It was ideal conditions for a race... quite unlike last year, where I arrived at Centennial Lake with a really bad sore throat in pouring rain. It was low-60s and sunny this time, so the race would at least be more enjoyable! I also had pretty much all of my training pals racing with me in my wave, including Dirk de Heer, Michelle Miller, Matias Palavecino, Lucas McCollum, Ryan McGrath and also Lindsey Jerdonek in the pro wave. Coach Wiley was making his return to the race where he is a legendary figure.
I was really looking forward to the swim... lots of early morning swims and masters practices led to this day. I pushed hard for the first 400m or so, finding feet early on but losing them after not too long. I had to swim without a draft for about 1300m, which kind of sucked. Even so, I focused on not stopping and continuing to keep the tempo effort going. My arms felt good, due in part to my Xterra wetsuit which fit perfectly. With 200m to go, I saw a figure slide up next to me. I took a breath to my left to see a familiar face breathing to his right... DIRK! We made eye contact and swam together the rest of the way in. Not surprising, as we've been swimming together since last year and making each other work in practice. It was really cool though to finish the swim with him... it seemed almost appropriate. Lucas emerged from the water right behind us and we hopped into transition. TIME -- 20:50, a 3min PR over last year's swim, 65th overall!
I was not aware of my swim time though, and thought it was much worse as I saw a lot of bikes missing from our rack... then I had a hard time getting my wetsuit off of my right leg as Lucas and Dirk left transition. Dirk and I are about even on the bike so it would've been great to start with him, as I got off to a very sluggish and weak start to the bike. Aerobically I felt great... but my legs were unable to push out any power. I had no speedometer so I had no idea what I was doing, but I definitely was going SLOW. I just had no power. I became distressed and pretty demotivated, especially after Ryan McGrath flew by me halfway through. I tried to pick it up, but my legs would not respond. I came into transition to find that I barely matched my bike split from last year... TIME -- 1:09:13, 22mph, 109th. Pitiful and far weaker/slower than what my training indicated I'd be able to do... I had ridden a whole minute faster in training on that course as part of a 40mi ride!
FURIOUS, I racked my bike and sprinted out of transition and up the first switchback hill. I had to make up a LOT of time now. I saw no one except some pro women who I passed leading into mile 2, at which point I saw Robbie Wade, heading into his last mile. He shouted at me "RUN WITH DIRK!" to which I responded with confusion and a "huh?" That made no sense, until I looked ahead and saw Dirk at the top of the next hill... something was wrong with him. He had no jump in his stride and I definitely shouldn't have been catching him on the run. I passed a half mile later and focused on Ryan and a couple other guys ahead. I caught them and focused on staying ahead for the last 2 miles. TIME -- 37:07, a very average 10k for me, 18th overall. I had no desire to run much faster after I passed the last couple guys as I saw no one ahead... and was still pretty discouraged and confused after that awful ride.
Total time -- 2:10:19, 35th overall, 13th amateur. A 5min improvement over last year's Columbia, but I'm not really happy about it. I felt like my bike legs failed today and I don't know why. Part of it might have had to do with not biking in a group, which means I have lots of work to do on my mental game. The power is there... I just need to be in the right frame of mind to utilize it properly. Very happy about the swim and the general direction my development as a triathlete is headed. Lots of work left to be done... I'm ready to attack my weaknesses again. Thanks for reading.