Monday, August 16, 2010

Defending the Dream

Those words are taken from the West Point Class of 2013. Since my dismal outing at Montauk last month, I wanted to comeback and strike with a mighty vengeance and leave it all out there. I had a decent race in Montauk, but I was frustrated with a bike problem (not of my doing) and it impacted my run. I felt I was setup that day for a good race and, even though I set a PR, I can't say it was a good race. And that left me plotting for the next race - my assault on the West Point Tri. Wingman could see the efforts I was putting in for my workouts and in turn, his riding has improved as well.

Teresa was coming up to race as well and Wynn was in 'sherpa' mode for her. We met up at packet pickup and surveyed the course. The area up there is beautiful. The lake looked nice and the buoy's were already out. The swim was going to be a basic rectangle shape. They had carpet laid down from the swim exit over a small hill and then it was on pavement to transition. They cap the number of participants so the transition area was small. Once we were done there, we made our way to the hotel. Since we checked in at the same time, we wound up getting rooms next to each other. So for an hour we retreated to our rooms to relax before heading to dinner. Wingman got to work attaching a new water bottle cage to my bike.

Wingman hard at work making sure The Beast is ready

The Beast is ready to roll for race day

Choosing some 'good carbs' for dinner

OK, OK we didn't load up on candy for dinner. We went to some tavern in Sugar Loaf for dinner. After that, it was lights out around 9:30p. I had my usual bad night's sleep prior to the race. But by 5a I was up, eating breakfast, and taking a shower. Then we packed everything up, met Teresa and Wynn and followed them to the race. The nice thing about this race is it's an 8a start, not the usual 7a so that gained us an extra hour of 'sleep'. We had a short walk from the parking area to the transition area. I got my stuff setup quickly and listened to some prerace music to set my mood. Since I had so much pent up anger from the last race, I chose Metallica this time around to get me fired up. Wynn and I were discussing Metallica music earlier in the week and I told him that this was a good song.

So before I knew it, it was time to make my way over to the swim start. They did the usual prerace announcements and good thing I paid attention. I was in Wave 3, but the cap I was assigned was for wave 5. I went into one of the halls and got it straightened out. I stood on the beach with the Wingman and Teresa waiting during the national anthem. Then Teresa made her way to the water to get ready. I popped a few Shot Blocks and put the rest of the pack in my jersey pocket safely inside my wetsuit. Or so I thought it would be safe. Soon it was my turn to get into the water. I said goodbye to the Wingman and swam to the start. I then did what most racers do, I had to go to the bathroom so I pee'd in my wetsuit. As I felt better, I then realized "Oh, I guess those Shot Blocks in my pocket are no good now." The race announcer gets the crowd involved with a countdown before each wave goes off so I had a nice 10 second count before I had to get going. Once the horn went off, I started swimming. My goal was to swim as fast and comfortably as I could. I didn't want to redline the swim. I managed to have some nice open water for most of the swim. Once I could feel someone trying to get too close and come over my back, but a nicely placed elbow and fist took care of that. I got to the first turn buoy and surprisingly had no traffic so I turned close to it. It was a short swim to the next buoy and again, no traffic so I took the turn close. I could tell I was moving quickly because I was passing quite a few caps from the wave in front of me. I came up on two guys in red caps and tried to swim between them but found there was a guy in front and in between them. DOH! I had to stop and make a sharp turn to get around them. From there I could see the end of the swim was near. When I got close to shallow water, I came up alongside a woman that was doing a breast stroke. She was kicking me with every stroke. So I would retaliate with a slap or I'd grab her foot each time. This went on for 5-6 strokes and then I finally stood up to get out of the water. I made my way out and ran to T1. My wetsuit came off easy, got the bike gear on and was on my way.

The bike course is like the Blood, Sweat and Tears song "Spinning Wheel":

What goes up, must come down
Spinning wheel got to go 'round
Talkin 'bout your troubles is a cryin' sin
Ride a painted pony let the spinning wheel spin

