This was my first race since IM Louisville 9 months ago. I was curious to see how rusty I'd be and how pushing myself would feel.
Blah. A cold and uneventful 25 minutes. I was far enough back from the good swimmers that I passed a Team Timex lady a few miles into the bike, which wouldn't be all that bad but for the fact that the women's wave started several minutes after the guys'. On the plus side, this race was my first swim in the new Zoot Prophet wetsuit. This was the first race where I haven't noticed any increased shoulder fatigue from swimming in a wetsuit.
My cycling metrics have been good lately, so I was optimistic about putting up a good time "in the field" instead of on the trainer. I know the course pretty well, and I know that the first few miles are the toughest because they're gradually uphill. My plan was to go really, really hard until the first downhill section on Hwy 36 (about 10-15 minutes into the ride), then push every uphill and flat section really hard until Nelson. At Nelson, the course is pretty much flat or downhill until returning back to the reservoir. I expected to be going ~26-27 mph or faster most of the way after turning onto Nelson, and therefore I figured pushing the effort there offers marginal benefits.
My plan seemed to go well, as I passed everyone in sight on the bike. The course offers a handful of vantage points that allow racers to see far up the road, and the course ahead of me looked clear. I was optimistic that there'd be no bikes in T2 when I returned, but unfortunately 4-5 guys beat me to the run.
My strategy is evident in the graph below, as my HR is highest initially, low along the Nelson decent, and then back up to normal Olympic effort around 75th Ave.
(Data from a power meter paired with my Garmin Edge 500.)
Normalized power appears to be ~270 W. Average HR was 158 bpm. Speed was 25.5 mph, which is a bit slower than expected.
The big question mark. I took a lot of time off running due to a still not completely healed Achilles injury. Would my speed still be there? Well, the good news is that I had the fastest run split at 5:54/mile at an average HR of 167 bpm. The bad news is that my run isn't good enough to overcome my swim.
3rd overall, 1st in 25-29 AG
Positives -- I am fit heading into IM CdA. My running is strong and near or back to my former level. My bike is also a strength.
Negatives -- My swim prevents me from actually "racing" anyone. It'd be more accurate to say I do an individual time trial every race, and then see where I end up. If I came out of the water near the front, I could gauge how hard I need to ride based on the power needed to stay at the front of the race. I have no doubt in my mind that I could have rode harder. Yes, a harder ride may have slowed my run, but if I started out with a good swim at least I'd be in contention. Better to die trying, as they say. I'm considering basing my entire training and racing schedule next year around improving my swim.
Finally, congrats to the winner, Drew Scott. He smoked me by 7 minutes. I had to look back at last year's 70.3 results and noticed I beat him by 20 minutes. (I remember his name from that race because at the awards ceremony the announcer made a point to mention Drew's father, Dave Scott, who did a race or two in his day.). He's a young guy but appears to have taken a giant leap forward.