The swim was an in water, treading water, start. I lined up as one of the first swimmers and had a good starting position. As soon as we started I could feel the current pushing back, that was pretty wild after only training in the pool. The flooded river was also a very dark brown and there was no visibility. I started nice and smooth not trying to kill myself just to get ahead of the pack. I finally settled into a rhythm, but couldn't find any feet to draft on and swam on my own the whole race, just behind the leaders and close to 30-60 seconds ahead of the next closet swimmer. I felt like I was swimming scared as I didn't feel 100% in the water and I didn't push as hard as I wanted.
Excellent transition out of the water. I was the 6th or 7th person out of the water and loved not having a wetsuit to deal with out of the water. There was a guy in my AG who beat me out of the water, but I beat him out of T1.
The bike was different than a lot of races I've done because there was a mile or 1.5 mile road ride to get to the trail. I was out in front with the leaders as the hardtail 29er with skinny tires made quick work of the road, for once I felt equipment was working my favor. The swim left me feeling worse than usual, could have been the warm water, but I used the road ride to drink and eat before hitting the trail. I rode with a group of 3 riders, all of whom had better technical skills, until I couldn't keep the pace and had to drop back. A fast duo with at lease one in my AG passed me within the first mile on the trail and then it was lots of riding solo. I was feeling good on the bike and riding up some of the big climbs I walked on the pre-ride. At mile 5 I was feeling really off and took a small spill when trying to let another rider pass. I got back on the bike, but was slower and still getting bounced around. The last three miles are all down hill or flat and mostly double-track = FAST! I took some wisdom from the XTERRA West guys, put it in the big ring and charged it. One Clydesdale passed me, he had the momentum, and I caught one other rider but couldn't pass him. I was trying hard to put as much as I could into the flats and use the advantage of my light bike and big wheels. When I came out on the road again I was feeling drained and tried to eat and drink while still keeping in the biggest gear.
Bringing it home on the bike
Super fast since I still haven't started drinking the clipless pedal kool-aid. Rack the bike and run. ***Chris's bike was still on the rack when I came in off the bike and I instantly thought the worst since I knew he hadn't passed me on the bike. As I came out of T2 he ran up beside me and let me know that the current had given him fits in the river and he bailed early. Bummer.
Knowing that Chris was OK and having him run with me and encourage me to start me on the run was clutch. I came in feeling like I had very little in the tank, but he got me fired up and I flew up the first monster climb. The hill was long and steep and just like the one outside my front door that I run hill repeats on in the same heat and humidity. It paid off big time. At the first aid station the guys said I was only 12 places back off the leaders, hearing this I upped the pace even more. Lots of up and down and uneven rocks on the trail. Twice my ankle got turned sideways and I was glad for all the strength training I've done. I didn't see a soul on the run for the first 2 miles. I felt like I was running strong, but not making any progress, I wanted to be done. At 2 I passed the Clydesdale that had passed me on the bike, but at 2.5 on a long uphill road climb I was passed by two guys (non AG) that were flying. I passed two people at mile 3 before hitting the final down hill where lots of racers were just starting the run. There was a younger runner I could see behind me so I kicked it into high gear for the last .5 and absolutely killed it feeling like I left it all on the course.
working it into the finish