Friday, July 31, 2009

Dave Greenfield- Elite Bicycles

This is quintessential Dave...

Can I mention Richie spent time the day before the race tightening Margit's headset ? And she wasn't even racing. Or that Dave emailed me right after the race closed to make sure I was in for next year ?

These guys are the best.

Ironman Lake Placid 2010- Registration

I'm in.

For the fifth time, I'll be doing Ironman Lake Placid in 2010. This will be my third straight time doing the race after a year off. Each time I do the race, it seems a little bit harder to get in.

The short amount of online entry time convinced us to head up, do some training, and sign up the day after the race.

I've read on forums since that the race was open online for more than one but less than two hours. Let me say that I'm shocked by this. I stood in line for about four and a half hours and watched the volunteer line, which extended from in front of the Ironman Village to behind the school, slowly move while we made jokes and devastated three porta-potties across the way.

When my son came by he asked me what I was doing and I said 'waiting for someone to come out and tell us the race is closed'. This drew a laugh. I then drew bigger laughs riding his Spiderman bike with the training wheels, his helmet crammed on my melon.

I don't know if they oversold the race, or if the online went as slowly as it did for Arizona, but that people got on, online, for something less than two hours is just- wow. We waited for 4 hours before our line even started to move- at least four hours.

I would have guessed 2500 people signed up on site- they had fifteen (???) registration stations processing people starting before 8AM. But obviously that was not the case. In any event, I am happy to be in and hopefully this weekend I'll be able to blog about last week's race.

Bottom line- I have to put it aside. My A race this year is Arizona and I can't be looking past it to 2010.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ironman Lake Placid- Something New

I talked to Eric last night about what my workout should be while at Jeff Molson's pre-race party. I'd swum a loop of the swim course and there'd been that funny smell I associate with bacteria in the water- which is unusual for Mirror Lake - so I was focused on getting in a 'big' bike ride, meaning two loops of the course, and didn't plan on another swim today.

Eric was riding today with a friend, so I assumed I'd be going solo. He suggested two loops without the out and back, the first one backwards, the second one forward, and a brick run. I'm a big boy, so riding alone doesn't bother me, it's what I usually do and last year I did two loops on my own.

But I wanted to make sure Margit and Steve also got out and rode and we couldn't agree on a plan before bed, so although I was up at 6:30, I just started assembling food, fixing a few things, and because I knew there was a small chance Dave Greenfield would see me, cleaning my bike.

Complicating everything was the final real stage of the Tour. While instinct had me ready to bolt at 7AM, I thought that would be bogus and selfish. Also, I'd only gotten about 3 hours of sleep- the lake had done a great job of stuffing me up and I'd spent most of the night with a headache and and a stoppered nose. So maybe I wasn't looking to start a somewhat technical ride all fuzzy-headed, although I'd have followed whatever marching orders came my way.

Finally around 9 AM, someone had to make a call. I was a lot shorter on time- my own fault- so I decided to do one loop- with the out and back- backwards, then run.

This was great. I got to watch the start of the Tour stage, and then I got in a great ride.

I can't recommend finding a time to do this ride strongly enough. You learn a lot- I mean a lot- about the course- tackling it in reverse. There are a lot of false flats and even some false uphills and downhills that I've wondered about for years. I've raced the course 4 times now and done numerous rides on it. There's always been the wind- you don't race here and not run up against any headwinds.

It's also simply a harder course the other way. You get hit with the hills on the backside either way, but after averaging 24 mph the first hour (and I was taking it easy), things start to get challenging from you as soon as you get about half-way out on the out and back.

The funny thing is the ride went by really quickly, even though it was one of the slowest loops I've ever ridden- nearly three hours to ride what ended up being 57 miles.

The big hills back into Lake Placid ? I honestly believe that if they reversed the course there would be a significant spike in attrition. Eric wanted me to stay aero and climb for a strength-workout, which I would say I did about 90% of the time, with 5% standing and 5% sitting up.