As soon as we made our way out of Camp Buckner, I thought I was having wheel problems again. I felt like I had a hard time riding because of a wheel rubbing. I kept looking down and checking my brake pads to see where the rubbing was coming from. I didn't see anything. What the heck is going on? I look around and I see other people riding a bit slow. Ah, we're going up a false flat and then the hills were coming. I felt a little better about it. The other riders were all over the place. Practically no one was riding to the right. If there was a USAT marshal on the course, at least half the field would have been giving blocking penalties. No one was was giving the courtesy of announcing a pass. Someone would just ride by. There were others that would come out and pass and never look over their shoulders to see if anyone was coming. Seriously, if they ride bikes this badly, I would hate to be driving next to them. Safety on this course went out the window. People were riding like old people drive in Florida. I decided since this was not an 'A' race for me, I would be somewhat careful on the downhills. I didn't want to pass people at a high speed because if they just moved out, there would be very little time to react and I didn't want to get up close and personal with the asphalt. When I finally made it to the first turn around, the cadets were saying "it's all downhill from here." Liars. The first long downhill was crazy fast. I didn't pedal down it as I would have spun out of gears. Just coasting I was doing 40mph. I saved some energy for future climbs. The downhill seemed to last forever. I think it went on for ~2 miles. Then it was time to climb again. I could see packs of people up ahead. I don't know the exact details of how it happened, but I heard a scream, two bikes collide (going uphill, go figure) and a woman go face first into the guardrail. When I rode by her face was bloody and she looked pretty shaken. I think I would be too. Other people stopped so I kept going. When I saw the next cadet on the side of the road I told him of the accident and that help was needed and where. I continued on my ride and was hoping the turnaround was coming. I wanted to get away from the other riders. I dropped the hammer on the rest of the ride and gunned it to T2. That bike course was hard. There was never a flat section. It just punched you in the mouth and said "shut the f*&k up."

Right out of T2 is a hill. Leave it to the Army to make the run course just as hard. There were a few more flat sections than the bike course, but the run course was hard too. I managed to run up most of the first hill but my heart was racing. I walked the rest of the slope and then started running. The first part of the run is alongside the obstacle course. I was thankful that all I had to do was run and not add anything else to it. The run course features several turn arounds so you could always see people. I looked for Teresa and saw her 3 times on the run. My goal on the run was to run as much as I could as fast as I could. The hills were killing me. Every time I had a nice rhythm and pace going, a hill would come and feeling good went out the window. That's what made it such a hard course - you could never get comfortable. I used the downhills to my advantage and went all out. Before I knew it, I was heading back towards the transition area. The cadets were calling out "just over the hill and around transition." I knew the finish line was in sight and the end was near. Or was it? As I came over the hill, Wynn was taking pictures. When I got to the bottom of the hill, like a true smartass, he said "The picture didn't come out, go back up the hill." There were small children around so I couldn't do this to him:

As I made my way around the transition area, I had such a feeling of relief that this race was over. But no, it was not to be. There was more running to do. And another hill to climb. Oh for cryin' out loud I'm dying out here. I make it to the last turn around and head back. I could finally hear the finish line area. Now the end is really near!! I cross the timing mat and was completely fried. 

It was a hard race and I feel like I left it all out there. I had no regrets. I could have gone faster on the bike course, but was smart in my decision to play it safe. Especially after seeing the results of a bad accident. I executed my game plan well. I grabbed an ice pop at the finish line and a finisher's water bottle. After Teresa finished, we went over to see the results. At first I could not find my name, but then I realized that the race timer had me and everyone from my division timed in the wrong wave. My finishing time was 6 minutes faster than my real time. So that means my swim time was cut off. I realized my swim split would be AWESOME!! I had the 7th fastest swim of the day. It was like channeling my inner Ian. But I knew it was not accurate. I went over to let the race timer know that the whole division was timed wrong. He said he would not be able to fix it before the awards ceremony, but that he would take care of it. I went back to the sheet and saw that I finished 3rd in my division so that means hardware. After packing the car, we went back for the awards and I got my prize. Wynn and Teresa were kind enough to hang around and wait with us. Teresa had an awesome race and told me how she was thinking happy thoughts about me with each hill climb..............

The cadet on the right gave me the award. You can see he was 
totally impressed with his brush with greatness.....NOT
(though the cadet on the left is going to have some serious knee issues
in his future if he keeps hanging back on his knee like that)

The awards were nice - an etched pint glass

Defending the dream that I had for the last month

After the race, we made our way back to Long Island for a BBQ. I was feeling pretty good up until it was time to leave. Exhaustion set in and I was ready for bed. At 6p. Actually, I fought the good fight and went to bed at 9p. 

My next race is in 2 weeks where Team BAMF unites again in TOBAY. I am only swimming that day. Then the race after that is my 'A' race. Bring it!!

No comments:

Post a Comment