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Sun 25 Sep 2011
This race doesn't start until 9:00, so it's easier to manage getting there in the morning than most races. I arrived at 6:45, and was early enough to get an onsite parking spot. It was shaping up to be a beautiful sunny day, like last year - pretty lucky for Seattle in late September. I had plenty of time to set up in transition, rest, eat, and do short warm-up run.
The water was noticeably warmer than last year. I got in the water and did short swim out and sprint back to warm up. There was a small wave of elites at 9:00, then the men started at 9:01. I stayed in the middle of the pack this year, and was buffeted for a while until everyone spread out after the first turn. Then a thick fog came down over the lake - you couldn't even see from one sighting buoy to the next, so I just followed the pack, hoping they were headed in about the right direction. I tried drafting a few times, but wasn't able to lock on - I'll need to work on that. I'm sure I zigzagged a bit, and spent extra time with my head up trying to sight the buoys in the fog.
The fog lifted and the sun came out shortly after I got on the bike, but the air was still nice and cool for most of the ride. The bike course is mostly easy rollers, and I stayed in aero uphill & down except for a few moderate climbs. I hit the halfway mark at 1:26, and then stopped briefly to swap water bottles into the front. I was a bit slower for the second half, but still came in under 3 hours. I put on my shoes & cap, slugged back half a liter of fluids and headed out for the run.
It had warmed up considerably, and felt humid. It was maybe in the high 70's but I don't cope well with the heat, and am cautious after ending up in the med tent a couple of times. I had put salt & electrolytes in my water bottles on the bike, I took a couple of salt tabs over the course of the run, and I stopped at most aid stations for water, electrolytes, and another cup of water to pour on my cap for cooling. Despite all that preparation, I was only able to manage an 8:00 pace for the first few miles, and slowed down as the course climbed up into the hills. I managed to pick up the pace a bit heading back down from the halfway mark, and passed a couple of people I had been trading places with. The final trail around the lake was a relief to get out of the sun, and the hills didn't seem nearly as steep as they did last year (it was the rocky downhill stretches that were tough). I don't feel particularly sore the day after, so my legs clearly could have ran faster, but the rest of my system rebelled. I think now that I know how to prepare for it, it's mainly a matter of getting used to the feeling of running in the heat - it doesn't happen often around here!
Overall, I didn't quite meet my 5:30 goal, but still finished 40 minutes faster than the same race last year. A pretty good way to end the season.
Time 5:35:39 Placed 61/148 Overall, 10/18 Men 45-49 Swim 36:48, T1 4:21, Bike 2:55:33, T2 3:03, Run 1:55:54
Thanks to my family for tolerating my habit :-), and to Michael Covey at the Pro Club for his great coaching.
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