Sometimes everything just comes together perfectly. While there's no such thing as a perfect race, this one is about as close as I've ever come. Looking back, there are very few things that I could have done to improve on my performance...and it shows.
Started off with my standard bagel and cup of yogurt about 2 hours before the race. I drove to the race site and set up my transition area in the dark with the help of a flashlight. The early start time (6:45am) meant that there's wasn't time to wait for the sun to come up.
The swim start was a time-trial start - meaning it was one at a time into the pool for the 800 meter swim. I was #42 in line....based on my anticipated swim time between 15 and 18 minutes. Swimmers started every 20 seconds, so 14 minutes after the first swimmer started, my race began. It was 8 laps of a 50 meter pool, up and back in the same lane, then over (or under) the rope and do it all again in the next lane...until you worked your way to the end of the pool. I was passed by two people and passed two myself. I was also hit in the top of the head really hard by someone trying to pass going the opposite way. It dazed me for a second but I'm sure that person's hand hurt a lot more than my head did! I exited the pool in 16:35 (this includes a short 40 foot run from the edge of the pool to the timing mat). I was hoping for something under 16 minutes, but I was happy with the time.
I ran up the stairs and then down the ramp to the transition area. This T1 transition time includes about a 300 foot run from the pool to the parking lot. I had decided to clip my shoes in ahead of time and put my feet in them while riding instead of putting them on in transition and then clipping them in as it started to ride. I like the new method better. I think it saved me a few seconds.
The bike was a fast course, mostly flat (with the exception of the 10-12 speed bumps...yes, you read that correctly). I felt fast and was passing people the whole way. I ate a gel at the halfway point and drank about 8 oz. of water during the ride. I was pushing it hard the whole way, I didn't wear my heart rate monitor, but I can assure you that I was in zone 4-5 the entire ride. The course was 14 miles, but for whatever reason, the official results say it was 16. I completed the bike in 39:45 for an average pace of 21.13 mph (this works out to a pace of 24.1 mph on the official results because it is calculated based on 16 miles, not 14).
I unstrapped my feet and had a good rolling dismount heading into T2. I racked my bike, slipped on my running shoes and hat and headed out in less the 38 seconds - couldn't do it any faster.
I took off on the run and felt strong heading up a slight hill during the first mile. The temperature was still in the lower 70's, so I wasn't even sweating that much. I did the first mile in 7:18. I took a swig of water at the aid station around 1.5 miles and then hit the gravel trail that goes through the park. I did the second mile in 7:06...and still felt strong! It was weird, I passed a few people early in the run and then really didn't see anyone else ahead of me until the last half mile or so. I hammered down for the last 1.1 miles and ended up doing it at a pace of 6:50. Total time for the 5K was 21:52 (7:03 min/mile pace). This is only slightly slower than the Anthem 5K run I did back in March...and that run wasn't after a swim and bike.
I was really happy with my time and knew that there were probably less than 10 people that finished ahead of me, but with people literally still exiting the pool when I was done with the whole race, I knew that it was impossible to tell where I really finished. Needless to say, I was more than excited once the official results came up last night and I saw that I was 3rd on my age group (out of 26) and 8th overall (out of 301).
16:35.60 (33:10 min/mile pace) - 7th out of 26 in age group (57th out of 301 overall)
1:39.30 -3/26 (12/301)
39:54.90 (24.1 mph) – 2/26 (6/301)
0:37.30 – 2/26 (18/301)
21:52.30 (7:03 min/mile) – 2/26 (18/301)
1:20:39.4 (3/26) (8/301)
I really had no expectations heading into this race. It wasn't one that I had specifically trained for and I was doing it just for fun...maybe that's why I did so well.