Compass kindly agreed to drive and turned-up at 07:00 in her hubby's Nissan Xterra with Dunkin Donuts coffee and a tasty breakfast flatbread sandwich for me. (Thanks Compass!) After chatting a while we loaded The Slut into the back; double checked that I had all of my gear and nutrition and headed out for the short drive up Creedmoor Road to the event. Note to self: Compass has awful taste in radio stations and likes to drive while dancing with no hands on the wheel - make sure your seat belt is secure!!
We were relatively early arrivals and there was quite a bit of activity going on as the previous evening's thunderstorms with 70 mph straight line winds had blown a lot of stuff around, including the swim buoys, which were now distributed all over Falls Lake! This ultimately resulted in the race starting a little late, but nothing too bad and the FS Series guys did a great job of pulling things back together.
It was a little chilly when we arrived, as documented by this picture of Compass:
|Brrrr.... what the Hell am I doing here?|
|The Slut in all her glory|
|Line for Registration|
|Compass setting-up transition|
Soon we were ready and it was time for warm-ups. We went for a short ride on the opening stretches of the bike course and then back for a run. At this point we ran into one of SWMBO's friends Gina Stephens, who was delivering finish line food. We were tempted to forget the race, take the pastries and run off to the woods for a picnic, but sanity prevailed!
A short distance into the warm-up run I knew there was something odd going on with my right knee. Not much I could do at this stage, so I put to the back of my mind and continued to jog while Compass did a few sprints.
Next it was wet suits on and down for a warm-up swim (especially as this was my first "in anger" outing for my new long-sleeved Xterra wet suit. The water temperature was surprisingly pleasant and after a short swim and the usual pre-race meeting (which, sadly, this time included a moment of silence for the victims of the horrible recent events in Boston) we were ready to go!
Swim: 1500 M roughly rectangular course.
I was in the second of three start waves and it was an "in-water" (waste deep) start. I chose to start at the front, but on the outside. There was the usual melee for the first 50 yards or so and someone caught me a pretty good blow to the head (but politely apologized!), but I soon found some reasonably clear water and a reasonably good rhythm. No issues with the new wet suit - phew! The first turn buoy seemed to take an eternity to reach, but by now I was swimming among some of the "blue caps" from the wave that started three minutes ahead of us and that's always a good feeling. Of course later I would also find myself swimming with a few speedy "pink cap" ladies from the wave behind, but that's OK - I'm realistic and there weren't too many of them! :-)
Basically for the whole swim I felt reasonably good without pushing things too hard. Stay in control; stay in control! I sighted reasonably well I think, but it was a little tough on the return leg because of the sun now glaring off the water.
Time: 32 minutes 51 seconds (including the run up to transition).
I am reasonably pleased with this. The last Olympic swim I did was around 41 minutes (admittedly including a longer run) so I seem to be moving in the right direction. On top of that, anecdotally, two different people we spoke to after the race who were wearing their Garmins during the swim, both said the course measured at 1.16 miles which is considerably longer than 1500 meters!
Transition One: Uneventful. No issues with getting the wet suit off. Short run to bike mount.
Bike: 26.5 miles. Tough hilly course.
I ride these roads regularly, so I knew what we were in for! I think this is a tough course for racing because it is continually rolling terrain and there are a couple of bigger hills on Purnell and Ghoshton Roads. I think that I rode reasonably strongly and stayed in the aero position well (as evidenced by my stiff neck this morning!) to combat the wind, which was quite sforceful at times. As usual I chased down quite a few people and was "hunted" by many others. Several guys from the same swim start wave as me flew by me at various parts of the ride - this always makes me wonder "if you're that damned fast on the bike, how can you possibly finish behind me in the swim?"
At one tight corner I almost "bought the farm" when I hit a pot hole, but after a bit of a death wobble and nearly riding onto the grass verge I just managed to stay upright. I was worried that I might have punctured, but the only issue was a rubbing on my front brake that I managed to correct as I was riding.
Time: 01:28:08. 18.0 mph average. Again, I'll take this on a difficult course.
Transition Two: Again uneventful.
Run: 10k (6.21 miles)
Again a pretty hilly course. Two laps out-and-back.
I started steady and tried to keep an even pace for the first two miles. I managed to lock the keys on my Garmin somehow, so I have no idea whether I actually achieved this! Once I felt that I had my legs under me I tried to take it up a bit but almost immediately I felt some discomfort over my right knee. I tool it down again and it subsided. After a coupel more attempts I decided that discretion is the better part of valor and ran in at a steady pace. I certainly didn't want to risk messing anything up with Ironman Raleigh 70.3 getting closer.
A nice thing about an out-and-back course is that you get to see your race buddies coming in the opposite direction and it was good to see Compass' smiling face a few times, as well as The Coachman (who was finishing the sprint distance race. The Otter was also there cheering us on.
Compass is faster than me on the bike and, especially, the run. She started in the wave three minutes behind me, so I knew that she would be chasing me down. yet again I am "the hunted". It turns out that she didn't have her best swim, so I extended that three minute advantage a bit early, but she reeled me in on the bike and was now closing on the run. Even with having to run steady I was really hoping to cross the line before her and I just managed it. As soon as I crossed the line I turned around and there she was right behind me (meaning, of course, that she beat me by a little under three minutes as she started behind me).
Run Time: 55:31 (~8:55 pace)
Overall Time: 02:58:58
Final assessment: Quite pleased with a sub three hour finish on a difficult course. Will have to keep an eye on my knee, but otherwise a great training outing.
We spent some time "hanging" afterwards and I was able to introduce Compass to The Coachman and a few othes while we drank fluids and stuffed our faces. I had a couple of chocolate chip cookies which the Coachman referred to as "High density recovery wafers". Love it!
|The Compass apparently having some sort of yard sale in transition after the race.|
|Pleased to be finished!|
|Goofing.... "look at the size of his gut!"|