Well the my first race of 2011 is FINALLY in the books. It was not the race I wanted, but it was the first race, and the "ring rust" has been knocked off. Here's a short recap of how the day unfolded.
Swim: We were greeted race morning with lightning, thunder and some pretty heavy rain. When I got to transition, everyone was huddled under any shelter they could find. There definitely was some question in my mind as to whether we would be swimming. It was pretty cold with the wind and rain, and since they had told us we wouldn't be allowed to warm up in the water, a warm up run seemed a little pointless as I would then be standing around after and get cold again. But I did manage a short jog, some strides and skips before heading tot he water. The storm passed as we waited and we started 40 minutes late. Which from the picture below, you can see was probably a good thing since it was taken right about the original time we were to start.
I used to love beach starts after growing up surfing and doing Jr. Lifeguards, but in the pro ranks, they are not exactly my favorite. This is particularly so when the water is roughly shin-knee deep for a good 50 meters before you can swim. Not being the tallest bloke in the world, I wasn't able to get my feet out and over the water like the taller guys were and I fell back a bit from those who would form the front pack chasing Potts and Kahn.
Unfortunately this left me about 20 meters behind this pack for the majority of the swim. On the home leg however, I did my usual head on run in with a buoy, pushed it to the side and swam on. A few strokes later I realized some Disney lifeguards on a boat were yelling at me. I realized they were telling me I had to go back. Reluctantly, and with a few words to them that they were wrong, I swam back to the buoy and went around it with it on my left shoulder. To be clear, this was not a turn buoy, it was like the 3rd to last buoy, and I was gaining no advantage by passing it on my right, certainly not after running dead into it. Almost every race I have been to has said we could swim on either side of the buoys and only had to round the corner buoys on a certain shoulder. Either way, my 20m gap to the pack was gone, and I swam the rest of the way solo... and pissed.
Bike: Here is where things went from "not so great" to "pretty pathetic." Once out on the course I tried to settle into my pace and develop a rhythm to move along, and gain some spots back from my poor swim. For some reason however, I just couldn't get my legs going for the first 25 miles or so. I was passed by a few guys and they simply rode away from me. It pains me to do so, but I will readily admit, that I had a little bit of a mental breakdown and pity party for myself from miles 15-20. This is probably the thing I am most upset with about my race. Plain and simple that cannot happen. Mental toughness has always been "there" for me and frankly, I was not "in the race" for those miles. A huge and unacceptable error on my part. Finally, when fellow Specialized US Tri Team member Jimmy Archer caught me, I told myself to stick with him if it killed me. It didn't and a few miles later my legs began to come good. I thought I may be able to salvage a descent ride on the day, but it was too little too late. I averaged some disgustingly low watts for the ride, actually the lowest I have averaged for any half ironman distance since I began racing and training with power. Not a good day.
|End of Lap 1|
|Heading out for the 3rd and final lap|
A huge THANK YOU to all my sponsors, Zoot, Specialized, Reynolds, TriSports.com, PVBC, PowerBar, and Mikelson & Mikelson, LLP. Without your support, fantastic products, getting my bike tuned and all my gear ready for race day, this would certainly not be possible for me. A big thank you also goes out to all those who read this blog, follow along on my dream chasing, and offer support and encouragement along the way. It is greatly humbling and appreciated.