GCT Experience Report (long)

GCT Experience Report (long)

Post by Maggie Amsle » Mon, 17 May 1999 04:00:00


(I posted this to Tri-DRS and sent it to family and friends earlier in
the week. As that didn't get it to several of the friends listed, I
decided to post it here too. Better late...)

GCT Experience:

When I put my money down for this event I knew that I would not have the
training base to support it as a race.  In my mind it became not a race
but a training day - an experiment to determine if I can go the distance
- an experience.

Chuck and I reached Panama City early Friday afternoon on the heels of a
storm that had pelted the area the night before with torrential rain and
hail, and included water spouts as "cherries on top". Standing water
remained on some streets beneath a lightly clouded sky and a thunderous
surf bore evidence to the previous fury.  I gulped hard as I watched the
pounding waves.  Two years ago the Santa Rosa Tri canceled the swim on
what my memory remembers as waves kindler and gentler than what I was
now seeing. Just think of the experience I told myself.

 At the pre-race dinner that night Chuck and I had the pleasure of
meeting several folks who are participants in the Internet newsgroups we
read (R.S.T. and TriDRS).  Many thanks to Robb Dunlap for coordinating
(and Katie's assistance) the get together - attendees included Steve
Bean and Jose Grimaldo, Jr. and several other folks whose names I did
not get - sorry guys!  The dinner was al playa - on the beach and the
surf was still up behind the ocean front podium as the race organizer
discussed the various alternatives for the mornings race in the event
the seas did not calm.  Diminishing cloud cover brought a peek at the
sun and later a pink hued sunset - red sky at night - triathletes
delight??

My bike was tucked into its transition spot for the night as required.
Plastic bags on bikes were not allowed so my pretty yellow "cab colored
cycle" (or ccc or c-cubed - the number 3 seems appropriate) was left out
the bare the elements for the first time. It was not alone though as by
11 PM there should have been some 1800 bikes*** from the tubular
metal sawhorses in the vast parking lot of one of the 3 (more numerical
significance!) host hotels that was now serving as a triathlon
transition area. Race bag was ready so not much to do but sleep and hope
that the spare contacts I had with me were not too scratched up to wear
in the aftermath of my goggles being ripped off my face during one of
the numerous attempts I envisioned making tomorrow to get through the
surf.  Sweet dreams.

Alarms went off at 4:30. Our beachfront room seemed pretty quiet and a
look out the window confirmed that although still dark outside there was
not as much white reflecting out from beach side as had been at my
bedtime viewing. Yes as predicted the  winds had abated and the surf had
calmed substantially.  Chuck's officiating responsibilities began at
5:30.  The pre-race (lack of) information did not indicate when
transition opened but our hotel was several miles from the site so we
were had to travel together. The first wave (professionals) was due to
go off at 6:15 and the women's wave several minutes thereafter.  I had
to finish outfitting my bike with its computer and 'meal' service items
so did not mind the early awakening and arrival.  That is until we
arrived and learned that the race start was delayed until 7 am to allow
time for the swim course buoys (yes it will be a triathlon!) to be set
in place. Plenty of time to organize and reorganize the involved
necessities and share nervous laughs some of the women racked in the
area.  Transition spots were assigned and my little area was in a corner
close to the bike out and run out but a long way from the swim in and
bike in.

About 6:30 I 'moisturized' my legs with Body Glide, tugged on my wetsuit
waist high, sprayed Pam on my now black *** legs and headed for the
beach.  The sun was almost peeking over the high rise hotel horizon as I
immersed myself for a warmup in the cool water. There were still some
moderate breakers foaming but they looked manageable.  I decided to wait
until necessary to fight through them. I met up with Kammi and Ronnie
Tibbs (tri-acquaintances from Pensacola). Ronnie had been out beyond the
breakers and analyzed the current and drift factors. He suggested
starting as far to the left as possible to compensate for the down beach
drift to make sure we would not miss the turns at the buoys.  Thank you
Ronnie for the swim tip.

