I only signed up for the aqua velo, because I didn't want a race as brutal as this one to be my first half iron. That will be Timberman in August. And I had read enough race reports to know that there was nothing whatsoever about the run leg that appealed to me. Zip. Nada. Zilch.
I'm a mediocre swimmer, at best, but after a few years at this I am comfortable in the water and don't have panic attacks or anything like that. It takes me a few hundred yards to get into a rhythm, but that's about it. So based on recent swims, I estimated this one would take me about 45-50 minutes. It took 69. I heard that someone with GPS measured it closer to 2 miles. I don't know if it was THAT much longer, but it was definitely long. And the current was deceptive. I was swimming and swimming, but getting nowhere. After the first turn, it pushed me off course so much that sighting every second stroke wasn't even enough. This was without a doubt the worst swim I've ever had, and I've had some doozies...holding onto bouys, coughing up water, you name it. By the time I got out of the water, my neck, shoulders, and back were already very sore. It made for a really uncomfortable bike ride.
T1 was about 5 minutes. I was surprised to see my friend's bike still racked, so I waited around a couple minutes for her. Then I realized she'd probably yell at me for that, so I took off.
The bike was exactly what I expected. Hot, windy, no shade. I was prepared for that. But I wasn't prepared to do the WHOLE thing with awful neck pain. I just couldn't get comfortable. It really, really pissed me off. If the swim hadn't been so bad, I think I would have enjoyed the bike and made my goal time. I lost about 15 minutes, because I stopped a few times to stretch out my neck and try to loosen my shoulders. I also stopped to refill my bottles twice.
Lessons learned - 1. I need to overtrain for the swim. I need to get out of the water feeling refreshed and like I could have gone twice as far. 2. I need more upper body strength. My legs felt perfectly fine the whole time and even the day after the race. But my back and neck hurt a lot during, after, and even now..2 days later.
I may not do that race again. I was really angry and frustrated and disappointed afterwards. But we'll see. I would love to have a better ride on that course!