the island, is about ready to get this dang thing over with.  We were walking into the expo area to try and find a new front hydration system for her and we were talking about how warm and humid it's been so far.  Being from Tucson, this humidity is definitely noticeable.  It hasn't been THAT long, however, since we've both been on the east coast so we shouldn't be that out of sorts when it comes to that sweet sweet dew point that feels like you're walking, running, and biking around in a plastic bag. Everything is just so...moist.  I hate that word, so when I use it you KNOW I mean it!

But anyway, back to the original thread of this story. Christine was saying how much she'd like it to be overcast on Saturday, and I told her that then EVERYbody would do better.  The harder the conditions, the more likely a tough, well trained athlete is likely to flourish. We had a discussion as well earlier in the week about her "cake has been baked" already (David's way of saying "the hay is in the barn" but I like baking more than farming so it's a much better version of that expression) in an effort to discuss how little some of the workouts matter this week.  They matter in the sense that the sharpening effect is well worth it if the workouts are well designed and timed but they don't matter in the sense of increasing your fitness.  Nobody's fitness is going to increase by race-day, and the athletes busting their ass up and down Ali'i drive are certainly only - if anything - diminishing their chances of having a good race Saturday...

BUT ANYWAY, I keep getting sidetracked.  I'm a very tangential blogger, as some of you who have been reading me for years may have discovered (mom).  Christine said overcast is better, I said hot is better. She said, "but what if I crumble??" I responded by saying: "a well baked cookie never crumbles."

So that's my anecdote from yesterday.  If you trust in your training, trust in your plan, execute on race day, and adapt as necessary to changing dynamic...you can't have a bad race! (I realize the irony of me saying this by the way, so take it for what it's worth).  The tougher conditions will only bring out the toughest athletes.

I have one or two rants to throw in this blog as well:

Safeway - what the heck is up with groceries here? 99% of the people on this island are here for days or a week, and yet the grocery store has higher priced, large sized items. There are no "travel sizes" available. Yet they KNOW most of the customers are transient, vacation based customers.  I mean, $8 for a bottle of Heinz ketchup is atrocious. Luckily, I can exist on frozen pizza, bagels, and lunch meat. But still!

DB cyclist/triathletes - Sebastian Kienle even tweeted about this. It's so annoying watching athletes here - who are under the biggest spotlight in the triathlon world, so to speak - continually disregard traffic signals; be it stop signs or stop lights or what have you.  It's extremely frustrating that in this environment they feel like it's ok to risk their safety and the reputation of everyone here.  City residents probably hate this week enough without some douchebag cyclists rolling through town and running stop signs and red lights. Get your s*** together athletes! No excuses.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Hawaii Travels Diary - Day 5 - More observations

Selfie Pro

I started off today by discovering the sheer joy that is facebook live video broadcasting.  As you may be aware, I went a little overboard yesterday.  If you're not aware, head over to my facebook page and give all of that deliciousness a look-see.  I promise you, nay I swear to you, that it will be worth it.  You actually don't realize the pressure "live" video imparts on you and your script (just kidding, I didn't have a script; not sure if you could tell) as opposed to recorded video.  There's SO MUCH PRESSURE!

I spent another annoying hour at the Kona Aquatics pool, dealing with people who have the strangest taper workouts I've yet to see in triathlon. Thankfully, I have a smart coach and I know he'd never assign me 100s of breaststroke in my lead up to an Ironman event... Can't say the same about some of these athletes.
I guess this signage needs to be in every male locker room

Christine and I also joined up with Heath to go run in the energy lab, which was pretty fun.  That's the one place on the course (I think) that spectators aren't allowed to go so it was nice to see and try and get a feel for what everyone will be going through.  It's definitely hot, and while it might not have felt that bad today during our 45 minute easy trot, I can almost certainly guarantee that it will feel MUCH worse for everyone on Saturday.

Heading into the Lab

Coming out of the Lab

We saw Jan Frodeno and Terrenzo Bozzone running out of the lab, and when we were getting back to the car we saw Jesse Thomas heading out for a little scouting trip.  He was wearing aviators, which honestly seems like an absolutely awful choice as far as sporting optics go.

