No, nothing especially bad happened Last Friday Night.* Sunday morning, on the other hand, was a different story.
We (Denny M, Jackie A, Whitney G, and I) arrived (much to the ladies' chagrin) at Buffalo Spring Lake nice and early and after a surprisingly short wait to park were headed down the steep hill to transition. This left plenty of time for warm-up, set-up, and all other imperative pre-race procedures.
Despite recent high temps in upper 100s and an expected high of 110F on race day, the water temperature was only 74. So with wetsuits allowed, I neoprened up and headed to the lake. After a little warm up, we received a last minute clarification on the buoy rules and lined up for the start. No cannon, just a, "Ready, GO!" and we were off.
I had a pretty good sprint off the beach and was soon swimming full speed ahead. Within a minute, though, something was off and the pack was pulling away from me. Naturally I tried to pick up the pace as there was no reason for this to be happening. All off the sudden, though, my shoulders were burning and I was close to hyperventilating. So yeah.... not exactly the best situation 2min into a 4h race! So I tried to mitigate the damage while also maintaining an honest pace. I found some feet for a bit, passed that guy, but then saw what looked like quite a few people further ahead than they should've been only 1/3 of the way through the swim. It was hard to tell the actual number, though, so I just tried to stay positive and hope it was only a small group. Coming out of the water, there were more bikes missing than I wouldve liked, but with the Orca having saved my legs, I was looking forward to a strong ride.
Out on the bike, wow... it was windy. So the wind, combined with the flat farmland, made me feel right at home! (Well, couldve used some humidity...) After a few miles, the two guys that followed me through the water joined me on the bike and the three of us were riding together. 20mph into the wind, 30mph with the wind, and somewhere in between when there was a crosswind. Most of the time, though, I was focused on getting enough to drink and not falling over. Then..... it happened. Somewhere around halfway through the ride, I heard a nice loud hiss, looked down, and saw the result of my front tire spewing air. So I stopped, pulled over, and grabbed my...... oh, wait, there was nothing behind my seat where my saddle bag shouldve been!
So, I waited. A truck came by and he radioed the roaming mechanic and I waited. I saw Timex teammates Jackie A, Chris T, Tim H, Denny M, and Christine A all roll by and I waited. Then I saw the front pro guys on their way back and I waited some more. Finally, I got my new tube, and was back on my way. With wind and looming hills and my place 30+ min behind the last pro guy I certainly was ready to call it a day. But I didnt go all the way out to Texas just to splash around a bit and ride 30miles. Plus, the RD decided, due to the heat, to shorten the cut-off times by 1h (he also condensed the start times) so I knew there would be plenty of others who wouldnt have the opportunity to finish. I on the other hand, had no good excuse not to finsh.
I finished the ride, and headed out onto the run. Admittedly, motivation was waning, but I put on the shoes, and got my butt in gear. Those first few miles were tough, as I was on pace for a PW, and dropping certainly wouldve been easy. But I got some great encouragement from Jackie when I passed her around mile 4.5, as she seemed genuinely surprised I was still racing. Then, the worst part by far... the out and back from mile 5 to the turnaround which was wide open and straight into a headwind. I was passing people, but really wasn't sure whether I was moving forward, or was just moving backwards slower than they were.
I finally got to the turnaround and was loving the tailwind, which made the return trip so much easier. Of course it also helped, mentally, to know that I "just" had to get back to the finish. I did, and immediately headed to the lake to cool off.
So yeah, I was DFL in a PW. But it is what it is, and just gets me pumped for Muncie in a couple of weeks.
*Friday night, on the contrary, was a huge success. After a quick post flight run, Denny, Whitney, Jackie, and I went to Freebird's World Burrito in Lubbock. The food there was very similar to and almost as good as Chipotle, with a much more "indie" feel. So if Chipotle is too "corporate" for you, definitely check out Freebirds, as it is easily a step above Moes, Qdoba, Salsaritas, etc.