What the heck happened?
Going into yesterday's HOT, I had a high degree of confidence that I would be able to improve on last year's effort. My swimming felt stronger. My bike fitness is the strongest it has ever been. The run is suspect, but because of the bike fitness, I should have a strong steady run. So how'd I do?
Well, I did have some personal bests. My transition times yesterday were my fastest ever for the HOT. I also received my first penalty ever. How's that for a stellar performance?
However, on the 3 most important parts of the race, namely the swim, bike and run, I lagged behind last year's performance. Add a 2:00 penalty and you've got yourself an absolute waste of a registration fee.
The start of the race was delayed 30 minutes because thick fog had settled on the lake overnight and the race director was concerned about participant safety. Once in the water, I felt like I was swimming well. I did find myself off-course quite a bit, and worked on sighting every 10th stroke. At the first buoy I was passed by the leaders of the wave 3 minutes behind us, then midway through I was passed by the first women who started 6 minutes after my wave. In the homestretch, I was passed by a few folks who started in the last wave, 9 minutes after my wave. Stinkin' fish!
Out of the water in 35:14, I was 24 seconds off of last year. There is always talk about this swim course being long, but I should have still been closer to 30 minutes this year.
Transition to the bike was speedy. My rack was the second from the bike out opening, so I put on my shoes and clipped in at the mounting line. T1 was 1:30.
Even though the swim was 5 minutes slower than the goal, I wasn't panicking. I knew I couldn't make up all of that time on the bike, but I could get a steady tempo going and nail my goal of 1:06:00, or maybe a little better. As I pedaled the first several miles, the panicking began. It was taking considerable effort to maintain a pace in the low 20s. In training, I could ride 22.5 - 23, with a HR around 150. My HR was in the 160s. The other challenge was there was a group of racers with similar ability on the course, and we all kept hanging together. I remember trying to stay clear of them, but we always clumped together. On one occasion, the USAT official came by on the back of the motorcycle when I was stuck in the group. Not wanting a drafting penalty, I jumped into a big gear and sprinted out front. Unfortunately, one of the members of the pack must've already passed my front wheel and I didn't drop back out of the pass zone for 15 seconds, so I was nailed with an Overtaken penalty. In my mind, that penalty is bogus. If you are being overtaken by a pack that is drafting, I think it is a crime that you have to let all of them pass you. I hope some of the folks in that group were at least nailed for drafting. The goal was to complete the two loop bike course with equal 33 minute splits. Looking at the splits, the first loop was completed in a little over 34 minutes, and the second was over 35 minutes.
T2 was uneventful. In and out in 46 seconds.
The goal for 2007 well beyond reach, the new goal was to beat last year's time of 2:37:59. To achieve that, I would need to complete the run in 50 minutes. I thought I could maintain an 8:00/mile pace. The first 3 miles gave me a reason to believe I could do it. I reached the 5k split in 25:28. A little slower, but maybe I could kick it out. Nope. The second half, which includes that nasty hill up to mile 4, took a miserable 28 minutes. Yuck.
To make matters worse after the race, I check the results and see the stupid penalty. Official time of 2:42:47. Just not my day.
Photos from the race.