Short Version (compared to last year):
Swim 38:37 (-0:36) A little adversity, but technically a smidgen faster.
T1: 5:07 (+1:42) I guess I was recouping.
Bike: 1:38:11 (+0:1:56)
T2: 2:46 (+1:46)
Run: 1:02:47 (-19:00) An expected improvement if I could avoid leg cramps, the bike leg endurance I'm sure helped.
Swim: I had a good Centennial 1 Mile swim the week before and with some adjustments knew I could go faster. My plan was to try to stick with the back end of the pack and draft. My age group was split in half with the same color orange caps. I was in the first group (this would be an important detail). We were off I started to the right and moved over to the masses quickly as I could. I was hanging with the back end group but some warning signs started to creep in. My breathing felt shallow and I felt lower in the water swimming uphill. I pressed on but realized I was about to hit critical mass. In the pool I would normally just slow down, recover and adjust but I guess in the heat of the battle I had tunnel vision. The only thing I could think to do was turn over on my back. Since I don't float well it's usually not my go to option but I knew it would work. Floating for "awhile" I slowed my breathing and I heard the gun for the next wave.
Shortly after I was ready to get going, flipped over and started to swim, only to be startled by a bunch of orange caps far away but heading towards me. I was instantly confused and thinking had I been floating so long that I had crossed over into my wave on their return leg??? Now I had a feeling of disorientation (and I was vertical getting lower in the water), right then a surfer pulled along side and offered his board for me to hold on to. He knew I was confused and explained that while I was floating I had turned completely around and was facing the wrong direction. Well now that makes more sense and I would have figured that out on my own if the color caps were different but in the few seconds I had and heat of the moment I had been lost. The surfer then said "I'm going to call the boat for you" instantly I said "No! I'm okay". I had seen that movie before, had gotten that boat ride before, and wanted no parts of it. One of the things I had learned from that time was to not rush the recovery so I held on for "awhile" longer. Then just like that I was good to go and off I went completely without any other incident shaving 36 seconds off of last years times.
Side note: First very thankful to the surfer that was obviously paying attention to me. Secondly I pay attention to language use and found it interesting that he told me he was going to get the boat instead of asking me if I wanted a boat. That's a very valuable method I think because it lends to a more honest assessment by the swimmer if they want to continue. Lastly I could have been faster but should have paid more attention to my breathing, my guess is with my initially faster pace I wasn't blowing out enough and went into slight oxygen deficit which caused a chain reaction.
T1: I was able to jog to the bikes but still trying to recover from the swim, my legs felt heavy, I had gotten into a good zone swimming but maybe I had been on autopilot and using my legs more. I took my time recovering while un-racking my bike.
Bike: This year I had placed a greater focus on biking. I biked longer, more times a week and with a couple different groups. While not necessarily becoming faster I had definitely built more endurance and everything being equal I would be stronger off the bike. I was able to get over most of the major hills without significant momentum loss. The exception was the steep hill on the back half but only because my chain got stuck on the front derailer and I had to back pedal to free it. My time was slightly slower than last year but with a little more wind, wet roads, and opting to add a looser jacket for the ride the extra 2 minutes I'd like to think is negligible.
T2: Nothing significant, slower than necessary.
Run: Last year my legs cramped, after mile 1 I was doing a combination of jogging, walking and stretching. This year due to a stronger bike base I thought I'd easily beat my time and I did knocking 19 minutes off. My legs did feel heavy and I never got full recovery so the run was still slower than I wanted but it was full run.
Nutrition: I carried water, grabbed whatever gatorade they offered on the bike and drank gatorade on the run skipping a few of the water stops. Instead of GU I replaced it with Scott Jurek's rice balls, which I ate before race start and during my transitions.