Swim – 39:51 (2:04/100m)
The swim started fairly well, the water was quite shallow for a good distance which allowed for people to wade, dolphin dive, or swim. I decided to wade out a bit further than normal, followed by a few dolphin dives, maybe it looked more like a whale breaching, who knows, but we were off! The half swim was somewhat of a trapezoid. The out swim had some small waves coming in, enough to catch me off guard a couple of times. I got into a rhythm and just kept going, Yellow buoy 1, yellow buoy 2, red buoy, turn. I was not real concerned about my position in relation to the group. My goals were strictly personal this day. When I headed parallel to the beach, I did manage to get a taste of some gas or exhaust that was a bit gross, but boats will do that.
This section was fairly uneventful. I did manage to swim out a bit further than I would have liked, but I got corrected and headed down the line. I was right about on my pace, feeling good, not overly fatigued or labored breathing(especially based on how little time I have been in the pool recently.) Once I hit the final buoy and headed in, I heard a kayaker say 400 yards. Unfortunately, I have no clue where that 400 yards would have gotten me… because it was surely longer than that to shore.
I got to a place I could not swim very well because it was shallow enough and stood up, beginning to trudge through the water towards shore. It was a bit of a hike still. With a smile on my face, I ran up the beach towards transition, a few minutes slower than my goal, but a manageable amount.
Bike – 2:38:08 (21.27 MPH – 181 Watts)
I purposely did not drive the course, I tend to do better not knowing what to expect. As we headed out of town, I got settled in, heart rate came down, legs were firing well, and I started taking in nutrition and water. Note to self, buy bottled water to preload bottles with… the water I used was a bit funky tasting. Not exactly refreshing. Things were moving well, I was aiming to hit 200 watts on the bike, thinking if I averaged more in the mid 190s, that would be a great place to be. I was picking people off left and right, I enjoy being able to chase people, being out front is lonely! No worries of that on this day. I kept moving and taking in food/water as planned. I enjoyed the bike course, it fits me well. As we made our way out, I noticed a few more small hills than expected earlier in the ride, which was not an issue, I just thought the elevation came between 30-38. I took a few water bottle hand ups to get rid of the not so great water I had, unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) the last one got botched, and I had to get a Gatorade. This is normally too sweet for me, but at this point, I wanted to make sure I did not run out and make for a really bad run.
Somewhere in the early 30s, I felt a cramp come on in my left quad. I tried to stand and give it a stretch and felt that both of my quads were a bit more beat up than expected. I kept plugging on, trying to move around a little and not kill them too early. The last few miles of the ride, I was ready to be off the bike and on to running. My time was just as expected. Just under 2:40, about 21 MPH average, ends up that I only managed 181 Watts, this piece puzzles me.
As I came in to dismount, I slowed way more than normal, afraid that I would jump off and seize up into a face plant on the ground. Thankfully that did not happen. I racked my bike and loaded up nutrition for the run.
Run – 2:05:05 (9:33/mile)
As I headed out of transition, I felt pretty good. Legs were moving, albeit I could feel they were hurting. I made myself slow from 7:15s to 8 minute miles to try and give them a bit of a break and loosen up first. Unfortunately this was a great thought which did not execute as I desired. About a mile in my left quad locked up, causing me to quickly stop and try to stretch out the cramp. I have cramped up on a run before in an Oly, but was able to walk/stretch it off. The run took me to a new level on this day. Every step I took, daggers darted into my quads. This was the first time I questioned what I was doing that day. I had spent a good amount of time running to prepare myself for this stage of the race. There were some dark moments, I cannot deny that. I was repeatedly lifted up by people running past, urging me to keep going and keep moving. Oddly enough, that is about the only way to keep the cramps from seizing my legs.
The run had me puzzled in many ways. When I was running, I was holding 8 or so minute miles. When I stopped for my legs (probably some mental in this as well) I would get passed by others who were moving on. This became a game of leap frog almost. It puzzles me because I could hold the faster paces, but my quads were saying no thank you! Around mile 5, someone suggested that I take salt at the next stop. I had not ever taken salt before, so this was changing things up on race day! Although I was not sure, at this point I was ready to try anything. It did seem to help. This is also after an ugly attempt at a banana earlier around mile 3.
The run course was a lot of out and back loops. They did get tedious, but offered you the chance to see people (got to encourage teammates as we would cross paths) I want to call out one person in specific that I ended up running with a few of the late miles. I cannot even put into words how nice it was to have someone there, keeping me moving forward. It helped to pass the time and get me to a point where I was ignoring the pain shooting through my legs.
As we hit the causeway, I was able to pick up speed a bit. There was the occasional calf flex that felt like it would turn into granite and send me straight to the ground, but a small stutter step kept me on my feet. In the last 2 miles, I got passed by 2 guys in my AG. As I was able to pick up the pace, it was my goal to keep them in sight and try to re-take them at some point. I nabbed the first, and then the second, and then found a third guy after a quarter of a mile. This was a boost of confidence and I headed into the park for the final stretches.
As I came into the shoot, I was ecstatic to be finishing. What an experience, I was glad to be done, and had no intent on doing a full anytime in the near future, but what a great time. My finishing time was 5:27, beating my 5:30 goal. Sure it wasn’t the sub-5 I had initially hoped to rack up, but it was a realistic goal. I learned a lot about the distance, racing longer, and myself in the process! There is a whole new level of pain, darkness, and reaching within that came with this experience. There was also a great deal of joy, satisfaction, and emotion that was experienced as well.
A huge shout out to all of my great teammates who made the entire weekend a blast, Rev3 for another outstanding event, and our team sponsors for their support!