Well it was a long hard day at the office Sunday., but I survived. My legs are in somewhat good shape, but my lower back feels like Muhammad Ali has been throwing punches on my synoptic nerve. Here's how it all went down.
Pre race: 3 hours of sleep is not recommended
After a late night on Saturday ( took Bjoern up to preview the course, the pre race meeting the Olive Garden carb binge followed by the oh shit I haven't packed any of my crap for the race tomorrow so I was up until 1 in the morning getting my shit together mad dash.) I woke up promptly at 4:30 then rolled over until 4:45....I got up shaved my face ( those of you who saw the bike course post know why and I would need all the speed possible ), showered and put on a mix of body glide and degree. Woke up Chrissy, Then packed a cooler full of water, snapple, beer ( for the post race HEAT gathering, sadly after this one no one was in the mood for a brew so I wasted $1.25 on ice and cooler space for nothing...although the Miller Lite was nice and cold when I woke up from my post race hibernation last night.) We made our usual cumby's dunkin donuts run. ( for ice, Gatorade ( I wasn't taking any chances at this one) coca-cola ( for Chris while spectating and for my stomach after this shin-dig), coffee, a bagel ( I wasn't chancing it with laxatives...I mean Clif Bars.) and then it was off to Waramaug ..about a hour later than I wanted . We we arrived we were directed to park at the the same random field as we were for the Nutmeg State Sprint except this time we could ride down route 45. I looked at my watch it was 6:30 and the swim started at 7am. I grabbed my crap...pumped up my tires and descended down route 45 helmetless with no regard for my life..( Christina said she was tired and was going to try to nap..can't blame her I was running on 3 hours sleep. ) I made it down to transition found Bjoern ( who decided he was going to go sans wet suit on this one..he hates the long sleeves, says it puts pressure on his shoulder...to each his own.) I found my slot on the rack ( grateful they had given out packets the night before. ) Hastily set up transition and ran to body marking my wet suit flung over my shoulders and swim gear in hand...it was 6:50. I got into body marking and luckily it was a short line. I was marked up and pulled on my wetsuit at water's edge. It was 6:58 and I threw on my cap and goggles as Mandy's voice came over the loudspeaker that they were delaying the start. ( apparently they had a storm the night before and it blew several of the buoys off course.) Relieved I walked into the water and did a quick warm up. I found Bjoern and directed him over to far end of the swim start ( start wide cut in.) He took up his position at about mid pack and I lined up at the front with Max and the elites. John Hirsch ( the MC) got on the mic. " Are you guys ready to take on the toughest Tri Course in New England!" After a somewhat subdued Yeah! from most of us. They started blaring disturbed's "get down with the sickness" as we began the count down to wave1's ( the Men's wave women, relay, and aquabike were wave 2) start.
The Swim: "Glare shouldn't be a problem."
10..9...8...7...6...5..4..3..2..1..the air horn sounded and we were off into the water. Since we started in the lake in an area that was about waist deep I didn't really have to run much. I dove in and began to charge toward the inside. It was quite a psyche up when we swam past the first buoy and I only saw two white caps ( age groupers Max and and some other dude.) and 3 red ( elites) in front of me. I held on to the leaders as we swam past the next three orange buoys and made the right turn at the first green one. that's when the glare kicked up. As soon as I passed the buoy I found my self staring directly into the sun. I swam about 10 more strokes blind before asking the dude in the kayak were the next buoy was He pointed me toward the orange turn buoy at which I turned left and tried to sight the green return buoys back to the beach. I got the first one no problem and then found my self again staring directly into the sun. I saw a white swim cap about 200 meter ahead and followed it. passing three more green buoys before I could hear John's voice on the loud speaker and see nothing but trees, lake and blinding white light. I decide to aim for the sun and go until I hit land ..or drowned one of the two..apparently god must have been reading my thoughts a a cloud suddenly blocked the sun and I had a clear view of the beach...I started running toward the shore hearing John blast into the microphone...something about "He's doing Ironman New Zealand in March...He's a force to be reckoned ..." I started to stagger toward the wrong side of the beach When John blared " No Dude this way"and " Max is only about 2 minutes ahead." motioning toward my left. I ran up the stairs through the start/finish timing mat my wetsuit half off and just pulling off my cap and goggles. Total Swim time: 25:43 not my greatest performance but pretty damn good. 5th fastest swim split of the day.
