This was my third race in four weeks (with my daughter's Christening on the "off-week"), so at least I was trained up for this. I was going in with the main goal of breaking 2 hours, but thought with a good day I could realistically be down towards 1:50. Slept ok the night before, and was at the event in plenty of time to get set up, tires pumped (perhaps a little too much as you'll see in a minute), and over to the start. Given the number of folks competing and the forecast, I was very happy to be going off in the first wave.
Just floated on my back until the horn went off, heading straight into the sun. Like my last race, I had a goofy issue from the outset with water getting up my nose, which really threw me off. Once that got settled down, I realized that I wasn't completely sure where the first turn bouy was. Oh well, the pack had a pretty good idea of direction so I followed, and things worked out fine. Once I got settled in I was very comfortable, and could see a lot better coming back in. Around the last turn, started to pick it up, and immediately got tangled up in a bunch of seaweed. Ugh. Not a big surprise given the heat, but still not a lot of fun.
Well, the actual "transition" part of the transition went well. No problem getting shoes or socks on. Might have helped a little bit if I had immediately noticed that MY REAR TIRE WAS FLAT.
Went over the timing mat, mounted up, and 30 ft. down the road could tell there was something wrong. Panicked for a second, but quickly decided I was better off changing the tire back in transition rather than sit on the curb with the world coming by. I asked the volunteers at the timing mat if it would screw me up going back in, they weren't sure (to their credit, it's not their job to know that), so I headed back in and got the tire changed. I was still timed correctly, and best I can figure, my little excursion only cost my about 7:30. I had never had a flat, or any other kind of mechanical difficulty in a race, so I was bummed for a little bit. But, I still wanted to break two hours, so off I went. As best as I can figure, by the time I was actually riding I was probably between 80-90th in my age group.
And you know what? I had an absolute blast the rest of the race. I didn't push too hard to try and make up time on the bike, just rode my bike and tried to stay comfortable. I think I was passed by about 3 bikes, and passed a bunch of folks, which felt really good. No big excitement, and I still stuck to my nutrition schedule, taking my Gu chews starting off on 108, and then taking a gel coming back in on 108, hoping it would kick in on the run. It did.
Nothing adventurous here. I will say, I would recommend to the race director that they not have bike in and out in the same place in the future. As I was coming in and heading left to my rack, a stream of folks were coming up the hill from the racks to the right. It wasn't an issue for me, but I would be surprised if a few people got crossed up. Shoes changed easily, and off on the run.
I simply felt awesome starting off on the run. My Garmin shows the first mile at around 7:40, and I didn't slow down much after that. Passed a bunch of people, and did not get passed by anyone. I knew it was going to be really close on the 2 hour mark, so I really started pushing when I got to the dam. Came down the finish stretch just in time to see the clock go over 2 hours.
The ice water towels were very nice, and the smoothies/food put out by my tri club were great as well. I stretched a little bit before heading over for a massage, which felt good. I was very pleased with my placing in the end, and was glad my attitude didn't go down the drain after the flat!