Saturday, August 09, 2008
UtaHalf Race Report
Long posts can be tedious to read. This is going to be a long post, but one that I think may be worth reading. So, for your convenience, I've condensed it down a short version. The short version: -The organization was severly lacking. -It's sheer stupidity for me to do long races in the middle of the summer. -Triathletes can't seem to ride a straight line, but non-race racing roadies (I'm talking about the ULCER here) have are color-blind to yellow. While this may not look like the short version, I assure you it is. I was out there for a long time. Pre-Race Three hours of fitful sleep didn't quite refresh me like I hoped when 4:40 rolled around. I got up, went through my race-day routine and arrived at Utah Lake State Park nearly on schedule. The line of cars queued up at the entrance to the Utah Lake State Park was an ominous sign of things to come . You see, the organizers were collecting a parking fee and figured that instead of using the two lanes already there, they'd block off one lane. Nothing like sitting in line in your car at 5:30 a.m. Fortunately, the poor organization was spaced through-out the day. Upon arriving at the race venue, I thought I knew the swim was going to be one-lap, the bike course headed to west mountain and included four aid stations, and the run included part of the road around the airport and as well as the river trail. It turns out the organizers decided on a two lap course that morning. Confusion abounded as race time approached and no one really knew where we were going. I don't know how they measured the course initially, but even they admitted afterwards that it was too long. The problem for me is that I have a hard time judging distances in open water and so count on the race organizers to have the distances measured correctly. Seeing how long it took me to do the swim, I started the bike even more discouraged than normal. As I made my way through the bike leg, I was nearly hit by a car in a roundabout by the Provo Town Center. The driver was looking to see if anything was headed into the roundabout while failing to look to see if there was anything already in the roundabout. I shouted to get her attention, to which she honked and yelled. I responded with a full version of a TLA (three-letter acronym, courtesy of Jon). It's one of the TLA's that the youngsters are fond of texting. And it wasn't LOL or OMG. A slight headwind slowed me as I made my way toward Lake Shore. I've ridden that road enough times to know that given the time of day, it'd probably be a head-wind on the way back as well. I was making good time and at around mile 14 I started looking for the first aid station. Nothing. You see, instead of four aid stations on the bike, the organizers decided on one instead. Unfortunately for me, I set up the water bottles on my bike on a four aid station strategy as I count on organizers to have the course according to the information they publish on their website the week of the event. I know, foolish on my part. I noticed two things as I limped into the only aid station. One is that triathletes do a masterful job of drafting in races, but can't seem to stay off others' wheels in group rides. Tight groups of five or six in full aero tucks made their way past me on their way back. Maybe I'm just weird, but I wouldn't consider a time to be worth anything if I'd cheated to get it. The other thing I noticed is that century riders are color blind to yellow. The ULCER and the UtaHalf shared the same route, so excitable types in Rock Racing jerseys started coming the other direction as I headed back from the turn. Three or four of these guys in every group would be riding on the wrong side of the yellow line. This wouldn't have been a big deal if the roads were closed, but they weren't. As a result, several cars swinging wide of these guys pushed me into the gravel on my side of the road. On the way back, one of my two water bottles rattled out at a cattle guard and spilled onto the road. One water bottle wasn't enough as I made my way from Lakeshore with another head wind. As a result, when I started the run, I was already getting dehydrated. Good thing on the run there were eight aid stations and the shade to look forward to. The run did have some shade and there were eight aid stations. On most out and back legs of more than a mile, there's usually an aid station at the turn around where volunteers are making sure you run the whole leg. The problem was that a three mile stretch of the run headed through a festering swamp with very little shade. And no aid station. The pavement simply ended and a spray-painted u-turn sign on the pavement told you to turn around. With that, my dehydration was complete and I spent much of the rest of the day walking while trying to rehydrate. At some points, I'd get enough fluid in to start to well enough to run again, but those were short lived. It was a long day that may have cured me of the long course. I'll save that discussion for another post.