Excel Man and GEL had set us up with a cabin on Lake Louisa - this was the bomb! Beautiful location, 10 miles from the race - serene, quiet, better than any hotel option or driving the hour and a half on race morning from the house. I'm sure Di will post some of her awesome pictures of the area and cabin. After checking in, we all went out to Bruno's for some awesome Italian cuisine (highly recommended if you are at Disney or racing in Clermont) where Curt had a balloon-Kenny of South-Park fame made for him. No one killed Kenny as he was tied to Excel Man's rack and made the absolute best Transition Marker ever, in the history of T-markers.
I had decided to go with gels (Accelerade) instead of the fig newtons as planned. I would be wearing my new Inside Triathlon Age Group Team tri-top, and it's pocket was not conducive to a sleeve of Fig Newtons. So I taped, with Duct Tape (electrical tape, when warm, stretches, and sometimes won't tear off the top of a gel...lesson learned race past), 6 gels to my top tube - plan for 1 every ten miles. I filled a Nuun container with Endourolytes - it held 18 of them - for the max recommended dosage of 3 per hour in a planned 6 hr event.
They announced that the swim would be wetsuit legal about an hour before the race (it was all of 78 degrees) - so I went and got some body glide, about which time it began to pour down rain. I was under a expo tent, and happy to be there, but as people started to head to the beach in their wetsuits, I decided to leave the comfort of the tent and get wet. It was no-holds-barred time with the body glide and the sunscreen - and I'll say this, I had no chaffing or welts from the wetsuit for the first time - lesson learned; lather up! The full distance folks were heading out first, with 10 min between waves, and we were wave #4, so we hung out for a while and watched them all go way off course - first clue that it was hard to see out there. Folks without wetsuits on were shivering at the shoreline - the rain made it pretty nasty at the start. You've probably read my Swim Thoughts post, so you know how my swim went. Ug.
As a race just slips though your fingers in the opening 10 minutes you can easily get disheartened about the whole thing. I know I did. But fortunately it is a 3 event race, and the swim is far from my best event, so I chugged through it, for a 48:28. The strippers did an awesome job, as did every volunteer. This race, and I know that years past it got some heat for it, was excellently staffed, organized and aid-stationed. Great Job SummerSports! T1 went ok, but a bit slow, as I was probably licking my swim wounds for 4:06 - but, I was on my way.
Now I knew this would be a hilly bike ride. Hills and 250lbs of Bigun do not a great combination make. But, since the bike is my one "fun" event, I wasn't going to let a little thing like weight stop me from cranking out some bike. 2,700 ft of elevation change. Sugarloaf at mile 23 or so - 300 ft up to nearly the tallest point in Florida - fun stuff. The rain had stopped, there was just a light breeze, and still there was cloud cover....perfect biking conditions. I went back and forth with the same folks pretty much the whole way - I'd pass on the downhills, and they'd pass me going up. It was fun. It was relentless. I clocked the 3rd best over 40 Clyde bike split of 18.3mph - number 2 and 1 were at 19.3mph. I'd love to say I was saving something for the run, but in reality, I pushed pretty hard, going for an 18.5 goal pace. Sugarloaf had dropped me to about 17mph, so I worked hard in the back half of the 58 mile bike. T2 was better at 2:48 - and that with putting socks on even...my business socks.
The run was painful at best. My left Achilles was tight for the whole deal - on the verge of cramping if you can imagine that. I had kept with the nutrition plan on the bike better than any race I'd ever done - I had 5 gels, every 10 miles I popped a couple Endourolytes, and drank Gatorade and water like it was going out of style....at least 150 oz of Gatorade and another 32 oz of water.
The run course is pretty flat - about 450 feet of elevation change is all. That trip around the lake is a long one though. Again, the aid stations were great - all the goodies and liquids you could want. I stuck to my plan, which was to run the whole course - but I just had to stop at a port-o-potty for a little relief at mile 6. I didn't take in any gels or other nutrition during the run, which I regret a bit, as I ran out of steam with 2 miles to go. I was having some serious stomach issues though; every time I'd take in some Endourolytes, my insides would rebel for a while, then the pains would go away and I'd be fine. I was so afraid of that Achilles cramping, however, that the stomach pain was worth it to get down some sodium.
As I started the run around the lake, I ran into Di and the cheering crew of my Mom, Sister, GEL and Excel Man's folks. I was glad they found such a good spot - on that note, if you are looking for a race with lots of spectator support and such, this one is not it. Out on the bike and run course, it's pretty much just you and your fellow competitors except for the aid stations. Of course, I had to ham it up a bit for the camera...
I finally ran into Trifeist at the last aid station - she was volunteering with the Mad Dog Tri Club's aid station. She was full of encouragement, and after a quick high and bye, it was on to the finish. That last mile and a half or so hurt the most - but I kept on running, trying to keep my pace to an average under 12. Diana and the family cheering crew were right there at the turn to the finish, and Di actually ran behind me as I crossed the line at 6:40:48 for a run pace of 11:51 and 6th overall for the old Clydesdales. The first place guy came in at 5:59:43 - I kinda figured it would take an "under 6hr" time to win it for the big guys.
Excel Man (who finished his first half at 5:50:36 - awesome) and I both got some hardware the next day at the awards ceremony (not enough seating, btw). This race was off the charts harder than the Miami Man half I did a year ago - the hilly bike puts the race into a whole different category. Still, I ran 1:04 per mile faster in this race, at about the same weight, so there's a positive to come out of it after all. That's it for my 2007 Tri-Season - I'm cooked. Stick a fork in me.
Edit: you know, Sugarloaf wasn't that bad, really - it took me 4:37 to climb 210 feet, according to Motion Based. It's about .42 miles of climbing, for an average of 9.5% grade. According to a bike power calculator, I averaged 306 watts on that climb.