- What? Goa Triathlon 113
- When? Jan 13, 2019
- How far? 113km (1.9km swim, 90k cycle, 21.1k run)
- Website? https://www.facebook.com/events/900489180143557/
|B||Get Nutrition Right||Yes|
Triathlon. Goa. Jan weather. On discovering this race, I signed up immediately.
This would be awesome way to start 2019. Or so I thought!
Few days before the race, I had a small fishing accident where my right knee banged against the rock. In next days, the pain got bearable, and I continued my training. I could not afford to skip training. Past 4 weeks had gone by with no training.
But even after 5 days of accident, the pain was not going away. On my coach’s suggestion, I went to see an Ortho doc.
Doc did an X-Ray, which revealed a hairline fracture. Doctor adviced bedrest for 3 weeks. Now, from injury to x-ray, I had already done a few training sessions - swim, bike and run. So I knew it was not that bad, but close monitoring was needed. Kaustubh (my coach) asked me to rest and recover, with no workout till event date.
I also considered dropping from the event. But as all expenses (Event Fee, Hotel, Flight) were already paid, I decided to still go ahead. If nothing else, I would at least get another open waters swim experience.
I reached Goa 2 days before the race. Coming from Cold Delhi winters to tropical Goa - it was a big and sudden change in the weather. Saturday was spent in getting a small practice swim in the sea (scary, 3rd open water swim experience), followed by bike route recee.
This time I chose not to take my cycle, but rent locally. Another experiment.
Sat evening was spent organizing my race kit. Took an early dinner, and tried (unsuccessfully) to sleep.
Event start time was 8am. I got up at 5:15 am, got ready, and had a light breakfast of omelet and coffee. I always take a light breakfast before the event, it gives stomach some nutrition too, and time to settle down.
Reaching the venue, I went directly to the transition area and arranged the stuff as per transition’s order.There was nice cold breeze. But I knew temperature and humidity will rise sharply soon.
As I was still nursing an injured knee, race strategy was very conservative - complete swim, try to complete bike, and do not run. The strategy was based on the comparative impact on the knee - swim is easy on the knee, cycling manageable, and run is most brutal on the knee.
Swim [1.9km - 59min]
Sharp at 7:50am, organizers asked us to assemble near swim start point. I did walking meditation, which helped me to be in a calm mindset and not think of sea panic. There were warnings of jellyfishes. On local friends advice, we had applied Vaseline on the body. It apparently reduces the jellyfish sting.
Swim was a single loop - go straight 900m, turn left and go 100m, come back for 900m.
At 8:05, flag off was done, we ran towards the sea. It started smooth. I slowly got into the rhythm, gradually built pace and quickly covered 500m. Suddenly I felt a sharp sting on my left arm. Ah, I was greeted by jellyfish. It was a sharp sting, and pained for a few minutes. I slowed for a bit, but continued to swim.
Soon I sighted the first 900m buoy. It was closeby. At this part in sea, water suddenly got choppy. Organizers have warned about this stretch. I started to stroke hard to stay afloat. And that is when I got my second jellyfish sting, this time on the right hand. Ah, now this was getting filmy, and I felt like a hero being tested. I actually smiled at my drama loving mind, then moved my arms faster and managed to reach the buoy.
Taking left from the buoy, water became smoother. Soon I reached next buoy (100m away) and started the return leg. On the return part, there were no buoy to sight, and shore was too far off. I followed other athletes. And around here, the third jellyfish sting happened. Right wrist this time. This was getting too much to handle. Every time I would look downwards, jellyfishes were swimming. I tried to close my eyes when head in the water, and continued the return leg.
Thankfully, I was spared from more attacks, and I soon finished the swim.
Later I checked - I ended up swimming 2200mts - full 300mts extra - because of jellyfish distraction and buoys so far off that sighting was a challenge. 300m of extra swim is easily 6-8min wasted!
T1 [7 min]
Exiting the sea, I rushed to the medical tent. They were washing stings with vinegar. Lot of other athletes were in worse condition.
I later discovered everyone got bit by jellyfish, and the average was 3 bites.
From medical tent, I ran to the transition area to fetch my cycle. As I was already wearing tri-suit, I just wore Heart Rate Monitor, sandals, helmet, gloves and off I went.
I took about 7” in this transition. This is terribly slow, but in my defense, I was busy cleaning off jellyfish stings.
Cycle [84km - 3:22hours]
It had gotten hot by this time (9:10am). Immediately on the exit, there was a sharp incline for 0.6km. I walked a bit and then cycled on reaching the main road. I was constantly watching the knee pain.
Before the race, everyone was talking about an athlete Pablo. He was champion of Goa Triathlon for last 5 years and a strong contender for this year too. When I started my first loop, I saw Pablo zipping by. I was wondering was he on his 3rd loop or 4th?
On my 2nd loop, I met one participant - Rupesh. He was cycling at a speed similar to mine. I asked him some question about his bike, and then we started to cycle together. From there, till cycle end, we were together - talking about the race, college, and dunno what all stuff. It was his first triathlon, and that too a half iron distance. This sports do draw people with serious grit towards it.
Every loop, we took hydration breaks. Sun was getting stronger.
Towards our 5th loop, we saw Pablo, who was now running. We wondered if we’ll finish our cycling or if he will finish his run first. Rupesh and I finished cycle around 12:30PM. Knee pain was manageable. Kaustubh was also cheering and asking about my knee at every possible point.
T2 [9 min]
Reaching T2, I again saw Pablo - smiling and relaxing. I understood he has finished his half iron. Damn, the dude was crazy fast. Racking the cycle, I changed into running tee and lied down on grass for a couple of minutes to stretch the back. Rupesh was waiting, i asked him to continue ahead.
Run [22.1km - 3:17hours]
Again that steep incline came. My plan was to walk for some time, and if knee is ok, then run. On reaching the top, knee was surprisingly good.
It was close to 1pm. The Sun was strong, no trees on the route, temperature was 35 deg. Savage!
I stopped at hydration station, got an ice bath. Having cold water on the body felt so good. I felt better, ran a bit faster, soon caught up with Rupesh. From here onwards, we stuck together for the next 16km.
We faced one more challenge - Ice was available only at the loop end. So 6km stretch with no ice or cold water in between! On every loop, I was doing this - get ice bath, put ice cubes in cap, run fast till body is cold (2km mostly), and then hang on till next ice stop. This continued till 17km, average a slow pace of 8kmph. Weather was absolutely insane by this time - as bad as my half iron experience in Thonnur.
When 17km mark was over, and knee still cooperating, I decided to finish strong. I went ahead from the pack.
Last 5km came pace was 7:00, 7:39, 7:30, 7:37, 7:48. Not bad.
Last 600mts of downhill were done quickly, I saw the finish line. Kaustubh, as expected, was there - cheering and genuinely happy! I punched in the air, crossed the finish line. Finally, 4th Half Ironman was done!
Overall time: 7hours 49 min. This one was special - so much experience and mental victory of scary sea, and bad knee. So much learnings.
Next day, All Goa Newspapers covered about jellyfish infested sea and the event :). But I’m glad I did this race, fear of jellyfish is gone! And Pablo got the timing of 4:20hrs. Yes, 4:20! In that heat!