So that happened. First the recap, then the analysis.
Recap: Pre-race went pretty smoothly with an on-time arrival at Disney and uneventful morning. This race always starts early, 6:20AM this year, and its always a bit weird heading to the swim start before the sun has come up. Regardless, there we were on the beach with Tom Z singing the National Anthem, the sun inching up over the trees, and the calm lake in front of us. Shortly thereafter, the cannon fired, and we were off!
I got a pretty good start and after maneuvering around a few people I found some feet at the back end of the pack and "settled in." By settled in I mean, of course, that I continued pushing it hard in order to stay in the race. Approaching the first turn, it looked like most everyone was strung out more or less single file so I just wanted to make sure to keep up. All of the sudden, though, I noticed a gap in front of the guy ahead of me so I gathered some momentum and moved outside to pass. I pushed hard for a couple more minutes but soon realized I wasnt making any water on the guys ahead of us which left me having to swim the last 800m or so alone.
Coming out of the water, I was a bit further back than I wouldve preferred which was naturally a bit disappointing. Out on the bike, I was feeling pretty good, the power was there, but I just wasnt going very fast. Its always hard to make real-time power/speed comparisons but something felt a bit off. After 10 miles or so I was caught by a couple of riders and ended up riding with them for around 35 miles. The last 10 or so miles were especially tough as I had a slight headwind and, well, I was nearing the end of a 56 mile TT. It took much longer than I would've liked but I finally got to the finish and was off to run.
The run was its usual suffer-fest. I passed a few guys in the first couple of miles and then just went on damage control mode. Pushing myself in the heat and humidity was hard, especially because I was totally out of the race. The saving grace was that I had my friends and family there to cheer me on. If it wasnt for them, it wouldve been much worse. I finally crossed the finish line in 14th place in 4:13.
Analysis: So all in all, a pretty awful race. The swim was marginally disappointing while the bike and run were both pretty terrible and immediately after the race I was pretty upset. Thankfully though, my family was there and they helped me get over it while we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon at pool.
Talking with Paulo, though, I realized the training the last couple of months has been anything but optimal. Illness, travel, injury, and bike position changes have all combined to cut into quality training sessions. Looking back, I probably discounted the combined effects of these set-backs as I tend to be pretty optimistic. In this case, though, this naivety came back to bite me in the ass in the resulting less than stellar performance. Blissful ignorance can only last so long and last weekend the brutal reality came crashing down.
Going forward I'm going to drop Kansas and add Buffalo Lake Springs in order to give myself a couple of extra weeks of training because there really isnt any point to going to a race if I'm not going to be remotely competitive. Meantime, its time to get in some consistent, effective training.
Finally, I think a quote from TJ is appropriate, "I'm a great believer in luck, and I find that the harder I work, the more I have of it."