I pulled my wetsuit off crammed two Gu's into my rear pocket and threw on the helmet and sunglasses. I ran the bike out stopping at the edge of transition to reset my bike computer. After getting passed by one guy from Tri Fitness as I struggled to slip my feet into my shoes as I mounted the Bitch Stomper it was off for 56 miles of "bliss". total T1:2:59
The Bike: Race or Death March?
From the day after my practice ride until the moment I hit T2 my strategies for the bike were the following
2) Go out conservative save the legs for the run
3) Do not dismount and walk your bike up the hill unless absolutely necessary.
4) Hydrate! Hydrate! HYDRATE!
The climb up 45 wasn't too bad. I coasted down the descent on College farms road. and took on the monster on Angvine Rd. ( getting passed by one guy on a road bike. and whispering to myself "is this all you got you bitch!") I descended down Town Hill Rd. Hitting the brakes only when approaching turns yet I was still caught and passed by three guys, one dude on a guru and two cervelo punks. The two Cervelo dudes nearly missed the turn on to Cemetery rd. and then they over shot the turn on to Rt. 45 at the Warren town Green, yet the turned at the stop light allowing them to coast down a small hill in a pace line as I hammered it out on the flatter race route. watching helplessly as they stormed passed. When we turned on to Melius Rd. It became quite apparent I was in too high of a gear and yet another cyclist stormed past. I managed to eek out of this section on giving up 3 spots before the descent back onto Route 45 ( and the HEAT chick With the cowbell directing traffic.)When we got onto brick School Rd. I hit my favorite part of the course and was subsequently able to pass two riders on the rolling terrain, yet the fact that time trial bikes are not made for climbing and my inability to choose the right gear coming off of a fast descent on to a semi steep hill , made my repasses short lived. After dilly-dialling on this lovely rolling portion of the course it was on to Rt. 341. Two Mount Southington-esque climbs were wedged between two flat some what down hill sections. I tried to get aero on the flats but a nasty little crosswind kept forcing me back into the bullhorns to control the wily Bitch Stomper. Also after being passed by 3 guys on the first of the 341 climbs I had a Near Death Experience (NDE) In the form of a Honda Accord hooking a U- turn..She saw the first three cyclists didn't she know there were more behind....oh well...to make a long story short I descended down the little descent ( the one right after the steep grade sign...) with reckless abandon ( only going into the bullhorns when I felt the wind pushing me toward the Yellow Line. ) The frightening descent was not so bad when I took it at speed. Although I had to brake for the sharp left hander at the bottom..the more frightening thing was I had to feather the brakes through out the curve ( which I was taking at 30 mph.) making me feel rather unsteady on the bike. I was passed by three more people and then caught by a group of 3 shoreline sharks as we hit the flat /false flat section up to camp flat rd. After a short bout of minor climbs and descents we made the sharp left onto Geer Mtn. Now the first Part of Geer Mtn. ain't bad. It's fairly flat and passes a small pond a nice house with a white picket fence and duck crossing sign...when we looked ahead and saw the trees rising we knew what was in store..." well this is it." we said to one another as we attacked the first climb. The guys from Shoreline sprinted ahead getting out of the saddle and powering up the smaller of the Geer Mtn. Climbs. I held back getting up only when necessary then sitting right back down to conserve energy for the big one. We turned the corner and hit a small flat section before making the turn on to the climb. Again the Sharks attacked I stayed in the saddle until half way up and then made the turn onto where the rest of the climb showed its ugly head. Out of the saddle and pushing the lowest gear I made systematic spurts riding out of the saddle and pushing and then when near the top sitting back down then getting back out of the saddle to make a final push up the steepest part of the grade. I watched as the over anxious sharks dismounted and walked their bikes up . One guy struggle to clip back in cussing out his pedals. My lead over the 3 sharks was short lived as they flew by on the descent and then the subsequent little burners after ward...my legs weren't shot but my back was feeling the Heat of a lot of out of the saddle efforts. We passed Ken's aid station as we made the set up descent/minor climb toward Anderson. My bottles were only half empty so I didn't take on new ones. on Anderson I pushed into the highest gears and let the bike coast down the first hill On the big