It was a rough day. Very windy up here this morning, with whitecaps on the lake. And the swim start points you right in to it. I got in, started swimming, and promptly everything went wrong. My goggles started leaking, I kept getting mouthfuls of water instead of air, and I was fighting for space in a crowded lake. After a few minutes, I had to grab onto a kayak and hang on for a while to catch my breath, fix my goggles, and calm down.
On the way out, there was massive congestion at each buoy, as people got off track. People kicking, climbing on top of you, everything. It was a huge relief to reach the end of the first side and head in with the waves. Still fighting for space at every turn, but I could make progress. Occasionally I found open water, but then I always suspected that I was headed off course. I'm not a strong swimmer, and with the chop, I managed 38:40 or so. I can live with that.
Second lap I was calmer, the congestion was only bad in spots, but there was added fun as people would grab my feet and then I would cramp! I may have shouted "GET OFF OF ME" once...I was surprised to see that I was slower, and didn't get out until maybe 1:22?
Took a while in transition. I wasn't so worried about this...I knew from my swim that my time goals were probably out of reach.
It was nice to get on the bike. I felt crampy, but nothing came of it. First 14 miles were very nice. I was on pace, and feeling strong. I started to think maybe this would work out well after all. But then I mentioned the wind...from mile 14 to mile 35, there was a strong headwind constantly blowing (and it is uphill). For added fun, you have to repeat this section from mile 70 to mile 91.
I was struggling with the drafting rules. It felt virtually impossible NOT to violate them. They didn't seem to be enforcing strictly, but having a laxly enforced rule makes it hard on people who try to play honestly. This uphill section was bad because everyone slowed way down in the wind. I loved the hills - my California training has paid off, and I was generally cruising past people on the uphills.
But, I was the only person there without a tri bike, and people generally caught my in the windy sections and on downhills. I honestly think the tri bike might have been worth 40 minutes in that wide-open course.
Coming back, miles 35 to 56 was amazing. I was cruising at 30 MPH and very relaxed. Nutrition seemed to work out well. 56 to 70 felt good again, and then we had to take a second pass up the hills, and into the wind. I knew it was coming this time, and was more mentally prepared, but it was still slow going. Many other athletes commented that it was a very slow day. I got in around 6 hours for the bike - about 30 minutes slower than I'd hoped.
One thing that was really taking a toll on me is that because of the wind, I was putting a lot of strain on my shoulders trying to stay low on the drops. By the end of the bike, I was destroyed. I could barely sit down or stand up. The pain was excruciating. Also, my hands were numb, and I couldn't tie my shoes in transition, so it was another slow transition.
But I got up and out, and immediately felt better on the run...well, except for the two times I had to stop and tie my shoes. First mile was 7:50 and second was 7:10. I was ready to go. Considering how destroyed I was after the bike I thought I would just try to hold 7:00 miles (not the 6:30s that I'd hoped for), and if I felt better later on, I could pick it up. I did end up dropping a few 6:30s, but it's hard to say, since the mile markers were screwed up.
I felt so fucking good on the run. It's my strongest event by far, and once I started it, I knew everything would be OK. You'd think that after a rough bike and rough swim, I'd have a lot of trouble on the run, but no. I did miss my goal, but not by that much.
Now here's the kicker. I was not passed once on the run. Not once, in 26.2 miles.
People commented how strong I looked and at one point, I exclaimed "I'VE BEEN WAITING ALL FUCKING DAY FOR THIS!"
Finished the run in about 3:03. Haven't seen my official time, but I think it was 10:41.
Now I'm exhausted - it was a really rough day. Much more than I'd expected, but you do the best you can on the day, and I don't feel like this was a bad debut for me.