1) 4+ hours of racing is a long time
2) Follow up of #1, the first time in a season has some unknowns
3) It was going to be really warm
4) I hadn't ridden my tri bike for 56 flat, straight miles since Miami last October
But, oh well. All of those plus 99 cents will get you a cup of coffee. Well actually they won't, coffee is too dang expensive these days.
Be that as it may, Jenny and I drove up to Williamsburg on Friday afternoon and arrived at our (exceptionally crowded) Comfort Inn hotel.
|41mpg with 2 people, 2 bikes (1 on top), and gear. #Diesel|
Saturday brings with it (as does any long course pre-race day) a bunch of stuff to get done that involves a lot of driving and walking. This race was no different. The hotel was about 10 minutes away from T2/Finish/Expo and about 20 minutes away from Swim/T1. This plus Challenge's somewhat strange timings of events on Saturday meant that most of the day was spent doing logistical stuff in very, very hot weather.
Race day brought with it a very early wake up alarm and a mistake I haven't made in all the years I've been competing, a lost contact. Anyone who wears contacts has probably experienced that moment of sheer panic when it goes from being on your finger to down in the u-trap of your sink's plumbing. I can't race with glasses (the swim would be...complicated) so that meant one contact all day. This would do three things:
1) Be exceptionally annoying
2) Alter my depth perception
3) Give me a sweet headache
Oh well, not really a whole lot you can do about it unless you carry spares on trips (which I actually normally do...).
As we arrived at T1 we completed all the pre-race normal stuff that one must do (we had set up T2 the night before so we wouldn't have to rely on the shuttles and wake up extra early that morning) and headed down to the swim. They announced the water temperature as 80ish so definitely not wetsuit legal. The swim course was actually reversed from last year but the water appeared to be pretty darn smooth so I was hopeful of an uneventful swim. My goal was to get near the front and stay there by hopefully drafting some feet.
Swim - 29:46 (4th)
Our wave (all males 39 and under) walked out to the start line (this involved about a 100 meter walk to get to waist depth water) and I settled myself on the left of the crowd. At the sound of the horn I took it out pretty hard and quickly separated myself from those around me. Our first turn was maybe 250m out and I got to it roughly in third position.
There was a guy directly to my right (face to face I mean) who I tried to swing wide a bit to avoid but somehow he stuck right with me (face to face) through the right hand turn. We then had quite a long stretch (downriver or upriver I don't really know) and I got to know this guy's face intimately.
I have done a few pro swims I can say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that a professional male swim pack is chaos. That's not even an ITU draft legal swim pack which I am confident in assuming is much, much worse. All that is to say I am well acquainted with guys that swim like aggressive a-holes.
This particular swimmer took the cake.
We made another right hand turn and the swimmer who had been on my feet started moving up on my left. I realized it was Marcus when he breathed my way as he pulled up on my left hip. The guy to my right must have seen Marcus moving up as well and proceeded to somehow move even closer to me and move ahead. Marcus was giving me a fair distance but this guy acted like he wanted to be as intimate with me as our surroundings would allow. I finally gave up on being in the middle of a pincer attack and dropped back, basically swimming on the guy to my right before dropping back on his feet.
I'm not normally one to slap feet but I slapped the sheeit out of this guy's feet. He swam immediately to Marcus' right, just as he had been doing with me. I did not understand this strategy. I just sat back and enjoyed a ridiculously easy last 800 meters or so of the swim of this race.
With about 400m to go I started grabbing river bottom and after a couple of strokes of that I just stood up and started walking behind the two guys in front of me. I was going the same pace but expending a lot less energy so I kept walking for a bit. A guy on a kayak gave me a kind of funny look but I assume many of the pros had done this as well. It felt a little ridiculous but hey, all's fair in love and triathlon. After a bit the aggressive swimmer noticed me and started dolphin diving. He did that most of the rest of the way in and built up a 20-30 second gap on myself and I had a 20-30 second gap on Marcus. We had a pretty big lead over anyone behind us and the top two swimmers had a decent lead on the three of us.
Work mode, engaged.
T1 - 2:14
I was pretty efficient in T1 and was just leaving my rack when Marcus got to his bike. I remarked on our lovely swimming partner as I departed. Apparently I was pretty annoyed to go to the length of chatting up Marcus about it ha!
Bike - 2:15:35 (1st)
I headed out onto the bike, which started on a little chunky path, with intent in my mind and savagery in my brain. I got onto the main road and saw the annoying swimmer just ahead and moved past him expeditiously. I knew the first 15 miles or so were going to be dead flat on almost perfect roads so this would be a great chance to settle into the watts and position and motor onwards and upwards. More the former though...
Before too long I caught up to the lead two swimmers from my wave and passed them as well, moving into the "virtual" lead. I figured the rest of the bike would be pretty boring, steady, and full of rural coastal Virginia sights.
Needless to say I was not disappointed on any of those fronts..
There's not really a whole lot to say about the bike. Nothing really happened that was interesting until the last 15 miles or so and that's only because the course back on roads we used to frequent back in the ol' college days. I had passed a few of the female pros and seen how far ahead I was of the competition on the out and back but really enjoyed going past the dam, up and down reverse carwash hill, and back to Centerville on Jolly Pond Rd. The half course is about 100,000x better than the olympic.
I came into T2 feeling pretty good but knowing it was quite warm outside...
T2 - :59
Nothing to say here, didn't really waste any time.
Run - 1:55:20 (crossed 9th)
I had a good feeling going into this run that limiting the damage was going to tbe the strategy of the day. I actually felt pretty good immediately off the bike and through the woods I managed my efforts well up the hills and back down again. I passed Jenny some time around mile 1 or so and we exchanged pleasantries on the general goings-on during our respective races (or something like that) before my pace carried me ahead. Once onto the asphalt section it became extremely and overpoweringly apparent how warm it was.
I carried through pretty well and had a lead biker at this time so it was motivating to go through the transition/finish area and carry on back into the wood. At this point some 40+ guy rolled past me and my lead biker went with him. I was fairly confident that he was on his first lap and therefore a whole lap behind me (minus the start offset) but I'd let them figure it out as I didn't feel like speaking.
The strings were starting to come unraveled a little bit and I was just sweltering. I walked up a hill but then managed to run most of the second lap, albeit a little more slowly.
My lead biker had come back before the end of that lap and with over half done I still had thoughts of managing the damage for the W. Unfortunately before the turnaround a tall guy in blue passed me and asked the lead biker "Hey! Where is he?!" I pointed to myself and said "I'm right here, nice job."
As he passed me he let out a little yell and said "BOOYAH" and I immediately put him a lot lower on my respect list.
Good job and all, but cheering for yourself? Give me a break. I've NEVER passed someone and done something like that out loud. Maybe in my head to myself, but seriously?
This was likely exacerbated by the fact that I felt like s**t.
Jenny caught up to me as I was walking up the hill on the road and told me to run with her. I did once we got through the aid station but then I had to let her depart my glorious company at the start of the fourth lap.
Needless to say, the fourth lap was a little bit of the same, moving forward, up and down hills, in the shade, back out into the sun, and so forth and so on. I crossed the finish line, glad to be done.
4:43:56 - 9th OA - 2nd AG
I think it's somewhat funny that I didn't get passed until lap 3 but once I did get passed I moved all the way back to 9th! That doesn't happen to me very often as I definitely consider the run a strength of mine. The fitness is certainly there to run fast, which I hope to prove this weekend.