For some reason the organizers decided to put my start wave LAST in the men's division. Yeah.. this means the faster swimmers are swimming through packs upon packs of slower age groupers. I don't see this as fair, because the younger guys generally swim much faster than the older age groupers. I knew it was a disadvantage but everyone in my division would have to deal with it too. Luckily, it was an in-water start and I LOVE in-water starts because you don't have to battle others running & diving into the water for position. Also, I have a fairly good sprint to get away from the group, and move out in front early without having to battle the others. So when the horn went off, I bolted, actually led the swim for around the first 200+ meters before another guy caught up to me and eventually passed me (which would be the guy who took first in the division). Just as promised, the swim was chaotic, having to work through the cluster-you-know-what's of slow swimmers. I actually came to a dead stop to look around and find a clear path 3 times. Still managed to have a great swim with a time of 26:04.
Getting on to the bike I was happy that my bike legs finally decided to show up at a race this year. I played it pretty conservative for the first 40k (in just under an hour). Keep in mind we had a slight tail wind and I knew the road back starting around mile 30 would be windy and hilly so I didn't push the pace much early on. It was also hard to gauge my speed/effort because I was still weaving through packs of slower age groupers (and would do so the entire ride), so I didn't have any strong cyclists to pace with. I had a pretty decent bike split at around 2:30.. with a few lower back cramps from being in the aero position the entire time. Around the last 10k a guy in my division passed me (who was actually the only person to pass me) at a pretty good speed and got to T2 around 30+ seconds faster than I.
As I started the 13.1 mile run, my legs felt decent but I couldn't utilize the faster muscles that I normally run with, as I had been using them pretty heavily on the bike. So I had to improvise and switch up my running style a bit to focus on leg pull. I caught up to the guy who passed me on the bike, pretty quickly around the first mile. The mistake was passing him right before a hill. As we hit the hill together, he saw I was in the same division and he turned on the "overdrive" just as I turned on the "survival mode- just get me up this hill, Lord" button. My run belt broke which didn't make things any better and he passed me once we reached the top. I slowed down to fashion it back together by tying it around my waist (which hurt) and he passed me. I trailed him by 5 - 10 seconds for the next 3 miles and then my engine died (you like these car analogies?). My legs felt dead and I realized there was no way I could keep this pace for the remaining 9 miles. As the pros ran in the opposite direction, it was comforting to see that they looked about as tired as I felt. I kind of went into auto pilot to regain some energy until I reached the turn around back at the harbor. It was nice to see my family and friends there waiting for me, but they all caught a glimpse of just how fatigued I was. As I passed my Dad, he yelled to me that I was in third. This was the first time I had any idea of my placement and it gave me a huge mental boost. I was not going to loose that podium spot. At this point the muscles turned back on and I started pushing the pace again. I ran through mile 9 in just under an hour (averaging 6:40ish) and saw the guy in front of me at the turnaround. He probably had 1-2 minutes on me at this point and I knew I couldn't catch him but I had no idea who was behind me or how close. The last 3 miles were disgraceful to say the least. I hadn't even ran a consecutive 13.1 miles since last November so my legs were really tired. At 10 miles I was at 1:07. Pshh.. I couldn't even run an easy 21 min 5k to finish off. A little disappointed at that, non-the-less, ran a 1:30 on the dot 13.1, on not the easiest of run courses.
Finished with a 4:30 total time, so I was pretty happy, but don't feel like I've even come close to my potential.. Plenty of room to improve, but it's nice to see that I'm making significant progress with each race, especially in cycling (which was by far my weakest sport last year).