The main event of my 3 races in 8 days was the inaugural Rhode Island 70.3. Now when I told Bjoern about this on a training run in March his reaction was " 2 half irons in a week! You're nuts." Of course this didn't phase me, I was in the middle of getting the "you're doing an Ironman half way across the planet in the middle of winter, you're muy loco dude!" But regardless I had signed up for it and now the day of reckoning was upon me.
(Scroll to the bold letters to avoid all the pre race Crap)
I hauled up to Providence on Saturday after checking into a Day's Inn just outside of Pawtucket ( next year I'm either crashing with the Lombardi's or checking in to the Holiday Inn in S. Kingston), I waited for what seemed like an eternity in the registration line but free cups of gatorade and water from the Amica Gotta Girls helped. I managed to BS with Mike from NJ and Mason From Narragansett ( a LD newbie). After getting my number, chip, gear bags, medical info, and a good luck, I went over to the War on ALS booth and BS ed with Bob and Mary Ann Blais, now I met them at Eagleman and Bob is surprisingly more laid back than one would think, and Mary Ann is a sweet hear, both of them would be working as finish line catchers the following day. I also met up with Blazeman warrior Mark and caught up with him on thing since the Griskus...regardless, I went to the capital and checked my run bag, then made my way to the shore and checked my bike and bumped ito James from Weston who ironically enough did the Nutmeg State Half last year. Then it was off to dinner with my sister Melissa and her friend Caitlin. After some confusion on the highways and a helpout from Caitlin's dad I, made it back to my hotel and got a grand total of 3 hours sleep as people made their way back from the Dropkick Murphy's show.
I woke up at 3:00am packed my crap, left my key in the room to effectively check out, and made my way to Narragansett. I decided to do my usual URI route to avoid the droves of people that would be taking Route 4 also I needed ice and coffee. When I got to Richmond ( my usual rest stop in this state) stop and shop was closed, Dunkin Donuts was open and seriously for the amount of times I've been through there in the last week I should have an engraved mug and reserved parking space. I hit a Cumby's close to get ice for my cooler and GU2O. I got to the State Park and it was bumper to bumper traffic. Finally I got up to the booth and paid for a daily pass ( I figured I have my sister drop me off on our way home.). After finding a parking spot, I gathered my race gear and pre swim bag, and made my way to transition. It was nearly 5:15AM and I had half an hour before T-1 closed and almost 2 hours until my wave started. I borrowed a pump from a guy down the rack but it had an odd valve lock and flattened my front tire, I returned the pump to him and borrowed another from a guy a little further down and inflated my tires to 115 psi ( I heard the roads were a little gnarly.) I bumped into Leo from Miami ( we had raced together at IM New Zealand and he and his buddy were the ones who took me on a loop of the run course and got me back on the bike course when I got utterly and hopelessly lost.) We shot the shit as he pulled on his wetsuit, he made some comment on how it was still cooler up here than it was in Miami. I bumped in to Mandy, John Hirsch's Girl friend and race director for the Nutmeg State Series, found out which number John was so I could keep my eyes peeled for him as I waited it out for my swim wave.
The swim or I should have brought a surf board.
At 6AM the pro men went off at the sound of a cannon and the inaugural Amica Ironman 70.3 Rhode Island was under way. Every Five minute the Cannon would go off and another wave entered the water. I made my way to the toliet and then to the beach to wait out the 65 min. until race start with fellow HEATster Tony , and his mom, brother and I think his girlfriend or sister.Tony's dad Bill was already in the water and we shot the shit until our wave, the last wave made it's way to the beach. I looked for Leo was was far Right and wished him luck as I put my cap and goggles on, as I walked out of sight I heard him say something to the crowd, " That guy I just high fived is going to win this wave!" We got to the water's edge and lined up, the surf had gotten rougher as time went on and the guys infront of us had to charge through a swell. I put myself on the inside figuring if this was going to be a physical/ washing machine start I might as well have an inside track. The cannon went off for the last time after the race director stated " These young guys really cook. Gentlemen the 3 most important words you will need today " On your left." and we were off. While a majority of guys tried to run through the surf I decided to get my swim on. My idea of sticking to the inside work as there was a slight current pulling you away from the buoys. Also much to my surprise there was very little contact on the swim and no jellyfish. On the return leg, the current shot us back like a cannon as I picked off several guys from 3 of the waves in front, unfortunately the massive wave I rode back into shore was a little frightening and I was afraid I would end up beefing it on the rocky bottom. As soon as the water was only calf high I ran it in, to my surprise not many purple caps were around me, maybe Leo's prophecy was right.
