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August 29, 2006

2006 Hammerhead Olympic Triathlon

Raced in the Hammerhead Olympic Triathlon (AKA "The HOT") this past Sunday. It was hot.

The race was held on Camp Blanding, a military base just south of Middleburg. There were a limited number of cottages available to rent, so I reserved one for us so I didn't have to drive 45 minutes the morning of the race. Worked out very well. Emily enjoyed swimming in the lake the day before and it was nice rolling out of bed an hour before the race started.

The swim was pretty good, I felt comfortable. My time was a hair under 35:00. Slower than a rough St. Anthony's this year, but that was a wetsuit race in salt water. Also, I heard a couple of folks saying that the course was a bit over 1500m. Not unusual for this race.

T1 was a quick 1:31, and then off on the bike. The course has a bunch of rolling hills and some false flats. Nothing super steep, but much of it is not very flat. I played a game of cat and mouse with Jay's friend Chris, who has comparable skills to me on the bike. It was fun to have a bit of back and forth to break up the monotony. Chris was nailed for a drafting penalty on the second loop. We finished within seconds of each other, my official time was 1:08:37, my best olympic bike split ever. Going into T2, I had already taken my feet out of my shoes, dismounted and starting to run into transition when a girl cut me off with her bike. Stopping quickly caused me to stub 2 toes and knocked a shoe out of my clips. A volunteer tossed me my shoe and I motored into T2, not looking forward to looking at the toes.

060827_HOT 030One was a bloody pulp. I remember thinking as I put on my running shoes that this was going to be a lot of fun. I had to get it out of my mind and just run. T2 took 54 seconds.

The first couple of miles felt pretty good. I was passing quite a few people, but soon after the 3rd mile, the wheels starting falling off. The fourth mile takes you up a pretty good hill and then you turn around and go back down. My stomach started rumbling and gurgling, and I couldn't tell if it was because it needed liquid or if it had too much. I hadn't taken on a lot of liquid, just a full Aero Bottle on the bike and a little out of another water bottle to wash down a gel. I wasn't taking in a bunch at the water stations, just a little at every one.

The last 2 miles seemed like a death march and I was passed by a few people. The last mile has some rolly hills that were no fun. Just before the turn to the finish line I saw Karen and Emily with Pete and Amy with their boys, and Mike and Susan.

After crossing the finish line, it took me forever to recover and "get it back together." It seemed like all of my body's energy was focused on my somach. I alternated squatting, walking, sitting, standing under the rain tent, drinking water, Gatorade and Coke. Finally, I pulled it together. I only used 2 gels in the race, one at the beggining of the bike and the 2nd halfway through the bike. Did my body not process those? I'm not sure what happened, but the run ended up taking 52:09.

All three splits were my fastest ever for the course, and my finishing time of 2:37:59 was my best in the race by about 12 minutes. I'm still disappointed with the explosion in the run, and wish I could pinpoint the root cause. The other variable was obviously the weather, but we had cloud cover and while it was hot and humid, we did have the searing heat beating down on us like last year. During the run I remember thinking "And I want to do a half ironman in October?" I guess the difference is pacing and not hammering the bike leg. Eight weeks until the Florida Challenge. . .

UPDATE: Race results