I wasn't sure how this race would turn out after taking a couple weeks off due to a bike crash in a smaller race, and this was added to with a couple of rather disconcerting last-minute issues setting up my transition (broken sunglasses , and losing a contact lens). But nonethless, I decided to leave well enough alone before anything else went wrong.
The swim start went well, but I had some trouble getting relaxed and getting my breathing controlled. I had gotten things under control by the left turn at the dam. Once I got into a rhythm, I started feeling pretty good and enjoying the swim. I never found a good draft, so I was pretty much breaking my own water the whole way. Finished the swim (21:40), and ran into T1. Saw Bob at the swim exit... great to see friendly faces, even when you are disoriented.
Tried using rubber bands to attach my cycling shoes to the bike, and then just hop on and let the bands break. Actually worked well, and made for a quick transtition (I had tried the day before with good results). The bike went well, and was uneventful (despite distorted vision from only one contact lens). Spent most of the ride near another club member I didn't know on an Aegis. Was good to see other members out there. I finished the bike ready to try out my runnin' legs: 1:17:30. The ride was great as Columbia goes... no real problematic winds, great temperature, great traffic control.
The the real test... the run. I've been really trying to get my run time down, so I was eager to see how it paid off. I got off the bike, and started out on the run, up that first [might I say, unfair] hill. After I came down and passed Mile 1, I couldn't believe my watch... less than 7 minutes. Needless to say, I didn't hold that pace the whole way. I saw numerous other club members, including Bill Wheeler, and Sadj. As I said later, Sadj (smiling at almost mile 4) definitely looked better than I felt., which isn't to say I felt all that bad. The hills of the run course definitely hurt, but I still felt relatively good, and gave a good strong kick to the finish with 7:10/mi pace (44:35).
Definitely had a good race, and had a lot of fun wearing the club jersey for the first time and then getting to enjoy the post-race party. Once the race got going, I couldn't have asked for much more; weather was great, people were great, raced well... Thanks to everyone who helped out, both the club and the race, and congrats to everyone who raced.