For me, same swim as last year, actually a few seconds faster. I don't think I get slower or faster swimming no matter what I do, so screw it, no practice for me and I'll just line up as always ready to race and throw down what I brought.
For the bike and the run, I had a plan in place due to my as of yet unidentified infection/sickness to just keep HR and effort down, and try to be steady. Once my HR goes high I have a hard time breathing and wheezing, so I had to come up with a different plan than just hammering everything.
I decided to keep my HR around 160 on the bike, which is a pretty easy pace for me seeing as my last set of crit races were 175 to 180. I figured that would at least set me up a decent run as long as I didn't screw up nutrition/hydration too badly, and I wouldn't lose too much time. I averaged 163 HR and 23 mph on the bike, so pretty close to what I wanted. Though it was hard for my ego to handle, I did let a few guys pass me on the bike. It hurt.
I filled my Speedfil 40 oz bottle with water and NUUN electrolytes, and had another bottle with Hammer Perpetuem in it, and another bottle of just water. 3 gels taped to the frame too, so I was ready. I drank all the Speedfil/NUUN, most of the Perpetuem, some of the extra water, and had only 1 gel on the bike. I figured that would be enough calories and water to set me up for a solid run.
Off the bike, I felt good for the first mile or two. My plan was to keep my HR down whatever it took, and once it got over 170 to walk until it dropped below 160, then start the process all over again. I figured I could make it to each water stop running, and then walk while I drank through the stop, and then run again. That worked for the first 6 miles or so, and on the second lap my HR was climbing too fast to run from stop to stop, so I had to walk in between the stops for a few seconds until my HR dropped, then run again.
It was a good plan, and would have given me a killer time had I been able to run stop to stop, but after the 6 mile mark my lungs were burning and my legs were on fire. I took a gel around mile 8, and after about 15 minutes my legs came alive, and I was running faster than ever. That only lasted about a mile though, then it was back to usual alternating walking/running.
The last 2 miles were absolute murder. It was everything I had to just try to finish strong. I kept looking at my watch and was doing the math in my head about how my per minute mile pace would affect my overall time, but it didn't matter, I couldn't do any better. It was super hot in the sun, and even the fastest of the pros had tough days.
Finished in 5:26, which was a record for me surprisingly. One of these years it won't be as hot, and I will be able to run the whole course. Then I will get that killer time. Until then, more running will have to do to get ready for that day.
Everybody I know, even fast and super fast runners normally, had super shitty run times. It was like a running contest with one leg.
Everybody had ridiculous run times around 10-11 minute miles. Looking forward to next year already. Only an idiot likes feeling this kind of intense pain.