Well, the outfit in the picture above was the entire race kit. All I needed. It was incredibly freeing. I LOVED riding the bike without a shirt on. The sun, the breeze, the freedom, it all felt amazing. However, I did not bring the 6 pack out of the fridge. It is still comfortably insulated. I was starting to see more definition before we moved into the new house. So I wasn't the picture of HTFU that I was expecting, but I certainly was not embarrassed out there.
This race was at Harris Lake. The water in Harris Lake is pulled into the nuclear power plant, used to cool off the nuclear reactors, and returned into Harris Lake. The running joke with the kids was that daddy was going to be used as their nightlite last night, and for me to keep an eye out for any three-eyed fish. The water temperature at the swim start was 90 degrees.
Lining up to get in the lake before the swim start
I've been trying to gear up for the 2 mile OWS in a few weeks, and this was the only time I was going to be in a lake before that race. So I wanted to kick some tail in the water. It went so much better than I expected.
That's me with my whole head out of the water and shoulders out of position. Kelley is an incredible photographer to be able to keep up with my position in the washing machine like that.
We had an in-water start about waist deep. I found my stroke and held it. Just like what happens every time in the pool, the lungs tightened up a bit once my breathing got taxed, then loosened up and I was in my groove. The swim was 750 meters, and I held my stroke the entire time! Normally in OWS I have to throw in a couple of breast strokes to get my head above water and catch my breath up every so often. But at this race I just kept on stroking. It felt incredible.
There was a long run coming out of the water back into the transition area, and I felt so great after the swim it didn't bother me at all. I dried off my feet, put on socks, bike shoes, helmet, and took off with Roberta.
Roberta has been having some saddle problems lately. So guess what happened as soon as I sat down? Shtoink! The seat went immediately loose, back, and pointing straight up. I had just tightened everything down the night before! So there I was riding out of the state park, less than a hundred yards into a 17.5 mile bike ride with a seat playing divide and conquer with my nutsack. I immediately abandoned any time goals on the bike.
Fortunately, at the park exit there was a sag guy. You don't normally see those in sprint tri's. He didn't have an alan wrench to tighten the seat back down, but did at least get it pointed in the right direction. The dangerous part about a carbon fiber seatpost is that you can tighten the saddle down too tight and actually crack the post. If you do that it's just a matter of time before the seat comes off in the middle of a ride. So now I just wanted to finish. I'll deal with replacing the seatpost later if I need to. I knew I couldn't sit on the back half of the saddle for the rest of the ride, and when I go aero I typically move back on the saddle. So this would be your basic nightmare.
Still, the bike leg in it's entirety was really good. The course had lots of rolling hills, two pretty good climbs, and no traffic. It took me about 12 miles to really get my cycling legs warmed up, but once it felt good it felt GREAT! Mechanical difficulties aside, I tackled those hills with precision and power. It felt like I was back at the transition area much faster than I was expecting. I did take a gel as soon as the bike came back into the state park so I'd be fueled up for the run.
T2 felt very fast. Ran with Roberta back to my rack, switched out the bike shoes for the run shoes (with Yanx, no tying), and traded the bike helmet for a headsweats visor and I was off and running.
The run course was a loop with an out and back, all in the state park, and mostly on trails. The trails threw me off mentally, there were tons of roots and loose dirt that I wasn't expecting. The hills on the trails were tough! I wanted a harder course though. and I got it. There were plenty of aid stations with water. It was so hot I walked through them and drank as much as I could take down. Pouring with sweat, it was so freaking humid you could feel the air move around you while running. I kept a good pace, held good form, and ran my race. It ended up being the slowest 5k I've turned in over the last several months, but it still fit. Coming back into the finish line:
Check out the muscle definition in those gams!
I hit the finish line happy to be done. Through all the ups and downs, this has got to be one of my favorite races ever.
Overall: 382/481 men
AG: 71/72 35-39 age men
In the swim I was 57th AG, and 69th AG in the bike and run. so it must have been the transition times that pushed me next to last in the age group. I knew I did pretty good in the swim, I passed a bunch of people in the water. And a bunch of people passed me on the bike and run. The strange thing is that in SC I would have been much closer to middle of the pack. Raleigh is so much more competitive! So overall this was a fantastic race and I can't wait to do it again next year. I can see why it's so popular.