Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Big Catun (aka Big Cajun)

Building up for IM Cozumel, I figured I needed a good hit out to get some more racing intensity. Not that my WJones trainer sessions that may qualify as torture in some countries aren’t hard, but it’s always good to race against a few people to see how you’re going at the moment. After I did the Oxbow in April, I knew that Andy Kennedy would put on a first-class race. So when he put the only Olympic distance race anywhere around us on the calendar, I knew I had to drop the cash down to race it. Not to mention that False River/New Roads is one of my favorite venues to race. Maybe it’s the nice open water, maybe it’s all the live oaks and plantations, or maybe it’s Jimmy Bienvennue’s wit and his family’s hospitality at the Rear Dock. Either way, I was stoked to head down there. After the packet-pickup at Satterfield’s, it was off to sample some local cuisine (read: Subway). I knew the race was gonna be interesting as it was the first race on the speed concept, and it was the first race test since WJones and Jed simultaneously smacked me in the head about my lazy long bike training habits. So like the classic book goes, deeper into the rabbit hole I went.

Race morning was fun as always, and I really dig the system for racks that Andy’s crew uses. Number the racks with 6 bikes per rack. So simple, yet so brilliant. I was a bit bummed with the announcement that wetsuits were allowed as I wanted some non-wetsuit pain in prep for Cozumel. Anyway, after mis-timing the race start AGAIN, I got a whopping 2 minutes for warmup. Our wave went off, and I thought maybe I could swim with this Brady fish that crushed my dreams in Cajunman. Well, once again he evaded my pursuit. I lay blame squarely on my parents for not putting me in club swimming J Anyway, about 5 or 6 minutes into the swim my goggles fogged up. I mean, bad fogging. I couldn’t see the next bouy. Or are those my goggles? Wait a sec, how can it fog on the outside of my goggles? Well as it turns out, my dad’s proverb of “3days fog then it rains” came true as yesterday’s fog was back and this time it was thick as bayou water. I could barely make out Satterfield’s in the distance and just swam there.

Out of the water, I saw my buddy Brian in transition about to head out on the bike. Mini freakout moment as I thought to myself, “Self, did a guy who took 2 years off of swimming just outswim you? Are you even working in Master’s swim? Way to dig yourself a nice hole for the bike.” Well as it turns out, even though Brian is from the old school (you know just like your dad said “When the men were men”) he’s only 26. That meant he was in the first wave. Disaster averted. However, they still had a few people up the road and I needed to erase the swim damage. At Oxbow, the bike is out and back on the levy road. Well, I advocate to always checkout the course before the race. Maybe I should’ve at least had a look at the course pre-race cause we hit the turnaround cone after like 5 miles. When you’re in the pain cave, a minute seems like 10, and 5 miles could easily be mistaken for triple that. I thought though, “I am on the form and day of my LIFE!! I am already at the turnaround. BEAUTY!” Well, it turned out I was a long way from home. So to the turnaround and the surprise of having to go straight where Oxbow lets you turn left was overshadowed by seeing that on the road I was 3rd. And that’s where the magic happened. On the road I was 3rd, but I knew that with a 3min gap between waves if I caught the guy/fish that was in 2nd I would be leading the race. The first biker had the lead car on the way down the levy road, but all of a sudden I see him coming in the opposite direction with no lead car. Then 2nd place just busts a U-turn in the middle of the road. I was a bit confused and mad that this guy just cheated right in front of me. Then the lead car is headed in the opposite direction and yells something at me. Because the aero helmet covers my ears coupled with the fact that Elyse SWEARS I’m half deaf, I didn’t hear the lead car. So I hit the turnaround and the ladies’ there are way too excited to see me. At first I thought it was maybe because I looked quite dashing in my race outfit, but once I hit the cone they said “You’re the first biker!” Uh, what? Did both guys turn early? What is going on here? Before the conegate shenanigans, I was reeling in 2nd and 1st place. Now, they were way gone. Once I was on the way home, I had like a country mile between me and the next guys. I thought to myself that even if those guys turned early, the WJones torture sessions are working cause I’m crushing the bike! All I have to do is run these two guys down. Getting back into town, I found out where that country mile gap I had came from. Apparently the lead car got nervous that we went off course and started turning people around early. Now I’ll vouch for Andy and say that he runs a first class operation, so I knew that we weren’t lost on the course and there’d definitely be a well-marked turnaround. So the lead car made an honest mistake, no worries. It gave me a great opportunity to run really hard and see if I could catch anyone. During the run, Brian said something to me that stuck with me on the day and has gone up on my motivation board as almost a coined phrase, “Hey, win anyway.” Pretty simple but pretty profound. Focus on the task at hand and not the shenanigans that took place. Well it all turned out in the end, and I was fortunate enough to get the W at the Big Catun. Even with the fog and the lead car shenanigans, Andy and his crew did a great job of taking it all in stride. I’m already looking forward to defending my “Interim” Big Catun title J Author’s note: Why am I referring to The Big Cajun as The Big Catun”? Well, someone at the swim cap shop got a little confused on how to spell Cajun. Apparently it’s local diction, and hasn’t hit webster’s yet because he spelled it Catun. And Voila, the Big Catun was born.