Summary: The swim was cancelled due to unsafe conditions. Last year, I finished top 20% in my AG and wanted to do so again to qualify for nationals. However, swimming is my strength and I can do dynamic stretching all day, but still need the swim to warm up for the rest of the race.
T1 (sort of): Because the swim was cancelled, they decided to maintain a time trial race start and have runners come from the street into transition to grab bikes and head out. Only they didn’t have us start on the street, rather just right outside the transition banner thus cutting the “run in” to transition significantly. I think many folks were expecting a longer run and thus didn’t wear their bike shoes which might have been a real advantage. I went bare foot and it worked great. The TT start basically just sent 8-12 racers off every 10 seconds. The only downside to the TT start was the small amount of congestion in the bike racks where I had to wait to get in and out because of people in my wave that had started in heats before me. I had my shoes mounted in the clips and did a flying mount onto my bike which went smoothly. While my feet got muddy running barefoot through transition, I didn’t have a ton of mud stuck to my feet so the shoes were comfortable for the whole ride.
BIKE: I had the bike computer set to Avg Speed and just kept my eye on this while trying not to panic that it didn’t show 20+ right away. Since there was no swim to get my body warmed up, I took it real easy until I was safely on Whitehurst Fwy. My goal was to simply pick up the pace and aim to hit last year’s avg of 22.7 without blowing up. However, the avg just kept climbing and I was feeling good. I was already at 24.4 at the turn around and decided to just maintain this unless someone passed me. The fast guys must have been in the heats before me because only a few guys passed me on the way out. One guy did pass me on the route back, but after trying to keep him in sight, I figured I should just settle back down because I had to stand and stretch indicating I was pushing too hard. Needless to say, I kept my avg steady for the remainder of the ride and could barely contain my excitement at this. I actually thought my pace was 24.3 and the extra .1 was icing on the cake.
T2: I tried to go through T2 very quickly by going sockless on run as well. I threw on the shoes and took off feeling great. I hadn’t finished my bottle on the bike so I knew I’d have to take on some nutrition and water to keep whatever pace I started out with. Since I don't have training watch, I go by RPE.
Run: It’s been a long time since I came off the bike with wobbly legs, but this was close. For the first two miles I felt like I was still riding the bike and couldn’t get my legs underneath me. I grabbed a gel at the first aid station and immediately started pouring water over my head while grabbing a water cup to drink. I got two squeezes out of the gel packet and realized I’d never be able to digest an entire packet with my heart rate so high. I dropped the packet by mile two and tried to focus on my running form. More often than not, I caught myself zoning out and “relaxing” and had to remind myself to focus on quick feet and a forward lean. Once we rounded the tip of Haines Point, I was able to keep pace with a 57 year old dude for most of the way to the finish until he dropped me. But at that point we were over the bridge and in the home stretch. Turns out I negative split the run with 7:58 avg pace for the first 5k and a 7:38 pace for the last 5k. Needless to say I was ecstatic with my time, placing and qualifying for Nationals.
The best part of this race was the chance for me to apply the lessons I learned at IMLP (my A race) earlier this year. I took a tums with breakfast and another 1hr before start time to prevent stomach issues. It worked really well. The other thing that was reinforced at IMLP is that you have to stay aware of your body and how it is coping with race stress. I took in exactly the right amount of fuel and water when I needed it, but still lost focus on occassions when I zonned and my pace slowed. A few 3 hour sessions on the bike trainer should fix that over the winter.