I really tried to set myself up mentally for this race, and the frustration I may encounter on the bike with packs building up. I guess I didn't do well with the mental preparation on this part. It was unbelievably awful!
Let's start with the beginning: Boring stuff - I awoke at 5am which was nice since our hotel was right next to the transition area. I woofed down 3 chocolate frosted organic toaster pastries, which are my new race day breakfast. They are somewhat healthy pop tarts. The benefits for race day is that they pack a lot of calories (200 each) and lots of carbohydrates. So it's easy to get in the caloric requirements necessary for longer races. I then walked down and got body marked, put some air in my tires and bottles on my bike and then headed back up to the room. I had a frappacino and a coffee and stretched for 15 to 20 minutes and relaxed. Then, I put my wet suit on in my room and walked down to the beach. It was great staying this close. I usually hate being in the hub but this hotel was so big that you didn't notice the things that usually annoy me like nervous athletes everywhere, lousy race morning music, and the announcers voice blaring through the audio system.
My wave was second to last!!! The pros went off at 7am, my wave went off at 7:55. I talked for a bit with my friend Bruce Gennari before the gun sounded and we ran down to the beach and dove in. There were 400 40-44 year olds in my wave which is a lot for a shoreline start, but I had a good starting position and was one of the first ones to hit the water. Bruce was right to my left and I thought for a brief second that maybe I'd see if I can sit on his feet for a few hundred meters. That lasted for maybe 2 meters and that's being generous. Bruce was first out of the water in my age group in 23 minutes (he was third out overall I think, even amongst pros, but that's not surprising, he's been first out of the water overall in Hawaii a few times). I came out in 28 min and change. My shoulders felt tight in the swim and I didn't feel fast, but that was expected.
Onto the bike, I thought that this is where I'd make my move. For the first 15 miles, I was motoring by athletes quickly, and felt strong. Then a British athlete rode up next to me and said that each time I passed someone, they were jumping on board. I turned around to see that I was pulling a train. The rest of the ride was a nightmare. Right away, I put in a huge effort, going into the red for a few minutes. I turned to see I had a gap and settled back into my pace, only to get swallowed up shortly by the peloton. I made about nine or ten more huge efforts, way into the hurt zone, trying to lose the group but I knew it was useless. I just couldn't sit there and not try. The long roads had a coned off section for the cyclists to ride in and I rode quite a bit outside the cones, in no mans land by myself. I actually, in disgust, thought about quitting! But I'm not a quitter and I can't preach to my kids that you finish what you start and not follow suit. I had a bunch of the drafters coming up to me and telling me that my efforts to get away were inspiring! Can you freaken believe that!!! These are guys cheating, and complimenting me on riding fair! I know that many will say that there was nothing they could do but that is bullshit. When someone passed me, I'd drop back and allow the rider space, only to have three or four others come around and fill that space. I was averaging 26 mph and there were woman age groupers hanging in the peloton! I don't want to sound as though I'm putting myself on a pedestal and claiming that I was the only one not cheating in this group. Mark Foster was also in the group and was also making efforts to get away. He rode as clean as possible and should be proud of the way he raced. I really don't thing there was anyone else in the group that made an effort. As I rode up over the cause way at the 56 mile mark, I saw my dad and yelled to him "never again!" as I shook my head. I was letting my temper get the best of me and I wasted a huge amount of energy during the ride. At one point Mark said to me "you'll get em all back on the run." The problem was that my legs were toast from trying to break away.
I started the run feeling really shot, like my legs were just dead weight. I stopped at the one mile mark and took a nice long pee and contemplated the day thus far and decided that I was going to run. Not jog or run/walk, but run. The first four miles were very slow, but then I started coming around. I started banging out a few low 6's, pace wise. I ran pretty steady for the rest of the race. My legs were shot, but I managed a 1:26 1/2 marathon. My goal for the run was a 1:20 to 1:21 and I know I had those 5 or 6 minutes in me if the race was a steady, consistent, fair effort. The most frustrating thing was that I finished 7th in 4:10, in back of some competitors that I usually beat.
What did I learn? For one that I'll never race in Florida again. This is not the location for a world championship race. I'll bet there were a lot of p.r.'s today! I also learned that there are a ton of athletes out there with no integrity. A lot of these packs could have been avoided.
Oh well, enough bitching. I'm usually quite optimistic and I know that I complained an awful lot in this report. Sorry about that - I guess I needed to vent. I just really wonder what most of these athletes do after the race, when they look back on their day - do they convince themselves that they raced well and had a fair race? I just don't get it.
It is now the off season and I'm looking forward to some sushi and some beer tonight and to going home tomorrow.
Thanks to everyone who may read this.