Pre-Race: Up at 4:45, for a quick breakfast of a bagel and peanut butter and some Honey Stinger Waffles. It was chilly outside, so I threw on a couple extra layers to stay warm. Left the hotel just after 5 and drove to the course, where we parked less than a 1/4 mile from transition in a local’s driveway. Got my bike setup, went over to the lake, had a quick dip in the water to check the temperature and get a faux warmup in, then came out and sat around for awhile. I was the last wave to go, so there was plenty of time for bathroom breaks and stretching.
Swim: I was kind of late getting to my group, so I decided that rather than starting behind people, I would just go to the very left side of the group so I’d at least have a clear path. Having watched the pros go out, I knew it was very shallow, and a good couple of dolphin dives would clear me from the waders behind me. So at the horn, dolphin dive I did. I did probably 5-8 dives before I started swimming. No one was running into me or bumping me, and I felt good. The sun was directly to my right, so I only took breaths on the left side, but occasionally looked over to see where the pack was. Behind me. NICE! I was still pretty wide from the imagined buoy line, but I started to cut over, and continued to not be bumped or harassed by anyone. God, its so much easier to swim when no one is hitting you, I should just get to the front of the pack every time! Made the first right hand turn and from this point forward, spent most of my time dodging slow swimmers from the groups in front of me. My spotting wasn’t great, and I got re-directed once by a kayaker for cutting in too far, but quickly re-directed. I very rarely saw a white cap (my AG) during my swim, and I have to say overall I felt awesome. Exited the water, ran up the sand, and saw Kristen who told me I was in 6th. SIXTH!!! Holy shit! I hit my 910xt to swap into T1, and saw the time was 30:0x, and I was stoked.
Swim time: 30:01, 1:33/100m, 6th AG, 59th OA. DOPE! Garmin Data (note: it measures short, but discussion on ST suggests the course was maybe a bit long, which would be even more awesome!)
T1: Nothing to report here. Ran into the wrong bike rack row, which momentarily confused me, but saw my bike exactly one rack over. Slipped off my wetsuit relatively smoothly, got my sunglasses, helmet and bib on, and then raced to the bike out area.
T1 time: 2:13
Bike: This course was hilly (elevation map here, many suggest the total gain is closer to 3500ft). The first 12mi or so were all either climbs or descents, and then the out and back for the next ~30 was downhill/flat/false flat. I really tried to get my HR down, but throughout the ride, as my average was not coming down below 16x, I made the fatal mistake of thinking “well, I did 157avg in FL, but it was a lot hotter there, so I can probably afford to let this be ~160 because its cooler.” This thought would come back to bite me in the ass, hard, on the run. I was having a lot of problems with getting my Edge to give out proper data, in terms of both speed and distance, so I finally managed to turn off the cadence sensor on it so that it would track by GPS only. That seemed to work a bit better, but my numbers ended up being pretty screwy.
I passed a lot of people on the hill climbs (thanks, Jon!), and traded off back and forth with 3-4 other strong bikers throughout the day. I got my nutrition in at all the right times (1 salt tab, 1 GU, 1 swig of Perform every 10mi, with water throughout). I hit 49.5mph on one of the descents, and I’m sure I had some climbs that were ~5mph. I almost wiped out bad at one point, when I came into a turn too fast – my back wheel somehow jumped off the ground as it skid sideways, but thankfully I was okay. I didn’t feel like I was flying on the bike, but I wasn’t really ever passed, as best as I could tell. By the end, my neck and shoulders were sore, and I could feel some tightness in my hip-flexors. I was kind of looking forward to getting off the bike, but definitely wasn’t looking forward to running. Overall, I felt like it was a good bike, nothing spectacular, and it was a bit too hard for what I would consider not an outstanding time.
Bike time: 2:30:02, 22.4mph, 5th AG, 45th OA. Garmin Data
T2: Got my bike on my rack, got my shoes on, and got a Honey Stinger Waffle in one pocket, and my bag of salt tabs in my other pocket. Note: I didn’t have any better way to store them when I was packing in the hotel, so I put the salt tabs in a tea-bag — it had worked well on the bike. File this under “foreshadowing.”
T2 time: 1:54
Run: The run was an out and back that you did 2x, so each leg was ~3.25mi, with rolling hills throughout. I came FLYING out of T2, and was throwing down ~7:20 splits for the first few miles like it was nothing. My HR was sitting in the low 170s, and fatal flaw #2 was not trying to back off sooner. My “race plan” was to run the first loop <7:40 pace, and then I could allow for 8:20 pace and still come in at or around 8’/mile overall. DUMB. I hit turn around #1, and at this point reached into my pocket to get a salt tab. Do you know what happens when water soluble salt-tabs are kept in a tiny paper bag, and are soaked as you pour water on yourself? Yea, that happened. I pulled out a mush of salt and paper. Fuck. By this point I had been passed by 3 guys, so I figured I was sitting somewhere around 9th-10th.
The run back to the halfway point was not as enjoyable, as there were some large hills to climb. While there were a ton of volunteer and aid stations, there was little in the way of foods (pretzels or even GUs), and I knew I needed more than water or Perform. I got to where the course divided between “Finishers here” and “2nd lap here” and thought the turnaround was immediate. Instead, it looped you almost right to the finish line, then all the way back to the bikes before starting over again. For some reason, this really upset me, and kind of broke my spirits a little bit. On top of it, I had been promising myself my delicious HS waffle when I got 1/2 way done, and as I pulled it out to eat, it was all crumbled up, and even worse, about 2/3 of it fell from my hands as I tried to eat it. Fuck, again. This 3rd leg was particularly painful, and by now I was running in the mid to low 8’/mile. My legs were tight, and my right achilles really hurt. I could feel that my shoes were wet from all the ice and water, and there were blisters forming on my feet. I finally hit the 3/4 point, and by now I had a cramp forming in the back of my left hamstring. I wasn’t doing anything more than a shuffle, and forcing myself to drink Perform and Coke rather than water at the stations. The last leg back to the finish line was particuarly miserable. The cramps had grown to include: left hammy, right hammy, left calf, and left elbow (WTF?). In my last attempt to not be a complete bitch, I refused to let myself walk to stretch them out. I’d keep shuffling on, regardless of how slow that pace was (answer: mid to high 9’/mi pace). At every mile marker, I sang Oh Maime Reilly to myself to remind me of my awesome teammates from Holy Cross. I finally made it to the finish line, and as I came into the finishing chute, I was passed by a little old lady – sweet.
Run time: to mile 6.6 – 51:04, 7:47/mi. to mile 13.1 – 1:00:05, 9:10/mi. Cumulative: 1:51:09, 8:29/mi. 16th AG, 117 OA. Fuck. Garmin Data.
Total: 4:55:19, 16th AG, 117 OA. Shit.
Post Race: I think if you have made it this far, you probably don’t want to read anymore, and/or have seen my various FB statuses and tweets about this. In short, it was an awesome swim, an average to solid bike, and a horrific run. To top it all off, we had to rush back to Philly that afternoon/evening because Kristen started grad school on Monday morning, so you can imagine the recovery effects of sitting in a car for 7 hours (none). The cherry on the top was that my body was so exhausted that it has let me catch a cold, in the middle of August, because my immune system probably bailed ship somewhere around mile 8 of the run.
I am going to get faster at running. A lot faster. And that will make me better on the bike and swim, as well. I’m going to get my nutrition worked on, and I’m sure as shit not going to use any more WTC events as “learning experiences.” The next time I race at a WTC event, I’m going to qualify for 70.3 World Championships.