As the title suggests, we had a curveball thrown at us. Thunderstorms rolled through at about 4 in the morning, then again at 7. Had they started with a swim at 9, as opposed to the scheduled 7:30, people would have been out on the bike course too late, so they cancelled the swim and started at 9. They also shortened the bike, I think due to an unconfirmed washout situation.
I looked at this weekend as opening day for the regular season. The one sprint tri, three bike TTs and one road race were all in preparation for this. Last year I was 13th, so I hoped for a top 10. However when you take away my normally strong segment, that becomes a tall order.
It took a little while to get over the disappointment of a cancelled swim and shortened bike leg (17 vs. 27). The whole reason for making the trip was washed out, and I don't have another Oly race on the schedule. Then I heard how this duathlon was going to start- one person at a time, every THREE seconds. Are they joking? Don't they realize how congested it will be out there? I figured the only approach was to be aggressive and pass as many people as possible in the first five miles. At that point, the course hits the BIG hill and I figured people would start to get spread out. Between that strategy and my recent TT events, I hit it hard right out of the gate. I was actually surprised it wasn't more congested, but I was passing people hand over fist. Twice I had to deal with cars on the course travelling in the same direction. I passed one to the left and one to the right, nervous both times. They slowed me down, as did the few times when I had to yell at folks who were slowly "passing" other riders. I don't think it's illegal to go three abreast, as I learned at nationals last year.
I continued to work hard the whole way, with little regard for what followed. My normalized power was 281w, 18 higher than last year. Speed went from 22.3 to 23.7 this year. And my peak 5 minutes showed how aggressive I was at times- 285w vs. 315w this year. I probably wasn't as consistent as I should have been, but that was tough with all of the traffic out there. Liking to dissect results, I found there's a guy in my AG who has beaten me now three years in a row at Mooseman and the '08 and '09 nationals. Last year he beat me on the bike by 1:44. This year I beat him by :05. Good stuff. In fact, I ws tied for first in my AG. OA, I was 18th on the bike last year, and 10th this year. I consider this a huge accomplishment, and am thrilled. The hard work and racing has paid off......
.....but at a price. My run wasn't so good. I started out feeling pretty sapped, and it took forever to get to mile 1. I didn't wear a watch, so I had no idea what my splits were. At that point, I was in a groove that seemed like a fair pace, leaving a bit for the return trip. However I never got out of the groove. The speed just wasn't there. I also didn't have someone I knew, in my AG, who was trying to run me down like last year. I ended up with a disappointing 44:51, far slower than I should be.
So does that mean I biked too hard, or that I need more work on my run, or both? My hunch is it's a bit of both. If I went too hard on the bike, I'm willing to accept that. You can't find where your limits and targets are until you go past them.
As for the transition, I nailed it at 0:55. Only one person OA was under :50, and a handful under 1:00. It was funny, actually. I was out of my shoes at the dismount, and ran to my rack which was close to the bike entrance. I racked it, took my helmet off, pulled on my shoes, and then actually thought to myself, "that was too easy- what am I forgetting?" Turns out nothing. The best transitions are simple.
I ended up 30th OA with about 700 competing, and 5th of 86 in my AG. With a swim, I think I would have picked up at least one spot, and perhaps get as high as 2nd in AG. So while it isn't what I signed up for, I'm pleased with the results.
Pirate Tri (sprint) next Sunday, then I can get back to a more regular training schedule.