It took a while to get my transition bag. Because I'm not a good swimmer, lots of people are coming all at once when I get in, and I decided to self-serve the bag rather than wait.
I went to the end of a row- there was a guy on the last chair so I just dropped my gear on the floor and changed quickly. I strapped a My Athlete device on, but it had gotten wet in the battery casing because I had unpacked the bag before the race and it never registered. My bad- sorry John. I was out of the tent quickly and self-served my bike as well. As usual, I ran up the wrong side of the aisle and had to limbo under the rack, awesome with two shredded calves.
Then I started run, passing the crowd that was walking to the exit without getting in anyone's way. I ran over the mat and past the people who insist on mounting right over the mat. I got to the turn, went wide, and mounted in clear space and then started out easy. They put hay bales at the bottom of that first hill for a reason.
Then I started picking it up, drinking Gatorade, and eating Cliff Bloks. I remembered something Coach Troy says on the DVD about seeing people hammering the course in the first ten miles and never recovering and I took that to heart. At the same time, my plan was to ride the course the same way as last time- a 2:40 and a 2:50- a 20 mph average. That means no slacking.
I didn't slack. I also didn't blow myself up. I was worried. About my throbbing calves, about negotiating downhills when I couldn't dare to tense my leg muscles, about the driving rain. I climbed the first real long hill and came to the conclusion that as long as I didn't point my toes down I'd not cramp up again. I passed a lot of people heading for the downhills including a few I knew. The rain was hard, persistent, and I couldn't wear my glasses.
I got to the hills and reminded myself what Eric always says, which is that I could handle it. I started down and the rain pelted my eyes so badly I was worried I'd lose a contact. So I started dipping my head down, letting my helmet the brunt right before I wanted to get a good view, then looking up quickly and making my evaluations before the rain hammered my eyes half-shut. I screamed by people- it was amazing. Heavier larger bikers went off my back. Yeah, I got passed by three people, but I passed dozens glued to the white line while I was out near the yellow.
Good stuff. I had to pee, really pee, but there was no trying that until after I hooked the left into Keene. Again, this is an area Coach Troy talks about on the DVD. Easy to average 25-26 miles an hour here, but not smart. I rode the section steady, but couldn't find the place to pee. I tossed a bootle but took nothing, ate again, got some electrolytes and just spun. After I turned at Upper Jay, then I peed. I got passed by a few people, but by the feed zone, I'd passed them back.
There was no wind. I climbed up that last hill into Jay in the big ring, wanting desperately to hit the big hill at the turn onto 86(?). I took that turn (there's still some sand there) easy and then started up the hill, still in the big ring. I passed Margit, who was having a very good race. I climbed a little more and shifted to the small ring, then passed Mary Eggert, who I said hey to, not that she knows me. Her husband always kicks my ass when I race in Rochester...
I really had a very uneventful ride down from the crest of that hill to the out-and-back except for one woman that was blocking the outside of the lane and going 25 when I needed to be going 30. I just kept saying on the left and holding my distance until she moved. As I passed her she seemed really annoyed, but oh well, I didn't force the issue by forcing by her out of the way, I just kept chattering at her until she did the right thing.
The climb into Wilmington allowed me to move up a little more. I peed again on the downhill to the out-and-back, took the turn easy, and then attacked a little bit. there was a bunch in front of me and I wanted some separation before hitting that big downhill. I got it, felt comfortable as I rocketed down it, passing one guy, and being passed by one guy that I re-passed on the uphill on the other side.
I worked steady to the turn-around, picking it up a little after the lumber mill, and worked hard to the turn. I grannied the turn and got it from the crowd for that, so I hammered the downhill after the turn. I could see the faces of people I'd passed not that long before and I saw surprise that I was attacking the downhill hard. I kept that up all the way to the big hill, now an uphill, and worked that hard to. When I reached the top, I rested a little, rolling into the back part, which is a downhill.
Then I saw what for me looked the worst part of the race. At the feed zone leading out of the out-and-back two riders were headed for the end of the feed zone. The one in front correctly picked the very last volunteer to grab a water from. The other athlete picked the second to last volunteer, but he did not slow down, he did not keep his non-pickup hand on his break, and he was cut off by the other rider. Unable to slow down, instead of bailing on the zone and going left, he simply plowed into the volunteer. I heard the f-word.
My job was to keep going. I slowed into the turn, relaxed on the downhill, but after I made the turn, I picked it up, really working the downhill. this carried me part of the way into what I think is inarguably the hardest climb, up by Whiteface Ski Resort or whatever it is. Finally, for the first time, I saw the officials. They seemed unconcerned about the drafting. I put that out of my head and passed, passed, and passed. I kept climbing, now in the small ring 23, one pass after another.
I finally made the top, turned the corner into the High Falls Gorge area where they have that observation area. There was no wind.
Think about this- no wind in the gorge. Rain or no rain this was random chance all in my favour. I didn't have to kill myself in this section and so I didn't. I kept the pace steady, average about 18-19 mph all the way to the Cherries, bursting on the downhills and staying in the zone on the up rollers.
The Cherries were easy work.
So were the Bears. I stayed big ring about 2/3 of the way up Papa Bear, hit the turn and then stayed in the small ring until after I'd climbed that last little hill.
I took the turn onto Mirror Lake Drive easy, and kept it steady until I was up by the Olympic Center. Then it was back out for the second loop...