For a variety of reasons, this was my first race of the year. As a result, I was unusually nervous. If you only have one race under your belt for the season and it sucks….well, then you pretty much have no choice but to accept that you suck. I did not want to suck. That said, while slightly inconsistent and scattered, my training in general had been good. So let’s dust off the wetsuit and fish out the race belt and get started, shall we?
My swim warm up consisted of standing at the start line for 2 minutes doing some air swimming. It seemed good enough and ensured I had some space around me at the start. When the gun went off I very quickly found myself sitting in 3rd in my wave behind 2 other swimmers. The pace was perfect. I was working, but I was comfortable. The lead swimmer picked his way through the crowds and I just followed bubbles. About 3/4s of the way around the course our group broke up and I finished up solo, managing to come out first in the AG, just barely ahead of a whole bunch of fast people right behind. I was out of the water in just under 27 minutes, but crossed the matt at the top of the hill in 28 minutes.
Things were good so far. Almost immediately after I hit T-1 I started getting passed, despite the fact I was doing everything really really fast. There is fast and then there is crazy boulder athlete fast…and those were the guys that went by. As fast as it started, it ended and just a few miles into the bike I went from first to 5th, but that’s where I stayed the rest of the ride. It was a glorious ride though with a perfectly even effort through each and every mile. It was windy, but not so much that it was a distraction. The wind did slow the overall time down a bit to 2:21, but based on my power output I crush previous bike efforts on the course. But did I go too hard?
Out of T-2 I felt good. This is where the race would really begin. My run training going into the race had been good, but I still didn’t feel like I was “back” from a broken bone in my foot earlier in the year. The first miles went by in 7:35 pace which was good. Things felt fairly easy and I walked the crest of the hills to recover just a bit so I could run the flats over the top. It was cooler than in previous years, but with no shade it was still quite hot while running. I was through the first loop in 50 minutes exactly which was on pace for a 1:40 run time which was my goal. I made a quick pit stop at one of those big plastic boxes at each aid station to drop some water weight and when I came out I found it really hard to get running again. My pace dropped to 8 minute miles and I held that the rest of the way to finish the run in 1:44 – 4 minutes short of my goal by a 3 minute run PR on the course. My finishing time of 4:36 was a personal best on this course by 6 minutes so I could barely have been happier with the performance. I’m not sure if it’s altitude or the course or something else, but this is just a hard course to me. Perhaps the hardest part of the day was heading to a wedding that evening. While I managed to make it on the dance floor for a while, I was a shadow of my typical wedding dance floor self.