One thing i remember about last year's race was how iffy the weather was. You couldn't tell if it was going to pour or not, I was changing clothes repeatedly before the race...
This year was not like that. I got out of the car, took off the shirt I had under my EH jersey and the arm warmers and tossed them in the trunk and didn't pay any more attention to what I was wearing after that. It was a beautiful day, almost a perfect day, for a duathlon. I got there a little late- ten minutes after registration opened. That part was fine, I got my bike set up and then headed for the port-a-potty.
This was not fine. Four porta-potties, lots of people in line. I ate a gel and hoped I'd have time to warm up. I saw Chris Schulten warming up and a few other people I knew, but I mostly did what I like to do before a race. Listen to music.
I did my usual warm-up- strides off the starting line. About 25 after I ran into Michael, then Steve- I'd seen Charlie already. Michael mentioned that Steve pulled in around 20 after, but Steve still looked ready to go. The starting line filled up while we talked and I realised I wasn't up in the front row, so I worked to find a place between two other guys. I probably still should be trying to get on the line when the race starts, especially when the starting line is filled up all the way across the road.
I looked down the line trying to find Eric, but he wasn't there. Mark Satran said hey- he remembered me from Hartford last year and Greenwich this year. He's part of the Bethel crew, who always seems well represented at these races- makes me feel like I should be wearing my Zane's gear more often, but you can never go wrong sporting EH gear, can you ?
Beth did not remind us that the run is two loops, which surprised me. Two loops is almost always too much for someone, but who am I to say anything. We got our commands and then the race was on. For the second straight race, I was not engulfed by other runners, in fact, briefly I was second and I quickly settled into about the fifth spot, where I'm very comfortable.
Jeromie Schomacher and John Anthony, who I don't know, quickly pulled away. There were two other guys in front of me but close, a younger guy and a guy in running shorts. I hate to say it, but I discounted the guy in running shorts as a serious threat. Kind of like what any sensible person at a road race does when they see me standing there in my kit, complete with bike pad in my shorts. I no longer even own running shorts. On my shoulder was Chris Schulten.
I'm a little hazy on this, but I think Chris passed me early in the second loop, after I said 'that's it Chris'. If there's someone out there I don't mind getting beat by, it's definitely Chris, who is just the most amazing guy. I mean, he's got a demanding schedule, kids he's devoted to, and he's still never met a race he couldn't do well at- he recently ran a pair of 2:47 or under marathons about three weeks apart, one of them Boston.
By the end of the second loop, all I wanted to do was get on the bike, anything that would stop this running nonsense- two short loops like that (1.75 km per loop), is pretty brutal. I had a little trouble finding my bike, but I run pretty well in bike shoes so I was on the road in decent time and the race was on.
There isn't a lot to write about for a long ride (28kms). There's a slightly bizarre early cul-de-sac in the ride that allows you to see how far behind you are- I ended up in first (briefly) last year in here. No worry about that this year. I was in 5th. I moved up to fourth as we turned onto whatever is the first 'main' road on the course. About three miles in I got passed- and asked what place 'we' were in- I was kind of thinking 'what we ?' and I quickly was dropped. After that I road for about 14 miles in no man's land. One guy getting farther away, another getting closer.
The same parts of the road that were in poor shape last year were in poor shape this year. Still, I stayed aero, I stayed on my seat. I really worked the climbs the way I would in training, not in races. I tend to feel, when I'm riding in a vacuum like this- and there was no one close behind me- that I am riding poorly. It's not the case, but paranoia isn't always a bad thing. I kept pushing as best I could, my legs tired from Friday's workout. Finally, I realised I was going to a) catch the guy in front of me, and b) get caught by the guy behind me.
I caught the guy. We took the final turn, I started to moderate my pace so that I could dismount safely, and the guy I'd passed and the guy right behind me both passed me about 100 yards from the dismount. I was annoyed. But the guy that passed me was the one that was in front with Jeromie on the first run, so no big.
I'd taken a gel and gatorade on the bike and water at the start of the second run and I was chasing the guy that caught me on the bike. I ran a good first loop, closed some of the gap with the guy in front of me. I should have taken the gel, but one of my big problems is that in short races, I have trouble staying on target with the nutrition. I really felt that hard Friday workout. I had pushed myself to my limits and it was paying off- I knew it by the fact I was only 90% recovered . I was having a good race but there was no punch.
I ran the second loop of the second run and started lapping people, including some I knew. I did keep pushing, but it was clear that I was not catching the guy in front of me and no one was catching me either. I felt bad about that, that I wasn't moving up, but at the same time, as I passed one guy limping with a bad hamstring, I felt good that I was going to come out of this race healthy and ready to run two hours tomorrow.
Then I saw the clock and it was in the high 1:29s. I pushed and went well under 1:30, just 25 seconds slower than last year. The guy in front of me, a guy in his twenties ? Two minute penalty. Not the best way to finish fifth, I'll take it.
The only bummer- after hanging out with Steve and Charlie for an hour- no beer ! NO BEER !
Ouch- but the race, I'll take it.
The pre-season is over. Next stop- Lake Placid.