The Good: The time... “PR” of 3:53:34.
The Bad: The place. 46th, even out of 80 pros at the World Championships, is just disappointing.
The Ugly: The swim, more specifically the first 1k. I’m not sure when it actually happened (and this is part of the problem) but whenever I lost touch of the group, my race was effectively over.
Saturday morning began with… a lot of waiting. The race officials had decided on Friday to move the swim from the Gulf of Mexico to the intercoastal waterway on the other side of the peninsula due to moderately choppy water conditions. This only moved the race start a few blocks but the result was that it was now only about ¼ of a mile from the condo in which Bruce G, Chris T, and I were staying. So after eating breakfast I had plenty of time to sit around and wait before strolling over to transition.
Once there, everything went more or less according to plan. Gels on bike, tires pumped, shoes on pedals, yada, yada, yada. After finishing my prep, I pulled on my full body condom (aka wetsuit) and jumped feet first into the shallow water. I had time for a few minutes of warm up so I tried get loosened up as much as possible before the start. Soon enough, though, it was time for the National Anthem and the start of the women's race. Thats right, another last minute change was made to send the women off 8 minutes ahead of the men.
In the words of Tom Petty, the waiting is the hardest part. As it turns out, though, 8 minutes turned into 7:30 of waiting, then 20 sec of dogpaddling, then 10 sec of aggressive dogpaddling, then the start. With no well-defined start line or even an official there to hold us back, people started getting antsy a little early and started creeping forward. Before you knew it, people were screaming at others to get back while still moving forward. Finally though the horn sounded and the madness ensued.
Initially I was hanging in, swimming as fast as I could, getting bumped around, and trying not to swallow too much water. A couple of times I had to slightly adjust course to head towards what I perceived to be a group but after 4 or 5 minutes, I felt like things were starting to string out and found some feet. A bit later, all of the sudden I’m feeling the bottom and am forced to jump up and do some dolphin dives as the water was only a couple of feet deep (thanks for moving the swim, WTC!). I caught back up to the person in front of me and made it out to the first turn thinking I was still part of a pretty large group.
After making the turn, however, I realized this was not the case. There were two people in front of me, but no one in front of them. I passed them, made the second turn to come back into shore, and then saw no one ahead of me (thus, The Ugly). A little over half way through the swim and there was already a significant gap between me and a number of the other competitors. The only thing that I wasn’t sure about was exactly how many people were “up the water.”
I swam hard alone for the rest of the swim and entered transition to see a plethora of guys grabbing their bikes and heading out. Unfortunately though by the time I got around to my bike all of them had left and the population of pro bikes remaining on the racks was severely depleted. While it was certainly disappointing, there was nothing I could do about it so I set out on my bike ready to ride hard.
The bike was uneventful. Outside of passing a few pro women, I rode by myself the whole way for a 2:10:35.
The run was similarly lonely as I made my way through the pro women and then AGers on the second lap. It was hard, I was hurting, but I wasn’t racing, I was time trialing. And this is supposed to be a race report. Time: 1:15:17.
In the end, that is really what it comes down to. In order to give myslef a chance to race on a regular basis I need step up the swimming another notch to be consistently right there with the top group of guys. Otherwise I might as well just stay at home and do time trials once an month and pat myself on the back after having a few good splits.