All the women were in a single wave.  Although Gulf Coast is a big race
the majority of the participants were male and were divided into at
least 5 additional waves.  The females were assigned white caps - both
the kind on our head and the kind on the beach!  When the gun went off
for the mass start of our wave the nearly 400 (??) females were greeted
suddenly increased wave turbulence.  I backed into the first few frothy
waves on the first sandbar- madly swan one armed (my left hand was busy
protecting goggles) to the next sandbar.  Dove into the base of a white
bulldozer that pushed me back to the 1st sandbar.  Repeated the above
and surprisingly surfaced on the other side of the foam mountain.
Sprinted to get into deeper water before the next frothy monster reared
and away I went.  Yippee I made it.  Now settle down and enjoy a 1.2
mile swim.  Gosh I wish there were more than just two buoys.  Swimming
without a black line on the bottom can be tough - I probably tacked back
and  forth unneedlessly. I overcompensated for the current and went a
little too far left but I did not have to worry about feet kicking off
my goggles.  I was looking forward to body surfing in once I neared
shore but the white caps calmed down as the white capped swimmers
approached.  I hit the shore with about a 25 yard beach run back to the
swim in and timing mats-43 minutes.  A run up the stairs, through a
really nice mist shower, peel off the wetsuit and then do a barefoot
warmup run on a boardwalk stretching the length of one of the host
hotels, around to the front and into the parking lot/transition area for
an even longer pavement run to get c3 (almost as long a swim transition
as Mrs T's).

"Mountain lion" the volunteer shouted out.  Shake some more water out of
my ears and same volunteer now shouts out "walk your bike to the mount
line before riding".  Now that makes sense.  Five minutes after my swim
finish I am pedaling away.  To quench a sal***er driven thirst I suck
dry my Race Day-filled jetstream before I reach mile 5.  Reach behind me
to pull throwaway bottle with more fluid food off X-lab and proceed to
drop it.  Good thing the aid stations are every 10 miles. Mile 10 comes
and goes.  Oh oh. Up over a rise (one of the few blips on this flat
course) and phew an oasis in sight.  I take a bottle of water and a
bottle of sport drink.  Refill my jetstream without incident but loose
the empty bottle trying to put into cage behind me.  Need to work on
that.  The 56 mile course was flat with one 'hill' - a bridge arching up
over the Intercoastal Waterway.  Although not necessary I did get up out
of the saddle for a temporary change of position. It was kind of a dull
bike punctuated by snatching water bottles from talented and brave
volunteers every 10 miles.  I had set my watch to beep every  25 minutes
and in Pavlovian fashion I would snack  on vanilla HammerGel.  Thanks to
Jack for his gu-ood advice about frequent intakes of that syrupy
carbohydrate source.  I love biking hills but do not deal well going
into a steady wind.  Something else to work on.  About this time I
started thinking surely a mature (?) *** (chronologically at least)
could find better ways to spend her time on a nice Saturday morning -
like watching cartoons.  Suddenly I became Nell tied to the railroad
track with Dudley Dooright appearing in the nick of time.  Just then, on
a horse named Harley, Chuck galloped by in the opposite direction and
hollered encouragement.  I yelled come back here and rescue me!!  Water
bottles, beep beep (Road Runner - the coyote -- got you..), more gu,
repeat the cycle.  I started getting emotional about mile 50 realizing I
would make it through this leg -finally. Again - on cue in a time of
distress - Chuck appears but this time his horse was going my way and he
reined in to match my lope.  He said my pace (for a mule I added to
myself) was good and asked how I felt.  I replied that I would make it
through the next 6 miles but did not want to do another 56 miles.  No
sir we will not even consider an Ironman distance 'experience' today!
Chuck sped on to search out more tri-bandits.  My hero... I had planned
to bike conservatively so even with a snappy looking new tri-bike
equipped with Chuck's rear race wheel I logged an ok 17.6 mph avg
finishing the bike in 3:45.

  Approaching the transition I slip my feet out of my shoes in
preparation of dismount.  Hope my legs hold me up.  Running in sock-clad
feet through the parking lot felt soo great.  Toss (with care) bike on
the rack, jam feet into running shoes, grab hat, race belt, a gu packet
and head post haste for the powder room before shooting out of
transition embarking on my first half marathon (what a crazy person I
am...)

