To start with this years race was a completely different race. The bike course and the run course were changed making this a much faster race, I think. The transitions were the big change this year. Two separate transitions were set up. T1 was in a different place then T2. I was a little nervous about this because everything had to be set up on Saturday and you were not aloud to layout the run gear on Sunday morning. This caused me some anxiety because I like to check and double check everything on race morning. I figured everyone was going through the same thing so I should not worry about it and just execute.
This was a big race for me. I changed up my training after Buffalo Springs and needed a good race to prove that it was a good choice. Plus it was my last race of the season and it is likely my last long race before Ironman St. George next May so a good race would be a great confidence builder.
The air temp was cold. About 60 degrees. The water temp was 75 but felt cooler because of the air. When I got into the water for my warm up swim I started to worry about getting on the bike while still wet and getting hypothermia. Once the gun went off though all my focus went to racing and I would deal with the weather as it came. The swim was uneventful. I actually swam it just as I wanted to. As I exited the water I did not feel the weather at all because the adrenaline was flowing.
The bike was what made this race for me. I had worked hard since Buffalo Springs, upping my bike workouts dramatically and I hoped it would pay off. I managed to pace myself well. I told myself that I had to keep my pace steady no matter what happened ahead or behind me. Early in the race two guys in my age group speed past me and it was temping to chase them but I let them go. I was a little mad because my bike computer was not reading correctly. The speed kept jumping around so I really had no idea what my average speed was. Then at mile 40 I also discovered that the odometer was reading incorrectly an my distance was 4 miles off. This was a little bit of a demotivator but I fought it off. I do need to do something about my aero bottle that sits on the bars. I sat for the last 30 miles waiting for it to just fall to the ground but it never did. I had come up with this little plastic support that I Velcro between the aerobars and I use large rubber bands to hold the bottle to that. Well as the Velcro got wet it slipped off and then I noticed that the rubber bands were so dry rotted that they could break at any moment. The whole thing just held on for dear life for 30 miles. I just new it was going to fall apart and I would be mad that I was going to have to go buy another one. With 5 miles to go I was passed again by 3 people in my age group but I let them go as well. I knew that I would see them on the run and running has become a strength of mine this year. Besides I had managed to race my own race the entire time and I was entering T2 14 minutes faster than my personal best. This was a perfect situation going into the run. I was so excited to be doing so well that I got a great energy boost in T2.
Transition was a little longer than i would have liked. Because I had to set up everything on Saturday I was not able to fill my fuel belt with my usual Hammer gel and Accelerade because I did not want ants to get it or have it spoil on me overnight. I decided that I would put powder in the bottles and then when I got to T2 I would use my bike water to fill the bottles. This worked beautifully but took me an extra 30 seconds or so. The other thing that held me up is that I really had to pee. This is a good sign that my hydration was right on but it is also annoying to have to stop during a race. I feared that standing still for too long my legs would freeze up. I went anyway, there was no way I was going to run on a full bladder. Out of transition things got a little confusing. The route was not marked real well for the first 200 yards. You actually had to enter the finish arena and run around the outside edge. Confusing but kind of a cool feeling seeing all the spectators in the stands.
I did my first 3 miles in 6:30/mile. Awesome but not smart so after 3 miles I started to slow the pace down a little to just over 7/mile. it was hard to slow down because I was on such a high from my bike time but I managed it eventually. The run was a three loop course. I have a love/hate relationship with these types of courses. Love because there are always people cheering the entire course, but hate because they tend to get crowded with runners and you have no idea what place you are in. If someone is in front of you are they on their first, or second lap? Anyway the run was very easy this year. Partly because last year I was suffering from leg cramps and had trouble even walking, but also because the big hill they call Quadzilla was gone. My stomach was not doing so well for the first 40 minutes on the run. All I could take in was water but after a while I had to force something down and surprisingly it stayed down. In the end my run was also a PR for a half marathon so I was extremely happy about the race overall.
In the end I cannot say anything was bad about this race. I pushed as hard as I could and still finish and I had the fastest race day I have ever had at an HIM. Great race and a great season.