This was fun race on Saturday. I went into it with no expectations - just go out there swim my best and ride my best. I knew the course and expected Choptank ballroom to be choppy and bike course to be very wet. In the end Choptank was calmer than I expected and the bike route was wet, but not as much.
The swim was actually really good with some chop at the end of each of the two 1.2 mile loops. The bigger challenge for me were jellyfish - got stung at least 5 times on my hands (sleeveless wetsuit) and my face. But I just kept going figuring that if the stinging does not go away by end of the swim I can get checked. It got better after few minutes and all was good. I got out of the water good 5 minutes faster than 2 years ago. That was very good sign.
Well off to the bike. No worries I don't plan to outline each of the 112 miles here, just highlights in case you plan to do the race - the course is pancake flat so do not expect any coasting. It also tends to be windy, we were lucky this year as wind kept to minimum. Be ready to ride through stretches of water on the road and don't be surprised if the puddle is bigger the next time around. The tide and wind can raise the level a bit - so we too rode through some puddles the first loop and on second through what seemed like good mile long puddle. If you ride through them keep to the middle as you can see the yellow line and follow it. The loop features about 4 miles of very rough route - it feels like shaker. You will hit it around 45-50 miles on first loop and about 80-85 on second. It's not too bad, but it can mess up your back and if you are not confident in your tri bars it is better to come out of them.
The bike was fine until mile 90 which seems to be my threshold point when I feel like - get me out of this seat. So I know to just stick with it and keep pushing as the end is near ;-). My bike time was about 13 minutes slower than 2 years ago which is mostly due to me not being able to stay aero for long time as my left hamstring was limiting me a little. Still I take it given the amount of travel and workload in the office over the past 6 weeks.
The really ice thing is that my effort was good enough to win my age group. Which was the highlight of the race for me. My friend Ron scored 3rd in his group and coach Craig finished 9th in the ultra distance only few days after he completed Ultraman UK. Congrats to both of them as well as all the others that raced this weekend.