In the past, I have sat around thinking deep thoughts about how I'm going to handle the race, what will happen with my pace, setting goals for the bike/ run, and developing a plan to execute. Well, this race I tossed all of that out the window. My only goal was to finish without walking.
Hold up. Without walking? True. A few weeks ago, I hit a major snag in my training. Specifically, I had this excruciating knee pain on my right, medial side, just west of my kneecap. When I biked, no problem. When I walked, no problem. When I ran, instant problem. The suffering was readily apparent after my last long run, which was on June 1st. I had planned for 17 miles and only logged 14. I stayed off it for a couple of days. Then, I went on a short run with the Wife and did my first triathlon of the season. I did alright in those events but I acknowledged that this was not a feeling I wanted to have on a daily basis. Something had to give. If it wasn't laying off running for a while, I might be in a world of hurt for a long time. Since I am a guy and have no desire to see a doctor (for fear that I'll be forced to stop all exercise together), not running was the lesser of 2 evils.
Jump ahead by 2 weeks. Now, it's the middle of June. I've been swimming and biking and pleased with my workouts. I decided that I would try a charity run with the Wife. We set out on an easy 10K to raise money for a local animal shelter. Some of the ladies I coach were also rumored to be there, thus providing me with extra incentive to show up. Alas, none of the ladies showed and I had a good time hanging out with my hottie. The knee survived but didn't feel right. It wasn't hurting but I could tell something was askew. More time off.
Enter the last week of June. It's been almost a month since I have run seriously. I set out for a 3.5 mile test run. It went well. The next day, I tried a 4.5 tempo run. Still, no pain or discomfort. I AM HEALED. Or so I thought. Two days later, I wanted a 6-8 mile run with some 1/2 mile zone 3 efforts thrown in to make it interesting. No pain but lots of suffering. It was warm and I found myself walking after 3.5. Then again after 4.5. I felt like I had lost the ability to run any distance.
I waited another day before trying again. In the down time, I trained with some nice bike and swim efforts instead. Both went amazingly well. Time to run. My goal was 7 miles with the option of adding 3 more should I feel good. I hydrated and set out on a 3.5 mile loop. By the time I hit 2 miles, I was in agony but I ego'ed my way through it. I got home, watered and sugared, and tried the loop again. No such luck. It went horribly from a finish-your-workout perspective. On the bright side, I think my knee was laughing at me. No pain from down south, just mocking sarcasm. That was this past Wednesday.
Thursday, I did a long swim and followed it up with a long ride. Both went well and I was pleased with the results. I took Friday off to recover from the long stuff, knowing that I have an impending race. So, when all was said and done, all I really wanted to do finish the run without walking.
I have this 2 hour travel rule for racing. It's sort of unwritten but completely understood... Except for the Ironman, I will not travel more than 2 hours to get to a race. I firmly believe that is the time frame in which I can comfortably wake up and still make it to the race venue without needing to stay the night. ATITB is at the cusp of that time limit. Setting the alarm for 4:00 am was anti-motivational given that I am on summer break. Really, 4 am sucks at any time of the year and it was even worse when the alarm bellowed its wake up tune. Having packed the car and readied my gear the night before, it still took a better part of an hour to get out of the house. And since I am not one to get to the race site early, I had planned to get on site around 7:00 (which is still early for summer break).
|Even my dogs didn't wake up for the race|
In preparing my race season with IMLP in mind, distance trumps speed at this point of the season. I signed up for the Olympic Distance, which was slated to me a 1.5K Swim, 40K Bike, and 10K Run. For those of you who don't speak in Ks, that's almost a mile swim, roughly a 25 mile bike and near a 6.2 mile run. I was reminded of how much I like short distance events when I ran by the finish line, watched others finish the sprint distance while I started my second lap, and was jealous.