The hills were tough, but totally manageable. I mean, I thought I was gassed when I got to the top- and I knew exactly when I was there, and I gave a big fist-pump, which isn't like me, but then I was able to settle right back and I was flying downhill again.

I finished the loop, then ran for 15 minutes.

Thanks, EH. Going backwards was the way to go, and so what ? I only got one loop in ? My ironman is in November, I have a sprint Monday, a ten mile road race next Sunday, and another sprint after that, and my training has me perfectly positioned to do an half-ironman. Did I get 112 miles or two loops in ? Who cares.

I got a great workout, Steve and Margit got to ride a loop, I took Ian to see Dave Greenfield. It's all good.

Good luck tomorrow, everyone.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Lance and the Tour

I just wanted to jot this down before tomorrow's stage.

I don't for one minute believe that Lance is finished and Alberto Contador's only way of missing a victory is a mechanical or crash. That's right. And yes, I listened to everything Lance said after yesterday's stage. But I'm not buying it yet.

I am also not calling Lance a liar, or discounting all the things that the experts- of which I am most assuredly not- have said about Contador.

Here's what I've seen. Contador has gotten his entire advantage basically on two stages in which he made viscous accelerations up short climbs. And he only put Lance in apparent difficult in the second case. The first time, Lance didn't ride him down because that would not have been the behaviour of a teammate. It is true that he appeared to be incapable of staying with Contador yesterday.

To make a believer out of me, the same thing is going to have to happen on a much longer climb where Contador doesn't have the advantage of sitting on his teammates for most of the stage before launching a late attack. And maybe that's what's coming- an Alberto strike early in the Col du Grand-Saint-Bernard climb.

But I don't think he's the rider most likely able to do it. I'm not 100% sure it's Lance either, but I know which one I'd pick if I had to...

Mossman Triathlon

I'm not much of a race spectator. I usually save my spectating for really big races like the Ironman (I've been on the sidelines at both Placid and Florida), or the Pfizer triathlon. And I'll be honest.

I don't like it. I'm like most athletes, I think. I want to race. As the bikes go whizzing by you it's hard not to think 'there, but for the grace of a babysitter, go I.'

It's only harder when your thought process is 'How can we see Mommy the most times on the course ?' and your son's thought process is 'there's a playground, there's a playground, THERE'S A PLAYGROUND DADDY.'

The Mossman course is set up for good spectating. The point to point swim can be walked faster than people swim it so we were able to see Mommy both go in and then come out of the water. We also saw her head out on the bike and go out for the second lap. Finally, we saw her twice on the run, once going out and once more at the finish line.

Clearly though, the two-loop bike course is a challenge on the second loop in the park where the lanes are tight- bikes are everywhere and clearly staying left and other concepts of safe racing are lost on quite a few riders.

Given that I was chasing my Ian around, it was hard to really know how the race was going. I assumed the Ian (Ray) had straight-up won the race, but I later found out that while he did have a great race and notch a win, he was actually second finisher. Margit seemed to be having a good race but when you start in the fifth wave it's hard to tell.

I got a chance to talk to Don Gustavson after the race- he had a great race, by the way, as far as I could tell- and all I can say is good luck on that mountain bike race. Sounds like a great opportunity and a lot of fun.

I talked to several other triathletes that will be up at Lake Placid either to do the race or spectate and that's where I'm headed.

I'm excited to be headed up there, even if it is just to watch...

Also- a shout out to all the Force 5 athletes that had great races- Dave, @poycc, Margit, and Scott Casper.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Independence Day 5000

Filed under: Better late than never.

There was a time, when I started racing, that 5Ks were my bread and butter distance. I was in my mid-30s, ran 70 miles a week, ran twice a day. I'd run anything, but 5ks were my race of choice. I could go, run a mile warm-up, run the race, do a half mile warm down and go home.

Hard to image. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Absolutely not. There are moments (when I'm in the Sound and the water is so rough I can't see the buoy 20 feet in front of me) I wish maybe I was still that guy. 5Ks are affordable, the training for them is reasonable, the equipment is affordable...

