While I could recap the entire race weekend (two 13 hour drives, eating more fast food in two days than I have in the past two years, "Paradise By The Dashboard Light", almost not making it to the race), doing that would probably blow up the internet. So let's begin on race morning.
I woke up feeling pretty well rested and refreshed at 4 am feeling unusually optimistic about the race. This is quite rare. Most race mornings, I'll wake up and think "this is a huge mistake, what the hell was I thinking?" Usually those feelings will subside once I start to get ready for the race, so on this particular morning, I was already ahead of the game. Look out Nationals, here I come!
After a lovely breakfast of two Powerbars and a bottle of water, we met up with Jon and NSQ and made our way to the race. Except the roads were closed. No big deal, the race was only going to begin in a little over an hour, we had plenty of time to not know where we were going.
We eventually made it. NSQ and I made our way towards transition, and in the process, saw an athlete come within inches of getting mowed down by a car going 40 miles an hour. Definitely wasn't your traditional race morning, that's for sure. Anyway, we finally got into transition, began setting up our gear and heard an announcement on the PA system, "All athletes must gather at the main tent for a very important race announcement." That's when the race director, a guy with an impossibly genuine Southern accent got on the mic.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, I've got a real tough announcement to make. I haven't slept in 60 hours, I've been on the phone with the testing company all night, and I've had to make a real tough decision. The Big Man Upstairs just does not want us to swim today."
A chorus of groans erupted from the athletes. NSQ and I looked at each other and did simultaneous miniature Tiger Woods fist pumps. Clearly The Big Man Upstairs had our backs on this day. Obviously, I would've liked to do the entire race, but having the swim cancelled definitely didn't hurt NSQ nor myself. If the race director had said "Y'all, The Big Man Upstairs does not want us to run today, especially you, Terry Moore" I would've packed up and gotten the hell out of there. Because of the last minute change, they couldn't add a run to start the race, so the format would simply be bike/run. Athletes would start at the swim exit, have a T1 time, and then head out onto the bike and do the race normally from that point.
Now, letting 900 athletes loose in T1 at the same time would obviously be less organized than Pamplona's bull run, so they had one athlete start every three seconds in a time trial format. NSQ and I managed to sneak our way towards the front of the line after it had formed, which I felt horrible about (thank you, Catholic guilt). Honestly, I've never felt better coming into T1 in any race in my life! Since we didn't swim, there were no goggles, swimcaps, and especially wetsuits to worry about, so all I had to do was put on my helmet, and I was on my way out of T1 in one minute flat.
The bike course was two loops of primarily one main highway. It was impeccably paved and pancake flat. The openness of the course allowed for a good deal of wind, but other than that, it was sure to be a fast day on the bike. Because the highway was so well maintained, I was able to tuck into my aerobars and grind out the miles without worrying about potholes or turns. The TT start spread out the other athletes pretty well, so worrying about drafting wasn't too much of an issue either. I had bought two *NEW* water bottles for the bike, so I was definitely in business for the ride. The course and conditions made for my best HIM bike split in 2:34:xx.
T2 was a breeze: bike racked, helmet off, running shoes on and I was off. The run course was also two loops of flat asphalt. While the bike course was very easy to navigate, the run course was set up like someone asked Picasso to draw a pretzel. There were some very confusing out-and-back sections that cost many people a DQ because they did not navigate them properly. I had settled into a nice rhythm early into the run, and averaged pretty consistent 6 minute miles for the first few. I knew that pace would be difficult to sustain for the entire run, but I kept plugging away. I finally caught NSQ around mile 7 (she bested me on the bike by a few minutes), and we shared a quick laugh about Mike Tyson (I have weird motivational techniques in races). By mile 10, my pace had slowed into the 6:30s. Then 6:40s. I was ready to be finished. At this point, my mechanics had deteriorated into Tim Don-esque spaz-running (except without Tim Don's speed). Boy was I happy seeing the finish. I managed to pick it up for the last few hundred yards (only because I knew JC would be there with a camera) and finished with a 1:23:56 half marathon and 4:01 overall time.
4:01 was good enough for 7th in my age group, which got me a spot on Team USA for the Long Course World Championships next year. That was my big goal for the season, so I'm happy to have accomplished that. It was definitely a nice way to end my season. Clearly, NSQ and I race well together since she picked up 3rd in her AG and a spot on Team USA as well. AND she fought through the stomach problems that made me wuss out of Timberman. AND she just married Jonathan. Tough girl, that NSQ.