In the words of Josh McClay “Holy Hanna”!! I was afraid I might be getting in over my head and this week hasn’t been the greatest as far as getting rest and prepping myself for a race I‘d never done before. We were supposed to leave at 7am but Josh called at 6:30 to tell me he was ready, damn early birds. Turra was worried about me using running shoes on BMX pedals instead of changing into cycling shoes. With 2 transitions back and forth and the bike only being 15 miles, there wasn’t much to worry about, I thought. Like any hard workout I try to weigh myself before and after to gage water loss. Damn!! I’m 3 pounds too light for Clydesdale (200+) so I’m racing with the mid-life crisis old guys.
We arrived on time, registered and took a lap by bike and the 1st thing I found out, the course was hilly! There wasn’t a flat spot to be found except for a hundred yards every now and then. The warm up run proved that my legs were in fact still dead from the Wednesday night ride. To make things uglier for me was the fact some sadist placed the start line at the base of the longest hill. The course was 1 lap run, 5 lap bike, 1 lap run unless you were doing the biathlon which you didn’t do the 2nd run. (wimps) I racked my bike with a spare tube, Co2 and a little snack,… time to get my butt kicked.
Run 1 - The passive side beat down the aggressive side and I started mid to back of the pack so I wouldn’t get run over by faster runners but not have to pass stragglers. It didn’t work as I was tripping and stumbling around trying to pass people who were slower. By the time I crested the hill there were runners strung out for hundreds of yards. I have a little of Moto Dog in me and when I see something moving, I chase it. (competitors, not groundhogs!) mixed in with the group were people wearing cycling specific team jerseys so I fixated myself on them and used them as rabbits to motivate me. It worked pretty well and by the end of the run I had made some decent progress but was worried I’d burned one too many matches getting there catching a Stark Velo and a couple Snake Bites along the way.
The Bike - More like push a bike as you can’t ride your bike inside the transition area. My set up was simple, flip the brain bucket on (yes I have a little left to protect) and stuffed my pockets, snatched the bike and ran cyclocrossed onto it and realized “NO RIDING IN TRANSITION”!! Shit, jump off run out of the area and a little extra for good measure to brown nose the officials and remounted.
The last thing I wanted to do was blow up so I eased into this leg only to have a couple guys on full blown tri bikes pass me right out of the gates. Luckily for me these guys can’t climb hills worth a damn on their sport specific bikes and I easily re-passed them long before the top then let my heart rate settle in before hitting it hard. In a time trail you pace yourself to bonk or blow chunks as you cross the finish line but here I had to save energy for run 2. This was going to be hard to gage since I’d never done one of these before. I did the same thing as on the run making forward progress picking off every bike I could see. A few times guys would re-catch me on the easy stuff but as soon as we hit the harder hills they dropped off like they had the brakes on.
The course was 4 cornered so I treated the course like a criterium and dove into them as hard as I could without killing anyone or myself. The downhill 90 was the best for passing as everyone hit the brakes early. I melted my pads trying to get stopped passing 2 and 3 people while braking and nearly wiping the safety cones out each lap. The aggressive riding was taking it’s toll and I had to coast a short bit and stretch my back before it seized. I caught and passed 3 of my friends who do this stuff all the time so I was feeling good but worried about how many were burned that I would need later. At the end of the 5th lap I was so anxious to get the 2nd run over with I turn onto the bike path by mistake where the runners go for transition, DAMN!!! I slammed the brakes on and swerved into the grass, across the gravel berm and back onto the road before too many people could get a good laugh at me.
Run 2 - Now I know why triathletes come to a stop when dismounting, holy cow I had gummy legs!! I jumped off at speed like in a ‘cross race and just about bit it. Luckily my rack was at the far end so was able to use the bike to steady me while running. I racked the bike and tried to run doing my best impersonation of a drunken runner. I guess the fun was over as the final run was boring as as a political debate and I only saw two people the whole time. All the bikes that I had been gaining on in the last two straights were only doing the biathlon and didn’t have to run again, wimps!! (I wish I had been a wimp) ½ way into the final run 2 guys behind me slowly reeled me in and one got by. Luckily he was in a different age group, woohoo!! I didn’t think that finish line would ever come into sight and when it did I was trying my best not to let the 2nd guy catch me. To my surprise they handed me a medal when I crossed the line and it took me a few minutes to figure out I placed 3rd in my age group and of course I immediately wondered if there were only 3 of us entered! I finished in about 1:25, 15 minutes faster than Turra predicted and about a day and half sooner than my own prediction.
The finish line was cool, a whole box of donuts were waiting there for me!! Josh came in about 10 minutes later and when I offered him one he turned white and looked like death warmed over. I forgot he doesn’t do well with the thoughts of food after a big work out, sorry Josh! I got harassed by my friends for using running shoes on the bike but it was from all the guys I had passed! We grabbed our bikes and did a warm down and to my mistake, forgot to check my computer to see my bike split which was worthless as I forgot to start my stopwatch too. Lets see if I can get rested up before Saturday’s 100 mile time trial.