Met Rob in Easton at 0500 and headed down to the school to drop off the car. Imagine my excitement when I realized that I would be travelling in a yellow school bus for the first time in my life. This was clearly going to be quite a day. Set up transition, met some MMTC-ers for the first time (including ‘no thanks Kona’ Steve) and then headed to the swim start. Spent a long time in the swim corral waiting to get into the water.
I thought I was going well – so I was disappointed with the time which I was expecting to be 5 mins faster (but didn’t know this until after the race as I had forgotten my waterproof watch). Lined up just outside the near buoy (well someone has to) and Rob joined me. At the horn I went out strong for 200 yards and escaped all the contact (if indeed there was any – it seemed that the second wave of the male menopausals was quite small). Went inside all the yellow buoys and then around the orange one on the first leg. Seemed like I was going well, I was all alone with some other white caps 10 yards to my left (good for me as I’m a left side breather) but I didn’t get any draft. The ‘cross’ leg went by really quickly and then I went a little off course down the home stretch – think I must have made a 110 degree turn at the final orange bouy. But not a 5 min error. Came back to the beach in a controlled pace and waited until the little harbour area before wading in.
Not much to report. Sunglasses in the drinking straw worked (first time for me). Remembered the aerohelmet first … sunglasses second routine (see Columbia RR). Ran to mounting line and did my standard flying mount ….
… only for my nutrition in the X-lab to bounce out 500 yards down the road. Looked behind me and uttered an audible obscenity (is that against USA-T rules ?) before circling back and picking it up. Only about 30 secs lost but a bit unsettling. However there was no way I was going to do 56 miles without my Perpetuem. But it got me thinking – what is my backup strategy ? That occupied me for a few miles down the long and wind-y road. I had ridden the course a couple of times which was good for rough calculations but overall it was probably too controlled a bike leg. My Av HR was only 137 (mid Z2) – so conservative in hindsight. My back started to play up around mile 30 so had to stretch and come out of aero for a while at a time. Saw one person crash in front of me – he just looked behind him for some reason and then went down hard on his shoulder. Thought about Geoff M's accident – I looked back to see crashed rider sitting up still attached by one leg to his bike; and then shouted out at the next aid station (which was only a couple of miles down the road). He couldn’t have been badly hurt because he smoked by me about 45 minutes later.
Bike racked. Shoes on. Exchange aerohelmet for cap. Reattach ears. Fuel belt on while running. Bib turned around.
Hmmm. Not my finest couple of hours to misquote old Winston Churchill. Started quite strong at 7:45 pace for the first couple of miles and was feeling good. Saw Miranda Carfrae on her home stretch and looking amazingly strong (and there appeared to be a real battle going on for 2nd and 3rd places). But then I got slower and mentally settled for a 8:20ish pace for the first half. In the end made the turn in 55:03 (8:24) with a view to ‘quickening up’ a little on the back half. Mile 7,8,9,10 came and went with no mental or physical move except backwards. The Garmin was pinging at 9:15, 9:20, 9:25 miles. When would I decide to ramp it up ? Turns out I was unable to do so until the final turn into the finishing shoot. Then I came in at 6:00 pace. Too much left in the tank ….
My first Eagleman – another great CTA run race. The support on the course was fantastic (I have a version of the ice tale which I am happy to share at future cocktail parties only) and the MMTC tent was superb. Thanks to everyone who made it happen. And thanks to those who shouted out on the course : it was great encouragement. I have to pinch myself that I am really doing this for real and I got to ride in that bus.