Well as mentioned in my post from yesterday morning, I got cooked pretty bad on the shoulders, so if I'm going no wetsuit at the Griskus the second degree burns on my shoulders are to blame, granted tonight I'm going to try to swim, I figure the cool water and chlorine will be good for the burns, the blisters should be healed by tomorrow or Thursday so hopefully I'll be good to go for Saturday. I could sit here and describe the commute down for hours, lets just say I need an EZPass. My hotel was about 30 miles from the race site so in essence it was just like commuting to Waramaug back home. I met Bob and Mary Ann Blais at the Expo the night before and found out a little more about what was happening with the foundation, but all that's for another post. Race morning began for me at 4:30 AM, Temp Tattoos went on along with liberal amounts of anti persperant, followed by my new Zoot tri gear. I put some sunscreen on my neck and arms but didn't get enough on my shoulders as I would have liked, hence the 2nd degree burns. I made my way out to the race site and parked at the lot for the expo and began to trek my way over to Transition on foot ( they checked in bikes the night before). I got a ride from this chick from Mass. Emmy Lyn, over to transition and began to set up my gear. I met Jerome a 30 something year old, who was battling anemia, then Kyle and Jeff from the Bucknell University tri team, and a few newbies. The temp at race start was already 80F (26C) it was going to be a scorcher. The pros went off at 6:45 with no wetsuits ( water temp was 75F(23C) pro rule is 72F is no wet suit zone Amateurs is 78F) They were followed by the 50+ Women and 55+ Men @ 6:52 and then my Age Group @ 7:00.
The Swim: 10 rounds with Muhammad Ali
I started wide and cut in as usual on the swim, but due to my lack of pool time and the fact that I was racing a higher class of athlete I wasn't able to get my usual fast break by the first turn. Needless to say I ended up racing side by side with one guy for about 200 yards. We kept hitting one another non intentional at first by finally he got fed up with me and twacked my in the head a few times then grabbed me by the midsection and pushed me back. Now some people would say what an Ass hole but that is the nature of the beast, claw fight and push your way forward, I'm sure I've given my fair share of bloody noses, so for all the guys I've hit, kicked, drafted ,and smacked the karma train got sweet, sweet pay back. The one good thing is the slight push backward he gave me allowed me to get to the inside and around him. Needless to say the physical confrontation took a little out of me. I still managed to pick off a good number of the wave in front of us but the Heat, combined with Salt Water, and a few good hits to the gut made me feel like I was going to be feeding the fish, luckily it didn't happen. I got out of the swim in a less than stellar 28:39 good enough for the 4th quickest in the age group and 69th overall.
After a bit of confusion finding my rack I shucked off the wetzoot and crammed four gus into my side pockets and off I went. T-1 time was slow 3:41 but it took me nearly a minute to find my rack.
The Bike: Is this a Tri or Le Tour?
I got out of T-1 and rode a little slow as I slipped my feet into my shoes. I was passed by about 4 riders including one guy from my age group, and my elderly nemesis ( since Claire's is Grandpa I will call mine Pops) Anyway, Pops and I started leap frogging for a couple of miles I would accelerate, break way and then boom slow up for a curve and he'd get away again I leaped frogged with Pops and some 50 year old guy that we left in the dust at the 10 mile mark. About that time something that usually never happens happened I actually began passing people on the bike. At the 15 mile mark that high was short lived as a freight train of six riders including two from my age group rocketed past. I was determined to keep them in sight, If they were in sight I had a chance on the run. At about the 20 mile mark I took a gu and got passed by Alex from Georgetown's Tri club. I decided that if we worked together maybe we could catch the guys infront. The leap frogging began again. I would power ahead he would sit about 5 bike lengths back, then he would surge by and get 5 lengths ahead I would keep him in sight then surge again, we did this for about 15 miles and we began to reel in the stragglers, including Pops, then the three way leap frog began. I tended to drop back at the aid stations as I would dump empty Gu2O bottles and pick up Gatorade ( after my GU2O was completely spent and a bottle of water which immediately went over my head and down the jersey.) At the 40 mile mark I made my move I emptied the Gatorade in the aerodrink, put a bottle of water in the front cage and dumped my empty bottles and gu wrappers. I kicked it in the most powerful gears I could muster and got out of the saddle, the message from my brain to my legs "CHARGE!!!!!!!" For a few miles it seemed like it was going to work, but my legs just couldn't carry the pace, that and I ran out of fluid, Alex flew by with about 4 miles left...I had tried to break too early. I managed to keep the Hoya in sight. But that wasn't the worst part, I could deal with Alex finishing ahead of me he worked hard for it, overcoming a nice 5 min. swim gap. Pops got by but as we began our leap frogging again the Peleton came first it was 4 riders in a straight line. I was trying to cut in on a corner only to notice a guy on his Cervelo blocking the inside and nearly going into the grass as I was cutting in front of him. The dishonest win at all cost part of me wanted to drop to the tail of the pack and suck wheel, the honest and common sense part of me realized, 1) I really do not want to be in a pack with 20 sweaty angry 40 year olds, 2) It was too damn hot and I don't really have the pack riding skills to deal with such a large draft pack, 3) This isn't an ITU race, drafting is illegal and knowing my luck if I tried it I'd either wreck someone or get caught. I did the right thing I got in the bull horns and back pedaled letting the draft pack of about 20 cyclists and Pops ride off in the distance I ended up riding next to a pro for a little bit, he was having a rough day, I ended up repassing him with about a mile left. I ended up slipping my out of my shoes about 100 meters too early and rode them in. All and all despite the Heat it wasn't a bad day on the bike 2:38.51 averaging 21.3 mph.
