As I got up at 3:35am to get ready for the race, I didn't see it coming. One would expect to see a wall of mediocrity and crap before it hits them, but I think it was too dark out.
I did just about everything right - went for a little course walk before the race, did a warm up swim, ate right, etc... I think the only thing I didn't do well was asking for a refund.
The swim start was delayed by a car accident which took a handful of state and local troopers away from their course marshalling duties - so we had to wait about 20 mins or so, which seemed fine to me - it gave me a good 30 mins to pee in my wetsuit, that was until Chrissie Wellington on behalf of the Blais family sprinked some of Jon "The Blazeman" Blais' ashes into the water. Chrissie did that before the race, gave a small speech and somehow remained composed and then kicked the crap out of everyone.
I don't know why women even show to races when she's going to be there. It's got to be intimidating - she even looks fast in person.
The swim start was good, until it actually started. I started at the front, like in bike racing - if you go to the front before a climb you can slowly drop through the field - instead I slowly get clobbered but don't give up 50 hard earned yards just to start at the back. The water was shallow - about half the pro's ran until it was nice and deep - so I did the same. Then RIGHT as a dove in, I got a mouthful of water. I was like 'who actually has ever drowned while running in water?' - I was close to the first ever.
I swam about as well as I've ever swam and found a pair of feet to sit on through the melee. They were friendlier feet than the ones that kicked me in the eye. I swear one time I'm going to bite someone's foot during the swim. I tried passing the feet a few times but each time I determined we were going about the same speed, so I would hop back on and enjoy the 30% less effort. I sort of hit his feet a lot, hopefully he was more like the racehorse type that would go faster instead of kicking like a baby. He was the former, so that was good. I swam the whole 1.2 miles on the same feet - which was nice because I then apologized to him for hitting his feet. That was the last I'd see of Mr Feet.
Note: The water was super clear and tasty - so clear that I could see the bottom of the lake about half way back (maybe a .3 mile out?) - which was not good when some light waves kicked in which made the bottom move around. It was the same feeling you might have after a night of hard drinking as you lay in bed with the spins. I closed my eyes a little to avoid feeling bad. When I did hit the ground it was covered in sharp rocks - so the 37:XX I saw when I stood up, turned to a 38 something by the time I gingerly got out of the drink.
I got onto the bike with no issues and started climbing right away - the course goes up for about the first 12 miles or so and then flattens out. I rode within myself and hauled a lot of people in. The pavement was spectacular on the course as well. I didn't have a HR monitor on, nor any kind of computer that would tell me my speed, so I'd occasionally ask people where we were on the course. I hit the 1/2 way mark at 1:15 which was fine. I slowed down a few times just to save something for the run and kept that in mind - go easy and save it for the run. I did miss a water bottle at one of the feed zones when the girl holding the water out turned around to talk to someone right when I went to grab it. ARGH!
About 30 miles into the bike I caught up to 2 guys riding about 1mph slower than me but the 2nd guy was sitting about 2 ft from the wheel in front. If we had been on a hill, no sweat - it happens, but it was dead flat and he didn't even try to pass. I watched him for about a minute as I made my way to them. Drafter! I asked him 'why don't you just pass him' and he said 'because I don't want to'. I provided my feedback in a quick and that is how I met athlete #741 Leonard Digiulian.
Note: I did learn that when you do provide feedback, make sure your number isn't 740 or exactly 1 away from the person you're providing feedback to - as there is a good chance you'll see them at the bike rack later. Especially when they're 6 inches tall. Luckily he can't bike or run for poo.
More in a bit.....