I now understand why everyone was so pumped about the weather conditions in 2009...
Ok, so probably need to start by describing myself to those of you who don't know me. I'm 6'3", ~190lbs. If you had a sailboat and had a need for some extra sail surface area, you could use me. I get as low as I can on the bike (and I can get pretty aero), but I'm still a big guy with a lot of surface area for the wind to grab on to.
Now that we've got that out there, let the race report begin.
The wind was pretty intense most of the weekend. Friday night, the winds reached up to 75mph... the sprint and olympic distance events for Saturday morning were converted to run-bike-run due to the high winds. The wind was so extreme that a police boat capsized in Galveston bay. So, hopefully you're getting the picture that this isn't the standard cyclist wind bellyaching. The bike course for this race is an out and back, flat as a pancake, and highly exposed. Staying low and aero is a big deal to have a good bike split here.
When the race kicked off, the water was pretty choppy - we had to work our way through some swells and decent waves (I heard someone say there were whitecaps, but I was pretty heads-down so didn't see them as much as experience them). I enjoy rough water swimming - reminds me of the Great Lakes - but it doesnt make for fast swim splits. Amongst my age group, I had a good swim split. Out of the water, into T1, and into the winds.
When I got out near the seawall to begin the 28mi straightaway (before the turnaround just past the opposite end of the island), the wind was like a slap in the face. As I continued to ride, it became clear it was more of a side wind with a bit of headwind. It made the course quite tough. I kept low and ground it out, but it became pretty clear about 15mi into the ride I should begin to let thoughts of a big PR go... that wasn't easy. But, when confronted with the simple choice of either continue to grind it out and possibly ruin the fun of the day or take it a little easier and be sure to have good memories of the race, the winner was the latter. Just doesn't make sense to put all of that effort into a race weekend and come away having not achieved my time goal AND having not had a good time racing. This is the reason we do it, to have fun, right? :) After the turnaround, sped up slightly on my way back to T2, but the wind was still beating me up pretty good. Back into T2, let the run begin.
I was very happy with how I managed the run mentally... wasn't my fastest run ever, but kept good paces for the first two (of four) laps, and took it a bit easier towards the end. Hit my hydration plan perfectly this year - a key goal of mine given the big problems I had on the run in 2009 with dehydration. All considered, my nutrition plan hit dead center for this race... and I get three more chances to practice it prior to IM Arizona later this year.
The finish, not a time I'm very proud of, but still did pretty well in my AG. I had hoped to go much faster, but that's ok - I'll live to fight another day. After my second attempt at this course, I'm trying to decide whether to keep after it in 2011 at this event and see if I can't master it, or to spectate... I'm sure I'll be there to take the start :)
Big props to all of my T3 teammates... many PRs, many first timers at this distance. Chris, Kevin, Carrie, Jen, Seth, Jason, John, Danny, Tami, Natasha, ... You're all a blast to train and race with, and I'm proud to be on the team with you. Coach Mo, you were a great help to many in keeping on target during that run - very much appreciate your words of encouragement and direction.
All considered, a great event - great weekend with friends, great weekend away from normal life to get some mental downtime, and a very well run race. Time well spent.
Thanks for reading!