Nobody reads this anymore since I haven't posted since the beginning of time, but I am going to try to bring it back. No promises, but we will see.
Once again, I decided to do this late season 1/2 to keep my training going late into the year. It was a good plan if only it had worked. My bike and swim training stayed fairly consistent, but my run training has been down all year including in the run up to the race.
My wife decided to go this year, so that I would have someone to cheer for me this year. Last year I drove up by my lonesome, stayed with a friend, did the race and drove home. Made for a long two days. We stayed at the Ramada Inn in Conroe, which was 30 minutes from the race site. We drove to the race site and picked up my packet and then headed to the hotel to watch the LSU game. So after that disappointment, we headed to dinner at Pandera Bread. Wish we had one in Baton Rouge. Ate a good dinner, got everything ready and hit the pillow early.
Got up just before 5 am, loaded up and headed to the race site. Got there around 6 am, got set-up in transition, hit the port-o-let and it was time to walk to the beach for the start. Got in a little 200 m warm-up after getting the suit on. They had women 30-34 and athena as the first wave, which was kind of different. Men 30-39 and clydes were in the second wave. It was a running beach start. Didn't go too crazy on the run, dove in and started the swim. Got punched and swam into a couple of times at the start as the first part of the swim was in a little marina cove for the resort which was fairly tight for 75 to 80 swimmers. After getting out of the cove, it opened up into the main part of Lake Conroe. There was a light chop that was in our face for the first few hundred meters as we were headed out. Not that big of a deal, but altered my stroke just a little. The swim was point to point and the middle portion was with the chop so stroke got a little better. About midway through, I came upon a big pack (12-15) of ladies from the prior wave. Picked a poor line and it took me a while to get through them. After that, it was clear sailing to the swim exit. Swim took 37:41 which was a little slower than I anticipated, but decent enough and better than last year. Some have said it was long, but who ever knows when it is open water. The wetsuit strippers were very close to the exit, so it was a rush to get the top down and then jump on the ground to have them pull it off.
Transition was in a grass field, so it made the run over easy. However, they had just cut the grass so I got grass all over my feet. Had to wipe some of it off before getting my shoes on so that wasted 15 seconds. I may not swim, bike or run that fast, but I pride myself on transitions. Fairly quick T1 considering the grass.
The bike is fairly hilly. Just about like St. Francisville, but there aren't really any flat portions. It is all up and down, but nothing too big. Plan was to keep the HR in the low to mid 150's for the first 35-40 and then pick it up at the end. Had a tough time on the uphills keeping it that low, but for the most part it stayed low enough. Knew it wouldn't be fast, but wanted to pace myself for the run. Looking back, I should have just freakin' hammered it since I had no run fitness anyway. After mile 40 it was mostly downhill so I was able to let it fly and pick up some time. Dropped my chain about mile 35 at the bottom of a hill and had to grind up. The bike course for the most part is out in the country. The leaves were changing colors and it was a very nice ride. Rode into T2 just a few minutes past were I wanted to be. After a 0:48 T2, at least I'm fast at something, I was out on the run at 3:44. All I had to do was average 10 min miles and I had my sub-6.
Wasn't meant to be. The first 4 miles were fairly flat, with just a few rollers thrown in. It was uphill on the way out, but not that steep. Felt good for the first 5. There was a loop that had to be run twice starting at about mile 4.5. The loop had two fairly steep hills, at least for my flat course running self. The end of the second loop and the first portion of the way back to the finish was between mile 8 and 9. I had held about 10 min miles up until about mile 8 even with walking the aid stations. However, the hills between 8 and 9 killed me. After that, it turned into a death march. Run as much as possible (2-3 min) and then walk for a minute. Wasn't helping. Got to mile 10 and had 29 minutes left to the 6:00 mark. My mind was like, "Dude, you have run 22 minute 5k's, you've got this..." My body had different plans. Couldn't get it in gear. Ran the last 0.5 mile for pride and crossed in just under 6:09. Of course, Guillory and Primeaux had been finished for over an hour, so they were there to wave me in as was my lovely wife. Ended up second clyde, so I got my first and probably last hardware for a while. I don't plan to be over 200 for much longer and those AG guys are just too fast.
Brandon, Mark and the LSU guys all had great races. They all looked like they were flying the whole time and they were. Haven't been running more than 12-15 miles per week all year, and that killed my run. Going to make that a priority in the off season. This race is a great venue and is very low key. The race is at a resort which makes it nice for the spectators. Plenty of restaurants and nice grounds to hang out. My wife says it was the best spectating experience she has had. I don't like huge races, and with only around 300 racers this is perfect. May be back next year, we'll see.