Those moments always pass. I can't hear Clocks without wanting to be in water of Mirror Lake at 6:59 AM. Or Beautiful Day. I may be kidding myself about being a triathlete the same way I was kidding myself back then about being a serious runner- I was never willing to do the speed work, as far as I'm concerned.

Anyway, I showed up early, grabbed my registration stuff, and went out and ran the course for a warm-up at 7:30 pace. Is that a warm-up pace for me, looking to run about 5:45 ? Who knows ? (Eric knows) Who cares ? I wanted to run the course twice and know I'm a lazy bastard and that after 'giving everything I had (cough cough, eye-roll)' I would wimp out on the warm-down after a mile. Also, Margit's workout would start when my finished, so I needed to run and get home, epecially because we had a party and dinner lined up. And even 10K is barely a workout...

I love this course. Margit and I have both won races on this course (although not this race) and I had my best 5K in several years on the course last year. I spent the last 15 minutes before the race lining up a perfect straight line run through the start, which is uphill and winding. I was all set.

Then about a minute before the race this woman in basic running clothes, training shoes, kind of, well, solid for an top runner, and her boyfriend, who was clearly just well, not a top runner, lineup right in front of me and the guys next to me.

I didn't want to say anything. For all I knew she was some hotshot runner (her boyfriend, not so much).

We started. She totally blocked me. It was insane. The start is very tight and once you are packed in, you really have nowhere to go. She had me absolutely pinned behind her and her boyfriend. It was just like one 3000 I ran in high school where I got boxed in by the other team. Experience told me to bite the bullet, take a few hesitation steps, and get the frak around her and her boyfriend, who was already fading.

I was not all happy thoughts because I then had to work on the hill to return to contact with the people I should have been in contact with. If I hadn't been with Charlie Hornak after the race when I did see her, I might have made a regrettable comment to her, like I did during the race at Griskus to someone.

The race gets off to a fast start. Cheryl Anderson, the first woman and a Branford resident, was right in my general area. I knew as we took the first two turns and headed up towards the seawall that I was not quite at last year's pace, but there were a lot of people around me and I worked up the hill to pass some of them. Then it's mostly downhill after the turn at the top of the hill to the mile mark.

I was on pace to run 17:50 or so. I went through the mile mark and there was a lot of backside pressure but I was trying to run my own race. Cheryl passed me in here I think and decided against battling anymore. I'd try to stay close, but I don't get points for my team- it was a USATF-CT race- for beating unattached (or attached) women. Just open and masters men.

I was a little tired. I'd ridden 60 miles the day before at an aggressive pace because, well, I'm a triathlete. And stupid. Don't forget stupid. I was coming back to the best 5K I'd run in years, a state championship, and running on tired legs.

I could still see George Buchanan, but he was like a mirage wrapped in the pain of my slowness.

We climbed the hill, the course's big hill, and then hit more downhill as we wrapped around a neighbourhood. I took a cup of water at the water stop and poured it over my head, because that's what I do.

I battled back and forth with a couple of runners, wrapped back around towards the main road, remembering from my warm-up that the perceived uphill basically is non-existent.

Then it was downhill again and I was on fumes as we turned the corner and ran towards the back-door entrance to Foran High School. As we made that last turn, I was passed or last contact with three runners, which was hard to take- two would finish just a second ahead of me when I made one last, late- just too late surge.

But when I saw the clock I knew I was breaking 18 for just the second time in the last two years, and although it was 18 seconds slower than last year, I guess I'll take it.

I'm a triathlete after all. Why am I running 5ks anyway ?

Oh yeah, to break 17:30.


I had a nice conversation after the race with Keith 'Newton' Guinta, then warmed down with Charlie.

Glad I went ? Sure. Happy with how I ran ?

Of course not...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Niantic Bay

I signed up for the Niantic Bay Triathlon, which is going to put me on pace to do as many as 5 triathlons this year, which would be the most in several years

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Griskus Sprint Triathlon- Lost in Transition Part II

It seems like it's easier to find time to train than it is time to right race reports, but Griskus is the sort of race you actually want to write about.

I've had a lot of bad races there. I've gotten lost in transition. I've gotten lost on the swim course. I've cut my hand open on my bladed spokes during the bike. It makes me wonder why Tom Wilkas would stick a guy like me in the elite wave. He explained that he expected me to be a top 75 finisher, which took a lot of pressure off.

Until I showed up at the race, and picked up my number.


Man, these low numbers. I love to get them, but I feel, uh, so unworthy sometimes.

I'd drove up to the race with @poycc and we'd gotten there early enough that I had time get my number, hit the loo, buy a race belt (yes, another race belt, grrr, but it was only 10.00), get my wetsuit on and swim all the way out to the second of the five buoys on the swim course. The more buoys I hit pre-race, the more comfortable I usually am during the race.

I saw Carl Russell in transition (check out his blog), racked a few bikes down from me, before I started the swim and it was great to see a fellow EH athlete. He was- as always- in good spirits and looking forward to the challenge ahead that I was probably dreading.

I had a good swim warm up, but I was really nervous. My last race had gone well- I'd come back from a massive panic attack in the water followed by boot camp in the pool to place in my age group at an Olympic race, and here I was, standing on the beach and frak. There was Chris Thomas. Dom Gillen. Ian Ray. Joe Whelan. Finally I found myself standing next to Chris Schulten, another awesome triathlete and we were joking with each other about why we weren't standing right in front and being uncomfortable in the water.

That really helped me a lot. Chris is such a nice guy,a great positive attitude and really humble. We were laughing about how his dad and I always see each other when we're working out and it really took that nervous edge off. Normally I want to be left alone with my thoughts before a race starts and resent any sort of intrusion, so extra props to Chris...

I didn't feel that good on the swim out to the far buoy. I was short of breath and looking up a lot. Of course, I was worried about how badly I was being left behind and constantly checking to see that yes, there were other pink caps (yes pink, we're guys, so why we we pink and the women purple ?) around me. I was also convinced that Ian, Chris, Dom and the other elites would be slamming head on into me by the third buoy.

I hit the turn around and everything changed. Suddenly I was swimming- actually on someone's feet, using their draft, swimming strong. I had to dodge a few people going out in the other waves, but I had a good straight swim back in. I did not cross the women's side and slam into a floating dock. I didn't cramp. and I was 13th of 39 in my age group in the swim.

Huh ?

Oh yeah. I got my ass kick by 5-6 minutes by the actual elite athletes.

Then I got lost in transition again. No Bill Murray, no Scarlett Johnassen. Just the jarring dislocation of not being to find a time trial helmet or an orange bike that say 'Starbuck' on them. Which is half the reason those things are there.

Time lost: 10-15 seconds.

I started out hammering the bike. I passed @poycc and hit 30 mph. I stayed in that ranged until the turn, then started really bearing down on people after the turn. Except for one small uphill section, it's mostly downhill. I was really working, and my bike was making a ton of noise. I'd spent about half an hour cleaning and lubing the chain and adjusting the shifting, but no time fixing my disintegrating x-lab (thank you, Route 146), which was rattling like the chains in a medieval rack- a piece would fall off a few rides later.

I really had a good opening half of the bike. As always, there were tons of people to pass, I worked the downhills a little harder than I usually do, and I took some risks, which actually aren't risks as much as me trusting my reflexes and actually racing the bike, as opposed to just riding it.

I have to admit though that I was waiting for the sharp left-hand turn- and waiting, and waiting. It's always later than I think.

Then the climbing starts. On the plus side, there was no point in the race where I felt the need to consult the small ring on the front.

On the minus side, as I climbed my way through the pack, I lost my temper with someone who was, quite honestly, drafting. In my opinion at least.

I was well behind but closing on a woman, a man, and another man who was passing the other two. As the faster rider passed, the woman pulled out and followed. Both were on the yellow line or close to it- there were other riders that became engaged, and finally, as I closed, I'd had enough. I felt that this woman was playing off the faster rider, both blocking and drafting.

I shold have left my impression of what was going on in my head and said politely 'On your left.' Or 'on yer left.' (Check out On Yer Left online). Instead I, as loud as I could, and that loud, trust me, yelled 'Get off his wheel.'

I didn't. What I did was ill-considered.

I kept climbing.

Finally, you take a right-hand turn, get a break from the hills, even get some downhills. I passed Gary Rodebaug. It's a real honour to race against this guy and have him as a teammate- he's a multiple Team-USA athlete, and he kicks my ass in the swim. And when I am lucky enough to pass him he encourages me to get moving.

At the top of the last hill, Bethel had a car. the was a guy in front of me and I knew I needed to pass him before we crested the hill, that if I didn't, I wouldn't be able to take him on the downhill. I was slow getting past him, so I left the saddle, made a very angry face, and found the extra rpms I needs to get the job done, rocking the bike. It felt good. Afterwards, I was told that I am 'the angriest looking cyclist' and you'd never think I was the same guy that was standing around casually chatting after the race.

Well, I was angry. At me.

I got into and out of transition in much better order than the T1.

On the way out from the park I saw Robyn Passander, another top-notch teammate, the second place woman, and Mike Maxichenko. I wanted to pass all three, so I started turning it up. I was tired, but I'd had a Clif Shot so I was felling good. Ian and Margit were at the turn, but I didn't even look at them. I just turned the corner, waved, and ran. I made the pass on all three of them quickly and then I was on the downhill.

I hammered the downhill. I passed a bunch of guys and the first woman and I just kept running hard and pretty much all out to the turn-around, knowing that the climb back out would be brutal.

When it happened.

And that's the funny thing about the run back. It's not uphill all the way, in fact, it's not really uphill until you're near the overpass and that's like halfway back. So I think I undersold the return trip.

As I was climbing I had Oakes Ames, John Wilson, and Don Gustavason in front of me. John and Oakes are awesome athletes but I had to run them down. I passed them after the end of the climb, not know Oakes had two minutes on me and therefore had me in the can. I was chasing Don but I never quite got there.

Overall, I was really psyched about the race, finsihing 15th overall and 3rd in my age group. This was my best Griskus ever.

Of course, once I saw my splits, I was unhappy with how I climbed and could see places where I could have shaved maybe a minute off the whole race. That's the peril of being me. I am never quite happy, even when I am.

But if a sprint race in July is something that can be built on, then this was just that.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Weekend Away from Racing

I've been on the run (and the bike) for two months now, starting with a pair of races in Rochester leading into back-to-back 10ks Memorial. Day weekend. I hadn't let the racing interfere with my training, in fact, I'd allowed the opposite and lived with slow times, at once accepting them yet berating myself.

So when many of my friends and even my coach were headed to Providence for the 70.3, I was left with an entire weekend to training with no consideration of racing. Add that to half-day Fridays and Eric was able to split my long workouts, something I'm generally not a fan of. I like following up one long ride with another, and then running the next day, but the truth is this worked a lot better.

61.3 miles in 2:51, plus a 20 minute run

After a disappointing bike split at Griskus (28:24 or so), I decided I needed a little hill work, so I traded my steady spins on Route 1 for a little climbing up towards Durham. I was supposed to do one hour in B, one hour in high B, and one hour in C.

The highlight of the ride was that about a minute before my turn-around, I saw a guy headed in the opposite direction. I turned around when the minute was up and started chasing. I'd noticed he was wearing University of Indiana (?) cycling gear, so I knew there was no guarantee I was going to catch him. But I did, just on the far side of the traffic circle at Route 80 and 79 (77?). I passed him and he jumped on my wheel. Instead of getting annoyed, I decided to have some fun with it. Before I knew it, we were going 24-27 mph up the hills and 40 mph down the hills.

And I was leading the train. What I've learned riding with guys like Eric and Kenny is that (as long as they want to humour me) I can sit on their wheel, but not lead. I mean, they can drop me at their leisure, but as long as I'm willing to work hard, I can ride on someone's wheel for a long way.

Not lead, and not at speeds like this.

I broke off at the fork to head back down to Hammonnassett and got a wave from the guy.

Engaging in the pull, and not getting annoyed that someone was breaking into my workout, was a way better choice, and I found out a little bit about myself. I also rode hills, and in three hours, lost just a couple of tenths of a mile per hour.

30 minute swim, 90 minute bike

I had a great swim, marred only by some nasty sea-shell inflicted cuts on my feet. The one is still bleeding on and off and it's Sunday night. My bike was easy, which is to say, not hard, and therefore, didn't feel that good...

90 minute run

My workout was the same as the bike, but the times halved- b, high b, c, 30 minutes each.

I ran the first thirty minutes with Dick Korby. We'd both been at the same beer-tasting Saturday (if you follow me on Twitter you saw a crazy burst of beers that I tried), and I think Dick was a little hung-over. I felt OK. We ran a steady 30 minutes, I dropped him back at his car, turned up the heat a little, and decided to hit out 146 rather than down into Indian Neck.

In other words, more hills.

The hard hills were in the middle hour and I ran really well. My feet were a little sore from the cuts, but what can you do ?

I ran down into Stony Creek, put myself what I figured was 32-33 minutes from home and started the C part of the run. I ran the whole last part at 10K and got back to the house in 27:30.

What I learned- I would say I had my best ride of the year Friday, and my best run of the year Sunday. While I don't want an easy day between my hard days every week, it was just what I needed.

Thanks coach- and congratulations on another Hawaii slot, Eric !

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Fairfield Half-Marathon

Back in January, I'd set this as one of my three A races for the year. This was not, in hindsight, the smartest move.

We got down to the race on time- Margit and Dick Korby were also running- and after some parking misadventures we actually had a reasonable amount of time to warm up.

Finally I was on the line, half a row back, watching the elite athletes all adjusting their D-Tags after JB gave D-Tag instructions and they realised the tags were not exactly right.

The start of the race is fast and furious and maybe I shouldn't be right in front because I'm not that good any more or... nah. I haven't started thinking that way, at least not at the race... OK, maybe I was a full row back.

I didn't feel that wonderful at the start of the race. We'd been out late at the Branford fireworks the night before and my legs were hardly fresh from training, which included some long hard rides (well, not exactly long, just 50-60 miles). I always feel like I'm being engulfed at the start of the race, both by men and women that might just have staying power and by the burn and crash crowd. I don't really care, because I figure if I'm going to be fighting for a spot in the top 40-50 out of 2500 people, I'd better have myself positioned well early.

It spreads out pretty quickly and yeah, it's a little soul-crushing to have the really top-notch runners eating your lunch to the tune of a full minute at mile one. I mean, there are guys out there who are going to run half a marathon at sub-five pace. The longest race I ever had a sub-five minute mile in was a 10K, and you can bet it was only one mile.

You either push crap like that out of your head pretty quickly or you (hey wait, is that what happens to me in the swim during triathlons, the or...) Anyway, Shannon McHale pulled up next to me and went stride for stride as we neared the mile mark. But I wanted no part of that. Shannon is an olympic qualifier quality athlete and I'm not at her level. I could see the clock and decided to ratchet it down half a notch.

I was expecting Dave Pantin or another one of the people I'm usually back and forth with to pass me but the people I did see I didn't recognize. I was falling a little out of contact with people though and trying not to get frustrated and stay patient as I went through two miles and the first hill started to loom in front of us.

In long races I have a theory about how I should run hills, which is that I should simply defend, that is, run at around the pace of the people around me. Because climbing is my one strength, rather than beat myself up on hills, I try to hold back and wait for hills late in the race where I can attack and where it won't matter how gasses I get. I was passing a few people up that first big hill, but nothing major. I starting sipping at my bottle of heed and tried to stay settled in, although more people passed me after we crested.

It was somewhere on the resulting downhill that we ran into some of Team in Training people. Team in Training does a lot of good work both with charity and with bring athletes to sport. Sometimes these athletes are less-seasoned. At long road races, you will sometimes see Team in Training people out walking the course. I guess this makes sense- if you can't run a half-marathon (or don't think you can), walk it first. And they send the athletes out well-ahead of the start of the race so they are not finishing late in the day (I assume these athletes are not competitors and don't get finisher medals).

Where this causes a problem is with your lead runners, who running in small packs, groups of three to five who are looking for short sight-lines and tangents. I wasn't really thinking about there being walkers out on the course.

I certainly wasn't expecting to go into a turn and find three of them walking side by side, taking up an entire lane of the road, I watch some of the people in front dodging them and I yelled "Clear the arc. Walk single file."

They immediately complied, which was great, but I have to wonder what they has been thinking as the elite athletes went streaming by them and I'm surprised I was the first one to say anything to them three or four minutes later.

I had been behind six minute mile pace by the second mile, and with each mile that ticked off, it got a little worse. I did once run six flat on this course once, so running in the 6:20s was not really what I wanted, however, that six was a long time ago. There's quite a bit of work in miles four, five and six and it's important to really hold yourself in check in these miles as you can overcook yourself.

There wasn't much movement placewise in these miles. I was back and forth with one guy in a red singlet, and I passed one or two people, but I also spent a lot of time running by myself.

It's a no ipod race, so I'd taken my headphones and place them in the pouch of my singlet, with the shuffle clipped to my race belt. About six and a half miles in, the ipod fell off the belt. It landed on the double-yellow line. It wasn't much of a decision, race or no I had to pick it up so I quickly turned and bent over. I looked up. There was a car bearing down on me at about 25-30 miles an hour and not slowing down. I had one chance to pick the ipod up, after which the car would be too close for me to get up and get moving without getting hit.

The car didn't slow. I got the ipod in my hand and ran hard.

I probably lost 3-4 seconds at this.

Cars. There were more on the road than I remember any other year.

At a bit past eight miles I believe, there was an odd 4 way intersection. I'd picked up a white SUV that was coming into the traffic lane behind me and to be honest, this is exactly why ipods are banned at this race. I think for the level of athletes that are not running in packs, this particular course is just not safe with ipods- it's just too long to have the soft of traffic control I'd normally expect at a race.

I went through the middle of the intersection because that was the line of the road. I wanted to move right so the SUV could accelerate by me, however, when I turned to look the SUV was passing me on the right at 25mph. The woman's window was open and I barked 'slow down'. She replied:

'Get out of the road.'

This was too much. I'd felt a lot of pressure from cars on the course, more than I was happy with, and this dimwit was passing me at speed on the right. I didn't care that she had her husband and at least one kid in the car. I unleashed some choice invectives, then got back to focusing on the race.

I was still holding back until the big hill- the one with the turn in the middle. I went through the water station before the hills closing on the guy in front of me, who'd I'd been trailing for a good 5 miles, closing the gap from about 300 meters to maybe 50.

Another runner in front of him was coming back in the distance.

It was close, but I made the pass right at the top of the hill. I was determined to have him looking at my back on the downhill and as soon as I'd passed him I was working on the man in front of me. I was able to cut the gap in half and as we went through a twist in the road I drew even with him as an SUV pushed by us coming at us, deny us the tangent. We went through a ladder-mounted sprinker together and then he was off the back as well. I had one more guy in front of me I thought I could catch. We went through twelve miles before the turn I think, and as I went to make the turn there was a woman walking her dog. She went into the cross-walk with the dog and cut me off.

I couldn't believe it but all I said was 'Come on, lady'. I wanted the guy in front of me to be behind me, and I was able to make the pass. Then I was after the next guy, but he had 100 meters at the last turn and I was chasing him to no purpose. We passed the start and by the time I got there, he was headed into the beach.

Off in the distance was the giant American flag, tantalizing and not the finish, I reminded myself.

I made the turn and then I was running on the stones and sand, struggling a bit on the soft ground. Then I was under the flag and after that, quickly through the finish line. The next guy behind me, the last one I'd passed, lost 30 seconds in that last mile.

A 1:24:16, 36th overall. Not great. But I'd had a great week of training and it was a solid race. I've run 1;24 3 times in the last four tries.

Can I complain about that ? Well, of course. But I won't.