Well, it's over. And a mixed bag it was.
The week leading up to the race was unusually cool, and luckily that trend continued into yesterday. Taper week was great, workouts good, some down-time, and miracle of miracles, that diet finally paid off and the scale on Friday showed me a number in the 130's (albeit 139.8) for the first time in a long time. That was a nice confidence booster as I finished all my animal chores and left for check-in on Saturday. Navigated the check in process, including the mandatory athlete meeting and expo, and headed to my usual Motel 6 to set up the bike, knit and contemplate my "big goal". I wanted dearly to finish this race in under 6 hours. Over a decade ago, I once did a 5.58, and that goal has been elusive ever since! It torments me. The past few years I've done a 6.12, and last year was a 6.05. SO so close. Totally do-able.
The swim is always a deja-vu; oh, are we already here again? Looking up the canyon of the Russian River, unable to see the turnaround bouy. I read on swimsmooth.com recently how it pays to start the swim a little harder than you might. So I tried it. Usually I let myself ease in and warm-up so to speak. Stayed in a pretty straight line, which was good. I do love this swim; it's pretty and straight. Came out in 43.09, roughly 3 minutes faster than last year. Not much, considering I've been swimming 5 days a week as of late, including 2 masters workouts each week. But I'll take it. I would have been ticked it it was slower.
The bike: the lesson to be gleaned from this painful sub-3 hour 56 mile ride is probably not to use too big of gears or you will pay (hear me? PAY) for it later. I think I was lured in by that seductress known as strength, and simply stopped using my head. It's been awihle since I haven't had my own personal gear-mashing warning, the residual pain from my broken leg. So, without that, I think I got a little giddy in search of my goal and really should have been geared one easier MOST of that ride. The moral? Just because you can use them doesn't mean you should. 2.53.46. Yes, people, that was an average speed of 19.3 mph, and about fifteen minutes faster than last year.
But that's when the payment plan began to kick in...The Run: or Why Won't My Legs Work? It was just a sufferfest. Ugly shuffling for 13.1 miles. Mile 5 I seriously started to wonder if I could even finish. I just did NOT want to walk! And technically I didn't, but the speed was hardly discernable from a walk. Why I have come to the conclusion that my major mistake was the bike gear mashing, is that my heart rate wasn't even that high! I just couldn't turn my legs over. I had to actually talk myself into pushing hard enough to keep my heart rate in the target zone. But it hurt! Almost 15 minutes slower than last year. So, between my bike and my run, it was pretty much a wash.
I will now spend the next 364 days trying to figure out how to shave off this 8 minutes and 39 seconds.