As Bill said in an email, if I'd spent any more time in T1, I would have had to apply for residency. (We all shoot for world records in our own ways, I guess.)
It didn't help that I'd spent the pre-race time chasing pedals, rather than setting up T1. Still, despite the fact that I spent more than 8 minutes in T1, I didn't start on the power bar I'd intended to eat there until I was out on the road.
Of course, to get out on the road, I had to clip into my pedals. Turns out it was much tougher than to do for these pedals - they really were a tight fit. I wasn't going to be casually clipping in and out in this race, that's for sure!
So I clipped in, with some ungentlemanly grunting and cursing, and immediately pulled the power bar out of my bike jersey and chowed down. Probably looked ridiculous with all these fit triathletes blowing by me in their aero bars. Suckers. They were missing out on the surprisingly decent taste (but still bleh texture) of oatmeal raisin power bar.
I was done the bar by the time we started hitting the rolling hills. I kept telling myself not to push, to take it easy. I was surprised that Bill hadn't blown by me yet, but focused on my own race - or lack thereof.
Around the first corner, and I started preparing myself for Devil's Hill. Unfortunately, when I got there, I realized I needed to go into the granny gear (smallest front ring). Quite often my bike chain falls off when I try to do this, and this was no exception. This, of course, happened halfway up the hill.
Unclipping was fun, too. So was reclipping into these new pedals on a steep uphill. Whee.
Bill blew by me here, as did about 40 other people. There was just no way about it, I couldn't wait for a gap in the traffic, I just had to cut in front of people and go.
Devil's hill put me far into the red zone. Actually, it put me there for far too long. I was huffing and puffing like an asthmatic when I crested. Not good. Ok, so on the downside I hit 61km/hr without pedalling AT ALL. Not adequate compensation. A few minutes later, I was in the red zone on another hill. On the detour onto the point, with all its false summits, I was in the red zone again.
In short, I was not well prepared for the rolling hills of Newfound Lake.
What didn't help was that I refused to go into the granny gear again, so I was grinding the heck out of my legs - making them put out more raw strength than they normally would have had to. When I finally came off the point, I was going backwards quickly, out of breath, and behind on my nutrition ('cause it's hard to drink when you're climbing).
Eventually, I got my legs back, as we left the lake and descended into Bristol. I reminded myself that my goal was to take it easy the whole first loop. I was now very leery of hills, knowing that I might have missed some on the Saturday drive-around. I wanted to make sure I had enough in my legs for whatever was around the next corner on my first loop. On the second loop, memory would help me plan.
Jeff and Bill had remarked that there was lots of climbing on the 104 out of Bristol. I'd missed it, but that's because rather than rollers we faces long slow inclines. This was more like what I was used to, and it didn't bother me at all. In fact, it was quite welcome.
Off the 104, there was a quick hill, then an aid station. I almost missed the port-a-potties, and had to brake quickly. Of course, in the middle of braking quickly, I remembered the new pedals, and nearly had a comical "fall over at a dead stop" moment. Fortunately, I got one foot down in time, and I stopped for my first pee break.
After this aid station was, by far, the best part of the bike. The rolling hills were more gentle, and they gave way to a bit of open farmland before we descended back to the lake. There was much happiness to be found here.
Suddenly, we were back at the lake, and done the first loop.
By now, I'd probably been passed by at least 350 of the 650 participants. (Which was fine.)
I made two big changes on my second loop. One was that I revisited the granny gear whenever I could. Yes, it was taking a chance, but my chain never dropped again, so it was a huge net plus. Also, I spent a lot more time on the tachometer of my computer, trying to keep myself at 90 rpm whenever I could. I especially tried to keep my cadence high AFTER hills, trying to let my legs recover actively, rather than passively. I never really pushed the pace, but tried to keep my legs active and loose.
Because of this, the second loop felt faster, and more cohesive than the first. When I got back to the 104 (seemingly much more quickly), I was on my third Gatorade bottle, and had eaten 2 power gels already. My gut, however, was starting to complain.
Remembering the aid station, I made plans to stop there again. Of course, it was about 5 curves further away than I remembered it being, but I did get there safely. When I did, I spent AT LEAST 5 quality (ugh) minutes there. This was kind of a no-brainer. I knew I had something like 3 hours left to my day, and I needed to get everything out that I possibly could NOW.
I took a bottle of Gatorade and 2 power gels from the volunteers on my way out, and started out again. One gel was eaten as soon as I hit a farm flat. It tasted awful, but went down in one swallow. Bleh.
By now I was largely on my own on the road. The entire field had gone off in front of me. I rode the last lonely miles, and rolled into T2 a very happy man.
All along, I'd told myself that I wouldn't know how the half marathon would be until I came off the bike. Coming off the bike, I felt surprisingly good.
On the bike, I ate: 1 power bar, 3 gels. I drank 4 full bottles of gatorade.