Swim Split 26:29 30th Fastest overall 3rd in age group.
T-1 Strippers Alright!
As I made my way to the transition area the race organizers set up a group of wetsuit strippers, since I figured it couldn't hurt I sat down and had two girls pull my huge honking calves out of the neoprene and made my way to my bike. I crammed my swim crap into the black wetsuit back and threw on my helmet sun glasses and race belt. I took off out of transition and due too the flat terrain outside of the mountline was able to do my barefoot mount with very few issues. Total T-1:1:16
The Bike: Hit the deck!
For the first 5 to 10 miles I thought the race would be like racing along the CT coast fairly flat, some rollers after all the hardest climb went up 300 feet, so I was feeling like this could be a hammer fest kind of day. I had plenty of GU2O on the bike, I had taken a GU at the 10 mile mark perhaps everything was in order for a pretty uneventfull bike. Wrong! At about 15 miles the road went off the edge of the planet in a hurry, I felt kinda invicible so I stood in the aero bars, kinda muttered a silent prayer and I think I "let if fly "unintentionally. After the big insanely fast descent, and nothing bad happening I figured I was in the clear. We pulled up to the first bottle handoff, I cut left as I had plenty of hydration on me, the guy infornt of me grabbed a gatorade and it was suddenly as if the Paul Sherwin in my mind was broadcasting " The feed zone is the most dangerous portion of any bike race." As he fought to get it in his bottle cage he hit a pot hole and went down hard, I was in full aero, there was no time to hit the brakes I turn hard left in the on coming lane and prayed that no one was coming, no one did and I made it through without any futher incident although I was traumatized for the rest of the ride. Every aid station I cut the widest left I could and kept an eye out for empty bottles. The roads from this point on were borderline, we had some smooth stretches and we had some Paris-Roubaix stretches, also the climbs kept coming. I would gain time on some of the smaller climbs my legs toned from Connecticut's hilly goodness, lose some spots in some of the turns then make up some as I tucked on my bullhorns on technical descents and stood aero on the short ones. At about the 20 mile mark we rolled through a busy intersection and I saw a cop and course marshall croutched next to a rider who had gone down. He was concious but was flat against the ground , broken collarbone most likely.The cop was radioing for an ambulance. Rumor had it he was hit by a car but from what I saw it looked like he pulled a Badmann and hit a cone, in either case it wasn't too much longer in the ride that we saw an ambulance making its way up the road. Mile 25 brought the second aid station, I tossed my empty but cut wide left again to avoid any trouble. There were a few more edge of the world descents which really picked up the average speed. Then as if by design we hit the motherlode of hills. As we approached Providence the rooad seemed to incline in a hurry. A guy I had been leap frogging with came along side as we began up the worst of the hills so far. "When will we be done with these hills." I felt his sentiment but realized that I might be able to make up time on these open non technical sections. We hit the top and were rewarded with a short descent, then we hit the wall an 800 meter climb that must have been at least 8% grade I kicked it into the low gear and began to pass more of the guys from earlier waves sadly a lot of young guys were getting around me, One guy was walking up the hill Volunteers were shouting another 100 meters to go, seriously you don't know how long 100 meters is on a hill, we got to the top and were rewarded with a breakneck descent it was very similar to the last descent at IMNZ, it went down, flattened out , went down again and rewarded you with a sharp turn at the bottom. As I got into to Providence we were treated with a tour de ghetto, cars stuck in traffic honked at us and shouted explatives that we were wrecking their Sunday, coops kept them in line as we began an urban Crit. I came alongside on of the Blazeman Warriors yet backed off as we approached a series of switch backs, on the next flat section I was able to get around. After a few more turns and a mild descent we ended up in T-2 the thing was T-2 popped up so fast I couldn't slip my feet out of my shoes, I un clipped and ran.
Bike Split: 2:44.21 average speed 20.4 mph 344th overall, 22nd in AG.
Find my rack find my rack, shit I blew past my rack , shit no I didn't, crap how did it end up up there? Helmet off, bike shoes off, bike racked, flats on visor on, race belt around , find my way out of this place.
T-2 Split: 2:08
Run: I thought Rhode Island was Flat!