I had to ditch some fluid consumed on the bike. I also decided against taking my fuel belt with me on the run, part of me felt it was a stupid move, but there were several aid stations along the way, also I knew that sports drink and coke were the way to go. Time 4:21
Run: Might as well be walkin' on the Sun.
Desire Ficker once said about Kona, "Nothing can prepare you for hot it is." The same could be said about Maryland.It became apparent as I shuffled out of T-2 that it was going to be a race between aid stations, one fan was handing out water and gatorade but I don't think that USAT could with good conscience DQ anybody for taking it. It was 103 degrees.( I didn't take any but I can't blame anybody who did.) I was passed by about 5 people out of transition I paced a few guys then dropped back. At every aid station they were handing out ice, Gatorade, water, cookies chips, gel, the ice and gatorade were my poison of choice. One cup of ice went down the the jersey, one went in the hat. And so the race went. the first mile was the slowest, I paced some guy from Maryland who was trying to break 5 hours then he was gone. Then I started chatting with some guy from Virginia Beach, we paced for about 3 miles holding just over 8 min mile pace, at the aid stations the ritual of ice, water and Gatorade continued . Everything was going well until mile 6 then we hit " the stretch" a mile of newly paved asphalt completely devoid of shade, the dude from Virginia got ahead of me and took off. About the same time I started reeling in a couple of guys walking. As I got to the turn around I saw one kid who had passed me early in the bike limpimg along. As I came along side I tried to fire him up " Hard Part's over, now it's just getting back." I said trying to hide my suffering. " I didn't give up man, but my back did. There are about 4 guys ahead of you." He said as he waddled along trying to get through it. I felt bad, this kid had gone balls out and the heat and his back were doing him in. I hit the next aid station and took coke, a potato chip and lots of ice as I tried to reel in some of the other guys in my age group. The ice worked great for about 10 seconds and then it was back to the heat and Humidity. At the last aid station on the stretch I loaded the hat up one more time, took some more water and tried to gut it out. As I hit the 8 mile mark my 8 and change/min miles melted down. The race had gone into survival mode. I saw a couple of the other Blazeman Warriors, shouted out some encouragement and slapped a few high fives. I passed Alex as he began to waddle along, then I began to reel in some more people, there were so many guys and gals walking it wasn't funny. Then some kid from the University of Virginia was the next victim, some shirtless 30 something year old guy blazed past as if he'd been saving up for this all along. I continued to run/jog along, my pace reaching the high 8 min low 9 min range. Every aid station more ice, the better it felt and the more I wished for one long aid station. I continued to pass and was passed as the long unshaded stretches were replaced by residential neighborhoods . The park got closer and closer, more aid stations, more ice, my neck and shoulders were sunburned, and the lack of shade on course was taking its toll exacerbating the burns. The park got closer, neighborhood residents began spraying us down with their garden hoses. On one stretch there were at least three sprayers working their magic. The relief was temporary, but it felt so good. Finally after a quick series of switch backs we passed the spectator handing out Gatorade and Water from earlier. About a half a mile to go. A few more curves and you could hear the loud speakers, then you entered the park, and saw the finishing chute I got close to the finish then "log rolled" the last few feet across, the same tribute to the Blazeman I had done in NZ.
Run time 1:54.04 8:43 min/mile pace
Total time 5:09.33 Bjoern has braging rights for now.....
I could go on about the aftermath, meeting Bob and Mary Ann at the finish ,being sprayed down like a small brushfire but it would be all mute point. It was hotter than hell, I was sunburnt crispy. I'm pretty happy with the result but I still need to improve on my hot weather training. Also more pool time and time on the bike is required before my epic two Halves and a sprint in 8 days. At the roll down meeting the top 2 in the Age group wanted the Clearwater slots, a lot of guys left right after the race so Kona Rolled down to 6th place. ( Jeff from Bucknell) Sadly I was in seventh, so I guess now I can joke I was a minute away from the big trip to the Big Island. So it was a good weekend in Maryland despite the sunburn. Now I've got to settle down and prep for the rest of the season.
The Road Worn Warrior