4:18:45. 36th overall, 2nd in 18-24 AG.
Race morning was hectic. The venue is a two transition race so T1 and T2 are separate. I woke up plenty early and was hoping to get to transition early since I was the first wave to start after the professionals. I had to drop off my run gear bag in T2 and then go get everything ready at T1 before I warm up. For whatever reason, there was only one gate open to enter where we park. With thousands of athletes trying to get into one gate, it was a parking lot. After waiting in line for nearly 30 minutes to go about 1.5 miles, we finally were able to park. I set up my run gear bag in T2 and headed to the catch the shuttle bus down to T1. The parking situation was such a hassle that the race director delayed the race 15 minutes because people were not yet to T1 when T1 closed at 7:15 am.
I started on the far left since the course was a triangle shape that had two left turns and because I breathe to my right so I wanted to see the other athletes. I got off to a very quick start and could see a small group form to my right. Since I was right next to the buoys, I was hoping that when they merged over I’d be able to find some feet and draft. However, once again, I missed the fast group of swimmers and was leading the second group. Halfway to the first turn buoy, two other swimmers passed me. I stayed on the feet of both of them until after the 2nd turn buoy. I swam the rest of the way in alone and tried to catch as many of the female pro swimmers as I could.
T1: Way too slow.
This is where the “fun” began. At Saturday’s pre-race briefing, we were informed that only the professional athletes could have their bike shoes clipped into their pedals, age group athletes could not. This was a complete surprise to me and many other athletes. Every single race I’ve done this year and last year I’ve had my shoes clipped in with rubber bands on the back of my shoes that loop around spots on my bike so they stay in place. So when I get to the mount line, I do a flying start and hop onto my bike and put my feet on top of my shoes and pedal away. The rubber bands break and I’ve never had an issue with crashing (knock on wood). I’ve practiced this many times and am quite comfortable doing it as well as a rolling dismount after the bike leg is over. So, unfortunately, I had to put my shoes on and run in them out of transition, but I’ll get back to this in a bit. First, the transition area is a grass lot with patches of dirt/mud; but part of the grass that grows produces burs. So running bare foot from the lake to my spot in transition was not fun. I had two burs that got stuck in my right foot; one I didn’t notice until after I put on my bike shoe and it poked me since the sole of my shoe is harder than grass/mud. So when I went to take off my shoe to remove the bur, I got a cramp in my hamstring. I just relaxed as quickly as I could but I couldn’t do anything until it subsided. After getting my shoes on (since I already had helmet and glasses on) I took off to leave T1. I carried my bike roughly 125 yards out of T1 because I didn’t want to get any burs stuck in my tires. Once I reached the road to mount my bike, I tried clipping in. However, I could not get my cleats to click into place. I stopped to clear some of the mud. Started to bike again, but couldn’t get my cleats into the pedals. So I stopped again. At this point I was beyond frustrated so I just took both shoes off and banged them against the road a couple times to clear the mud. I still had trouble with my left shoes, but it finally worked and I was able to clip in. By the time I started to actually bike, I had spent just over two minutes trying to clip in or clear the mud off my cleats (I checked my Garmin, all of which went into my bike split time not my T1 time). This could have all been avoided had I been able to have my shoes clipped in prior to starting the bike.
Bike: 2:25:28 http://connect.garmin.com/activity/397324467
If you look at my splits in the link, my first mile took me 4:50, or a whopping 12.4 mph. Clearly I’m very frustrated at this point, but I didn’t let it affect me and quickly put it out of my mind. I knew that with the wet roads, several 90 degree turns, and terrible road surface, that my mental focus would need to be at 100%. I took the corners easier than normal because of the wet roads and made sure I stayed on two wheels. The last thing I needed at this point was to crash. The road surfaces were extremely hit and miss. There were a few times when it was smooth and nice to ride on; but for the most part, they were very bumpy and far from smooth. There was one section that I’m pretty sure a crushed rock running trail would have been smoother than this road. But I guess that’s what you get when you’re biking on country roads. The first 20-25 miles the wind was in my face or at my side, so I just tried to stay aero and not burn too many matches because I knew I’d need a strong second half to salvage a decent bike time. A fellow athlete that I’ve raced in each of my previous two 70.3’s this season passed me around mile 21. Knowing that he is a strong cyclist, I made it my goal to latch on and let him set the pace and drag me along. A group of four of us formed and we worked together until we approached the second aid station around mile 25 and we lost two and were down to just the two of us. Again, determined not to let him go, I stayed the legal distance away and kept pace with him. Unfortunately for him, he flatted around mile 41. I knew that the last 15 miles were mainly flat with only a few small gradual climbs. Since I was still feeling strong, I put in a hard effort and pushed the last 15 miles.
Took longer than I wanted, had to make a pit stop. One of these days I’ll learn to just relax and go while biking, but I tried and just couldn’t do it.
Run: 1:20:28 http://connect.garmin.com/activity/397324435
Felt pretty good early on and was out quick with a mainly downhill first 1-2 miles. I tried to focus on nutrition so I would not bonk like I did at Worlds in Vegas or cramp like I did in Kansas back in June. I hit a rough patch after the first lap and couldn’t get out of my funk until a little past the end of lap two. Knowing this was my last race of the season, I just tried to dig deep and finish as strong as possible.
Overall, I’m pretty happy with my result. I was hoping to have a faster time, but I played the hand I was dealt and tried to make the most of it. Mentally and physically I knew going into the race that I was not 100%. It’s been a very long season for me in what is essentially my first true triathlon season. So to set a new 70.3 PR (even if it is just 13 seconds) is definitely a positive to take away from the race. It was a far from ideal race for me as I estimate I probably wasted close to 3:00-4:00 minutes on things I didn’t plan for, but that’s racing!