Anyway, although the race was all the way up in Bumpass (somewhere outside of Richmond, with lots of angry, poorly made political signs along the way that made me fear for my life somewhat), about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Virginia Beach it was a 10 AM start, which meant I got to sleep in my own bed the night before, rather than in the back of my Element (more on that later). Other than the scary political signs, the time leading up to the race was rather uneventful. The weather was pretty nice, and the water was over 78, so no wetsuits. Even though it's early October, this was in the part of the lake that they use to cool the power plant, so the water is always a bit warmer.
The swim went fairly well, except for the long back stretch where I just kind of put my head down to try to charge and surge up to the top couple of swimmers to find some feet, rather than being caught in no-man's land between those guys and the large pack in front of me. Because I wasn't sighting very much, I actually swam into TWO sighting buoys. Whoops. I'm hoping at least the lifeguards on the kayaks and jetskis got a bit of a chuckle out of that. I exited the water 4th, and if I remember right left T1 in 3rd. By mile 7ish, I was into the lead after shaking another athlete who seemed to think that the pro stagger rules apply. After I politely asked him to please stop sitting on my wheel, he said "I'm sitting off to the left." Well sir, I'd like to point you to the USA Triathlon Competitive Rules which are pretty clear about the requirement to ride to the right. Anyway, I didn't feel I was particularly overbiking; I actually went a bit softer in the first part of the bike, but once I was in the lead, I pretty much decided to bury myself. There were lots of twists and turns and false flats on the course, so I was trying to play to the "out of sight, out of mind" mentality. I came off the bike with somewhere between :45 and 1:00 to the next rider back. I was pretty excited, as it's been a while since I've actually led a race even. I headed out onto the run course, the first 1/2 mile or so was some grass and gravel that was kind of rolling, and I could feel I had NOTHING in my legs. I didn't really understand why, but I decided it'd be best at that point to take it easier and not blow myself up, in the hopes that my legs would eventually wake up. They never really did, and I just saw person after person pass me. Even by the time I was on the second lap of the run, I was actually getting un-lapped by slower athletes who I was a full lap of the run ahead of, but they were moving faster than I was at the time. I ended up running a 48:04 into 9th place, which is about 10 minutes slower than I am capable of. WOOF. It felt like it was one of those times where you take a wrong turn on a long run or ride and end up going way farther than you had planned on, and all you wanted to do was get it over with.
The best explanation I can come up with is that I only took two gels on the bike, although I normally have three. I know that's a lot for an Olympic, but I'm a bigger guy who apparently tends to overbike; I need all the help I can get! Afterward, I actually passed out in the back of my Element for I'm not really sure how long while I waited for awards. I'm never getting rid of that car. I still won my age group, but I was pretty bummed about the whole situation.
In between races, I did what I could to try to recover. I drank lots of chocolate milk, tried to take an ice bath although my hotel's bathtub did not have a drain plug, and then I watched some TV and was reminded yet again why I don't have cable anymore. I did, however, eat the most delicious Wawa feast known to man: A pumpkin spice latte (I was so tired at 5:30 that I was afraid I'd fall asleep then wake up wayyyy too early), a turkey bowl with mashed potatoes, a chicken quesadilla, and an apple pie. Anybody who knows me well enough that has ever been to the mid-Atlantic region with me knows my affinity for all things Wawa. That was probably what I missed most when I was in New England, but they have it down here in Virginia. Admittedly, it's not like being in South Jersey where they're as plentiful as Starbucks are in Manhattan, but there are enough to scrape by.
|The Wawa feast. What did we do before touch-screen delis?|
The swim went off and Max, a fellow 20something fixture in Virginia and former All-American swimmer, took off away from the field. I settled into 5th I think, and this time I didn't run into any buoys. It was wetsuit legal this time, but the water was a LOT warmer than the air. I can't wait for the pictures, because there was a really cool steam coming off the lake. It made sighting a bit harder, but that was really only Max's problem, not the rest of us. I'm still in that no-man's land though, between the super-swimmers and that main pack. It's why in a more competitive race I'll end up at the back of a larger pack, or maybe in a second smaller pack, but I need to get up there into that front.
I left T1 in third, partly because I didn't need to do anything special for transition. I wore arm warmers under my wetsuit and put toe booties onto my cycling shoes, which were already mounted onto my pedals. I was amazed at how cold my knees and shins were for the first part of the ride though. I worked my way into second place, past Stone Dyson, a CRAZY fast swimmer runner little 15 year old. I'm glad I am moving away from Virginia before he turns 18 :)
|I took this in my apartment when I was getting everything ready, including "preparing" a new set of toe booties. At my size, even the L/XL booties don't go past the cleat, so I have to cut back that dimpled part to the seam.|
|This does not look like the podium for a triathlon. There is far too much clothing. On another note, I sometimes forget how "loud" my racing flats really are.|
|I don't really wear visors (I prefer my Carmelo Anthony headband if it's warm and sweat may run into my eyes), but Bailey does. This is now hers.|