Last year's report:
This year I took 45 seconds off my swim, 27 minutes off my bike, but lost six minutes on the run.
The swim was perfect conditions with dead calm water. I was able to get in behind a few people a few times to draft. Drafting is illegal on the bike but totally allowed in the water. It makes a real difference, too.
Out of the water, the transition area is in a parking garage, three floors up. So we have to run up the looped ramp (they call the helix) before getting to our bikes. Then down the opposite end helix and onto the road.
Taking 27 minutes off my bike time, dropping from 3:30 to 3:03, was partly the course being easier, partly my fitness being better, and partly my new race bike. I'm not great at hills, especially descending. Downhill can be faster than I'm comfortable with. This year's course had a couple hills, but fewer than last year and not as steep. And then on my new bike I was able to get aero and really cruise on any flatter areas.
This year when I took hydration at the bike aid stations, I didn't stop like I did last year. I slowed a bunch, but then when they handed me a bottle I was able to pour it in the top of my mounted water bottle. It saved me from having to carry multiple bottles and still having to shuffle them around anyway. It worked well, and I even got one of the bottles in a garbage can.
Then back up the helix to transition.
The run was tough. I started out doing ok but faded fast after a mile or two. Early in the run there was a breeze off the lake, and I thought it might rain. Then the sun came out and baked us. Starting the run I thought I might have had a chance at breaking six hours, but by halfway I knew that wasn't possible anymore. I think I need a lot more run fitness to get a good 70.3 run. Maybe not more miles, but definitely smarter miles.
My finishing time was 6:08. The full Ironman is today, and rain moved in. It's going to be a very long day for them.
I really like the mix of activities with triathlon. I'm most improved in my bike from last year, but I placed higher in the swim and run than I did in the bike. Even with my run/walk finish, I was gaining time on people that had beat me on the bike.
Then race day stuff is just awesome. Other competitors, spectators, a couple friends came out to cheer. It's what makes it worth it and why racing is distinctly different from doing the distance but solo.