S - 7000 yards
B - 57.8 miles
R - 17ish miles
Time - 7ish hours
Well, this week was a taper period leading up to AG Nats. I felt good in the days prior to the race and was excited to get up to Burlington and race my little leggies off, hang out with some cool peeps, and hopefully do well!
Jenny, David Lee and I drove up to Chapel Hill Wednesday night to meet Mark Carey and ride with him up to Burlington. We woke up super early on Thursday morning and began our trip up the east coast. We made it to Burlington fairly uneventfully; the same couldn't be said for Moose, who wasn't able to meet us that night and wouldn't arrive until the next morning...
Friday we all did our various thing of the pre-race nature, although Moose's suitcase containing essential race items had not arrived (and wouldn't until 4am the next morning!), and we all seemed to be feeling relatively excited about the pain that would shortly ensue the following morning.
Race day dawned at 5am and by 5:30 we were on our way to the race site. We all set up our transitions and then the early starters (M 40-44 and W <24 were in the first three waves to go off around 7:30ish) made their way to the start while the late starters (Jenny and I didn't start until 8:30) sat around. Soon enough though, it was our turn and we donned the old rubber body suits and made our way to the start.
Swim - 23:04 (1:34/100m)
The Male 25-29 wave began at 8:3X am and we all jumped into the water at the staging area before making our way to the start line for the sounding of the gun (I don't actually remember if it was a gun or a horn or something of a similarly loud nature; apparently the earliest waves had the joy of having Jared - the Subway Jared - starting their race for them. I was not jealous). I lined up on the left side near the dock and upon the sounding of the noise I started out pretty fast towards the first buoy. I heated up quickly in the full sleeved wetsuit (the water temperature the day before was 74, not sure what it was race morning). I focused on breathing and swimming. Those are the two thoughts at the forefront of my mind when I am racing the swim section. A lot of people always talk about how when they are swimming they're focused on staying long and smooth or high elbow or strong catch or something equally amazing. I can't think about stuff like that; the thoughts that go through my head are usually "that water tasted gross...I kind of have to pee...This wetsuit is sexy...why is that person breast stroking...etc"
Things were pretty kosher through the first turn buoy and I ended up taking a more outside line than most on the long stretch to the second turn. I was sighting clearly though so believed my route to be the better one; this process worked well as I had clean water and made my way to the second turn in a fairly good position (although I can never tell how many similarly colored caps are ahead of me). As we went around the turn I went a little close and got stuck under the buoy in the ropes; luckily I dislodged myself before drowning and made the turn back in the direction of shore. Unfortunately the sun was reflecting off the water and I literally could not see anything except for some white splashes and a bright light. Sounds kind of like what people say happens when you die but I hoped that it wasn't just yet that time and continued on ahead, blissfully unaware of where I was going but following the people in front of me. As it turned out, we all ended up making a very wide arc instead of a straight line, adding some distance to our swim (Jenny and I had observed this happening as we waited and thought knowledge was power in avoidance maneuvering but unfortunately it did not help me). At some point once we actually got to the buoy I was swimming alongside someone from my wave and we were catching another swimmer and I ended up getting jammed in the middle. Unfortunately for me, my fellow M25-29er decided I was infringing on his protected territory and shoved my head under on one stroke. I obviously did not appreciate this as it forced me to inhale a bunch of water and I slowed down to catch my breath and ended up being behind him. I was mildly upset (not so mild understatement) and as I caught up to him I grabbed his leg and pulled him backwards. Should I have done this? Eh, probably not but I was really f***ing pissed. Not only was it unsafe (it felt intentional to be honest) it was a douchebag thing to do. Two wrongs don't make a right but it made me feel better. I picked up the pace a little bit and passed him, and we ended up looking right in each other's face at one point when we both breathed. He was ugly, so I felt a little better. I continued with the higher pace and passed him but felt someone grab my feet as they stroked and so kicked massively for about 10 strokes and ended up dropping him (or he learned his lesson). The rest of the swim was uneventful and I exited the ramp and crossed the mat. Not a fast swim, but nothing to really do about it. Plus, I had no idea how not fast it was when I exited; no watch!
T1 - 1:12
I had a long run to my bike as I was right near bike exit. There was much slipperiness and general muddiness so I trod carefully. I was skipping and frolicking (well, I was running but when hopping and cutting to avoid mud puddles it could easily be mistaken...) and got to my bike before doing all necessary stuff and exiting.
Bike - 59:00 (25.2 mph)
Not a whole lot of interesting stuff happened on the bike so I'll try and keep it short and sweet. I made my way out on to the course and quickly realized it was going to be a crowded bike ride. Starting in the third to lats wave and having the 15th fastest bike split meant I was going to be passing people like a freight train through a ghost town. Well I guess that would actually mean passing nobody, but the way I really mean it is in the sense that the ghost town has a bunch of buildings and stuff that are standing still (metaphorically speaking of course) and the freight train rolls through and kicks up a bunch of dust and scares the animals. So that's pretty much what was happening. I felt good on the bike; my watts weren't great but I was able to keep the average pretty high through the tough first half and then murder it a bit on the way back into town. The course wasn't overly difficult, lots of shorter, steep climbs but no real grinders. Not too windy or anything although prior to race day I was thinking the wind would play a major factor. I think there was one road that had a noticeable headwind, but other than that it felt like a cross wind and some tail wind mixed in sporadically. I think I got off the bike in top 3-5 AG (but have no basis in fact for that so you'll just have to trust that it was true...) as I hadn't passed anyone for quite some time (in my AG) and knew my time was going to be pretty good. The course was very enjoyable; I thought it an honest test of cycling abilities as opposed to a flat course where a lot of people can be fast that aren't really fast... Anyway, in the last couple of miles I was dealing with some hip flexor cramping that slowed me down a bit and took away the sub 59:00 split that would have been cool but no biggie, my run was going to be the major slow down...
T2 - 0:55
Nothing unusual, in/out, wham bam. Still way slower than Moose, who trounced me in 4/5 splits today...
Run - 42:22 (6:50/mi)
Out of T2 I could tell my legs were not too responsive and I climbed the massive 1/4 mile (steep) hill with some fervor but upon cresting realized I didn't have "it" today. Maybe it was a bit defeatist of me, but I had no juice; physically or mentally. I basically jogged it in after mile 1. I truly thought I was going to have an 8min pace 10k but somehow, even though I felt like dog poo I still trotted along at sub 7 min pace. I'm not going to draw it out; the run sucked but could have been fast. It was definitely a fast course.
All in all, this was a fun race. I think (and it's been confirmed) that I was feeling some fatigue and was just tired going into race day, even though I felt ok in the days leading up. When I reached down into my suitcase of courage I didn't have anything in there to give. Now I get a nice little mid-season break with some R and R and spending time with my favorite person that is named Moose.
Next up will be Best of the US down in Gulf Shores, AL on September 10th or something like that. I'm hoping that this coach mandated rest will give me back the bite and the last third of my season will be strong.