Running turns an otherwise (self described)
mild-mannered-woman-of-few-words into a chatterbox.  The aid stations
were placed about a mile apart but after requesting water or powerade,
cold wet towel, a cab to the finish line,- my most common utterance was
where am I or how far to go as mileage was not specified??? Followed by
any of the following to the countless volunteers: thanks for your
efforts today - drink a lot, are you wearing sunscreen, etc.  I seem
incapable of running silently by someone and I usually end up saying
something inanely silly about the course, the weather, commenting about
bad hair days, etc.  I ran by a woman who shared my taste in the sock du
jour and commented how my feet were hot - it must be the red hot chilies
trim on the sock.  She did not get my subtle humor. As I
...

read more »

 
 
 

GCT Experience Report (long)

Post by Robb Dunla » Mon, 17 May 1999 04:00:00

    What a great story Maggie, I relived the whole experience again!  It
was swell to meet you, Chuch, Steve, Jose (et familia), and Jimmy at the
pre-race dinner.  Next time I'll make a much more significant sign, one
that is capable of standing on its own.  I felt like the biggest dork at
the meal holding that flimsy sign over my head.  I had promissed y'all I'd
post pictures but unfortunately my brand-spanking-new digitial camera
decided it didn't like me or the pictures I take.  Bummer, I had to buy the
one digital camera with attitude.  I lost all of the pictures I had taken
:-(  Steve Bean, if you see this, you'll have to send me some of your
pictures.
    Those volunteers on the bike were phenomenal at handing out the water
bottles,  I never missed grabbing a bottle.  The only problem I had was
that they kept accidently giving me water instead of Perform.  I would also
recommend to the RD to put up better mileage signs on the run, it was
really demoralizing to be told that you were at mile 10 but actually more
like mile 8.5.  I have to give kudos to the RD, officials, and voluteers,
they were the best.  Very well done race (9 out of 10 boosters on the
Rocket scale).  It has even made me think crazy thoughs - such as Ironman
Florida.  Who knows?
Robb Rocket

 
 
 

GCT Experience Report (long)

Post by Jose'A. Grimaldo, Jr » Tue, 18 May 1999 04:00:00

Quote:

>     What a great story Maggie, I relived the whole experience again!  It
> was swell to meet you, Chuch, Steve, Jose (et familia), and Jimmy at the
> pre-race dinner.  Next time I'll make a much more significant sign, one
> that is capable of standing on its own.  I felt like the biggest dork at
> the meal holding that flimsy sign over my head.  I had promissed y'all I'd
> post pictures but unfortunately my brand-spanking-new digitial camera
> decided it didn't like me or the pictures I take.  Bummer, I had to buy the
> one digital camera with attitude.  I lost all of the pictures I had taken
> :-(  Steve Bean, if you see this, you'll have to send me some of your
> pictures.
>     Those volunteers on the bike were phenomenal at handing out the water
> bottles,  I never missed grabbing a bottle.  The only problem I had was
> that they kept accidently giving me water instead of Perform.  I would also
> recommend to the RD to put up better mileage signs on the run, it was
> really demoralizing to be told that you were at mile 10 but actually more
> like mile 8.5.  I have to give kudos to the RD, officials, and voluteers,
> they were the best.  Very well done race (9 out of 10 boosters on the
> Rocket scale).  It has even made me think crazy thoughs - such as Ironman
> Florida.  Who knows?
> Robb Rocket

thanks for the sign.  It was neat to meet all of you as well.  I wish I could
have talked with you afterwards, but I was feeling a little down in the  mouth
at first for my effort.  Then, I felt quite proud regardless of where I
finished.   My neck is healing quite nicely.  I still feel the rawness.  I am
peeling!!! there goes my nice layer of melanin.  So, if I'm peeling I can only
imagine what the rest of you went through.  Don't sweat the pics.  At least
you thought of it.  I was too preoccupied with what the swim had in store for
me the next day.

ciao

 
 
 

GCT Experience Report (long)

Post by Robb Dunla » Wed, 19 May 1999 04:00:00

 I think most of us were a little freaked at the thought of the swim on Friday
night.  I had been out practicing in the surf earlier that day and couldn't make
it through the last set of breakers.  I was really embarrased.  I had come down
with three of my mates and all of us swam in college (at least for a little
while).  The others made it out without a problem but I was just too damn
chicken.  I can't tell you how relieved I was the next morning when the waves
were much more reasonable.

Great job on finishing your first half Jose!
Robb Rocket