Night before I had a wedding reception downtown directly after work. Hauled ass down 290, made it there right at 6pm on time, and partied down until almost 11PM when I could squeeze out without being obvious. It was tough because it was an awesome reception and a ton of HOT HOT tail walking around. Good times for sure. Got home at midnight, alarm went off at 3am, and got ready for the 3.5 hour drive up there. Ugh.
So the race. Lined up on the beach ready for the stupid sprint to the swim thinking maybe I had a decent swim up my sleeve. I decided on the sleeveless wetsuit, going with speed instead of comfort. Man it was cold, but after the start it wasn't that bad. Gun went off, and I threw down what I had on the start, which was not much.
Man these races are rough, and I was getting kicked and pushed and legs grabbed and it was really tight for the first half of the swim. Someone grabbed my goggles and one side of them filled with water, but I figured if I stopped and fixed that I would either get mowed down or lose a lot of time, so I just kept one eye closed until it loosened up and I could stop and fix it.
The first half of the swim was brutal for me, and I was getting killed and didn't feel ready to fight. I drank an entire water bottle right before, and after last year I knew not to take a gel pack right before, but I figured water was OK. Nope. I kept having to burp, and it's tough to time that with an exhale when you are racing and your HR is climbing.
So I kept holding my breath a bit every stroke, which made my HR climb, and I was slowing down.
After the first half, I fixed my goggle issue and it loosened up and I could hammer down a little. Picked up some time and started passing people on the second half of the swim finally. As we were rounding the last buoy, I noticed quite a few people not sighting correctly and were heading WAY to the inside of the buoy. I kept straight, and rounded the buoy, and saw a bunch of peeps cheating the course and cutting it early. That sucks. After the race I heard a LOT of people did that, so I guess my swim wasn't that bad after all considering.
T1 went pretty smooth, and even though I wear socks I had a decent time. On to the bike...
Finally got on the bike, and felt strong right off the start. Throughout the bike section, I passed at least a few dozen people, and nobody could hang with me, so I felt good about my ride. I noticed about halfway through I was losing air in my rear tire, so turns got a little sketchy and some of the wet spots were really slick with a low tire, so I had to slow down a bit in turns which probably hurt my time. No biggie though, the bike is not where I need work.
T2 I missed my bike spot, so I took an extra few seconds for that, and then I went the wrong way out to run, so that cost me a few more, but not too bad.
Ahhh, the run, my favorite.
Headed out, and the first thing you do is cross the sandy beach all the way across it, and then you head up the hills. My HR was jacked at that point already, and I was seriously sucking in the run. My stomach was cramping like crazy, probably from the garbage I ate the night before at that reception. Not good. I kept slowing down hoping it would go away, which it did, but only after about half the run. The second half I picked it up a little, but the damage was done. I think I was passed by a half dozen or more guys at that point just during that two miles.
I did manage to catch up to and pass another guy in the run, which was inspiring, during the last mile. It was motivating, and that helped pass the time. In the last quarter mile before the finish, I noticed that guy and another guy behind me were trying to catch up and pass me. That's the last thing I needed, as my HR was screaming and my stomach was still hurting. I picked it up a little more, knowing if they got any closer they would try that much harder to make the pass stick before the finish. Luckily I held them off, but it hurt BAD, and my HR got up to 200 doing it.
So, I managed to get 3rd in my age group and 24th overall, even with all my issues. I guess I'm happy with the result, but the race and my performance could have been better. That's why I like racing so much, you really learn a lot about how to make yourself faster in each situation you encounter. I was only 6 minutes slower than the overall pro in this race in the bike leg, and a couple minutes were definitely from waiting to pass other riders, so that was pretty good. It'll be interesting to see where I fall in the swim and run too.
One note on Xterra races though. These motherfuckers don't like to let people pass, and race really aggressively IMO. During the swim, there were a few guys right next to me on each side just squeezing me and not moving over a bit or giving any room. Having to swim right into them to get extra room is ridiculous. I don't think there was anybody else on the other side of them to prevent them from moving over, so I don't know why they couldn't make room. And on the bike, man, I gave notice I was coming up and asked to pass, but unless half the field was legally deaf they didn't say anything or do anything. Pretty aggravating having to make a stupid aggressive dangerous pass every rider or wait until it's open, which doesn't happen too much. Next race I'm not out to make any friends this time. Move over or you get punted. End of story. I would guess all that waiting cost me a few minutes for sure. My HR kept dropping to low 170s, which is about 10 lower than I usually bike at, so I know I was slacking too much.
Things to improve on: No crazy water drinking before swim. I guess I gotta rehydrate more on the bike instead. I could probably go the whole race without water or gels, so I probably shouldn't obsess about it, but the bike is where I'll do it next time. I need to work on open water starts so I get a better rhythym going earlier. Other than that the usual stuff about sleep, work, and nutrition. Good race though, and perfect day.