As I was loading up the car Saturday morning it was hard not to notice the stifling humidity. I broke into a pretty major sweat when I was loading my gear into the car which threw off immediate alarms. I headed out shortly before 8:00 and debated the advantages and disadvantages of blasting the air conditioner on the way to the race. I decided to err on the side of acclimation and kept the windows down and got pretty amped listening to Nine in Nails, Terrible Lie, and Alice in Chains, Would. Pulling into the parking lot I was a little overwhelmed at how many people were already there and totally set-up for the race. Last year I was the first person at the race and the first person to have his transition ready to roll.
At 8:45 I headed out for a short warm-up and continued to fight the unrelenting humidity. By the time I was out of the parking lot I was already drenched and struggling to get oxygen. It was a situation were everyone had to deal with the elements in their own way so I figured that I would do my best to just ignore the conditions. So far this summer humidity has caused me to have severe gastrointestinal issues while under effort so the prospect of a race made me more than a little nervous. After the run I debated whether or not to wear my wetsuit during the swim. Obviously the water temperature was high but I wanted to feel fast so in the end I decided to go with the suit. Following an inspiring pre-race speech by the race director we made our way down to the water.
When the siren sounded I bolted right into a dive and streamline dolphin kick. The swim went out fast toward the first buoy but I did not get caught up in the chaos and just focused on finding my rhythm. I was a little frantic the first hundred meters or so and did not focus nearly enough on my form. Eventually, I relaxed and really went to work focusing on my pull phase. This paid of instantly and as I was sighting buoys I realized that I was passing most of the field. The swim was a little different this year and we had to swim parallel to the shore before making a ninety degree turn into the boat ramp. I would have loved to have swam a little faster and gotten into a rhythm faster but I was positive that I was putting myself into a solid position. Up to the shore I had a good exit and was ready to rock on The Vulture. I had no clue where I stood coming out of the water but knew that I had some work to do. I struggled a bit getting my suit off but quickly got back on track and was out of T1 in pretty good time.
My least favorite part of Give Peace a Tri is the uphill start to the bike leg. It is really difficult to get momentum and get clipped in while going so slow. Once I was at the gate leaving the park I was at full wattage. I saw one rider up ahead and made quick work of catching and passing him. I knew that there was one swimmer significantly ahead of me so I was sure that someone was up the road and out of sight. Turning out onto 12a I realized that it was an obvious relay team because a women was just ahead on hybrid city bike. The visual of me passing her at thirty-five mph on a downhill grade must have been pretty amusing. I kept churning a big gear and focused on riding down anyone that may have still been up there. At the turn around it was apparent that I was the leader and as I rounding the bend I told myself to "kill it!" I went right to work on destroying myself the last four miles of the ride. I did not pay any attention to the other riders that I was passing and just flat out rolled. Later while sitting at the awards a fellow competitor was telling his wife about the leader as he passed on the bike. The guy had no clue that I was in ear shot but he was telling his wife about the sound of the wind rushing around the guy as he passed. Paul and I thought it was a pretty cool description of my bike leg. I kept putting in maximum effort and once I was on the flats I started working even harder. I am so excited to see the expanded results because I am sure that I put in my fastest ride ever. I really think that it will pan out to be a twenty-five mph average. Into the park and past the crowd I had a super dismount and T2.
Heading up the hill again I heard Erik excitingly yelling at me to attack the run leg. Over the crest of the hill my stomach started giving me some issues so it took a few minutes to really find a rhythm of running fast and relaxed. I knew that I was way out in front but I really wanted to put in a big effort. I had been talking about breaking forty-minutes all summer so I knew I needed to keep the pressure on high. Given that the swim was longer my goal was a little off base but I still thought I had a chance. The humidity was taking its toll but I did my best to fight the whole run leg. Back into the park I knew sub forty was out of the question but I still put on a huge kick to finish things off with the respect that the race deserves. Erik timed my run leg at 14:58 which was nice but I think I could have gone significantly faster with lower humidity.
My overall time ended up being 41:20 which was a course record even with the longer swim. After some reflection I am quite satisfied with the way things went. In hindsight I really could have packed it in after the turn on the bike and still won. I was hurting pretty badly in the humidity and not having a whole lot of fun. It's always exciting when you can push past all the crap in your head telling you to stop when things are really tough. I have been so obsessed with the idea of challenging myself this summer that the thought of packing it in was a sickening insult to hard work. It would have been so awesome if Andy had been in the race. I know he would have gotten out of the water ahead of me and that I would have had to worked even harder on the bike and run. Maybe before the end of the season we can lock horns in a sprint. I really feel like my bike leg was the highlight of the whole race. I have been putting in so much time in the TT position that I think my power is significantly higher than earlier in the season. Obviously this is one of the shorter races that I will ever do but I feel like it is very important to have some sort of exposure to really explosive effort on the bike and run. Without question Give Peace a Tri will stay on my summer calendar for years to come.