First the results
Woke up at 4am so I could eat breakfast and finish packing up the car for the 5 am departure time. Arrived in pinehurst at 6:30. The race was to start at 8, and my wave goes at 8:18. The sun was not up yet, but with all the lights in the transition area you could see the fog/steam on the lake. Parked the car, packed everything up and realized I had brought my long run shoes and not my race shoes with the quick lases on them. Doh! Walked through the lot to the street for the 1/2 mile trek to transition from parking and went to get on my bike and found my chain was off. I love starting the day with grease all over my fingers... Arrived at transition with freezing fingers thinking I should have brought gloves.
Line #1 - Packet pickup - Many people did not have either or both of their required cards, Photo ID and USAT card, so this took a while and they were still signing people up since the race hadn't sold out.
Line #2 - Port a john - decided to go to this one before the number marking line since the line was already long and getting longer
Line #3 - body marking - whew, finally no more lines. Walking back to transition I find someones chip on the ground. So I scoop it up and bring it back, the guy at the chip tent says give it to the guy on the mic, the guy on the mic says give it to that guy over there and he will give it back to the chip buy. I chase that guy down and tell him the guy on the mic says to give it to you. OK 20 minutes later I here the guy on the mic say #624 we have your chip, duh...
I finish setting up my transition area and go for a quick warmup jog. I see a guy warming up ( jogging ) in his full wetsuit and flip flops, I think this is a little odd... Back to transition I put on my wetsuit and head down to the lake for a quick swim. The water temp 68 degrees, air temp 50 something. Water feels good, and it's cleaner than I remember. I could see the bottom at points. But, it is covered in Fog and it's not easy to see the first buoy and cannot see the turn buoy at all. My warmup jog took my along the lake so I kinda new where it was.
The Swim: Took off fast and found some feet to follow, as in the previous waves, people were going all of the place due to the fog so as soon as my draftee veered left, I let him go and kept going straight. I was following some trees and for the first two buoys I was right on, but then I lost the trees and was swimming blind. Ended up going to far left and when I saw the girl in the kayak I headed toward her, Since all the other kayaks had been right on the buoy I thought that's where I should go. Alas when I got there she was yelling "the turn is over there" over and over again, so I had to swim perpendicular about 15 yards to avoid cutting the turn. I noticed a bunch of people just keep going and not go back for the turn and I have to admit I thought about it, but if I ended up having a great race, it would be tainted and I didn't want that. After that first turn, it was much easier has the sun was not in our eyes and it was easier to see the buoys. Finished 4th in my division for the swim.
T1: A long uphill run combined with taking off my wetsuit led to this 3:15 transition, but I was closer to the fast people than the slow as the fastest time was 1:40, slowest 6:07. Ate a gel, put the other in my race suit, put on my socks, it was still cold, helmet, glasses, and headed out.
Bike: Turns out I didn't need those gloves as the sun was warming it up nicely. Started off easy, it was mostly uphill to start and my legs needed to warm back up. Wanted to average about 19 mph, and did 18.7 for the first 5 miles, then started to pick it up. Felt easier than previous years, but I've made some good strides on the bike this year and chalked it up to that. This a fairly hilly course, with the way out harder than coming back. I think there are 3 tough hills and a lot of rollers. Finish my aero bottle of gatorade by the water bottle hand off at mile 15 and refilled with water. I was at 19 mph ave now and still feeling really good, so focused on pushing on the downhills and staying steady going up. I only stood up once and that was for just a minute to get over a short steep section without losing speed. At mile 20 I took my second gel so it would kick in for the run. The wind must have been with us going back as my average picked up to 19.4 by the end. Good enough for 8th on the bike.
T2: Grab my jelly belly beans and finished off my water in the aero bottle, changed shoes, got some more shammy butter for the friction and headed out in 1:33.
Run: Run did not start out great, but I just kept going until I started feeling ok. The first hill my right ankle was killing me so I walked it until the pain went away. Mile one was a respectable 9:55, mile two started feeling better, but the ankle still throbbed every now and then but not as bad and only had to walk once on this one for a 9:45, mile three was great, I was getting into a rhythm of pushing up the hills and recovering down as most were short enough not to punish you. There were water stops every mile and I was drinking a cup at each one. Mile 3 9:20 and I felt the best on this one. Then at about mile 3.5 my right hamstring cramped up so bad I almost feel over. I veered to the right and screamed in pain. Finally I was able to stretch it out and walk a bit without pain, but every time I started to run it would come back. two and a half minutes later I could finally run again, but as soon as I came up on the mile 4 water stop, my left hamstring cramped up, not as bad as the right one did, but still enough to stop me from running. mile 4 - 13:00. I took some Heed sports drink instead of water this time since I figured I had nothing to lose, normally I don't try new things at races and I've never had Heed before. the next mile I walked/jogged/stretched, I knew after mile 4 that my breaking 1 hour on the run was over, but I still had the 2:56 time from two years ago to beat and I didn't want to give that up without a fight. got to mile 5 water stop and chugged some more Heed and started jogging again. mile 5 13:00, I was at 55 minutes with 13 minutes to go for a 2:56. I guess the Heed helped as I was able to jog all buy one of the hills on this mile and actually run the down hills. Finished up at a 10:00/mile pace and a 67 minute 10k, but 1 minute faster than two years ago on this course. It was 8 minutes slower than I thought I could do, but in some ways still a victory. This is tough run course, with mile 4 and 5 being the toughest. Not sure what caused the cramping, the cold I just got over, not drinking enough, although I think I did, or it just wasn't my day. I'll never know, maybe I'll come back next year and try again...