I also saw the TriRig Omni in person, which I'm happy to say has absolutely no visual appeal to me.  To be honest, none of the beam bikes are appealing to me, including the new P5x.  If I HAD to choose one of the current "beam" bikes my choice would be pretty easy: the Ventum.

Luckily I don't have to choose! My classic P3 works just fine...for now.

TriRig Omni

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Hawaii Travels Diary - Day 4 - Swimming

Let's start off on the right foot today. I want to begin by thanking Kailua-Kona (or I suppose its residents) for hosting this race, and further thank them for having a free multi lane training pool available that is within walking distance of downtown.  That is truly awesome, and I'm sure the expense of that is settled soundly on the shoulders of the local tax payers.  It's impressive how much they are willing to sacrifice for this one week of what I can only imagine must be absolute hell for them. I'm sure athletes bring in a lot of money (just look at the restaurant prices!) to this small town but...money can't buy happiness.

Now, let's talk more about this pool. This morning I rode my bike over to the pool as Christine did her OWS and bike ride to get in a workout in a pool environment so my pacing could be a little more specific. I am not sure what exactly I expected, but I certainly did not expect the level of crowding that I encountered.  Matt Dixon was there with his "fast" and he coached a slightly slower group later.  Every lane was full and every lane was circling. I waited for a while and caught up with Leigh-Ann, another Charlotte/Davidson resident who was doing to hop in with Matt's group shortly. 

 After a while I decided that - no matter what - I was going to be sharing with some athletes so I chose a lane and asked if I could join in as I personally always like to let the people in the lane know that I am there and will be joining them, because I'm not a dick. We ended up having a merry old time for about 20 to 30 minutes as I got in the first 2/3 of my workout and they got in ... whatever it was they were doing.  I think they were Eastern European. For some reason, they had a fair amount of breaststroke in their Kona taper workout.  I'm not sure where they were getting that workout from (they had it printed on a card at the end of the lane) but if it was from a coach, that coach should be ashamed.

OWS'ing is the shizzle

But we meshed pretty well together as I was a good bit faster than them so it was easy to time my send-offs and they had a good lane awareness so knew when I was coming up on them and consequently when to let me go by them at the wall or - occasionally - in the middle of the lane. All in all, despite those guys' strange workout I'd give them a 6/10 as lane partners.  Eventually one got out and the other finished the workout 100 yards or so later at roughly the same time I was getting to one of the last parts of my workout.  He looked over at me and said - in pretty broken eastern euro english: "gut swimmah you!" I responded "thanks, good luck Saturday" and they got out and I had a blissful 2 minutes of solo lane work.  Then a lady jumped in (also Eastern European) and she was quite slow, but with only two people in the lane it was pretty easy to sort things out with such a pace disparity.

Then, calamity. We were enjoying our little shared experience in this great - free - pool when, as I was finishing one lap, I looked up and saw 4 people in yellow suits standing at the end of our lane. I thought to myself: "There's no way they'll all get in this lane, is there?" Because when 4 people doing the same workout get into a lane with 2 other people not doing the same workout, they basically control the lane. Essentially it's like the 2 people already in the lane don't even exist anymore.

And yea they all, one right after another, jumped into our lane. I got pretty annoyed by this, because that's just bad manners.  At one point I was catching one of them and I basically swam over him at the turn.  Sure, that wasn't the nicest thing in the world...but WTF! Split your shit up and put 2 people in our lane (so we'd have 4 people, which is relatively reasonable) and 2 people in a different lane.

This brings up another interesting subject: swimming mediocrity. This is the world championships of Ironman. Which is kind of like being the funniest guy at Shenanigans (also, if you can name that movie I give you MAJOR props).  Just kidding, it's a big deal to be here racing. I can't qualify, so obviously I have to make fun of everyone instead! But let's be real, Ironman rewards swimming mediocrity.

In fact, watching some people run around here, it looks like Ironman also rewards run mediocrity.

But hey, we can bike fast!