I want to start this post off with a few thank you's:
First, thank you Josie Mae. Yes, I'm thanking my 3 month old daughter. For sleeping. Like, really sleeping, for 3 hour segments at a time during the night. Couldn't have done this without you!
Second, the weather. WOW! What a great day for a race! I mean, you can't ask for better conditions. This race is known to be historically hot and windy, and it was neither of those this time around. High of 82?? Basically NO WIND.
Third, my wife, best friend, and outstanding coach, who all happen to be the same person :). She really helped me figure out a plan that maximized my training potential on just those 3 days a week. I think the results speak for themselves! Speaking of, I did so well I may never train more than three days a week again....just sayin ;).
Speaking of, lets tackle my wildly inaccurate predictions :). Some (ahem, Drew), might say I was sandbagging. I prefer to say I was cautiously realistic. And as you will see, I wasn't THAT far off from my pre race predictions!
Swim: Predicted-- :35-:40
Spot on my friends!
The swim, however, did not start off, or go well, for me. Typically I am pretty relaxed and go out and just do my own thing. I will mix it up with the pack at times but tend to swim just off to the side of them and stay out of the melee. Yes, I lose any drafting potential doing this. I don't care. For me its about starting the day off right, staying calm, swimming MY pace, and setting up the rest of my day. I attempted to do this today as well, and I was WELL off to the side of the main line/group, but I kept having people swimming on/over/under me. I mean, seriously, I had more contact in this race than any of my IM's! I kept telling myself, just give it a few minutes, let the crowd thin out, its all gonna be fine--but it never got better! Even after the turnaround, with me way out to the side, still, people swimming PERPENDICULAR to me. Oh well. The swim ended, as they always do, eventually. I looked down and was pleasantly surprised to see a :35 looking back at me! Hell yeah! Not a bad start Harwood!
Ok so I was off on this one. Just a little. But. BUT. See my previous prediction post! This bike course is notoriously hot and WINDY. I based my prediction off of this! But let me tell you; on this day, this course was FAST. Like, RIDONCULOUSLY FAST. Like, the fastest 1/2 course I've ever ridden, although not the fastest 1/2 bike split I've ever had (2:26 Galveston). The course is flat; it does undulate consistently with very small rollers, but nothing significant. No need to stand up on the pedals or even get out of aero on the climbs, unless you are just stretching those muscles out. I had a bike plan based on where I felt my bike fitness was, and I stuck to it. The plan going in was NP of 215-225W. I always(sometimes) try to start off very easy, and my first 30 mins I kept the NP just below 200W. Lots of spinning and just trying to loosen up the legs and get them ready for the day ahead. After that first 30 minutes, I let the power creep up to the 220 range and held it steady until the turnaround. I felt really good at this point, and could tell I was having a good day. The plan going in was to push the bike as much as possible, and feeling as good as I did, I went for it. Miles 30-48 I put my head down and hammered, tried to keep the NP 240-250. At mile 48 my NP for the whole ride was at 225, and I started slowly backing off. Miles 53-56 I cruised, spinning my legs and just let the power fall down to around 200W. My legs were barking at me the last 15 miles, but that 3 mile mini cool down really breathed some life back in to them,and I dismounted feeling I had a lot left to put in to the run. NP for the whole bike, 217W. I was good with that.
Again, NAILED IT! Man, I have to say, I am PUMPED with this run result. With the limited amount of running I've done the last 10 weeks, to have this run, was awesome. I started off with a super easy RPE, I didn't want any crashing and burning 3 miles in! I still managed an 8:20ish pace for the first 3 miles, and did not feel like I was working terribly hard. I was able to disguise my lack of running fitness for the first 8 miles, but then it started crashing down. I passed the AIM tent heading out on my second loop, and was instructed by my coach via Chuck that I needed to keep up with Bird. Excuse me? HA! But I decided to try. He was about 3 minutes ahead of me at the turnaround, so I picked up the pace for the next mile and a half, and thought I was doing OK. But those 12 minutes at about 8:00 pace were really just my last grasp at greatness before reality set in. And did it ever set in. UGH. It suddenly became infinitely harder to keep those feet moving. I was slowing WAY down. I ended up walking for about 45 seconds at each aid station instead of my usual 15 or so. And the pace in between wasn't much better. I think I hit one or two 10:00 miles there around mile 11 and 12. It helped seeing teammates and friends on the course, but afterward I had several people tell me it was obvious I was struggling on my last loop.
So my final time ended up with a 5:02:xx! HOLY CRAP how did I do that? 14 minutes off a PR, which is a ton, but geez I didn't expect to be anywhere near that honestly. Really the great time came down to the bike, it was just such a perfect day and course for a super fast bike split.
Oh yeah, I did end up in the med tent for the first time ever following a race. It was unwarranted, but really didn't want to put forth the effort to argue with the dude. I'm usually pretty nauseous after a race, so I did what I usually do--find a nice shady place to lie down and rest! unfortunately for me, this happened to be within site of the med tent, so a few minutes later I see this big tall dude leaning down over me. We chatted for a couple of minutes, he gave me my little mini mental status exam, which I passed, then after asking a couple of times if I wanted to go to the med tent, and me gently rebuffing him, I finally gave in and said, yeah let's go. So I went in and cooled off under a nice fan, drank some water, and chatted with the ED docs for a bit. No biggie.
I wrote the majority of this the day after the race, but have never sat down to finish and publish. Too lazy to put forth the effort to find some race pics to upload, so you're stuck with just the narrative. Sorry! But thanks for checking in! Until next time.