hill I started to feather the brakes as I made the sharp right then left. On the third hill I feathered to set up for the inside line on the sharp Upper Kent Hollow turn. Again I was passed by 2 or three riders. On upper Kent Hollow the hills hit hard and often and culminated with a nasty little burner to get back onto Rte.341...then it was time to do it again, but thankfully the race directors cut the descent on 341 and another shot on Geer Mtn. out of the second loop. For this my legs were grateful. As we approached Warren for the Second loop i noticed I was too close to the guy in front of my so I had to drop back as we approached a group of spectators including the head referee on one of the several little climbs on 341. We approached warren Town Center and took a left at the stop light down a slight little hill and then the quick sudden little up hill on Melius Rd. Sadly I had kept my bike in my high gear and and I watched helplessly as two more competitors went flying by. I finally got to a portion of the road where I could down shift and tried to take off in pursuit of the spots I had lost. Yet sadly the soul was strong but the soles were weak...two more guys got me on the up hill I was plummeting down the overall like a stone..... I regained some hope as I got around two guys on the Flat Rocks to 45 descent. Yet I was re passed once again on Brick School ( Shout out to HEAT chick with Cow Bell best traffic director all day.) As we got to 341 and then the short little climb to South Rd. The cross winds were reeking hell on my descent ( robbing me of speed ) and forced me to ascend with very little momentum. I saw one of the dudes in front and dis mount to pee on a short fast down hill section after a tight left turn. Then watched him going flying past about a mile down the road. We approached Ken's Aid station for the second time. I ditched my Empty Gatorade Bottle and hit the brakes to slow down to grab a new one. The bike got side ways sending me into the bullhorns and past the first 3 volunteers but quick thinking by the last volunteerr with Gatorade, a shaky hand off and securing of the bottle of electrolytes, and a quick shout to Ken, " is it in the cage?" Ken replied "you got it Bob, Watch out for the left hander." I descended down the hill and through the tight little hair pin. I turned left on to Anderson and was feathering the brakes allowing two more guys by and one old dude ( injury to pride) on a Cervelo ( insult to injury) by,as I woed up for the " if you don't brake you will find yourself going over a guardrail at 50 mph and on a gunnery ride to the hospital" left hander. As me and the old evil bike riding dude approached the tight left on the Upper Kent Hollow we were greeted by a lack of volunteers at the intersection and an E-class and a quattro making their way up the hill. as soon as the German steel rumbled past. I made my only successful repass of the bike leg, out breaking old cervelo guy and hammering away on the relatively flat part of the road. When I got to the burner I saw the two other guys, serpenting their way up zig-zaging up the hill to try to keep some momentum. I kick the bitch stomper into the lowest gear...gritted my teeth and felt my back and quads scream out in pain as I slowly ascended the beast. When I got to the top exhausted and hypoxic I muttered under my breath...."Upper Kent Hollow you have been bitch stomped." Getting back onto 341 was no piece of cake, the little rollers continued to sap much needed energy and the cross winds on the unlettered sections of road made getting aero a death wish. When i reached Warren town Center I kicked into the highest gear and descended down to the Cornfield full aero and with no regard for my life, at the Corn Field I took the hill I descended earlier in the morning and attacked it Pedaling full bore full areo in high gear, braking only for the turn back toward the beach club. I slid out of my shoes as I slowed for the turn and rode the last 10 feet to the dismount line both bare feet on one pedal....sexiest dismount of my life I hopped off the bike and hobbled into transition Total Bike time: 3:35.30 ( my time for the Patriot half was 3:02 for 60 miles on a flat course so yes the elevation gain of nearly 6600 feet ( or so according to Max's sexy equipment) did take its toll.)
T2: OW My BACK!
I placed my bike back on the rack and took off the helmet. My lower back was killing me . I tried to reach down for an extra Gu and I thought I would rip something. I bent back wards trying to stretch out from being hunched over the bull horns for nearly 4 hours. I managed to pick up my shoes and put them on while standing , followed by my visor and I strapped on ( man that sounds dirty..) my race belt as I shuffled out of T2 after 2:38 of pain.
Run: My Name is Macca Bitches!/ or The go HEAT Run!
