It's October, its meant to be cooler - but not in Houston. Another very hot day and no shade on the run.
I recently had 3hrs of dental surgery to prep for 3 crowns in a single session followed by another 90 mins to fit the crowns 2 days later. Within 2 days of my last visit my mouth exploded with cold sores and the doctor put me on anti viral medication which made me feel pretty off color, so much so I seriously considered not doing this race. However, I convinced myself to get up at the usual 4:45 and although still not sure I'd start, head off to Fulshear in Texas for the Oktoberfest Olympic distance. Quick stop at Starbucks for my traditional Venti Cappucino to drink on the drive. Lovely morning although hot (+80F) and humid even before sun comes up. Calm and clear skies.
Arrived with plenty of time to spare and as the race was a sell out at around 800 athletes across the various race options the buzz was high and my mood picked up. Got a good rack position which was marred slightly by the athlete on the other side who'd brough a large fishing bucket for his gear which, by the time he'd set up and left the blasted bucket there, blocked my rear wheel from sitting straight and made my own set up a bit tight - why do people bring the kitchen sink to transition!
I'm in the last wave of Olympic athletes so enjoyed a bottle of Mud while I waited. Announcer calls out that 'There's a Ford F150 with its headlights still on..." - this is Texas, so about 700 athletes are now wondering if their headlights are on! Fortunately the license plate number was eventually called out.
In the water, not too big a wave, get out to left and a reasonable 600m shot down to the first turn. Actually not feeling too bad so confidence picks up. Make the next run for the last 6-800m home, come up where the Sprint atheltes are waiting in water for their start. Noooooo!!!! - they release 50-60 Sprint athletes just as I get alongside so now its a washing machine of enthusiastic but not always competent swimmers! Steadily cut through the stragglers, woah!!! now coming up on what's got to be a male Clysdale doing very powerful breastroke - avoid him, pick up pace and get past those legs! (NOTE: At same race last year an athlete got a dislocated right shoulder 25m into the swim after being hit by a breastroke kick). Strong finish and out of water in 21:30.
200m run to tranistion. Close to bike out and off we go. Steady start, feeling pretty good but can't get my pulse down below 150bpm for most of ride and it averages 154bpm - think it was the underlying viral load (and perhaps the meds) because I'm not doing anything 'special' in terms of effort or pace. Unusually the course traffic cones were set so we only had 2/3 of the lane which made for a pretty narrow track to pass and you had to pay attention to make sure you didn't clip one. 2 miles into course and see first rider down sitting beside road holding right shoulder. Another 3-4 miles and a female rider has a very nasty crash, goes down hard. Clutching shoulder and in agony as we go by (other cyclists and car already stopped). By time we are doing second loop two ambulances, fire truck and police all over road and we're walking our bikes through. Hope she recovers well, she was being treated with her neck stabilised for a long time before being taken away. Finish bike in 1:21:49.
Now for the run - and the sun is out and bearing down hard. Really struggling to keep my heart rate down in low 150's but pretty quickly up over 160bpm. Walk, breathe, have a cold drink, run again - and that was pretty much how it was for rest of the way. Almost no shade and we were all suffering a bit as by now it was 97F and humid. Glad to see the finish in 1:16:06.
Final time 3:03:42 - not my best performance this year, 4th in Age Group, 117 of 157 males - but at least I turned up!