When I left T-2 which was right next to the Capital, the road was fairly flat, now yes I knew the run course was hilly, but nothing prepared you for College Hill. We ran through down town and I was passing some of the older competitiors like it was my job at the same time a few hard core runners would get around, we hit the first aid station at about 3/4 of a mile, now these guys were organized handing out sponges water, gatorade, and coke. I was a good customer at the first aid station, water, gatorade and two sponges, then it came into sight the hill, Nearly everyone around me was walking, I dug in and ran up the first hill was steep the second was steeper, I still ran, I got to the top and looked at my first mile, over 8 min, but I blame it on the hill. The wind had been going all day but now it was a head wind my visor blew off, I went and got it back and pulled it down lower, second aid station had coke I took it, if they had it I was taking it, water sponges and coke every aid station. I passed Bill Lombardi ( Tony's dad) from HEAT. he was on his first loop as well, he gave me some quick encouragement as I set off after some kid with a 23 on the back of his legs. I got to the top of that blasted hill again and saw the gradient sign 7% 7%? that's it? Southington Mountain is steeper than that! I ran back down careful not to hammer too hard, I made a mantra for loop 2 that hill was my hill, and that is where I was going to power through. I made it back toward the capital grounds encouraging HEATsters and Blazeman Warriors or anyone that looked like they needed a kind word. Made the turn around and set off for the hill. As I passed T-2 I saw a kid from my age group walking, "1st loop or 2nd?" "1st" "Don't worry first aid station is close take some coke and you'll be in business." That's what happens to me when I'm on Caffeine I get all happy and feeling invincible for about 5 min. then the high dies. First Aid station again coke and sponges and attack the hill. My legs went in to charge mode, sure my mile pacee was probably at power walker but I was passing the walkers I got too the top and knew the hard part was over. I passed Sean as we approached the turn around, " Looking strong man. " I said as I went by. " Bob are you going to break 5 ? " He said with a chuckle, "I'm cutting it damn close." I said as I went around. Every aid station I was taking coke water and sponges at the second to last they ran out of sponges and were handing out ice. I got around a kid in my age goup and got passed by Colleen a 24 year old who had been leap frogging with me the entire run. She made her move before the hill and was gone. I made it down the hill and hit the last aid station, ice, water and coke, I was no where near my half marathon PR pace but I might be able to pull a 1:45. I dug in there was only a mile left, and i felt fairly good, much different than Patriot. I made it to the 13 mile mark 1:47 I gutted up the hill to the finish and log rolled across.
Run Split: 1:48.00 8:15/mile pace 238th fastest overall 16th in AG
Total Time 5:03.48 197th overall out of 1200 finishers 16th out of 63 in AG.
I got my finisher's medal and a hug from Mary An Blais, Bob Blais came along side gave mme a water as another Vollie grabbed my chip and walked me up the side line. " Bob you take a spill he said looking at my knee." I looked down and it was sliced up pretty good. " the timing mat, when ever I log roll the mat kinda cuts my knee, it happened at Eagleman too." We sort of shot the shit for a little bit until a massive scream broke the air, Tony the Wildman Lombardi Crossed the line in 5:06 and when I say crossed the line I mean leaped in the air a good 3 feet air and nearly took out the finish bridge. " Bring on Louisville Baby!" was his war cry. It was his first half finish and he was stoked. After a quick congrats to Tony, I watched as Leo came in and was quickly escorted to medical. Medical came and got me too, a quick good bye to Bob and Maryann and I was up to medical too patch my knee and blistered feet. The Foundation Photographer got a couple of pic as I was patched up and we talked briefly, the enndorphins were wearing off. I made my way oover too massage and caught up with The HEAT contignent finished so far Tony, Bill, Sean, Mike, John, and Todd. Mrs. Lombardi went down and claimed Tony's gear and mine as we waited for Massages. Melissa and Caitlin found me, and stated that they had just missed my finish, Melissa also made a couple of comments on Tony's hotness. The postrace massuse was awesome Trish, i think her name was, she really worked out my knots. Also I made small talk with the chick across from me. I told her about my crazy week in which her parting remarks were "someday you'll be on the cover of Triathlete magazine." After a rub down finding out my position annd claiming my bike, Melissa ,Caitlin and I made a 2 mile trek through the Ghetto to her car. After some creative packing, we went to Caitlin's place I showered and then Melissa and I made our way back to the beach and home. All in all it was a hell of a week.
Miles Swum: 2.9
Miles ridden: 124.5
Miles Run: 29.3
Times stopped for gas :4
Times stopped at Richmond RI Dunkin Donuts: 6
Gallons of Gu2O consumed:1
Number of times I thought I was going to puke: 8
Cute girls that I wanted too get digits from: 6
Rest days planned 7
do it all again if I had the bucks HELL YEAH!
The glutton for punishment.