As I hobbled out of T2 my mind was sending messages to my legs to "stop this madness!" Me never being one to interpret my body's signals to preserve itself or listen to conventional wisdom Continued out on course at a slower than normal pace approaching the first aid station just before the first mile marker in about 8:00. I saw Max fly by in pursuit of the race leader and shouted out a little encouragement as I began to settle into my " not exactly full blown sprint, yet not really loafing it either." pace. on the run they had us do this weird " lollipop" or loop of a Cull Du sac they would have us do it twice a lap so on the first loop through I grabbed a Gatorade endurance at the first aid station. on the lollipop.( ironically 200 feet from the first but we had to make the turn.) It was powdery but my body needed electrolytes I hadn't gotten to drink from the bottle Ken gave me on the bike. We made the approach out to the turn around and I began to reel in a couple of guys. One of the shore line guys was cramping at the turn around. I gave him some encouragement. He replied " I'm not giving up but there's a good chance I'll drop dead." My reply was " Well then I'm going to have to pick up your corpse and carry it with me." Man isn't it amazing what endorphins can do. As I made my way back to the lollipop I saw Mike heading toward the turn around. We mutually greeted eachother with a high five and a "Go HEAT!" I went through the lollipop grabbing another gatorade and two waters ( one which found itself being doused over My head. ) I ran back out to finish my loop of the "lollipop" and again greeted Mike, the Miro who was closing in on him fast. As I made my way back toward the Transition turn around I saw Sean and he too was met with the same encouragement. I made my way back to the first aid station begining my second loop I grabbed a water and a rasberry hammer gel ( yes I had my Gu but the Rasberry Hammer Gel has never given me ills on a long run. ). I once again saw Max and shouted out to him I was met with a" go Rob! " as I began my next to last tour of the lollipop. As I ran out othe turn /aid station section I grabbed a handful of pretzels and more water, surprised by yhte fact that I did not have to pee. As I chugged down the cup of Water I had nightmares of collasping at the line Julie Moss / Chris Leigh style. As I ran back down on to North Shore rd. I watched as the battle between Mike and Miro heat up ( no pun intended) I ran down to the turn around taking more Water and Gatorade passing the increasing lap traffic as I did. As I made the turn around i saw Bjoern running in full long sleeves and long pants.( he explained later that his tri suit leggings were cutting off circulation...any one looking for a Christmas gift for Bjoern Size Large Louis Garineau Tri Shorts.) ..I shouted out some encouragement to him As I ran past. As I made my way back toward the lollipop I notcied on guy rolling up the pant on his tri suit and ..um..er...well relieving him self along the road...I have to admit despite it's ..well ...exhibitionist approach it does beat wetting the chamois of your tri shorts. Another guy stopped and started to relieve his bladder into the lake. I ran past Mike again and gave him some encouragement as I entered the lollipop. I took water and gatorade from both stations this was the last fuel stop. I pushed out on to the flat section and began final approach back to the finish line slightly kicking up my pace. And older guy I had been sort of battling with the entire way managed to get around me at the last aid station as we both went through taking on nothing. I stared to lose the old Dude as Sean came past. " half mile to go man! "" he shouted out as he went past. I kicked up a little more but the gatorade and water started to slosh in my stomach. I looked back there was no body my age that was really close. I kicked up to a comfortable-uncomfortable pace. I made the turn in as Michelle ( a member of Cen Tri and Bjoern's "American Mom" ) Jim and Karen cheered me in. Christina was sitting on the wall at the other side of Transition and cheered as I ran past. I made a dart for the finish line and crossed it pumping my fist in the air for the last 150 meters. I didn't care where I finished at that moment, I didn't care about time I survived. and I was going to get my Gatorade, finisher's towel ...and complementary Massage for my aching back. I heard Karen call out " Rob Good Job you broke six hours!"All In all heres's the tail of the tape for this section. Run Split: 1:52:53 44th fastest of the day Ovearll time 5:59.43 broke the six hour barrier with 17 seconds to spare.
Post Race: The Short Version.
I went back toward the finish to wait for Bjoern but as I tried to strech I realized I needed something to loosen up my back. I went over to Michelle who congratulated me and gave me back my street shoes ( I had handed them to her in Transition before the start because Chrissy was still up at the car. ) I told Chrissy I was getting a rub down. She replied she was heading back to the car. I could get into other post race details, but for length's sake and the fact that it has taken me 3 nights to get this down I won't. Short version is I won my age group Bjoern was second ( 40 min. back running in cold weather gear to boot.) and some kid from south Boston snatched up the final podium slot. So all in all it was a good day. A nice long finish to a nice long season. i don't know what's instore for me next. I decided to take a rest week ( maybe getting a couple hundred yards in the pool here or there). I have a lot of reflection to do and a lot of Prep work as well Ironman New Zealand is only 5 months away.. and the winter is closing in. The one final up note I finally made good on my promise to win my age group at an endure it multisport event. Ken I'm buying this jersey from you because I've been unbeatable with it. That's all for now.
The Hypoxic/Endorphine high/ writing this blog two days late triathlete.