I warmed up for about 15-20 minutes. The water was almost flat. It was low tide, but slack. That was until about 10 minutes before the race started. While the tide had come in a little during the warm-up it was calm water.
By the time the race started, however, the tide was coming in and we were swimming right into it. Nevertheless, it was still out, meaning that we had to wade about 75 yards into the water. It was a weird combination. I wanted to start swimming immediately because when you run in the water your heart rate goes up. But with so many people around me walking, I was worried about the people behind me diving on top of me (happens) and the people in front of me diving and kicking me with their heels (happens).
The end result of being the third wave in a fast incoming tide swimming straight out is predictable. Chop, big, chop. No big story here. It was a mess. People who are better swimmers than I am agreed it was a mess.
Mark Satran and I swam the exact same time. We went into transition together and I came out slightly ahead.
The bike starts up a hill. Rather than mount and climb I ran up the hill in my bike shoes, passing people. I stopped to mount and @poycc passed me. I quickly passed him back, hit the first big left hand turn onto the main road and started bombing.
For the first time all year, I felt good out of the water. My back wasn't bothering me as it had been for the last 24 hours, I wasn't hyperventilating and the rolling terrain is exactly what I train on. Usually I'm pretty low-key about how I'm performing, but I was really cranking the bike, and with two waves plus the elites in front of me I had to give it everything I had. I felt like all the training I'd done on the bike this year, especially the time trialing, paid off.
I was up on my bars maybe 2-3 times the whole ride, once on the flats late in the race when I was trying to drop someone from another local tri club who decided not to drop back after I passed. I just stayed in my aerobars and kept up a high cadence of around 90. I didn't shy away from the small gear either on the hills.
I don't think I've had too many bikes as good as this one. It's just too bad that I didn't listen to the advice to take my shoes off before going down the long steep hill into transition after the dismount. Well, actually, I undid the strap on my left shoe, only to find out that I do not, in fact, like the pros, know how to take my foot out of my shoe.
I lost time going down the hill and Mark passed me. He also got out of transition with me.
He's three weeks off an Ironman (Canada) and he really made me work on the first mile of the run. I tried to pass him, and he wouldn't let me. I felt like he was turning it up a notch, but I also knew I might just not be strong on the run today. I pushed a second time. No dice. But I noticed I had a little advantage on the uphills and finally managed a pass on a hill and then hit a quick left and tried to open a gap. For a guy who's doing the big final week of training (and has another ride he had to do later in the day) he really made it hard to pass him and he looks like he's in great shape for an awesome IM Canada- good luck.
I was now running down exclusively men in their 30s. Since I was putting a big chunk of time on these guys (7 minutes ?) that was great, but I knew there must be 1-2 40-44s in front of me.
I ran well, but it was not my absolute best stuff. When I hit the two mile mark, I was very glad, and I should have but didn't take a second Cliff Shot (I had one on the bike).
When we got near the beach I saw I had three guys right in front of me, about 15 seconds. But I didn't have the acceleration to run them down, and sure enough the guy that finished ahead of me in ninth was 41.
I was unhappy with myself, however, I had no idea I'd finished 10th overall.
This was a good race for me, no question, and with room to improve on the swim (102 out of 495) and run (just 5th). The 3rd overall bike I'll take.
Shout out to Charlie Hornak, who survived a pretty rough swim and finished his first tri in who knows how long and also @poycc and all the rest of the Force 5 crew who showed up and raced well.