I made the trip back down to Galveston again this year for the 70.3 US Pro Championship. Last year was a bit of a bust so I was looking forward to redeeming myself at this year's race. My lead into the race was less than ideal. The week prior to the race I came down with a bad cough and fever and had to take several days off from training. However, I seemed to be making a comeback by the weekend and I felt like I would be fine in 7 days time when I had to race. Unfortunately, I went through somewhat of a relapse during race week and I had to continue to shut down my training. All my sessions were pretty much done at a recovery intensity and even then I was pretty fatigued all the time.
I was hesitant as to whether racing would even be a good idea, but I packed the bike up and headed to the airport. The thought of a bad race was one thing, but the thought of good training at home while a race was going on was even worse. I just wanted to try.
The race itself, went like this:
Swim: I made the decision to wear a sleeveless wetsuit for this year's race. The water temperature was in the mid 70s and I really struggle with overheating in these warmer wetsuit races. I felt very alone in my decision as I saw 1-2 other athletes, out of 60 or so, with the same idea. Even if there was a risk of being slightly "slower", I still thought it was worth it if I didn't overheat.
The front pack broke away very quickly at the start and I eventually settled into the smaller second pack of swimmers. We came out a little less than 3 minutes down from the front group, but I felt pretty decent and did not overheat at all.
The course is a straight out and back along the Gulf Coast barrier island of Galveston. You essentially have a cross headwind the whole way out and a cross tailwind the whole way back. There is also zero elevation change from start to finish. Its about as flat as a course is ever going to get.
I rode to the turnaround feeling pretty good, but I hadn't moved up more than a position or two from the end of the swim. On the way back I caught up to a few athletes, but I was definitely starting to tire out. I was feeling the affects of racing and my cadence was dropping off (clear sign of fatigue to me). Fortunately I was still moving at an ok clip because of the favorable winds.
The Run: I came into T2 a bit worn out, but its rare that I finish the bike at any race feeling chipper. At the start of the run I was feeling pretty clunky, but the first couple mile splits were ok despite how I felt. Unfortunately that was short lived. I never really detonated or anything like that, but each mile was just a touch slower than the last one all the way to the finish. I ended up finishing in 4:01:00 and 15th overall.
I was happy to be able to start this race as I really wanted to get this season going. In the end, its hard to know whether the last couple weeks affected me all that much. The first race of the season always has its ups and downs and what I'm usually left with is a desire to get back out there and try it again. This race was no different. I'm looking forward to the next one.