I decided that I was going to race conservatively because my wrist was still hurting, and I didn't want to get hurt even more during this race and risk more important races later in the year. I also only rode my bike 1 time since the crash happened and on that ride I was averaging about 2-3 mph's slower than normally because I was just too damn scared to push myself. This didn't bode well for me having a great race, but I think I accepted my fate and came to peace with it before the race even started.
I stayed at a hotel in downtown Stamford literally a 3 minute walk from T2/finish line. It was great to be able to wake up, get ready and walk over to the transition area to get set up. Normally, it's a drive to the race site, park, then the constant unpacking and getting everything ready. Because of that, I always feel like I forgot something. Not here. I grabbed my 2 race bags and headed out.
Since it was a 2 transition area race, we had to drop our stuff off at T2, get body marked there and then ride our bikes the 2 miles or so to the start of the race and T1. As I was setting up my run stuff, I kept seeing this one guy who looked really familiar. I finally said hi to him and it turned out that it was my ex-girlfriend's friend who I became friendly with. We used to do some of the same races so there was always friendly competition. Better for me since I would usually beat him. But we said hello, asked how each other is and caught up for 5 minutes. He saw my cut up arms and I told him about the crash and how I'm going to be scared on the race. We then parted ways and I headed out to T1 on my bike.
To say that I was scared on my bike riding to T1 with a group of other cyclists would be an understatement. I couldn't believe how scared I was. Just absolutely horrible and I started thinking about how I didn't want to race. Too late now, it was go time.
Once I set up my bike transition area, the racers were allowed to get in the water and warm up and swim. I warmed up for a bit and realized how happy I was that the swim felt great. It felt easy and I started getting confident. Up until a rogue swimmer who wasn't looking decided to crash right into me and head butt me. I had to check to see if I was bleeding, which, luckily I wasn't. But my nose hurt so much, and still does today.
Once the warm-up was done, all the swimmers were brought on the beach and put into the corrals for the start of the race.
Much like my warm-up, my swim felt really easy. There were no issues, freak outs, nothing. I took it out a little too slow for me since I wanted to make sure I didn't push too hard and not be able to finish or would need to stop, but I still had a nice rhythm to the swim. As I was making my way past each bout, I internally high fived myself and how well the swim felt. So as I got to the beach and looked at my watch, the readout said 26:40. In my mind it was good since I figured I would be a little slower than that. However, after thinking about it more and thinking how easy I thought it felt, I realized that I should have pushed myself a little harder on this swim. Not crazy hard, but just enough where it wasn't so comfortable for me. This time would end up biting me in the butt later on.
Once I got into transition, I had to strip my wetsuit off, pack up my transition bag for them to transport to the finish line, grab my bike and go. I knew I wouldn't be doing a flying mount so I had to get my shoes on and run in them. I hated this part so much.
|Just getting out of T1. I'm going to see a lot of the guy in the picture for the rest of the day|
Next up came the hills. Miles 6-17 were in a really nice part of town and the course was beautiful. There were a few killer hills which I found myself passing a lot of people. But when there is an up, there is always a down. This would be my nemesis for the day. I would pass so many people going up but since I was so scared on the downhills, I kept holding myself back and not going as fast as I could or should have. So everyone I passed going up would come right back and pass me going down. I lost so much ground to everyone on the descends. Racers would fly past me and I just couldn't keep up or felt comfortable enough that I wouldn't crash. I found myself out of the aerobars a fair amount due to the technical course and significant rolling hills which would bring my time down. Once we got to mile 21 or so, it became a very flat section of the course and also coned off so there were no cars. It was finally here where I found myself comfortable and going at the speed that I'm used to.
|Still not comfortable, but at least I'm going at normal speeds|
As the bike course came to an end, all I could see were spectators and volunteers telling us to turn left and slow down. Nowhere did I see the dismount sign or notification so when I finally came to the dismount line, I didn't have time to unclip my shoes and jump off the bike with my shoes still in the pedals. I kind of came to a screeching halt and dismounted slowly. I ran my bike into T2 with my bike shoes still on and racked my bike.
|A little too late to jump off my bike so had to coast into T2|
Final bike time was 1:16:29. Before the race I wanted a 1:08 or under bike split, but I realized this course was too hilly and there were only 8 racers who had a split under 1:10 so I can't be so upset with my time. I raced it the way I said I would; conservatively. As a result, I probably left about a minute or so on the course.
Once I racked my bike, I grabbed my Skora Base's, slipped them on and ran out of T2. The second I got out of T2, I heard my mom and sister yelling and screaming for me. This was a nice rush. I saw the big camera my sister had and tried to make a funny face but realized I should probably be a little more serious for the camera.
|Trying to be funny, but this just makes me look scary|
Once on the course, I fell into a nice rhythm on the run. I said I wanted to go out in a 6:20 mile, and I started that way. My first mile was 6:17, but then I realized it was extremely humid and I was probably going to have to slow my pace as a result. I started passing a significant amount of people on the course and ultimately caught up to someone who was running at about the same pace I was. We started talking over the race and pushing each other which was nice. We kept picking off people in front of us who clearly were suffering from the heat.
The course was a 2 lap course so after we completed the first loop we knew exactly where to pick up the pace and where we needed to slow down. I liked the run course a lot. It felt a lot harder than I thought it would, but definitely a nice loop.
I finished the run in 40:40, strong enough for the 6th overall run split of the race. Definitely not something to be upset about.
|Finishing the run strong|
Once the race was over, I met up with my parents, waited for Leo to finish and went to the stretch tent. After a while, I looked at the race results and got the best and worst feeling ever. Knowing I raced this conservatively, I really had no expectations for myself. Clearly, I wanted to place and do the best I could but I wouldn't be upset if I didn't fare well. That's all nice to say, but it's all full of crap.
My race time was 2:27:18 which was good enough for 25th overall, and 4th in my Age Group. That's good right? I should be happy with this. I should be saying, I raced the way I wanted to no matter what the outcome, my swim felt good, my run was very good and I didn't do so bad on the bike. However, 4th in my Age Group? What do they say, that second place is the first loser? That's exactly how I feel right now. I missed the podium because of how I raced. I missed the podium by a minute. 1 minute. That's all. That's 30 seconds or so on the swim, which I could have easily done, and definitely 1 minute on the bike due to my "safe" riding. If I was like 6th in my Age Group or worse, I would be happy right now. But I'm not. Looking back, I really wanted that podium finish and feel like I cost myself that spot.
Overall, it was a good race. The race was extremely well put on, the course was challenging enough, and the spectators were amazing. I'm happy that I raced how I said I would going into the race and I stuck with my race plan. But I'm really pissed at myself for not pushing myself hard enough for that podium spot. I know I could have performed better if I needed to.
One other thing to note is how great my HoneyMaxx performed on the bike portion of the race. I ended up mixing the HoneyMaxx solution the night before the race in a water bottle and keeping it in the hotel fridge and then transferring it to my bottle on my bike. This was a really good idea. By the time I put the mixture on my bike, it was fully dissolved, tasted great and ready for drinking. I even had some left over so that came back to my apartment and has been in my fridge waiting to be polished off. I didn't have any cramps or digestive problems during the race and felt strong the whole time, so I'm proud to have HoneyMaxx on my bike with me. I know it is going to give me all the electrolytes I need and keep me going strong for the entire race.
So with all of that, this race is in the books and next up is Rev3 in Maine. Look out Maine racers, I've gotten the mistakes and kinks out of my racing for the season so I'm coming to get all of you.
|Congratulating Leo after he finished |
(and after I grabbed the microphone from the race announcer
as he was finishing to cheer him on)