The final NECTC race of my career. A bit sad, to say the least. Mightyman has always been a fun race/fun weekend. This year I was kind of wearing two hats, so to speak. In addition to being the one responsible/in charge for my whole team, I was also one of only two NECTC board members there as well, and this race requires the most board support by far.
Heading down to Montauk, all 16 of us left Friday afternoon, took several ferries, and made it to the race site about 7:45 to 8:30ish. We got our packets and such, then went to our amazing rental house just outside of town. After exploring a Hamptons beach house for a little bit, everybody calmed down, did those last-minute tweaks/packing things, then headed to bed. I think I ended up going to bed around 10:15 or so, not bad considering we had to be up by about 4:30.
Race morning, I jumped in the shower to warm up, then got in the car and went. It was raining off and on leading up to the race, and there were some instances of thunder even. After cancelling two NECTC races, we were all terrified that the championship would possibly become a duathlon. I set up my transition, which ended up being in about a 6-inch deep puddle. I tried to put plastic over top of my run shoes to keep them from weighing 8 lbs by the time I reached T2. I jogged around a little bit here and there to warm up, but nothing major. I was rushed setting up transition.
The swim start this year, they split up the men and women for NECTC, because we were absolutely vicious every year prior. It made for a much more pleasant start, and I actually managed to go probably 100m with almost no contact, then there was the occasional poor navigation by me or another person, but none of the feeling like I was going to drown of years past. The entire time, I tried to keep within a reasonable distance of the fairly defined lead pack, consisting almost exclusively of former/current/could-be NCAA swimmers. To my surprise, I came back less than a minute off them. My split for the 750 m was 10:56, but somebody yelled to me at the water's exit that I was in the 10:20s, so the official split probably accounts for the little run.
T1 went ok, but what was strange was coming right out with Nick from Stevens. He's a former swimmer and races Bs for collegiate cycling, so it normally takes me until about 2 1/2 miles into the run to catch him, but this time we came out right together. That's how I could tell I was going to have a good day.
The bike was fairly strong, in my opinion. After coming out of T1 with Nick, we ended up playing a lot of non-drafting leapfrog, gradually picking up a few more people. Within the first mile or so, I caught up to several of the top swimmers, and started seeing flats left and right. That's the one takeaway I have from this race: tire pressure was absolutely critical in this race because of the wet roads/debris everywhere. Probably 1/3 of the collegiate field flatted at least once, and many people DNFed after flatting twice or more. It's really a shame because I know it threw off the results quite a bit, as I know of a few guys who normally beat me that flatted. I ended up averaging about 23.8 for the 10.5 mi, which was among the top few splits. For as flat as this course is, it never seems to be that fast.
I came into T2 along with three others, and I believe that whoever was in the front of our pack would have been 3rd at the time, but #1 and 2 were both pretty close. The run took off at an incredible pace, I felt like I was running a 100m dash. Eventually I settled into a solid third place, with about a 15 second buffer zone on either side, and almost a minute up to the leader. Every now and then I looked over my shoulder to see that I was definitely getting run down by one or two guys from West Point, and once we hit the last main stretch with about 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile to go, I started hearing the footsteps getting closer and closer. I reallllly didn't want to lose that podium spot, so I pushed the intensity back up. This is the third time I've raced the course, so I know it pretty well, and I knew there was a tight right then left going into the finish chute, so I tried to put whatever distance I could before heading into that. Fortunately, when I rounded that last corner into the chute, he was nowhere to be seen and I didn't have to be in a sprint finish. Run split turned out to be a 17:06 for a "5k" that was probably somewhere closer to 2.95 to 3.05 mi.
Overall time was 56: 24, a HUGE improvement over the previous two years. In '09, in the pouring rain, I finished in 1:01, and last year, after getting lost with the lead pack on the swim and fighting some serious winds, I did it in 1:03.
So now I'm a bit bummed/sad about being all but done racing with my team. Yes, we have Nationals, but that's not the same as this fall season of shoot from the hip-style racing with groups of 10+. It looks like we'll have a men's team at Nationals and hopefully a couple of girls individually, at least, though.
I still have the Dottie's House End of Season Tri this upcoming weekend. I've raced it every year it's taken place, going from 15th in 2008, 2nd in 2009, and winning last year, so I guess now I'm just left with trying to crush my time from last year. If I can manage not to crash the way I did last year, and I can close with another 5k in the low 17s, that shouldn't be an issue.