|Lake Ontario Swimming|
On the bike, my quads were still burning a bit from Thursday's long ride. I wanted to build into my ride which I did nicely. The 2-loop course was mostly flat with some small rollers and one bigger roller. The second lap added the additional challenge of merging with the shorter distance races. But, those people are generally nice. And obedient. When I came up on the outside of a pack, a short "Stay right" had the desired effect. I made sure to also mutter a "Thank you. You guys look great!" as I went by and meant every word of it. My 21.7 mph ride was negatively split over the 2 laps and good enough for 24th place overall.
|Dave and Me in Transition|
|I can run again!|
Second Aside: It turns out that I have some sort of minor infatuation with Dave's wife. She's the girl who chicked me in the Flower City Duathlon and won the FC 1/2 Marathon. She's an amazing runner who ran faster than both Dave and me (with a 101 fever no less). You can read about her here. She's the awesome chick and I just out ran her husband. Plus, I beat her in this race. Score one for the Banter.
When the final results were in, I was in 16th place overall and I had won my age group. Not bad for a guy who simply wanted to finish the race standing. I do recognize that my age group status may be a bit flawed. There was several people, fast people, who were kicked out of my age group simply because they were fast. There was an "Elite" wave, of which I was not invited. There were 8 elite males that all finished the race ahead of me. The closest elite beat me by 6 minutes. None of the elite ladies beat me. Whereas the elite status knocked out some guys who were most likely in my age group, my overall place in the race would not have changed. I also beat Dave and his wife. No one can take that away from me.
- The clockwise swim course makes it perfect for those of us who are right side dominant breathers and want to see the buoys.
- Transition was well organized with semi-assigned slots for our bikes and a bag check.
- Both bike and run courses were well marked (more on this soon) so that only an idiot would not know which way to go
- The race venue, Evangola State Park, is a great place to host a race. Lots of shade. The parking lot is close to transition.
- The Volunteers who relentlessly give up their time and energy to make us happy. I don't know where RDs find these people. There must be some sort of 'awesome person repository' which they save the best folks for triathlons.
- The post race food was the source of much conversation. None of it was positive. Sorry to the nice people who planned and executed the meal, but it just was not good. The pasta was undercooked. The sauces were not tasty.
- And, for some reason, the beverages at the post race meal were being offered in 3-4 ounce dixie cups. Who, after racing for a couple of hours, needs only 3-4 ounces of liquid?
- The showers- in the past, one of the great aspects of this race was that there were showers. This time, some people had rented out the boathouse for their wedding. Can you believe the nerve of some people? Imagine wanting to get married on a Saturday in the overwhelming beauty of a state park that has Lake Ontario as a backdrop. Losers. Their wedding party blocked the doors to the shower area.
- There was a 2nd entrance to the showers but the park rangers could not find the key. I waited for about 20 minutes before 'showering' in the lake. As I drove out, adding further insult, I saw that the key had finally been found. Out of spite, I did not stop to shower. The Wife was none-too-pleased.
- The prizes- I don't want to seem insensitive to the RD and the (title sponsor) Strassburg Sock people. Thank you for putting on a truly great event. But the blue-camouflage-baseball cap will not be worn be me. Ever.
- There was a "Try-a-Tri" event which allowed several first timers to compete in a triathlon. I talked with several who will be doing more triathlons, and longer than the TaT.
- One woman, in the TaT did the bike portion with her baby seat attached to her bike. Loved it!
- Two girls, as I passed them on the run, caught my eye. For 3 reasons: 1. I am a guy. 2. They were mostly naked (super short shorts and a dinky sports bra. That's it. See #1 if you need more help understanding this). 3. They actually wanted my help to get them back on course. They were off course by at least a quarter mile for their race but they were still having fun. I, of course, pointed them in the right direction (see #1 and #2 if you need help understanding this.)
- Nancy Connors. There is no way that I am any better than this woman. She finished dead last. In fact, she started the 2nd lap of the run long after the next-to-last place person has already finished. She kept going, finished her race during the awards ceremony, and was met with sincere, thunderous applause.