Sunday, May 17, 2009
To the Victor goes the...
... guilt-free double scoop peanut butter chip and vanilla hot fudge sundae.
Yes - this is what I earned from today's Shamrock Duathlon.
That and some soreness and pain in places I never knew I had.
The fact that I finished 254 out of the 267 competitors means nothing to me right now. From the beginning, this whole charade had nothing to do with time. I only hope to finish and if I can improve with each race than all the better.
The basic run down of the day went like this...
I woke up at 6:00 am, geared up and headed down to Glastonbury High School. It was a freezing 37 degrees and raining. The first thing I did was take the bike out and inspect it. Of course, this brought the first dilemma. My front wheel was locked. After playing around with it, I noticed the brake wire was split. I tried to hook it back up but to no avail. I figured, "What the hell? This is a race. I don't need brakes," and disconnected it.
As I strolled into the transition area to set up, I realized the second issue. My bike couldn't fit into the allotted bike rack because the tires were too think. As I looked around at the other 300+ bikes, every other one fit perfectly. I started to wonder if I was really setting myself up for a disaster come the second leg. So I shimmied by bike up against the fence and played through the plastic bag with my i-pod, helmet, map of the route, water and power bar. Right then they called the runners to hear the instructions.
It was at this point that I noticed NOBODY with an I-pod in their hands. Yep - you guessed it. In multi-sport events no I-pods allowed. That means I will be spending the next two hours plus with only the voices inside my head to push me through. No problem though. I mean, Paul Revere didn't have an I-pod (or it was probably a Sony Discman at that time) to pull him through his ride. Forrest Gump- No I-pod (plus he ran in Dockers). So why would I need one.
As I approached the starting line I just kept telling myself, "Finishing is Winning." I also thought of those who have pulled me through before - mainly the dogs along Main Street, The Wizard, The One Legged Princess, Miss Hilary (who kicked ass in the two running legs of this race as part of the relay team), and this guy - and thought of all the laughs we would share this week as I recounted the forthcoming tale.
The first 5K was solid. The official time had it at 28:12. I found a comfortable pace and wasn't dry heaving as I entered the transition area to start the bike route.
It wasn't three minutes into the ride that I noticed something strange. I was pedaling like crazy, but everyone was passing me. These people weren't pushing any harder than me. My bike just wasn't meant for road races. All the things people told me about how difficult riding with such a bike started to make sense. That's when I saw it....
Just for shits and giggles, next time you're driving on Rt 2. from Hartford get off the Neipsic Rd exit and take a left. Then drive the next five or six miles. It is straight up hill. This isn't a gradual hill; it's ski slope steep. It must have taken me 40 minutes to go the first 5 miles. No matter what I did I couldn't go faster than a snails pace.
This is when the next dilemma revealed itself. This being an official USTA event, the rules state that if you don't finish the first 5k and 28k bike in 2:00:00, your time doesn't count. Now, I know that I wasn't concerned with time, but I wasn't gonna allow a DQ to show up next to my name. As I took the final turn into Glastonbury High, I saw the clock hit an even 1:59:00. I entered the transition area with seconds to spare and a bike time of 1:29:07. Amazingly, it was spot on to what I thought it would take me to finish pre-race. I know I can shave at least 10 minutes off that time with the proper bike next time.
This brought on the next issue. I couldn't feel my legs from the ankles to my thighs. My calves were ready to explode and I still needed to finish the final 5k. I can't describe the feeling of exhaustion that had overcome my body. Mentally, I felt fine and knew I would finish, but physically I was in trouble. So i just went as far as I could running. High fiving Miss Hilary when she passed as I was about a mile into it and she with a mile left helped a little bit, but it was ugly. I'd stop and walk up any hills, then pick it back up on the flat area. As I took the turn into Hubbard Park, the clock was at 2:37:00+. The final time ended up being 2:37:47. My final 5k took 37:33, but I didn't care.
I took advantage of the bratwurst, Ten Penny Ale and free massage. As I headed home the cramping started, but I didn't care. For now I am a duathlete! And ready for the next race that I am ridiculously unprepared for.