Well, my first draft legal race is in the books and overall it was a pretty positive experience. It was a lot of fun and I really wish I had the time/resources to do more ITU races.
The race started at the gloriously late time of 2:15 in the afternoon which meant I had all morning to wake up and warm up. Aside from the race start time, race prep and warm up was pretty normal and before I knew it, we were being called to the starting area to be introduced. That was, admittedly, pretty cool.
After a short delay (during which our feet were burning on the hot pontoon) the gun went off and we all dove into the river. After a minute or so, I realized two packs were forming and I was behind both, on the right side of the left pack. The only problem was that the left pack was only a few athletes while the right one contained a much larger group. Additionally, I knew the current would be less closer to the shore (the right group) so I veered off that way. I caught and passed a couple of guys before coming up to someone I thought was swimming a pretty good speed. Unfortunately, at this point I looked up and realized the main pack had already gapped us. So less than 5 minutes into the race and I was already (more or less) out of it. This just affirmed what I thought... I need to get my 200 speed faster. Back to the race, I sat on the aforementioned guy's feet until the last 400 or so when I went outside and sprinted for the finish.
Out on the bike, there were two guys not too far ahead and another coming behind. I chased up to the two and after catching them, the guy behind me caught us. Shortly after, we came to "the hill" the first time and all I wanted to do was make it up. I did, and was happy to still be in the group. I stayed with the pack and we ended up picking up a few people and even dropping a couple of guys. On each lap of the six loop course I just focused on doing whatever I needed to to make it up the hill without getting dropped while also trying to push the pace on the flats. Oh, and trying not to crash. That was a goal as well. All in all, I was surprisingly comfortable on the bike and really just wished I had been in the bigger group that was about 1min 30sec up the road.
Coming off the bike, I was ready to roll. Initially the legs felt OK but by stomach wasnt feeling great. The solution? Ignore it and run faster. Two things stand out about the run: the water bottles and the fan support. We were handed full water bottles rather than cups with water in them and that made drinking a lot easier. The water was also ice cold, which was pleasant on the hot afternoon. The best aspect of the run, though, was the copious amount of friends out on the course. This, along with the 4-lap configuration, meant that I felt like I always had someone yelling at me, which was awesome. I saw a lot of familiar faces out there and the encouragement provided really helped me get through to the finish. So after holding it together and passing a few people for 3 laps, I tried to open it up on the 4th to attempt to reel in 3 guys within a minute in front of me. However, it was a bit too much to ask. I did pick it up a bit but it wasnt much and I think the guys in front had similar thoughts. Having no idea what place I was in, I was pleasantly surprised to hear the announcer state I was crossing the line in 12th place.