This was my first triathlon of the 2009 season and it was a bit more rough around the edges than I anticipated it would have been. However, the overall result was better than I had hoped or expected. I ended up finishing in 4th place after a series of unfortunate debacles.
I was seeded to start with Daniel Moss (the overall winner) in the 4th set of two. My plan was just to fall in line on his feet and let him pull me through the course. Well when we started the pace felt really easy and I thought, "I'm not slowing down!". We reached the end of the lane at 50 meters and I did my flip turn and I was way too close to the wall which made for a very awkward turn and by the time I came up in the other lane I was in oxygen debt. I tried to hold the pace for a while then I thought, "I'm slowing down!". From here it was a hypoxic state for the next couple of lanes and until I started to feel my chip coming off my ankle. What was going on? This swim was not going according to plan!! I reached back and pulled off the chip and thought for a minute about swimming with it. It was impossible to swim with my hand in a fist so I just let it go. In hindsight I should have stuffed it in my shirt or shorts. After that I was able to find a good rhythm but Daniel was gone and I was getting caught by Parker Roth and one of the female athletes. Great ... losing time already! Out from the pool and run to transition I told anyone who looked official that I had lost my chip and my number was 7. Looking at where I ended up in the field after the swim and based on Cam's Scott bike next time mine in the below picture (he started 10 seconds behind me) and his swim time of 8:05, I would guess my swim with the run to T1 was around 8:00 +-.
Getting to my bike my lane mate was on his way out. Great, didn't lose too much time afterall. Getting onto the bike was my next mishap. As you can see above my shoes are clipped in. When I did the old flying mount and went to strap my right shoes on my foot my left one somehow hit the ground and popped off. Crap!!!! I had to turn around and go back and get it. Thankfully I came to a stop and a volunteer tossed it to me. I then had to lean my bike against my body and put on both shoes and then do another flying mount (this time with shoes on) and get going. This cost me some MAJOR time and during this debacle Cameron came past me.
The bike course on this one was a bit hectic. It was 3 x 3.something mile loops with 7 right hand 90 degree turns and 2 left hand 90 degree turns ... so 27 corners! I felt strong on the bike but at start of the second loop I wondered why I hadn't dry heaved yet and if I should be going harder. Not long after I got to the climb and the heaving started. Yep, I'm going hard enough! The second lap also brought on a steady stream of other athletes which made the course a bit crowded. There were a few issues with cars but overall I made it though the course . My Garmin said I rode it in 24 minutes so about 23.5 mph. Not great for a time trial but not too bad for a "crit style" course like this I suppose. I'll have to say that I like having multiple loops on the bike course as it was a easy way to mentally break up the ride. I never saw or caught anyone from Open division nor was I caught by anyone.
The next debacle happened as I was coming back into transition for T2. i was coming in a little fast and the lanes going in and out of transition were very narrow and the volunteers were yelling at me to make a hard left and I jammed up the brakes and flat spotted my rear tire (again!!!). I'm sure the boys at the shop will get a kick out of this one! With bike handling skills like these I don't deserve (nor can afford) to ride GP 4000s - I'm going back to Sprinters.
The course was just about as crazy as the bike course. I never really knew where I was going until I got Mark Woody in sight and could follow him. Before then every time I got to a volunteer I would just open my arms up and ask, "Where am I going?" and they would point me down a sidewalk, around a corner, over a pedestrian bridge, or up a set of stairs (yes, stairs). Nearing the turn around I was able to get an assessment of where I was in the field. I saw Daniel out in front with Parker really moving fast behind him and then Cameron not too far behind Parker. Then closer to me was Mark. So my goal was just to reel him in as much as I could (I knew I wouldn't catch him) and by the last bit of the run I had brought myself to within a block of him. The run actually felt really easy and was probably the least intense part of the race. Based on Mark's time of 17:21 I would guess mine is somewhere in that ball park which would have been a HUGE PR for me had I had an official split.
In the end Mark had me by 1 minute on the swim, then I gained about that much back on the bike, and then we ran similar 5ks but my overall time happened to beat his by 3 seconds giving me 4th place even though he crossed the line 4th (because he was the 1st to swim - 30 seconds before my swim start). My total time was 51:34 which was 1:50 seconds behind 3rd place. Even without the shoe incident I don't think would have closed that gap. Next time maybe!
My two oldest kids came out with Jennifer to enjoy the race and were super proud of dad!
I had to include this video from the race Saturday that shows Mark Woody getting caught and passed by a female Open division athlete. If you look closely you can see me at several points. Just look for the yellow jersey or the one armed windmill: