For the second year, Force 5 held its own team race on Sunday right here in Branford. The idea came from Steve Surprise and Scott Casper, and they both deserve huge credit for putting this event on.
It's a handicapped start race, which last year meant that I started last. This year I started second to last. Unlike last year, the swim was actually close to half a mile.
There's something interesting about standing on the beach and starting by yourself. Watching over a dozen other people head out in twos and threes and fours and knowing you are starting alone, in fact you are starting alone and Henry Brown will be three minutes behind you.
I hadn't been in the water in 11 days, and although my warmup went well, it showed. I swam so hard that by the time I'd swum 200 meters, I was struggling to breath and had to keep my head up a bit. It was tough going to the halfway point and I caught sight of Henry heading out as I was going back, which is odd, because normally in a race I don't see anything. I did my best on the swim, but it's really tough to stay calm when you start 13 minutes or so behind some of the other people on the road, and you have to swim half a mile before you can start making up time, and you have 8 miles on the bike and a 2 mile run in which to do it.
Ouch. On one hand it's a compliment to be respected by your teammates. On the other hand, it's weird to have a goal of not finishing last. It was a good 100 meter run to the transition. At my bike I looked down the hill to see Henry on the verge of exiting the water. I didn't look again- I just put my socks and shoes on (no sense wrecking my feet on a friendly) and headed out on the bike.
I knew I wasn't beating Henry, but I knew I really wasn't going to beat Henry if he started the run ahead of me.
We had our adventures- the boat being backed into the driveway for example. I know the Hammerfest course backwards and forwards, so that gave me the barest advantage. I attacked the hills, the flats, and the downhills. And as Michael D'Addetta, who saw what he called 'the pass' said, there wasn't really anything I could do but get passed.
Henry was a gentleman and let me hang back around 50 meters, and he paid me the honour of a lock back at the first turn he didn't need to take, then dropped a very impressive hammer on me.
Hey, I didn't finish last, and I had fun.