I signed up for this race last month on the coercion of Alyssa. She called me out, and, as everyone knows, I don't respond well to that.
She and I headed down to Luray on Friday night, and arrived in the town known for its caverns around 9:15. We were pretty hungry and there were not many options that late at night. We settled for Uncle Buck's Tavern, where I had a crappy hamburger and a crappy sweet potato. The highlight of the evening was watching (with no sound, mind you) Michael Phelps win his 7th gold medal...by 0.01 seconds. That's right, it was the closest of margins in the 100m butterfly, winning over Mark Cavic, who just seemed to not touch hard enough (twss).
We left the restaurant, went to the hotel and watched the remaining Olympic events. I woke up surprisingly alert at 5:30am and we got ready to go to the race. There was a tremendous amount of fog in the area, and the temperature was pretty cool. The venue was set amidst the Shenandoah Mountains, which provided a really cool landscape.
Everything in the race was two loops. Two loops in the lake, two loops on the bike, a two loop run. I was in the first wave, which went off at 8am. The water temp was comfortable, but at 74 I still wore my wetsuit. I felt awesome at first, but then I think I went a little awry after we turned into the blinding sun. On lap 2 we started passing the very slow swimmers. One of them clawed my timing chip off, which proceeded to sink to the bottom of the lake. Oh well. I'll probably have a charge on my credit card this month. Nevertheless, I felt like I didn't swim that great. I got out and there was a fairly long run to transition.
I feel like I got through transition pretty well, and headed out onto the bike. There was a hill about a quarter mile in that made the HR skyrocket, and I felt out of synch for the first few miles. I was so out of it that I thought about just shutting it down. Fortunately I started feeling it, and began to roll. They had 5 mile markers, and I passed the first one in 12:30, and then 10 miles in 24:30. This is pretty fast, I thought. The end of the loop featured a long false-flat that was a real challenge. As I turned into lap 2, I now had more people to pass again. Hit mile 15 in 38:00. Didn't see a 20 mile mark, and I thought the course was 24 miles, so I figured I'd be done in around an hour.
I pass the loop entrance and assume the park is right there, but didn't realize we had a few more miles to go. And another hill. I had really ridden well, but was disappointed when I saw it had taken me 1:08:12 (3rd fastest, even though I don't have splits) for just over 25 miles. Another fairly quick transition and I was out onto the run, not feeling great stomach-wise but legs were alright.
I cruised through the first mile and was surprised to see a 5:56 on my watch. That clearly was not correct, because I wasn't running that fast and there was a hill that would have slowed that down. Mile 2 was 6:40, which I felt was slow. Mile 3 was just about 7, so again I felt like it was slow. Mile 4 was just around 6:00, and then Mile 5 was like 7 again. So when I came through the line and saw 39:12, my inclination was that it was short - but upon further review I think the miles were just long, making up the .2 along the way. I wasn't pleased with the time, as it was the 17th best run, but I didn't really care at that point.
I crossed the line in 2:14:58, which was 7th in my wave. I was floored by the difficulty of this race; as a reference, Columbia I raced in 2:08:40. The winner of the race was a beast. Slow swim (22 something) but monster bike (1:04) and a good run (35). Impressive. I came to find out that I had finished 11th, but they had my time as 2:05:10, since I lost my chip - and this clearly was 12 seconds off. I'll say it was 9th place. Of course since I had raced in the Open wave, I finished 3rd there and they gave me a vase that reads 3rd Overall. I was not psyched to accept this.
Alyssa did great, recording a PR, a 9th place finish and 1st in her age-group. Larry the Slug was there too, always nice to see him. There was a random two person band that was playing some surprisingly decent music, and more importantly there was a lot of Gatorade. I would come back to do this race and probably stay for the weekend. The weather was cooperative, cool temp, no humidity, largely shaded course. It represented race #18 for me.
We headed home, I watched more Olympics that night, including Michael Phelps' amazing 8th gold medal. I then woke up early on Sunday and rode out in Frederick with Dean. First time riding with the Kiwi and it was a good one. The weather was amazing, best we've ever had in Frederick. Normally it's either freezing cold or a million degrees. We hit Hamburg, and Harp, and we were riding pretty quick. Rode well in between hills and by the time we hit South Mtn I was feeling good. We absolutely rolled from there, with a slight tailwind, and were able to bring our average speed to 17.5mph for the ride. Previous fastest was 16mph for the 54 miles. It was a great two days.
Monday I ran down to Fed Hill, did the 7 mile loop and then ran home. Much better than last week, average pace was 6:35 and I felt pretty good. Tired on Tuesday, but that was a monster 3 days I put together. At some point this week I'll get around to posting thoughts/comments about the Olympics.