5:15 wake up. Load the car. Realize it's raining - play the mental games. Soymilk and granola, delicious as hell, floor it to Indy.
The rain intensifies as I get closer to Indy, but I still tell myself it will shore up by race time. Not so. The rain would cease though, just in time to get everybody's crap sopping wet. Good times. Glad the race fee came with a dry t-shirt!
About 5 bathroom breaks later, and some pre-race running drills and jumps, they decide to have the elites go on with the swim, pack style. Still raining. Start time about 20 mins delayed. Organized chaos, but I have to hand it to Tuxbros, despite the weather, they negotiated the 600 some racers swiftly, which was nice. I got some clean strokes to the first buoy for warmup then headed back in.
Some briefing by the announcer and we were off. I sprinted hard. Probably harder than I've sprinted at the start of a tri before and I'm not sure why. I had Smitty next to me, Doug Robinson to my left and a few other big dogs to my right. I pretty much took the outside line all the way to the first turn and had a few feet to ride behind. After the first turn it opened up wide. I only sight maybe every twenty strokes, and when I looked up next I had two, maybe three caps ahead. Steady to the next buoy kept me in good position. I'm rounding the second buoy and heading for transition when somebody in a pink cap pulls up on my right. Big surge. I can tell he's not looking at all, because the rowing markers are coming up quick, right in his line. I slide just to the left, sight two strokes in a row. One stroke he's there. The next he's gone. Like he hit a tree or something and just couldn't swim.
Coming out of the water, I saw something I don't usually see. A woman in the lead. Awesome job on her part. Smokin' fast. It wasn't meant to be, for her or for the couple men in front of me. Transition is not for breathers. I wanted to get the heck out because I knew Michael Smith and the likes of Ben Weaver, Matt Shade and company would be right behind.
Out on the bike, no legs. I thought they might open up but never quite did. Still, only person to pass me was eventual second place Doug Robinson, who looked real fast. After the turnaround I rallied a bit, but the hills into transition where ball breakers I just couldn't seem to keep the speed on.
Into T2 and just on my way out, Weaver and Smitty close behind come charging in. Trying in vain not to get caught I smash it out of transition, figuring I have about 45sec on them. Out of transition is all uphill, gradual, yet painful. I was moving the legs good, but not going anywhere. Finally it opened up and I had a chance to pour it on. Probably 1 mile in, Smitty comes past and I do a ad libbed running form check. I told myself, try to make it feel like he looks. After that moment it was 100% pain train. I buried myself after the turn around, only to have my shoes come untied 1/2 mile to go. Since my previous experience with loose shoestrings ended in a broken elbow, I thought it best to tie them. I looked back, didn't see anyone immediately, then stopped to tie them. Butterfingers. Seemed like it took forever. I did however, come out of the that episode feeling awesome, although cramping a little in the legs. Looked back, still in fourth (one other had passed me out of transition - had no idea who it was). I tanked just before the line. Great day. Even better - I found out I was in third! I have always wanted to podium at a Tuxbros race because in the results if you're top three, they star your name. Overall, I was thrilled with it.
I stuck around for the awards long enough to talk to some Purdue friends from the tri team and to re-meet Tim Haley's (club coach in HS) sister, Carrah, who swam with us one summer. She was 3rd overall woman, and she beat me on the swim. Yikes.
Cool day. Loved it.