Let's also say I mis-read the race info about packet pickup and missed it when I got to town on Friday evening by going to the wrong location. I have no excuse for this. I looked at the instructions 3 times and mis-read them each time. I had to call and ask an exception to be able to pick up my packet race morning. This is in an Ironhead race is a big "NO, NO."
Then two minutes before the transition closed I realized I'd left my swim cap in the car and had to sprint back to the parking lot barefoot to get it. Swim cap in hand I then sprint barefoot to the swim start just in time to get into the water with my wave.
In retrospect, I think I was trying to make things hard on myself so that if things did not go well, I'd have a ton of excuses.
I'm not usually this forgetful or negligent. But even acknowledging all this I have to report I had an awesome race. My swim while not fast by any means, really high winds made the water very choppy. But I was able to sight and hold my line very well and have a strong swim in challenging conditions. The last couple of times I've done this race the swim has destroyed me. I've gotten sick at about 100 meters in, I've had problems sighting, I've gotten a mouthful of gasoline, and I've come out of the water completely exhausted barely able to stumble into transition. Like Dory and Finding Nemo, I just kept swimming and then ran into transition and got on the bike.
On the bike I took some time to get my legs under me and drink some fluid. The course is relatively flat with only a couple of very short hills. One is as you leave the park and go out onto a bridge and ride about 4 miles out to the next hill which takes you up to the turnaround. The cross wind wasn't too bad going out to the turn but coming back it was brutal. But to my surprise I was actually riding really strong. I caught and passed a lot of folks in my age group and swim wave and never saw them again. One the way out I was riding with a very high cadence to use my aerobic capacity and warm up my legs. I went into the big ring for about half of my trip back to the park on the way back and then when the winds picked up went back to aerobic, high cadence riding. On my way back out for my second and final loop I went back into the big ring and pushed it a bit but I wasn't suffering at all. I was well under aerobic threshold at about 147 bpm. After the turn I dropped the gearing again but kept the pace high. Even on the way back the highest my heart rate got was 149 and so I was really pleased. My legs weren't burning and there where no signs of cramps so the only issue I would face on the run was the fact that I needed to go to the bathroom.
I got back into transition with about a 54:00 bike split for the 19 mile course and I was really happy with that. I racked the bike and knew there was no way I could wait the entire 5k to wait on the bathroom so I ran off course after about 400m and went to the public bathroom. I split my watch when I went in and came out and it took exactly 1:01. I'm fairly confident my run pace for the first mile was "SLOW". Even without the pit stop. But after the first mile I realized my legs weren't tired no matter how hot it was out on the course (and it was hot, probably about 90 degrees at this point.) Did I mention on my way up to DFW my car thermometer read 113 degrees? It is freaking hot up here even in the morning. Anyway, I started running faster and faster with each passing moment and wound up running about a 25:00 5k complete with bathroom break. I'm happy with that as it is probably my fastest 5k split in a tri since I started racing again 4 years ago. I also wound up finishing 5th in my age group, I think my bike split helped a bit there. So now we'll just see what I have in my tank for tomorrow. Hopefully, I won't forget anything...