Hammerfest typically signifies the end of my triathlon season- except that year that I did Florida- and the transition back to duathlons and running. Not this year. With a half-ironman coming seven days later, Hammerfest was once again a tune-up for a bigger race, in fact a tune-up for a big mysterious adventure, a first time race with some last-minute course modifications thrown in, a small field and a distance I've never raced this late in the season.
The day started early- my son woke up at 4:40 AM. Here I had the luxury of going to a race a few miles from my house that starts at 7:30 AM, and I was up at 4:40...
Breakfast was coffee, a banana and some Red Bull. I got to race, found the sitters for my son- thanks, meneo family, you are awesome- and went looking for my bike, which had been racked earlier. I got in the water around 7:15, got good and warmed up and then waited and tried to decide whether to swim early or walk, as the tide was out.
I took the sucker bet and swam, and regretted it. My wave literally walked away from me and man would I regret that !
I had a good swim- head down all the way, trailing the bulk of my wave but I swam steady and ran up the hill past several fellow red caps. I was on the bike quick and this is my home course, the place I time trial, so it was a good time. Unlike past years, no one was sucking my wheel, no one passed me the entire bike. I went as hard as I could and then wheeled back in and started transition.
My feet were numb. The toes of my left foot wouldn't go in my flats, so I widened the opening and kept trying. Started running on frozen stumps and it took forever to catch the first guy in front of me and then it started to click. I was running well, but near the turn around I saw a balding guy with glasses about 25 seconds ahead of me. i had about three miles to run him down. Last year I missed placing in my age group by 16 seconds. I wanted to do that this year. I tried, or thought I did. In the last mile, I was looking at this guy the whole way.
13 seconds after he finished, I finished. Another 4th place finish...not happy. Not happy at all. 13th overall ? Nice, but not what I hoped for.
That said, it's a great race, you can't pass up racing in your backyard, can you ? It's for a great cause, the race is a lot of fun, what more could you want ? How important can an embroidered towel really be ?